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Meet D.C.’s Most Eligible LGBTQ Singles

Yes, you can date during a pandemic

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The coronavirus pandemic has changed everything, from telework to dining out, but D.C.’s singles scene perseveres with outdoor dates, igloo dinners, and Zoom meetings.

This is the seventh annual Washington Blade Most Eligible LGBT Singles issue. It began with reader nominations; from that list, our staff chose the most eligible with an eye for locals with interesting stories, those doing compelling work and yes, those who are easy on the eye.

This year’s crop of top singles agree that confidence is a turn on and bad breath is a deal breaker. Meet D.C.’s Most Eligible LGBTQ singles for 2021.

Aramis Angleró, 31, Accountant

Aramis Angleró (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

How do you identify? Gay

What are you looking for in a mate? I’m looking for someone who challenges me and motivates me to try new things. Someone who has a great smile, knows what he wants and is driven by his passions.

Biggest turn off: Dishonesty, rudeness, someone who thinks they know it all and is not willing to grow and hear someone else’s perspective.

Biggest turn on: Someone confident in their own skin that they can hold a conversation and an active guy in sports or fitness.

Hobbies? Competitive volleyball is my passion (I play in the local league DCPVL), picked up running in 2020 and love live musicals and comedy shows.

How has COVID impacted your dating life? It’s been difficult. I normally connect with a guy face to face, which makes the interaction more organic. However, during COVID I’ve used dating apps but it sometimes feels forced.

Pets, kids, or neither? I would love to have a dog but I know it’s a lot of responsibility so co-parenting would be a plus. Kids? Well, I’m not there yet but open to the conversation if we both feel ready.

Would you date someone whose political views differ from your own? Simple answer: No. I’m open to having a conversation as long as it’s respectful and the values where we differ aren’t extreme.

Celebrity crush: Darren Criss

Name one obscure fact about yourself: One would think being Latino from Puerto Rico I would enjoy the summer weather but I hate sweating so unless I’m in a pool or at the beach, I enjoying being in A/C.

Craig Cipollini, 53, Director of Marketing

Craig Cipollini (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

How do you identify? Gay male

What are you looking for in a mate? Someone with a sense of humor (!!!), passionate, focused, confident (but not arrogant,) responsible, caring, comfortable, relaxed, someone who loves the performing arts, someone I find physically attractive, and a sense of fun.

Biggest turn off: Arrogance

Biggest turn on: Confidence

Hobbies? Artwork, working out, dance, movies, hanging with friends

How has COVID impacted your dating life? Where to start LOL … Haven’t really been able to date or meet people, so I’ve just been hanging with my friends. I’ve tried a few dating apps and had a few dates (mostly Zoom calls) but not much dating really.

Pets, kids, or neither? No pets or kids (but I love dogs!)

Would you date someone whose political views differ from your own? Possibly. It would really depend on how different their political views were from mine.

Celebrity crush: Can I list more than one? Chris Evans, Sebastian Stan, Marwan Kenzari, Regé-Jean Page, Simu Liu, Jonathan Bailey

Name one obscure fact about yourself: I’ve performed on live national television.

Maria Miller, ripe 29

Maria Miller (Photo courtesy of Miller)

Occupation: You name it, I’ve probably done it.

How do you identify? DYKE

What are you looking for in a mate? Someone to finish Patsy Cline lyrics when I’m singing terribly.

Biggest turn off: Bad tippers and people who are rude to ANY sort of service industry staff.

Biggest turn on: Kind and genuine people.

Hobbies? Community organizing, painting, making jewelry, wine.

How has COVID impacted your dating life? It’s literally non-existent.

Pets, kids, or neither? I love pets and kids, I have none.

Would you date someone whose political views differ from your own? Why would I?

Celebrity crush: Ciara and Selena (not Gomez)

Name one obscure fact about yourself: I still have two baby teeth.

