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Best of Gay D.C. XVIII

Washington Blade readers vote on favorites in the community

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Christmas comes early this year! Long an October staple, the Blade’s annual Best of Gay D.C. readers’ poll awards gets bumped up to September this year as we’re keeping next month open for our 50th anniversary festivities (shameless plug: the Birthday Gala is Oct. 18; tickets at blade50th.com).

So we’re taking this week’s edition to celebrate who and what you think are the best Washington has to offer its LGBT residents. 

For every perennial winner like Freddie’s Beach Bar, the 9:30 Club or Miss Pixie’s — which have all extended their dominance again this year — there are newer faces like Ricky Rose (Best Drag King), Donald Mitchell (D.C. Gay Flag Football) and Lexie Starre (Best Burlesque Dancer). 

Some winners and runners-up flip-flop in succeeding years. Rayceen Pendarvis and Bishop Allyson Abrams have something like a volleyball game unfolding in these pages in the Best Clergy category. Time for a sermon-a-thon?

We’re also taking this edition to honor the Blade’s own Lou Chibbaro, Jr. a staple of the paper since the mid-‘70s and celebrating his 35th year as a full-time staff member this year. In a Blade “Best Of” first, we give an award to one of our own. Chibbaro is the recipient of this year’s Local Hero Award, a title that has previously gone to Danica Roem, Gavin Grimm, Rev. Dean Snyder and more.  

Thankfully here, nobody has to “sashay away.” That’s the beauty of gay Washington — we can enjoy Pitchers one night, JR.’s another. Check out Nellie’s Brunch one weekend and Hank’s Oyster Bar another. It’s all good. 

About 3,500 nominations and 20,000 votes were cast in 99 categories for the 18th annual Best of Gay D.C. Awards. The Blade’s Stephen Rutgers coordinated the process. The photographers are credited throughout. This year’s contributing writers are Brian T. Carney, Patrick Folliard, Evan Caplan, Philip Van Slooten and Joey DiGuglielmo. Awards presented Sept. 19 at Dacha Navy Yard. 

The Blade staff congratulates each of this year’s winners and finalists. 

HERO AWARD: Lou Chibbaro, Jr.

Lou Chibbaro, Jr. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Longer than Johnny Carson was on “The Tonight Show,” longer than “Gunsmoke,” longer than Barbara Walters on “20/20” or Ted Koppel on “Nightline,” Lou Chibbaro, Jr.’s full-time run at the Washington Blade is not only a record (so far as we’re aware) in LGBT media, it exceeds the runs of many classic long-running shows or media personalities. 

Starting as a freelancer in 1976 and full-time in 1984 (the same year Alex Trebek started hosting “Jeopardy”), Chibbaro is not only an LGBT icon and institution, he’s a stalwart reporter still out there pounding the D.C. pavement with shoe-leather reporting of the highest kind. For these decades of selfless service, he’s the recipient of a Blade “Best of Gay D.C.” first — on the occasion of the paper’s 50th anniversary, Chibbaro gets this year’s Hero Award, an accolade previously won by Danica Roem, Gavin Grimm, Rev. Dean Snyder and others. 

Chibbaro moved to Washington in 1972, came out in 1975 and was alerted to the existence of the Blade (which had started just after Stonewall in 1969) by a gay counselor he knew in New York. Working as a reporter for a newsletter in energy and environmental issues, Chibbaro wandered into the Blade office, then on 19th St., on the second floor in the same building as the Lambda Rising gay book shop, and introduced himself to the editor, the late Joseph Crislip. He was soon contributing to the paper. He’d been contributing to a gay radio show broadcast out of Georgetown University but its plug had been pulled and Chibbaro was looking for another LGBT outlet. 

Chibbaro remembers an informal office. The paper was released monthly at the time. One of his early scoops (from tipster Paul Kuntzler) was about a plan — eventually abandoned — to have a gay presidential candidate speak at the Democratic National Convention in ’76. Initially, Chibbaro wrote under a pseudonym (Lou Romano), fearful his Blade work might inhibit his employability down the road. It was a common practice as Crislip, too, had a fake byline. By the late ‘70s, Chibbaro was writing under his legal name. 

Through many editors, location changes, buyouts and more, Chibbaro has remained. He attributes his longevity to a passion for the subject matter.

“I came to Washington as a political junkie and when you’re interested in politics, Washington is the place to be,” Chibbaro says. “And as a gay person and someone who slowly got to know the community quite well, the types of stories we do are very interesting to me. They have significance and can have an impact.”

The Office of the United States Attorney for the District of Columbia recognized Chibbaro’s local crime beat reporting by presenting him with its 1998 Justice for Victims of Crime Award, citing his “outstanding service to crime victims and their families” through his news reporting.

Among his other life achievement awards are Community Pioneer from Rainbow History Project (2009), GLAA and GAYLAW  Distinguished Service Awards (2010, 2013 respectively), Anita Bonds Community Cornerstone Award (2016) and the Partnership Award from the CAEAR Coalition. 

“I have for many years viewed my career at the Washington Blade as both a job as well as a community service,” Chibbaro said. “It is truly an honor to receive the Hero Award.” (JD) 

NIGHTLIFE

Best DJ Presented by BYQueers

Keenan Orr

Keenan Orr (Photo courtesy of Orr)

His music has been called “a sharp mix of disco, electro, funk and classics of the ‘80s and ‘90s” with past residences at Cobalt, the Rock and Roll Hotel and more D.C. venues. Orr spins at Sleaze at Wonderland Ballroom (first Thursday of every month) and is starting a new Thursday event soon at Uproar. He also has residencies at Eighteenth Street Lounge and MARVIN. And yeah, he’s gay. Look for him on Facebook to follow his upcoming appearances. (JD) 

Runner-Up:  DJ TWiN

Best Dance Party

Avalon Saturdays, Soundcheck

Avalon Saturday at Soundcheck (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

1420 K St., N.W.

dougiemeyerpresents.com

Editor’s Pick: Sleaze, Wonderland Ballroom

Poised to celebrate its one-year anniversary in October, Avalon Saturdays at Soundcheck is a hit. 

During lunch break from a day at jury duty, party promoter extraordinaire Dougie Meyer explains, “At Avalon, we’ve accomplished what we set out to do. We brought a community together and gave them another safe space in D.C. to have fun and be themselves. Those who wanted to come for a drag show and those who want to dance to circuit music into the wee hours get that too.”

Things are still being tweaked, a year into the proceedings. 

“We’ve learned that to make Avalon great, we have to change something every week whether it’s the position of couches or discounted tickets or whatever. Our dedication to making our customers happy has earned us regulars, week after week, and that tells you you’re doing something right.”

Nothing is on autopilot here.

“A lot of people think you open the door, and — boom — there’s a party,” he says. “No, we have a team of people busting their asses all week long to make it happen. But on Saturday, it’s a night of fun and a good time with a changing roster of drag queens and DJs.”

And yet Avalon Saturdays isn’t resting on its laurels. Meyer says, “Our lineup through October is insane — our one-year anniversary party is followed by a Halloween party. We’ve already booked an international DJ for January 2020. The party keeps going.” (PF)

Best Bartender

Jo McDaniel, A League of Her Own (at Pitchers)

Jo McDaniel (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Jo’s second consecutive win! 

2319 18th St., N.W.

pitchersbardc.com

Runner-up: Matthew Strother, Green Lantern (a 2011 and 2012 winner for his work at Secrets)

Best Burlesque Dancer

Lexie Starre

Lexie Starre (Photo by Your Rouge Photography)

D.C. Gurly Show

dcgurlyshow.com

Runner-up: GiGi Holliday

Sexy Lexie Starre got her start in burlesque with the D.C. Girly Show, the District’s longest-running queer burlesque troupe. She’ll be back onstage in December with the troupe’s Raise the Roof show, a fundraiser that will benefit local organizations.

In the meantime, she produces Pretty Boi Drag with her wife Pretty Rik E (who was the Blade’s Best Drag King last year). They started the troupe in 2016 and have been selling out shows ever since. They focus on elevating the visibility of drag kings, especially drag kings of color, and present both large productions as well as Open Mic nights where both new and veteran kings can get stage time.

Lexie is also working on getting her new business up and running. Wingo Circle Birth Services (wingocircle.com) provides labor and postpartum doula services and inclusive childbirth education classes for queer parents and families.

Lexie’s been performing since 2011 and says that some of her favorite showbiz memories were performing “Proud Mary” with her wife as Ike and Tina Turner (fringe and all!) on the main stage at Capital Pride and auditioning for “America’s Got Talent” with the D.C. Gurly Show. (BTC)

Best Drag King 

Ricky Rosé

Runner-up: Pretty Rik (A flip-flop of last year’s outcome.)