Derrick Johnson, 35, Chief Diversity Officer & Director of Event Strategy

Derrick Johnson (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

How do you identify? Gay (Pronouns: he/him/his)

What are you looking for in a mate? I’m looking for a man who is confident, thoughtful, goal-oriented, philanthropic, open-minded, and makes me laugh. He must have a sense of humor and be driven by impacting the lives of others.

Biggest turn off: Entitlement (i.e. being rude to servers)

Biggest turn on: A man who dances like no one is watching.

Hobbies? Music touches my soul; flag football and fitness classes keep me in physically good shape; video games distract my mind; traveling expands my awareness; volunteering makes me feel good.

How has COVID impacted your dating life? COVID has limited my ability to meet people while doing the things I love. It has shown me the importance of cultivating relationships and the value of maximizing moments in life.

Pets, kids, or neither? Dog(s) and kid(s)

Would you date someone whose political views differ from your own? Political views, yes. Humanitarian views, no.

Celebrity crush: Brendon Urie (the talent…woof)

Name one obscure fact about yourself: I almost went to Mars #marsone

Amanda Haverkamp, 25

Amanda Haverkamp (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Occupation: Just started work in the cybersecurity sales arena after spending three years in the U.S. Senate.

How do you identify? Lesbian

What are you looking for in a mate? I’m looking for someone who can be my biggest cheerleader in all areas of life, and who will welcome me to be the same to her in return. I’d like my person to appreciate the grandiosity of how I show affection, but also recognize the simplest moments and be able to appreciate those together. Must haves: a strong personality, a grasp on her “story,” and a little bit of hopeless romanticism.

Biggest turn off: A “floater,” which is what I call those who don’t know what they’re looking for.

Biggest turn on: Charisma, decisiveness, sense of humor

Hobbies? Cars and mural-hunting! I’ve loved cars since I was a kid. There are several childhood pics of me with Hot Wheels in my hand or playing with toy trucks on the beach. In college, I focused in on German performance cars, and have never looked back! Flying through the backroads and going on road trips are my favorite activities. As for murals, whenever I visit a new city, I make it a point to scout out the street art. In fact, a lot of my Instagram is dedicated to combining these hobbies through car photography. I’m super nerdy about it, but if you think you can handle it, drop me a line (or a like) @semperamanda.

How has COVID impacted your dating life? The pandemic has led me to go on a lot more outdoorsy dates, which is awesome. Hikes, beach walks, picnics, boating, and scenic drives are some of my favorites.

Pets, kids, or neither? Neither at the moment, though my three-year plan involves adopting a cat! I’m open to pets 100%.

Would you date someone whose political views differ from your own? This is such a Washingtonian question! Haha. I’ve done this in the past, and it hasn’t worked out, though I do believe that if the issues that a couple disagrees on are not pivotal to the point of negatively affecting others in any way, shape, or form, then it can be discussed. Definitely very case-by-case.

Celebrity crush: Jessica Chastain

Name one obscure fact about yourself: When I was in the Coast Guard stationed on the island of Martha’s Vineyard, I did my Search and Rescue swim test in the harbor where they filmed the movie “Jaws” — during the peak of great white shark mating season.

Mike Reddy, 33, Director of Advocacy at Marketing for Change

Mike Reddy (Photo courtesy of Reddy)

How do you identify? Open to all types of humans, except for adult fans of those Minion characters.

What are you looking for in a mate? I’m not a very “online” person, so someone who wants to do lots of stuff in the real world. But not hiking. If you enjoy hiking, I’m sure there’s someone else on this list for you.

Biggest turn off: Hiking

Biggest turn on: Hill staffers. Tell me about your proximity to power, baby.

Hobbies? Cooking Indian food

How has COVID impacted your dating life? Peace and stability are my biggest motivations right now. It’s a wild world out there!

Pets, kids, or neither? I’ve got an unruly Pitt-mix pup. And I’d love kids, but honestly I’m just so tired.

Would you date someone whose political views differ from your own? Sure! But I’m not generally compatible with people at the far ends of the spectrum.