Multi-title holding drag king Ricky Rosé’s ethos is pretty simple: follow your dreams and all drag is valid.

Speaking via phone from a bus en route to a gig in Richmond, Va., Ricky explains their drag persona: “I’d say Ricky Rosé is like the name — brings glam to ghetto. Also, I’m your cool dad. I like to throw it back to my Latinx culture, lip-syncing mostly reggaeton and salsa. I’m a very proud Puerto Rican.”

Based in D.C., Ricky has been doing drag for two years. “Shortly after seeing my first drag king show, my heart wanted to jump out of my chest. I knew I’d found my calling and passion. I went home the same day and started practicing makeup.”

Offstage, Ricky’s chosen name is Yadiel. Ricky Rosé is a longtime nickname. “I wanted to stick true to myself while discovering my true form through gender identity. I’m non-binary in daily life. I’ve questioned gender identity as a kid and came into my non-binary gender through drag. I feel at home most in drag.”

Ricky, who frequently performs in queer venues all over town and holds down a day job at Sephora on 14th Street, is grateful for the votes from Blade readers. “It means people are seeing my work and appreciating what I bring to the stage. My goal has been to discover who I am and share and celebrate that with folks.” (PF)

Best Drag Queen

Bombalicious Eklaver 

Bombalicious Eklaver (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The drag-alter ego of Ed Figueroa, famous for making space for other Asian drag queens in the region. Follow her at @bombalicious.eklaver on Instagram.

Runner-up: Brooklyn Heights

Best Transgender Performer

Riley Knoxx

Riley Knoxx (Washington Blade photo by Blake Bergen)

Runner-up: Ana Latour

Riley Knoxx is the world’s number one Beyoncé impersonator. A heady job that’s taken her around the globe and afforded her a comfortable life. And while Knoxx performs with drag queens, she isn’t a drag queen. “Because I’m transgender, my performance style is very much what you’d get if you went to a Beyoncé concert. I try to make it as close to that as possible.”

Need proof? Check out her cameo in Taylor Swift’s star-studded “You Need to Calm Down” video alongside luminaries such as Adam Lambert, Adam Rippon, Billy Porter, Katy Perry, RuPaul and many more! 

When Beyoncé’s “Crazy in Love” dropped in 2003, Knoxx took note. “People began to connect me with that song, and they started coming out to see me as her. My popularity grew with hers. So, naturally I thought there was something to this, and from that point on I only performed as Beyoncé.”

To remain on the top of the heap of a million Beyoncé impersonators takes work. As part of the job, D.C.-based Knoxx studies the star’s every move — how she walks, talks and holds the mic. She also dutifully mimics Beyoncé’s hair, wardrobe and makeup style. As a performer changes over the years, so must the impersonator.  

“Part of my career’s longevity is that I’m willing to change. I’ve never gotten bored, and so neither does the audience. It’s very different from year to year. If you’re not changing, you’re not growing. And growth has always been my goal.” 

Knoxx has always been a performer. She remembers being 5 years old, substituting a flashlight for a mic and pillowcase for long hair as she sang Whitney Houston songs around the house. 

“My trans experience was hard in the beginning, but performing helped to make it better. Having people who loved me before I loved myself was a big thing for me. As a transgender person, it has kept me going in a world that isn’t always loving toward transgender people.” (PF)

Best Rehoboth Drag Queen

Magnolia Applebottom

Magnolia Applebottom (Washington Blade photo by Daniel Truitt)

The drag alter ego of Jeremy Bernstein hosts events all summer at the Blue Moon and other Rehoboth venues. Follow her at @mrsmagnolia on Instagram. 

Runner-Up: Regina Cox

Best Drag Show

Nellie’s Drag Brunch

Nellie’s Drag Brunch (Washington Blade photo by Vanessa Pham)

Saturdays and Sundays 11 a.m.-1:30 p.m.

900 U St., N.W.

nelliessportsbar.com

Editor’s Choice: Pretty Boi Drag (last year’s winner)

Best Singer or Band

Wicked Jezabel

Wicked Jezabel (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Also won this award in 2013, 2017 and 2018! Frankie & Betty held the title 2014-2016. 

Editor’s Choice: White Ford Bronco

Best Straight Bar

Dacha Beer Garden

Dacha Beer Garden (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Fifth consecutive win in this category!

1600 7th St., N.W.

202-524-8790

dachadc.com

Editor’s Choice: Players Club

Best Karaoke

Freddie’s Beach Bar

Freddie’s Beach Bar (Washington Blade photo by Doug Horn)

Freddie’s was runner-up last year.

555 S. 23rd St.

Arlington, Va.

freddiesbeachbar.com

Editor’s Choice: Uproar

Best ABSOLUT Happy Hour

Number Nine

Number Nine (Washington Blade photo by Hugh Clarke)

A Blade “Best Of” ping-pong game — A repeat of the 2017 outcome after flip-flopping last year! 

1435 P St., N.W.

numberninedc.com

Editor’s Choice: Trade

Best Live Music

9:30 Club 

9:30 Club (Photo by Katherine Gaines)

A perennial dominator — whopping 14th consecutive win in this category! Won every year since 2006 (plus 2002 and 2003 — every time the category has been included).

815 V St., N.W.

930.com

Editor’s Choice: Wolf Trap

Best Neighborhood Bar

Larry’s Lounge

Larry’s Lounge (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

1840 18th St., N.W.

Editor’s Choice: JR.’s

Best Bar Outside-the-District

Freddie’s Beach Bar

Freddie’s Beach Bar (Washington Blade photo by Doug Horn)

Extending their record! — with this win and the Best Karaoke win, that makes 23 wins for this Best of Gay D.C. favorite. Freddie’s has won this award every year since 2002 in addition to several others. It’s a Best of Gay D.C. all-time record for a single category.

555 S. 23rd St.

Arlington, Va.

freddiesbeachbar.com

Editor’s Choice: Baltimore Eagle

Best Outdoor Drinking

Dacha Navy Yard

Dacha Navy Yard (Photo courtesy of Designing the District)

Dacha Beer Garden won last year! 

79 Potomac Ave., S.E.

dachanavyyard.com

Editor’s Choice: Red Bear Brewing Co.

Best Place for Guys Night Out Presented by BYQueers

Pitchers

Pitchers (Washington Blade photo by Wyatt Reid Westlund)

2319 18th St., N.W.

pitchersbardc.com

Editor’s Choice: Ziegfeld’s/Secrets

Best Place for Girls Night Out Presented by BYQueers

A League of Her Own (at Pitchers)

A League of Her Own (Washington Blade photo by Molly Byrom)

Second consecutive win in this category! 

2319 18th St., N.W.

Editor’s Choice: Ladies Tea at Hank’s Oyster Bar

Best Queer-Friendly Night Out Presented by BYQueers

D.C. Weirdo Show

D.C. Weirdo Show (Photo by StereoVision Photography)

dcweirdoshow.com

Editor’s Choice: Gay Bash

The D.C. Weirdo Show, the monthly cult favorite for freaks, geeks and exposed butt cheeks, started in 2006 at the Palace of Wonders on H Street before settling into its current home at the Dew Drop Inn in Brookland. Since 2015, the show has been hosted by Dr. Torcher and her fabulously weird colleagues. She typically serves as host and also performs as a fire eater, sword swallower and comedian. Her husband Mark is the tech weirdo; he does sounds lights and posters. Abraxas is the stage manager extraordinaire; as Dr. Torcher says, “she keeps the show flowing, manages props and sets the cast up for success.”

Dr. Torcher says, “The show is a supportive, creative stage for performers with tremendous talents in burlesque, clowning, comedy, performance art and sideshow. We’ve also had yo-yo stunts, pole dance, contortion, drag, dire flow arts and voguing.  

“Our audiences know that they will see a polished, thoughtful, strange and entertaining show. We’re an intentional reflection of the stories and communities that make D.C. everything it is. We center performances by queer people and people of color.”

Their next show, called “Weirdos for Life!” is this weekend (Sept. 20). Dr. Torcher is always on the lookout for new talent. New performers are included in every monthly show and the annual “Happy New Weirdo” show is all “new-to-us” performers. There’s an application on the website. Dr. Torcher says the troupe is always looking for “those who perform amazing physical feats and who represent stories that don’t usually get told on stage.” (BTC)

Best Rehoboth Bar

Blue Moon

Blue Moon (Washington Blade photo by Daniel Truitt)

Blue Moon was editor’s pick last year. 

35 Baltimore Ave.

Rehoboth Beach, Del.

bluemoonrehoboth.com

Editor’s Choice: The Pines

Best Rehoboth Bartender

Jamie Romano, Purple Parrot

Jamie Romano (Washington Blade photo by Daniel Truitt)

Third win in this category! Won in 2011 and 2013; was runner-up 2016-2017 (fair warning — he’s straight). 

Purple Parrot

134 Rehoboth Ave.

Rehoboth Beach, Del.

Runner-Up: Sutton Ward, The Pines

Best Rooftop View

VIDA U Street Penthouse Pool

VIDA Penthouse Pool (Photo courtesy of VIDA)

Second consecutive win!

1612 U St., N.W.

penthousepoolclub.com/u-street

Editor’s Choice: POV Rooftop Lounge

FOOD

Best Ethnic Restaurant

Rasika

Rasika (Photo by David Liu via Flickr)

633 D St., N.W. & 1190 New Hampshire Ave., N.W.

rasikarestaurant.com

Editor’s Choice: Tiger Fork

Best Bloody Mary

Hank’s Oyster Bar/Hank’s Cocktail Bar

Bloody Mary at Hank’s Oyster Bar in Dupont (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

819 Upshur St., N.W.

hankscocktailbar.com

Editor’s Choice: Logan Tavern (last year’s winner)

Best Brunch

Le Diplomate

(Photo courtesy of Starr Restaurants)

Second consecutive win! 

1601 14th St., N.W.

lediplomatedc.com

Editor’s Choice: Farmers and Distillers

Best Locally Made Product

Mason Dixie Biscuit Co.

(Photo courtesy of Mason Dixie Biscuit Co.)

Approachable, affordable and portable Southern staples. Third consecutive win in this category. 

2301 Bladensburg Rd., N.E.

masondixiebiscuits.com

Editor’s Choice: Capital City Mambo Sauce

Best New Restaurant

St. Anselm

(Photo courtesy of Starr Restaurants)

Editor’s Choice: Little Havana 

St. Anselm

1250 5th St., N.E.

stanselmdc.com

Of the several Stephen Starr restaurants, St. Anselm shimmers bright. Located by Union Market, this meat-forward upscale-tavern-style restaurant is based on the Brooklyn locale of the same name. Executive Chef Marjorie Meek-Bradley helms St. Anselm, a storied and award-winning chef, and a veteran of Jose Andres and Mike Isabella restaurants. 

Thick, hearty steaks livened by liberal helpings of herb butter are served in a vibrant atmosphere that’s part button-up and part button-down makes this an unsurprising choice for a favorite meaty meal. Beyond slabs of meat, diners are agog at the impressive shellfish and non-traditional steakhouse items like flaky biscuits with ramekins of pimento cheese and crispy “BoBo” chicken dressed up (or down?) with mumbo sauce. 

Chef Meek-Bradley, says that she and her staff “are so honored to be recognized by the (LGBT) community as Best New Restaurant. We are thrilled to be seen as a welcoming place to all of D.C.’s amazing diverse people.” (EC)

Best Food Festival or Event

Taste of D.C.

Taste of D.C. (Photo public domain)

“Largest culinary festival in the mid-Atlantic.” Runs Oct. 26-27.

thetasteofdc.org

Editor’s Choice: RAMW Restaurant Week

Best Craft Cocktails

Hank’s Cocktail Bar

Hank’s Cocktail Bar (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Second consecutive win! 

819 Upshur St., N.W.

hankscocktailbar.com

Editor’s Choice: Columbia Room

Best Fast Casual Dining

Stoney’s 

Stoney’s (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

1433 P St., N.W.

stoneys-dc.com

Editor’s Choice: CAVA (last year’s winner)

Best Local Brewery

D.C. Brau

(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

“Popular craft brewery offering free tours and tastings.” Fifth win in this category!

3178-B Bladensburg Rd., N.E.

dcbrau.com

Editor’s Choice: Red Bear Brewing Co.

Best Local Distillery

Republic Restoratives

Republic Restoratives (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

1369 New York Ave., N.E.

republicrestoratives.com

Editor’s Choice: District Distilling

Best Burger

Duke’s Grocery

Duke’s Grocery (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

A flip-flop of last year’s outcome. 

1513 17th St., N.W.

dukesgrocery.com

Editor’s Choice: Shake Shack

Best Caterer

Rocklands Barbeque and Grilling Company

(Photo courtesy of Rocklands BBQ and Grilling Company)

Washington, Alexandria and Arlington

rocklands.com

Editor’s Choice: Occasions Caterers

Best Juice/Fuel Bar

Barry’s Bootcamp

(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Second consecutive win!

1345 19th St., N.W.

barrysbootcamp.com

Editor’s Choice: Smoothie King

Best Chef

Jamie Leeds, Hank’s Oyster Bar

Jamie Leeds (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Second consecutive win! Locations at The Wharf, Dupont Circle, Old Town Alexandria and Capitol Hill. 

hanksoysterbar.com

Runner-Up: Patrick O’Connell, Inn at Little Washington

Best Coffee Shop

Compass Coffee

Compass Coffee (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Fourth consecutive win!

1335 7th St., N.W.

compasscoffee.com

Editor’s Choice: La Colombe

Best Special Occasion Restaurant

Floriana

Last year’s runner up! 

1602 17th St., N.W.

florianarestaurant.com

Editor’s Choice: Rose’s Luxury

Best Ice Cream/Gelato

Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams

Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams (Photo via Instagram)

1925 14th St., N.W.

jenis.com/scoop-shops

Editor’s Choice: Ice Cream Jubilee 

D.C.’s hottest club, even in the throes of winter, is often this brightly lit scoop shop of national notoriety. Jeni founded the first of her chain’s premium, artisan-style, cult-fave ice cream shops in 2002, and opened the front-and-center 14th and U spot in 2017.

 Jeni’s uses all-natural ingredients and sources from direct- and fair-trade suppliers for the highly Instagram-ready cups and cones. The super-creamy scoops layer fruit, nuts and other ingredients for unusual combos. Two top flavors may explain why the shop’s a winner: the brambleberry crisp, vanilla mixed with toasted pie topping and thick, sweet-tart jam; and the almond brittle, of brown-butter-almond candy crushed into buttercream ice cream. Yes, you can taste test them all. The vegan hot fudge topping doesn’t hurt. Be aware of the price point: a scoop is a cool $7.50.

When it opened, the shop’s team said, “We believe ice cream has the power to bring people together, so we’ve created the kind of space we’d love to gather with friends and strangers over a scoop of ice cream.” (EC)

Best Farmer’s Market

FRESHFARM Dupont Circle Market

Dupont Circle Farmers Market (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Second consecutive win! Sundays 8:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. year round

1600 20th St., N.W.

freshfarm.org/dupont-circle.html

Editor’s Choice: Eastern Market

Best Food Truck

Peruvian Brothers

Peruvian Brothers (Photo via Facebook)

4592 Eisenhower Ave., Alexandria

peruvianbrothers.com

Editor’s Choice: Captain Cookie and the Milk Man Food Truck

Best Pizza

Timber Pizza Co

(Photo courtesy of Timber Pizza Co.)

Editor’s Choice: Comet Ping Pong 

809 Upshur St., N.W.

timberpizza.com

When it comes to top District-beloved pizza, it’s going down: you’re yelling Timber. 

The sizeable crispy-bottomed, blistered pies attract down-the-block lines in their hot Petworth digs. 

Owners Andrew Dana and Chris Brady, both from the D.C. area, started Timber when they realized that, “we hated our jobs … but we loved lunch,” they wrote. Dana and Brady founded their current brick-and-mortar shop in 2016 in Petworth after wowing crowds at farmers’ markets from its food truck starting two years prior. 

To helm the pizzeria, they brought on Chef Dani Moreira, who brings a distinct South American panache to her creative pies that are just traditional enough to be called “Neopolitan-ish.” 

At the popping shop, diners share communal tables and lots of napkins over stylishly titled pies coming out fast and hot from the wood-fired oven. Cheekily named pies include The Bentley, with chorizo, sopressata, Peruvian sweet peppers, and locally made spicy honey.

White and green pizzas, just as popular as red-sauced pies, add pops of Italianate color, and Chef Moreira brings out killer not-to-be-missed Argentine empanadas stuffed with saucy braised beef and sofrito. 

“As a D.C. native the best thing in the world is being voted Best Pizza by the people of D.C.! We’re always proud to be a friend of the LGBTQ community,” says Dana, not only co-owner, but also self-titled “chief dough boi.” 