Celebrity crush: Jacinda Ardern

Name one obscure fact about yourself: I used to take Richard Simmons’ workout class when I lived in LA.

Ari Schwartz, 34, Attorney

Ari Schwartz (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

How do you identify? Lesbian, Jewish, Feminist

What are you looking for in a mate? Romance, kindness, vision, a ride or die, and Big Dyke Energy — a lesbian who is joyfully settled in her life and is also making it a priority to meet her last LTR and future wife/baby mama. I’m looking for a witness to my life and the opportunity to fall in love all over again every single morning with the same woman. Do you want to dance at your 50th wedding anniversary, too? Let me know via IG @apschwartzesq.

Biggest turn off: Someone who doesn’t know who they are. Know what you want and need. If you know how to ask, I’ll know how to answer. Be an active participant in every moment of the creation of your life, please.

Biggest turn on: Stability, ambition, unapologetic laughter, a big bright smile, strong hands, power lesbians.

Hobbies? You can catch me at your local plant nursery every weekend with an oat milk latte in hand. Big houseplant enthusiast, re-teaching myself piano, reconnecting with my ancestral roots by actively learning Hebrew, building lesbian community and campfires, daily REDFIN scrolling, and pretending to understand my growing crystal collection beyond their aesthetics. I’d always rather be at the beach.

How has COVID impacted your dating life? While I no longer have the chance encounter at Trader Joe’s or Home Depot, or a first-date at an arcade playing air hockey, I still make dating a priority in my life. All it takes is one moment, one person, and one decision to change the entire trajectory of your life. Don’t let COVID stop you from meeting someone that makes every nerve in your body send a shockwave through your soul each moment you’re near her (even if it’s outside from six-feet apart).

Pets, kids, or neither? I definitely want both kids and a dog. The con in dating me is that I am allergic to cats. But I’ll take Claritin for the right woman. 

Would you date someone whose political views differ from your own? As long as our core values still align, and the difference isn’t rooted in challenging my right to exist.

Celebrity crush: Bette Porter 4eva

Name one obscure fact about yourself: My playlists jump from country pop to trap music within seconds.

Murray Penner, 59, U.S. Executive Director, Prevention Access Campaign/U=U

Murray Penner (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

How do you identify? Gay

What are you looking for in a mate? I’m looking for an independent, easy-going, family-oriented, trustworthy, fun-loving man who is looking for someone to complement his life.

Biggest turn off: Clingy people

Biggest turn on: Confidence

Hobbies? Travel, movies, dining out, spending time with family/friends

How has COVID impacted your dating life? I’ve mainly stayed home and haven’t dated at all during COVID, which wasn’t much of a change from pre-COVID. I’m just now getting back into dating, but I take COVID very seriously so dates will mainly be outdoors. I’m also fully vaccinated now so I will feel safer re-entering the dating life.

Pets, kids, or neither? Dog, cat and two adult children (20 and 24 years old)

Would you date someone whose political views differ from your own? This is a very important issue for me. In the past, I would say yes. But in this era, I would say most likely not. Because of the polarization of political views that has occurred over the last four years, I would need to be sure that the values one has for fundamental respect and rights of all people are aligned with mine, and that who they support politically also has similar values. That would be the determining factor if I would date someone, not their political views alone.

Celebrity crush: Steve Kornacki

Name one obscure fact about yourself: People see me as outgoing and personable, but I’m incredibly shy and introverted.

Stephanie Schweitzer, 32, Graphic Designer

Stephanie Schweitzer (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

How do you identify? Lesbian

What are you looking for in a mate? Someone who likes adventure, traveling, and being active, while also perfectly thrilled with nights in. The counterbalance is important to me. Paired with someone who also values family, whether it’s blood related or chosen family.

Biggest turn off: Passing judgement too quickly.

Biggest turn on: Confidence. Someone who truly knows who they are at their core and isn’t intimidated by the confidence of their partner. And patience.