Comet Ping Pong, the restaurant made infamous for “Pizzagate” in the 2016 Hillary Clinton campaign, was a two-time repeat winner in 2017-18. (EC)

Best Rehoboth Restaurant

Azzurro Italian Oven + Bar

Cacciucco Alla Livornese at Azzurro (Photo courtesy of Azzurro)

210 2nd St., Rehoboth Beach, Del. 

azzurrorehoboth.com

Editor’s Choice: Blue Moon (last year’s winner) 

This new Italian restaurant features an irresistible menu of signature dishes like carpaccio di bresaola, a mozzarella bar, and a stunning frutti di mare overflowing with clams, mussels, lobster and more. All pastas are homemade in house. Chef/owner Francesco is a first-generation Italian who grew up in the restaurant business. His wife and co-owner Tonya makes everyone feel welcome and often brings limoncello with the check. The rooftop bar is one of the town’s too-few spots for outdoor dining and drinks. A new, must-visit dining destination in Rehoboth Beach.

Best Local Winery

City Winery

City Winery (Photo via Instagram)

Second year for both winner and editor’s choice! 

citywinery.com

1350 Okie St., N.E.

Editor’s Choice: District Winery

MEDIA

Best Local Website

DCist

dcist.com

Editor’s Choice: Popville (last year’s champ)

Best Local TV/Radio Personality

Ari Shapiro, NPR

Ari Shapiro (Photo by James C. Svehla of COD Newsroom via Wikimedia Commons)

npr.org/people/2101154/ari-shapiro

Runner-Up: Chuck Bell, NBC 4 (2015, 2016 and 2018 runner-up; 2014 winner)

You can hear Ari Shapiro’s velvet voice every weekday afternoon on NPR’s “All Things Considered” (broadcast locally on WAMU 88.5 FM). He’s been co-hosting the show since 2015. 

According to his bio on the NPR website, during his tenure at NPR he’s reported from above the Arctic Circle and aboard Air Force One and has filed stories from dozens of countries and most of the 50 states.

The out journalist began his reporting career as an intern for NPR Legal Affairs Correspondent Nina Totenberg in 2001. Since then he served as NPR’s Justice Correspondent in the aftermath of the 9-11 attacks, was embedded with the Mitt Romney presidential campaign, spent four years as White House Correspondent during President Obama’s first and second terms and spent two years as the network’s London correspondent before assuming his present position.

Shapiro has been widely recognized for the excellence of his reporting. At 25, he won the Daniel Schott Journalism Prize for his investigation into methamphetamine use and HIV transmission. He’s also been recognized for his coverage of disability benefits for injured American veterans, the American judicial system and Hurricane Katrina and has been included in the “Out 100” and the Advocate’s “Forty Under 40.”

The intrepid reporter has been out since high school where he wore a pink triangle on his knapsack. He married his longtime boyfriend Michael Gottlieb at San Francisco City Hall in February 2004.

When time allows, Shapiro also sings with the band Pink Martini. He can be heard on four of their albums singing in several languages. (BTC)

Best Local Influencer

Timur Tugberk, @timurdc 

Timur Tugberk (Photo courtesy of Designing the District)

Timur was last year’s runner-up. See this week’s Queery for more.

Runner-Up: Maggie McGill, @maggiemcgill

Best Radio Station

Hot 99.5

HOT 99.5’s Elizabethany at this year’s Capital Pride Parade. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Second consecutive win! 

Editor’s Choice: The Tommy Show

PEOPLE

Best Amateur Athlete

Donald Mitchell

Donald Mitchell (Photo by Pedro Suárez)

D.C. Gay Flag Football

dcgffl.org

Runner-Up: Sharifa Love (D.C. Furies, Rogue Darts)

D.C. Generals captain and wide receiver, Donald Mitchell, led his team to victory in Gay Bowl XVII and was quick to spread the love. 

“Everybody on our team made some play that was memorable,” the Nashville native told the Washington Post after the win. “There wasn’t one or two or three standouts. Everyone put in.”

Whether this Southern generosity was a part of his charm or his nature, it was appreciated by his community who named Mitchell best amateur athlete for 2019. 

“I’ve been on several teams,” Mitchell continued in the Post. “And I’ve never been more proud of a team that came together to fight for each other.”

Well, this award is one win he can claim for himself and still be proud. (PVS)

Best Artist

John Jack Photography

John Jack Gallagher (Photo courtesy of John Jack Photography)

John Jack Gallagher has been taking photos since his first boyfriend gave him a 35-millimeter camera for his birthday more than 30 years ago. In 2012, he started shooting professionally after members of the Stonewall Kickball team he’d been photographing insisted he shoot their wedding. A flip-flop of last year’s outcome. John Jack Gallagher was also the 2016 and 2017 winner. 

johnjackphotography.pixieset.com

Runner-up: Lisa Marie Thalhammer

Best Businessperson

David Winer

EatWell D.C.

Runner-up: Lisa Wise (Nest DC & Roost DC)

Being ‘woke’ is more than something trendy for local restaurateur David Winer — it’s something he feels in his heart. 

“Everyday I try to reach out to people and help them grow,” he says with a humility that seems rare for businesspeople these days, even those who become president. “And if I reach a couple of them, then that’s good. That’s the theme of our management company, to help others grow.”

For Winer, EatWell D.C. is about growing healthy communities, not just his bottom line.

“We are trying to do a better job of bringing local producers into the market,” he says of the work still ahead. “We’re trying to be environmentally neutral not only with our food, but with our beverages as well. We’re looking forward to educating a new crop of chefs to be sustainable and natural. That’s where we’re going.” 

Winer is humbled by the award and felt being environmentally and socially conscious weren’t just good business practices, but about “trying to live a good life” as well. (PVS)

Best Clergy

Bishop Allyson Abrams

Bishop Allyson Abrams (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Abrams regains the title after Rayceen won last year. They’re perpetual flip-floppers in this category. Abrams won in 2015 and 2017. Pendarvis won in 2016 and 2018 and was the 2017 runner-up. Abrams was the 2016 runner-up. 

Empowerment Liberation Cathedral

Sundays at 1 p.m.

4900 10th St., N.E. (Faith UCC Chapel)

empowermentliberationcathedral.org

Runner-up: Rayceen Pendarvis

Most Committed Activist

Charlotte Clymer

Charlotte Clymer (Photo courtesy Clymer)

The trans activist reached a settlement earlier this year with the Cuba Libre Restaurant after a manager forced her to leave after she used the women’s restroom in 2018. 

Runner-up: June Crenshaw

Best D.C. Public Official

Mayor Muriel Bowser

District of Pride, gay news, Washington Blade
Mayor Muriel Bowser (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Second consecutive win for the mayor! 

Runner-up: David Grosso

Best Hill Staffer/LGBT Bureaucrat

Alec Buckley

@AlecBuckley6 

U.S. Senate legislative staffer

Runner-up: Jacob Trauberman

Even though Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, (D-N.D.) lost her 2018 re-election bid, her former legislative aide is still hard at work campaigning for causes on the Hill. 

“Our household believes we can do more to #EndGunViolence,” best Hill staffer Alec Buckley tweeted on June 7 above images of himself and his partner in matching Wear Orange T-shirts. “That’s why we #WearingOrange @Everytown @MomsDemand.”

With 47 Tweets, 45 followers and 643 likes, Buckley may not be in Trump territory on numbers, but he still uses his social media presence to inform the public on social issues.  (PVS)

Best Local Pro Athlete

Elena Delle Donne, Washington Mystics

Elena Delle Donne (Photo courtesy of the Washington Mystics)

Delle Donne’s second consecutive win!

Runner-Up: Sean Doolittle, Washington Nationals

Elena Delle Donne keeps extending her accomplishments. This year, she joined the elite 50-40-90 club (NBA and WNBA players who have shooting percentages at or above 50 percent for field goals, 40 percent for three-pointers and 90 percent for free throws during an entire regular season), becoming the first-ever WNBA player to do so.

That puts Delle Donne alongside Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famers including Steve Nash, Reggie Miller and Larry Bird. She was also named 2019 Associated Press WNBA player of the year and topped the league’s most popular jersey list for the third consecutive season.

In addition to her success on the basketball court (as the “small forward” for the Chicago Sky and the Washington Mystics she was named the WNBA Rookie of the Year in 2013 and the WNBA MVP in 2015 and is a five-time WNBA All-Star), Delle Donne (who’s out as a lesbian) is an award-winning author.

Her memoir “My Shot: Balancing It All and Standing Tall” recently won a Parents’ Choice Award from the Parents’ Choice Foundation. Aimed at middle school readers, the book is an amazingly frank but age-appropriate discussion of both her career highlights and her personal challenges, including her decision to come out.

Last year, she also launched the “Hoops” series of novels for young readers (ages 8-12). “Elle of the Ball” introduces Elle Deluca, who closely resembles Delle Donne herself. Elle’s height is an asset on the basketball court but a liability in her ballroom dancing class where she towers over her male dance partners. The series continues with “Full Court Press” and “Out of Bounds.”

Like her fictional counterpart, Delle Donne is very tall and had an early growth spurt. She’s 6’5” and wears a size 12 shoe. She gets her height from her parents. Her dad, a real estate developer, is 6’6” and her mom is 6’2.”

She also gets her feisty spirit and determination from them. When Delle Donne was in elementary school, her doctor wanted to start her on injections to stunt her growth. Her mother refused, and, according to an interview with ESPN, she told her daughter, “Why try to be like the rest of the pack? Be your own person.”

The young athlete also had to come to terms with the fact that she could do things that her beloved older sister Lizzie would never be able to do. Lizzie, with whom Delle Donne remains close, was born deaf and blind, with both cerebral palsy and autism, and is unable to speak.

Born in Wilmington, Del., in 1989, Delle Donne rose to national prominence as a high school basketball star at Ursuline Academy. She led her team to three straight Delaware State Championships and was ranked as the number one recruit by Scout.com.

Delle Donne was recruited by the University of Connecticut but ended up playing for the Blue Hens at the University of Delaware. In 2010, she was named both “Player of the Year” and “Rookie of the Year” by the Colonial Athletic Association. Although she was diagnosed with Lyme disease during her sophomore year, she continued to excel as a college athlete and was selected second overall in the 2014 WBNA Draft by the Chicago Sky. She joined the Washington Mystics in 2017.

In 2016, Delle Donne won a gold medal as a member of the Unites States women’s basketball team at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

Delle Donne officially came out in an interview with Vogue magazine in August 2016 where she announced her engagement to girlfriend Amanda Clifton. The couple was married in 2017.

The award-winning out athlete, who has signed endorsement deals with Nike, DuPont and Octagon, is also a noted philanthropist. She founded the Elena Delle Donne Foundation, which raises funds and awareness for Lyme Disease research and special needs programs and is also a Global Ambassador for the Special Olympics. (BTC) 

Best Local Pro Sports Team

Washington Capitals

Braden Holyby, center, of the Washington Capitals marches in the 2019 Capital Pride Parade. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Editor’s Choice: Washington Nationals

Same outcome as last year. 

Best Fitness Instructor

Mark Raimondo

Mark Raimond (Photo courtesy of Barry’s Bootcamp)

Barry’s Bootcamp

1345 19th St., N.W.

barrysbootcamp.com

Runner-up: James Crawford (Solidcore)

When best fitness instructor winner, Mark Raimondo of Barry’s Bootcamp, first heard Taylor Swift’s “You Need to Calm Down,” he knew he had to use it in his class. 

“I was like this is awesome,” he says. “It will make people feel safe, warm and invited to my classes.”

Raimondo teaches large classes of 50 or more, two to three sessions a day, but he’s still made personal connections and a few good friends in two short years. 

While students’ achievements inspire him, dance music motivates him. 

“At the end of the day, it’s fitness and it’s supposed to be fun,” Raimondo says. “So, I might throw some old Britney (Spears) in there to get people jazzed up.” (PVS)

Best Real Estate Agent

Michael Moore, Compass

Michael Moore (Photo courtesy Moore)

michaelmoorehomesdc.com

Runner-Up: Stacey Williams-Zeiger, Zeiger Realty Inc.

Michael Moore was a little frustrated working in retail clothing when a friend suggested he’d be terrific in real estate. Initially hesitant, Moore met with a savvy Realtor who encouraged him to give it a shot. With not a lot to lose, he took the classes, passed the test, and went to work for a boutique company broker in 1988. He’s been at it ever since. 

Today as a successful Realtor and senior vice president at Compass Real Estate, Moore credits his success to consistent customer service. “My career began with first-time homebuyers. In time, first-time buyers become sellers and they buy another house and they tell their friends. Now my business is almost entirely referrals and repeats.” 

Moore’s specialty is marketing and getting homes ready for sale. “I’m a huge proponent of staging and doing what it takes to project the property in its best light,” he says. “I try to create a situation that when a prospective buyer walks in the door, they love it, and think to themselves ‘won’t my friends be jealous when they see me living here.’”

While he does have a fair amount of LGBT clients, Moore never directed business toward or away from any one group. “Essentially I’ve always thrown the net out and taken what I get,” he says. “I’ve weathered good markets and bad markets and everything in between. … Real estate is crazy, maddening, exciting. It’s been a love affair.” (PF) 

Real Estate Group

Marin Hagen & Sylvia Bergstrom, Coldwell Banker

1617 14th St., N.W.

coldwellbankerhomes.com

Runner-Up: The Evan+Mark Team, Compass (last year’s winner) 

Best Rehoboth Real Estate Agent

Lee Ann Wilkinson, Berkshire Hathaway

Lee Ann Wilkinson (Washington Blade photo by Daniel Truitt)

Second consecutive win!

16698 Kings Hwy A.

Lewes, Del.

leeanngroup.com

Runner-Up: Henry McKay, Jack Lingo Realtor

Best Straight Ally

Kathy Dalby

Kathy Dalby (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

runpacers.com

Runner-Up: Mari Rodela

In 2006, Kathy Dalby took a leap of faith. She left a dream D.C. job as a health care policy analyst for a high-profile law firm and took a full-time job at Pacers Running. She’s now CEO of the company, as well as the managing partner for Pacer Events, LLC, and publisher of RunWashington. The six stores serve as hubs for local runners and offer a full range of running gear along with training advice and a robust schedule of regular fun-runs and special race events. 

Based on her belief in “authentic and community-focused relationship building,” Dalby has been a staunch LGBT ally. Pacers Running has been a supporter of Capital Pride and the D.C. Front Runners. In turn, the Front Runners made one of Dalby’s childhood dreams come true when they asked her to be a member of their Pride Parade dance troupe.

Dalby says, “I try to create a culture at Pacers where we celebrate others. I am proud to be an award winner, but it’ll be a real win when we don’t feel like we need to single out straight folks for being supportive of our LGBTQ friends because frankly that should be the norm.”

She has some excellent advice: “Acknowledge your privilege and acknowledge the beauty in differences,” she says. “It’ll make you a better person, I promise.” (BTC)

Best Transgender Advocate

Ruby Corado

From left, Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), Casa Ruby CEO Ruby Corado and Lt. Brett Parson of the Metropolitan Police Department speak at a community forum on anti-LGBT violence on July 9, 2019. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

A new title for Ruby after three wins as “Most Committed Activist” and the Local Heroine award in 2014. 

Casa Ruby

2822 Georgia Ave., N.W.

casaruby.org

Runner-Up: Sarah McBride  

Best Stylist 

Michael Ian Hodges 

Michael Hodges (Photo courtesy of Logan Aveda 14 Salon and Spa)

Logan 14 Aveda Salon Spa

1314 B 14th St., N.W. 

logan14salonspa.com

Runner Up: Roel Ruiz (last year’s winner)

For top stylist and Logan 14 Aveda Salon Spa owner Michael Ian Hodges, the recipe for success is simple: skills, consistency and friendliness. Also, location doesn’t hurt. There are more gays per inch in Logan Circle than anywhere else in the country, he notes. 

While adept at all types of styling, he’s best known for his men’s barber cuts. 

“I can do 44 cuts a day on a busy day. I have an assistant, and I double book: two guys every hour on a 12-hour day.”

Hodges first caught the hair bug sitting on the counter of his mom’s salon in England watching her do hair. When the family moved to the U.S., he brought his passion with him. After apprenticing with to an accomplished London-trained stylist in Maclean, Va.,, he began his professional career. Thirty years later, he’s still at it. 

At Logan 14, he maintains a large book of clients and helms a crew of 24 stylists. He’s grateful for his clients’ patronage. “They’re like family. I know their lives backwards and forwards. There’s a mutual support and caring. Relationships are important.”

Looking forward, Hodges, who lives with his husband on the D.C. line in Mount Rainier, Md., is expanding the size of Logan 14, and he’s considering opening a barbershop in the future. “I’m not getting any younger, (he turns 50 next year) but I see myself working and staying in the industry for a long time.” (PF)

COMMUNITY

Best Art Gallery

Renwick Gallery

Renwick Gallery (Photo public domain)

A repeat of last year’s outcome for both winner and editor’s choice.

1661 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W.

americanart.si.edu

Editor’s Choice: Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden

Best Adult Store

Bite the Fruit

Fourth consecutive win in this category! 

1723 Connecticut Ave., N.W. 

bitethefruit.com

Runner-up: Lotus Blooms

Best Car Dealership

BMW of Fairfax

BMW of Fairfax (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Last year’s editor’s choice. 

8427 Lee Highway, Fairfax, Va.

bmwoffairfax.com

Editor’s Choice: Maserati of Arlington

Best Apartment/Condo Building

Atlantic Plumbing

(Photo courtesy of Atlantic Plumbing)

Last year’s editor’s choice and the 2016-2017 winner.