Hobbies? Indoor skydiving, cars/motorcycles, volunteering with animals, stuffing my face with food/drinks from new restaurants I discover. Anything art related.

How has COVID impacted your dating life? Before the pandemic, I lived a busy life; end-to-end each day with work and hobbies. COVID has forced me to slow down and focus my attention on what the next phase of my life looks like. While work and hobbies are still a huge part of that next phase, finding someone to share my life with has become more of a priority.

Pets, kids, or neither? Have pets, want kids eventually.

Would you date someone whose political views differ from your own? Sure, as long as we can meet at the understanding that difference of opinions can be a positive thing.

Celebrity crush: Rachel McAdams, Jennifer Lawrence, Chelsea Handler, Betty Who

Name one obscure fact about yourself: I’m a sculptor.

Joe Kozel, 38, Fifth Grade Teacher

Joe Kozel (Washington Blade Photo by Michael Key)

How do you identify? Gay

What are you looking for in a mate? In an ideal world, I’d find someone who is honest, driven, and athletic. In the real world, I’d find someone with a cute dog.

Biggest turn off: My biggest turn off is gas lighting — and bad breath.

Biggest turn on: My biggest turn on is someone with a cute smirk and hair I can run my hands through.

Hobbies? My most recent hobbies are getting ignored on Grindr, and trying not to become popular on @gaysovercovid. Other hobbies include reading, playing chess, working out, and pretending I can cook.

How has COVID impacted your dating life? What dating life?

Pets, kids, or neither? DOGS

Would you date someone whose political views differ from your own? It depends on the views, and where they are on the political scale. So … maybe?

Celebrity crush: Ricky Martin

Name one obscure fact about yourself: I have run five marathons.

Drew Kelly, 28, Attorney

Drew Kelly (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

How do you identify? Gay

What are you looking for in a mate? Easy-going guy who enjoys nights out on the weekends and documentaries after work on the weeknights — and a guy who likes my eclectic taste in music and who prefers the beach to anywhere else.

Biggest turn off: Arrogance and guns and boat shoes.

Biggest turn on: Someone who is comfortable around others, and who makes others comfortable around them. Also good teeth.

Hobbies? Drinking rum and Cokes with friends, running, and stalking online real estate sites. Also anything water-related: boating, paddle boarding, kayaking, waterskiing.

How has COVID impacted your dating life? It has slowed things down quite a bit, but made more time for me. Hopefully when we come out of this, we all know ourselves a bit better.

Pets, kids, or neither? If my guy wants them, I want them.

Would you date someone whose political views differ from your own? Political views? Maybe. Morals and ethics? No.

Celebrity crush: Cal Shapiro, Robbie Rogers, Dacre Montgomery, Faith Hill

Name one obscure fact about yourself: My favorite restaurant is Wawa.

Jasmine “Jazzy” Garcia, 29, Scheduling Coordinator

Jasmine Garcia (Photo courtesy of Garcia)

How do you identify? Lesbian

What are you looking for in a mate? You absolutely have to make me laugh because life is too short to take so seriously. Let’s make each other laugh about anything and everything.

Biggest turn off: JEALOUSY. If I’m yours, I’m yours. I also hate tardiness. Be ready and be on time.

Biggest turn on: I’m turned on by confidence. Standing strong in who you are and your convictions is just so sexy to me (as long as your convictions do not harm a person or group). Someone who is open, optimistic, easy going, 420 friendly and a person who is spiritually connected with who she is.

Hobbies? I play a lot of video games (especially in quarantine). Before COVID, you could find me at Flash nightclub. I take my dog on hikes and when the world isn’t in shambles, I love traveling. The beach is my happy place.

How has COVID impacted your dating life? COVID has completely halted my dating life. Meeting new people right now is impossible. I tried dating apps and I delete them within a week.

Pets, kids, or neither? REGGIE! My four-year-old pitbull/beagle mix is my whole life. I take him everywhere if he’s allowed. Sometimes I’ll decline an invite if he can’t come along. He is my furry child. As of right now I have zero interest in children.