2112 8th St., N.W.

atlanticplumbingdc.com

Editor’s Choice: City Market at O

Best Doctor/Medical Provider

Whitman-Walker Health

(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

A flip-flop of last year’s outcome. 

whitman-walker.org

Runner-Up: Dr. Robyn Zeiger

Best Fitness or Workout Spot

VIDA Fitness

A flip-flop of last year’s outcome.

Locations at U Street, Logan Circle and Gallery Place

vidafitness.com

Editor’s Choice: Barry’s Bootcamp

Best Gayborhood

Dupont Circle

Dupont Circle Fountain, Russian news agency, gay news, Washington Blade
Dupont Circle (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Shaw is dethroned after three consecutive wins! Logan was also the 2016 runner up. 

Editor’s Choice: Logan Circle

Best Hardware Store

Logan Ace Hardware 

Logan Ace Hardware (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

A perennial favorite in this category. Third consecutive win! 

1734 14th St., N.W.

acehardwaredc.com

Editor’s Choice: True Value on 17th

Best Home Furnishings

Mitchell Gold+Bob Williams 

Mitchell Gold and Bob Williams in their 14th Street NW store. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Second consecutive win on the occasion of their 30th anniversary! 

1526 14th St., N.W.

mgbwhome.com

Runner-up: Room & Board

Best Home Improvement Service

Case Design

(Photo courtesy of Case Design)

“Full-service home remodelers building your dreams.” Third consecutive win! 

Locations in Washington and Bethesda.

casedesign.com

Editor’s Choice: Magnolia Plumbing, Heating & Cooling

Best Hotel

The Line

1770 Euclid St., N.W.

thelinehotel.com

Editor’s Choice: W Hotel

Best House of Worship

Foundry United Methodist Church

Foundry United Methodist Church (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Foundry fights back! Dethrones Empowerment Liberation Cathedral, which had four consecutive wins (2015-2018). Foundry (church home to 17 U.S. presidents) held the title 2011-2014 was last year’s editor’s choice. 

1500 16th St., N.W.

foundryumc.org

Editor’s Choice: St Thomas’ Parish Episcopal Church

Best Lawyer

Amy Nelson

Amy Nelson (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Whitman-Walker Health

whitman-walker.org

Runner-Up: Michele Zavos (last year’s winner)

Since 2008, Amy Nelson has been director of legal services at Whitman-Walker Health. One of her milestone accomplishments was organizing the name and gender change legal clinic in 2012, which continues to serve hundreds of clients in updating their gender markers on identity documents annually.

Nelson is understandably proud about her work at the historic D.C. institution, saying, “Working at Whitman-Walker Health means being a part of history, part of a big messy family full of inspiration and passion, and is like no other job I could imagine. I am extremely excited about our expansion in Southeast and expanded services for youth.”

Nelson also underscores the importance of reaching out to D.C.’s diverse communities. “D.C.’s many (LGBT) and immigrant communities are fabulous and bold but need a little more love to stay healthy and safe as this country moves to erase them,” she says. 

The fierce advocate acknowledges the role her family plays in sustaining her work. “I am so grateful to be sharing my life chaos with the one and only amazing June Crenshaw whose commitment to D.C.’s queer youth experiencing homelessness is limitless,” she says. “Her heart inspires me to do better, be kinder and be OK with being me.”

She also unwinds by hanging out with her nieces and nephew in Arlington. “They are adorable rays of sunshine and happiness who ground me every weekend,” she says. But be careful if you ask to see pictures of them. Nelson warns, “I only have a few thousand photos of them on my phone.” (BTC)

Best LGBT Social Group

Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington

Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Their show “Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda” is Saturday night (5 and 8 p.m.) at City Winery. The chorus knocks off Stonewall Sports after two consecutive wins. 

gmcw.org

Editor’s Choice: Stonewall Sports  

Best LGBT Sports League

Stonewall Kickball

Third consecutive win; 2016 runner-up. 

skdc.info

Editor’s Choice: DC Frontrunners

Best LGBT-Owned Business

District Title

A full-service provider of real estate settlements and title insurance. 

1150 Connecticut Ave., N.W.

districttitle.com

Editor’s Choice: Social Driver

Most LGBT-Friendly Workplace

Whitman-Walker Health

(Washington Blade photo by Wyatt Reid Westlund)

Third consecutive win.

1525 14th St., N.W.

whitman-walker.org

Editor’s Choice: National LGBTQ Task Force

Best LGBT Event

Capital Pride Celebration

The main stage at the 2019 Capital Pride Festival (Washington Blade photo by Drew Brown)

Third consecutive win! 

Editor’s Choice: Cherry Fund Weekend

Best Museum

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Smithsonian America Art Museum (Photo by Zach Frank via Wikimedia Commons)

F & 8th St., N.W.

americanart.si.edu

Editor’s Choice: National Museum of African American History and Culture

Best Non-Profit

SMYAL

SMYAL Fall Brunch fundraiser (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Supporting and Mentoring Youth Advocates and Leaders. Second consecutive win! 

410 7th St., S.E.

smyal.org

Editor’s Choice: Latino GLBT History Project

Best Private School

Barrie

13500 Layhill Rd.

Silver Spring, Md.

barrie.org

Editor’s Choice: Edmund Burke (also last year’s editor’s choice) 

Best Pet Business

City Dogs Daycare

1832 18th St., N.W.

301 H St., N.E.

city-dogs.com

Editor’s Choice: District Dogs

Best Place to Buy Second-Hand Stuff

Miss Pixie’s Furnishings and Whatnot

Miss Pixie’s (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

A perennial favorite in this category! Same outcome for third consecutive year. 

1626 14th St., N.W.

misspixies.com

Editor’s choice: Buffalo Exchange (2016 runner-up)

Best Movie Theater

Landmark Atlantic Plumbing Cinema

Landmark’s Atlantic Plumbing Cinema (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

New releases plus indie fare, foreign and avant garde. Third consecutive win. 

807 V St., N.W.

landmarktheatres.com

Editor’s Choice: AMC Loews Georgetown

Best Rehoboth Business

Purple Parrot

Purple Parrot (Washington Blade photo by Daniel Truitt)

Second consecutive win! 

134 Rehoboth Ave.

Rehoboth Beach, Del.

ppgrill.com

Editor’s Choice: Blue Moon

Best Salon/Spa

Logan 14 Aveda

Logan 14 Aveda (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Fourth consecutive win! 

1314 14th St., N.W.

logan14salonspa.com

Editor’s Choice: Bang Salon

Best Alternative Transportation

Capital Bike Share

Capital Bikeshare (Photo by Mario Roberto Duran Ortiz via Wikimedia Commons)

capitalbikeshare.com

Editor’s Choice: Lyft

A flip-flop of last year’s outcome. 

Best Day Trip

Easton, Md.

Easton, Md. (Photo by Mellowcream via Wikimedia Commons)

Editor’s Choice: Harper’s Ferry

Best Regional Pride

Annapolis Pride

Annapolis Pride (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Editor’s Choice: Baltimore Pride

Best Tattoo Parlor

Fatty’s Tattoos & Piercings

1333 Connecticut Ave., N.W.

516 H St., N.E.

8638 Colesville Rd. (Silver Spring) 

fattystattoos.com

Runner-up: Tattoo Paradise (winner last two years)

“It feels good, but we’re kind of used to it,” says Fatty (the only name he gives), owner of Fatty’s Tattoo on receiving this year’s Best Tattoo Parlor award. “We’ve been voted D.C.’s best tattoo shop 10 times now. Since 2009.”

It’s also their 25th year in D.C., and Fatty says success comes from welcoming everyone equally. When the Dupont Circle shop first opened, not all businesses embraced tattoo lovers.

“Back in the ’90s, tattooing was underground and being gay was still kind of underground, so we matched up pretty nicely.”

Fatty saw many shops close after the 2008 recession, but this match helped keep his parlor open. 

“That’s our mission of excellence,” he says. “The customer doesn’t need to see it posted, they need to feel it.” (PVS)

Best Theater

Kennedy Center

Kennedy Center (Photo by Make Male via Wikimedia Commons)

The Kennedy Center returns after an upset flip-flop last year; it held the title 2015-2017!

2700 F St., N.W.

kennedy-center.org

Editor’s Choice: Studio Theatre

Best Theater Production

“Bright Colors and Bold Patterns” (Studio Theatre, July)

Editor’s Choice: John Cameron Mitchell’s “Origin of Love” (National Theatre)

Best Veterinarian 

Friendship Hospital for Animals

An upset flip-flop of last year’s outcome — CityPaws held the title 2015-2018. 

friendshipanimaldc.com

4105 Brandywine St., N.W.

Editor’s Choice: City Paws Animal Hospital 

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Final season of ‘Pose’ is must-see TV that matters

Groundbreaking FX drama has left its mark

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When the COVID pandemic hit in the early months of 2020, there were certainly more pressing and essential worries for us to grapple with than how it would impact the next season of a TV show. Yet it’s a testament to the power of “Pose” that many among its legion of fans were at least as concerned about the show’s disruption as they were about the possibility of running out of toilet paper.

The powerhouse FX drama — which spotlights the legends, icons and ferocious house mothers of New York’s underground ball culture in the late 1980s — had already made history. Not only did it feature the largest cast of transgender actors in regular roles, it boasted the largest recurring cast of LGBTQ actors ever included in a scripted series. In its first two seasons, the show racked up accolades and honors (including a Primetime Emmy for Billy Porter as Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series) while breaking new ground for the inclusion and representation of queer people — and especially transgender people of color — in television, both in front of the camera, and behind it. With the end of its second season in August 2019, fans were hungry for a third — but thanks to COVID, its future was suddenly in question.

So, when word came that the show’s third season would have its debut on May 2, it was the best news since finding out the vaccines were finally going to start rolling out. But it was bittersweet: Along with confirmation of the series’ imminent return came the sad revelation that the new season would also be the last. “Pose” would be coming to an end with a final, seven-episode arc.

As any viewer of show can attest, there were a lot of threads left hanging when last we saw its characters. That means there’s a lot of ground to cover in these last chapters in order to give everyone — characters and audience alike — the closure they deserve.

The show’s official synopsis goes like this: It’s now 1994 and ballroom feels like a distant memory for Blanca, who struggles to balance being a mother with being a present partner to her new love, as well as her latest role as a nurse’s aide. Meanwhile, as AIDS becomes the leading cause of death for Americans ages 25 to 44, Pray Tell contends with unexpected health burdens. Meanwhile, a vicious new upstart house is emerging in the ballroom world, and the members of the House of Evangelista are forced to contend their legacy.

Obviously, there are a lot of details left hidden in that broad overview, and fans are undoubtedly full of questions about what they can expect to see.

Fortunately, the bulk of the show’s main cast convened on Zoom last week (along with show co-creator and Executive Producer Steven Canals and Executive Producer Janet Mock) for a press conference to discuss their “Pose” experience, and while they didn’t exactly give away any spoilers, they definitely dropped some tantalizing hints about what’s in store for audiences in the farewell season.

In truth, most of the discussion was dominated by reminiscences and expressions of mutual appreciation, sure signs that the feeling of family we see onscreen is something that has taken hold off screen, as well. But in between the affectionate banter, the cast and creatives addressed several questions that might be most on viewers’ minds.

Perhaps the most pressing of these — why, after only three seasons, is the critic-and-audience-acclaimed show calling it quits? — was taken on by Canals, who explained:

“I always knew what the beginning and what the end of the narrative would be. And when Ryan Murphy and I first met in September of 2016, we felt really strongly that that particular narrative made sense. And so, while we certainly could have continued to create narrative around these characters and in this world, and we certainly had a conversation in the writers’ room about it … I think we all agreed that it just made sense for us to ‘land the plane,’ if you will, comfortably — as opposed to continuing to give an audience story that just simply didn’t have any real core intention or a real thrust towards specificity.”

Also of interest was the obvious subject of how the parallels between the current pandemic and the AIDS crisis that looms over the show’s narrative might be reflected in the new episodes. While he didn’t hint at any direct connections in “Pose,” Porter used the subject to underscore a theme that has always been one of the show’s most important elements:

“I think the parallels are quite profound. I know that as a Black gay man who lived through the AIDS crisis, I have been dealing with a lot of PTSD during this COVID time. It’s very reminiscent of what it was like then. The best news about that is that I survived. We got through it, and there is another side to it. We can get to the other side.

“I feel like that’s what ‘Pose’ really accomplishes this season, reminding the public that it’s when we come together and when we lead with love [that] we get to the other side.”

Mock elaborated on the theme of resilience by discussing the importance of showing the strength of House mothers like Blanca and Electra (Dominique Jackson), who hold together — and lift up — their entire community:

“It’s that matriarchal power and lineage that I think the ballroom is, and what trans women are to one another, that then feeds everyone else and enables them to shine and have all the things that they want in the world. For me, it is [about] that celebration […] of Black trans women — that they’ve created this space, that they brought everyone else in with them, and that, at the end of the day, they are often the ones most often forgotten.

“I think with this season, I want everyone across the industry, the audience, to realize that. I think it’s essential, and it’s important.”

Mock also talked about the way “Pose” focuses on the small, day-to-day lives of its characters as much as it does the larger-than-life splendor of the ballroom culture in which they participate:

“We wanted to ensure that we show the everyday, mundane moments, as well as the great, grand celebrations. The ballroom is are presentation of what it means to congregate and share testimony and to love on each other, and our show is a celebration of the everyday intimacies. So, for us, while we were plotting these big, grand moments […] we wanted to bring in traditions — weddings, matrimony, all this stuff — that our characters get to engage in. We wanted to be a part of the tradition of that, and all the moments that a family shares together. We wanted to make sure that all of those things were celebrated in this.”

When discussion turned to the unprecedented level of support and collaborative inclusion with which the show’s queer cast were bestowed by Ryan Murphy and the rest of the creative staff — from the presence of trans women like Mock and Co-producer Our Lady J in the writers’ room to the extensive reliance on the insights and talents of real-life members of the ballroom community — Jackson was quick to add that besides giving the show its ferocious authenticity, it gave her an increased recognition of her own worth:

“I will never, ever, ever walk into a space thinking that I need to impress them […] I will never walk into a space being fearful of my identity stopping me from anything. Because of this journey, when I walk into spaces now, my identity is not because I’m an abomination. My identity is a plus. My identity is my value. So, when I walk into spaces now,they need to impress me. You can be the biggest Hollywood director, producer, whatever, but you’re not going to take my story or relay stories that are reflective of my life or my existence and make them into anything you want, because of ‘Pose,’ because of Ryan, because of Steven, because of Janet and Brad [co-creator/executive producer Falchuk), because of Our Lady J, because of my cast members.

“I will never walk into spaces or live a life or an existence thinking that I need to impress anyone.”

Porter concurred, adding:

“There was never, ever a space in my brain to dream what‘Pose’ is, what Pray Tell is. I spent the first 25-plusyears of my career trying to fit into a masculinity construct that society placed on us so I could eat.‘Pose,’ and Pray Tell in particular, really taught me to dream the impossible […] the idea that the little, Black church sissy from Pittsburgh is now in a position of power in Hollywood in a way that never existed before. You can damn sure believe that I will be wielding that power and there will be a difference and a change in how things go from here on out.”

If the cast members themselves have found themselves feeling more empowered thanks to “Pose,” so too have the millions of LGBTQ people — and allies — who have tuned into it since its premiere in 2018. The show is one of those rare entries into the cultural lexicon that simply allows its queer and trans people to live authentic lives, giving long-withheld representation to countless viewers who were able to see themselves reflected back from the screen for perhaps the very first time. It’s that powerful sense of validation provided by “Pose” that keeps it standing tall in an entertainment market now providing so much LGBTQ inclusion that it’s becoming dangerously easy to take it for granted.

Whatever moments of heartbreak, joy, and celebration “Pose” brings us as it plays out its final act — and there are sure to be many — we can all be sure it will leave us with a message expressed through an oft-heard line of dialogue that Mock says she found herself writing “over and over again” during the series’ run:

“You are everything, and you deserve everything this world has to offer.” It’s that nurturing sentiment the “Pose” has been instilling in us from the beginning, like a mother to us all.

And that’s why so many of us can’t wait until the first two episodes of its final season air at 10 p.m. (both Eastern and Pacific), Sunday, May 2, on FX.

The final season of “Pose” will begin to air on FX on Sunday, May 2, at 10 p.m. ET. (Photos courtesy of FX)

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At 75, John Waters has no plans to retire

‘I’d go nuts if I didn’t work’

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When writer and filmmaker John Waters turned 70 five years ago, he said he took six friends on a first-class trip to Paris for his birthday and “we had the best time.”

This year, for his 75th birthday on April 22, he was going to take his friends to Rome but the COVID-19 pandemic got in the way and they couldn’t all travel.

Instead, a friend is having a small dinner party for him in New York City, and he’s going with a friend. “Everybody has had their shots, and that’s what I’m going to do…It will be low-key this year.”

The older he gets, he said, the less he cares about making a big fuss out of every birthday anyway.

“What difference does it make? Old means old. It doesn’t matter which one.”

Though he’s taking some time to celebrate his 75th birthday, Waters has no plans to retire.

“No, God no,” he said last weekend while on a Zoom call with fans from London. “I jump out of bed every morning. It hurts to jump out of bed. I have aches and pains. But no, I’d go nuts if I didn’t work.”

That’s probably just as well because he has a lot going on. Between shooting episodes of “Law and Order: Special Victims Unit” and “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” getting ready for film festivals in several cities, planning a guided tour in Provincetown, and preparing for an exhibit of his private art collection at the Baltimore Museum of Art, he’s staying busy.

The ultimate multitasker, he didn’t even stop working when he went for a COVID vaccination recently.

“I signed an autograph when I was getting the shot,” he said. “Well, not at the moment, but right before.”

In a Zoom session organized by London’s Viktor Wynd Museum of Curiosities — an early birthday present of sorts because it drew fans from at least three continents — Waters announced that he just last week finished the book he’s been writing for the past three years, “LIARMOUTH,” a novel about a woman who steals luggage at the airport. It’s due out next year from Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

He also expressed optimism that some events that had to be cancelled in 2020 because of the pandemic will be back in 2021, including his Camp John Waters “sleepaway” weekend for superfans in Kent, Conn., and a new, renamed iteration of the Burger Boogaloo punk rock music festival that he hosts in Oakland, Calif.

There’s even a chance he’ll make another movie. Waters told his fans there’s still interest in “Fruitcake,” the children’s Christmas film that he’s been trying for years to make. “There is new possibility,” he teased. “That’s all I’ll say. I’m not going to jinx it.”

He’s waiting to hear about the several dozen spoken-word shows he performs around the country every year between Thanksgiving and Christmas. “I think a lot of those decisions are going to happen in September.”

Most of all, he said, he’s just eager to make in-person appearances after a year in lockdown. Some of his engagements that were cancelled due to COVID have been rescheduled for the coming year, including appearances in New York, California, and Pennsylvania, and he’s adding others.

“I’m dying to get back on the road,” he said last weekend. “I’m still amazed that 20-something-year-old kids know who I am. I want to see what they look like.”

He’s wondering whether Meet-N-Greets – the sessions where he signs autographs and poses for photos with fans after a performance – will be possible in a post-pandemic world.

“Even before this, when I did the Christmas tour, I had Meet-N-Greets for usually 50 people” after a show, he said. “I’d always get sick because you have to hug everybody and then get on an airplane the next day. So I think Meet-N-Greets might never come back. I don’t know how they’re ever going to do that safely.”

On a personal basis, too, he’s yearning to get out and travel more.

“I want to go to a movie theater. I want to go to a concert,” he said. “I want to be able to have even a dull day out with other people.”

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This year’s Oscars might be historic — but does anyone care?

Diverse nominees lacking LGBTQ representation

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Oscar, gay news, Washington Blade

It’s Oscar weekend. Are you excited?

Unless you’re actually one of the nominees, odds are pretty good that you’re not – but the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which is geared up to present its prestigious annual film awards for the 93rd time on Sunday night, really, really wants you to be. Why else, a week ahead of the Big Night, would they roll out the show’s producers for a press conference to drop hints that the upcoming broadcast would “look like a movie” and incorporate satellite hookups from “multiple locations?” It was a clear bid to drum up excitement.

More details came Monday, when a letter from that same trio – producer Steven Soderbergh (himself an Oscar winner for directing “Traffic” in 2000) and co-producers Jesse Collins and Stacey Sher – went out to the nominees. As it turns out, the ceremony will be held at LA’s historic Union Station (site of Saturday’s press conference), which will be treated “as an active movie set” in terms of COVID-related safety protocols, with “additional elements” of the show being incorporated live from Hollywood’s Dolby Theatre via satellite hook-up.

More interestingly, the letter revealed, “The first—and most obvious—point we want to get across with this year’s show is STORIES MATTER.” In keeping with that theme, nominees are requested to submit to a brief interview to “tell the story of your path to April 25,” as part of an effort to “highlight the connections between all of us who work in the movies and show that the process is uniquely intimate, collaborative, and fun.” The emphasis on “story” was further reflected by instructions about messaging in the speeches (“If you’re thanking someone, say their name, not their title… make it PERSONAL”) and a dress code described as “a fusion of Inspirational and Aspirational.” Whatever Soderbergh and crew have planned for the show, their letter leaves little doubt they intend to tightly manage the narrative it presents.

That’s not surprising, of course; Hollywood is in the business of creating narratives, and the one it takes most seriously is the one it creates about itself. Nevertheless, it’s particularly telling that the story it is working so hard to tell seems designed to brush its problem with inclusion comfortably into the background.

This year, the organization might well feel that when it comes to diversity, the nominations speak for themselves. For a year in which tremendous social upheaval has brought Black experience in America to the forefront of the public conversation, the Oscars have chosen an impressive number of Black-led films and Black artists among an overall slate that offers the most diverse lineup of nominees in its history. Women are also represented, thanks to the inclusion of Emerald Fennell’s “Promising Young Woman” among the Best Picture contenders and the first-ever two nominations for women – Fennell and Chloé Zhao (“Nomadland”) – as Best Director. Additionally, Zhao, who is Chinese, is the first woman of color ever nominated in that category, Steven Yuen (“Minari”) became the first Asian-American to receive a Best Actor nod, and in the same category, Riz Ahmed (“The Sound of Metal”) became the first person of Pakistani descent to be nominated in any acting category.

In the midst of all this inclusion, however, the LGBTQ community – traditionally a stronghold for some of Oscar’s most ardent fans – has this year been largely left empty-handed, once again. Besides two Best Actress nods for women playing bisexual characters (Viola Davis and Andra Day, for “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” and “The United States vs. Billie Holiday,” respectively), there are no major nominations for films with significant LGBTQ content – though it’s worth noting that the aforementioned “Young Woman” features trans actress Laverne Cox in a prominent supporting role. While it’s not a problem for us to stand on the sidelines and cheer for the victories achieved by representatives of other marginalized communities, it’s becoming harder to ignore the nagging feeling that our willingness to forgive an institution that continues to disappoint and diminish us is really something akin to Stockholm Syndrome.

In any case, this year’s Academy Awards have the potential for making history. Nine of the 20 acting nominees are people of color, and at least two of them are considered frontrunners in their categories. Zhao could become the first woman of Asian descent to win the Best Director prize. And while the potential for those wins lends a kind of excitement to the proceedings, an inescapable feeling of “too little, too late” – coupled with a pandemic-induced awareness of the relative unimportance of awards like these in the greater scheme of things – makes it more difficult than ever, perhaps, to care.

With that in mind, here are the currently leading “official” predictions for the winners in the top six categories, based on a combination of Oscar history, industry buzz, review consensus, and plain old-fashioned gut instinct:

BEST PICTURE: “Nomadland” and “The Trial of the Chicago 7” are considered the front-runners, thanks to previous wins in the equivalent category at the Golden Globes and the Screen Actors’ Guild Awards, respectively. “Nomadland” is favored to win.

BEST DIRECTOR: Chloé Zhao, who has taken the directing prize at both the Globes and the BAFTAs, seems a sure bet for “Nomadland.”

BEST ACTOR: Chadwick Boseman, whose death in 2020 after a secret battle with colon cancer devastated fans and co-workers alike, would seem the inevitable winner for his performance in “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” even without his already-racked-up wins at the Globes, Critics’ Choice, and SAG Awards. If he takes it – and it’s almost certain he will – it would make him only the second Best Actor winner to be awarded the prize posthumously (the first was Peter Finch, for 1976’s “Network”).

BEST ACTRESS: There are no clear front-runners here. With one high-profile win each under their belt Davis (SAGs), Day (Globes), Frances McDormand (BAFTAs for “Nomadland”) and Carey Mulligan (Critics’ Choice for “Promising Young Woman”) are all positioned as possible winners. However, with Davis already making history with this performance as Oscar’s most-nominated Black actress, the appeal of also making her the first to win in both Actress categories (her performance in 2016’s “Fences” earned her the Best Supporting prize) might just give her the edge.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: Having won for his performance as slain Black Panther leader Fred Hampton in “Judas and the Black Messiah” at all the other major film awards, Daniel Kaluuya is the definition of a “shoo-in.”

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: As is often the case, this category might be the most wide-open. Buzz has favored both Yuh-Jung Youn (“Minari”) and Maria Bakalova (“Borat Subsequent Moviefilm”), but her win at the BAFTA Awards puts Youn in place as the probable frontrunner. If she wins, she will be only the second Asian actress to win an Oscar, after Miyoshi Umeki (1957’s “Sayonara”).

You can find out the winners when the Oscars air on ABC, Sunday April 25 at 5 p.m. PT/8 p.m. ET. But don’t worry – if you don’t care enough to watch, you can always Google it afterward.

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