Would you date someone whose political views differ from your own? Absolutely not. Trump supporters need not apply.

Celebrity crush: Katherine Moennig (duh!), Samira Wiley and Snow tha Product.

Name one obscure fact about yourself: I am the creator and admin of Lesbians in DC Facebook group! I am also starting a podcast for queer women with a friend, so join my Facebook group for the official launch.

Nikki Goldschein, 27, PAC Manager

Nikki Goldschein (Photo by Anna Voe Ray)

How do you identify? Lesbian, Gay, Queer

What are you looking for in a mate? Someone who is outgoing and has a strong sense of humor. Liberal, duh. A person who gets excited about a good drink or fun activity. Affectionate. A woman who is DOWN (ex. we’re hosting a dinner party tonight, great! We’re going to a costume party, let me grab my wig. I need some space tonight, see ya).

Biggest turn off: Cats and someone who is super messy.

Biggest turn on: Someone ambitious and passionate about their work or hobbies. Good cooks. Someone living their life loud and proud. Someone who has been around the sun a few more times than I have.

Hobbies? Cooking and baking. Being outdoors: beach and mountains. Road tripping. Newly into tennis.

How has COVID impacted your dating life? Woof. It’s been, uh, tough.

Pets, kids, or neither? Don’t have either but hoping for both

Would you date someone whose political views differ from your own? Hard to imagine in this day and age, especially since my politics and work life are so deeply intertwined. Plus, the right has really gone off the deep.

Celebrity crush: Toni Collette, Rosario Dawson (sorry Cory) and Aubrey Plaza (like most other gays on Twitter this year)

Name one obscure fact about yourself: I was president of my high school’s GSA.

Calvin Seino, 31, IT Delivery Manager

Calvin Seino (Photo courtesy of Seino)

How do you identify? Gay

What are you looking for in a mate? Someone who is true to who they are, that goes to therapy, and takes vacations.

Biggest turn off: Not having drive or ambition

Biggest turn on: Drive and ambition

Hobbies? Cooking, listening to music, going to concerts, working out, and reading tech/car blogs.

How has COVID impacted your dating life? I prefer to meet people organically, ideally while doing things we both enjoy. COVID has forced that interaction to happen online. I find it extremely difficult to read personality via a screen.

Pets, kids, or neither? I have a beautiful Goldendoodle named Belair. Kids are on my life vision board.

Would you date someone whose political views differ from your own? I try to give people room to be individuals in thought and even embrace/explore differences. I actually prefer to not date people who are too similar in thought as it stifles each other’s growth. However, there is a hard line with social injustice, and systematic issues.

Celebrity crush: Regé-Jean Page

Name one obscure fact about yourself: I think capers can go in almost any dish.

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Camp classic ‘Mommie Dearest’ turns 40

Digital re-issue offers fans new insights, John Waters commentary

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Rutanya Alda, left, with Faye DunawayMara Hobel and Jeremy Scott Reinholt in ‘Mommie Dearest.’ (Photo courtesy Alda)

In a 2016 People magazine interview, Oscar-winning actress Faye Dunaway admitted to regretting her over-the-top portrayal of Joan Crawford in the 1981 movie “Mommie Dearest” (Paramount), newly reissued on Blu-ray and digital as part of the Paramount Presents series. Of the movie, based on the equally OTT memoir by Crawford’s adopted daughter Christina, Dunaway said, “I should have known better, but sometimes you’re vulnerable and you don’t realize what you’re getting into. It’s unfortunate they felt they had to make that kind of movie. But you can’t be ashamed of the work you’ve done.”

“That kind of movie” pretty much tanked Dunaway’s career after that. However, it also titillated and delighted countless fans upon its release and in the 40 years since. A multitude of lines have become iconic in the LGBTQ vernacular and classic scenes have become sources of endless entertainment. So, how good or bad is it?

From the minute the gloved hand of actress Joan Crawford (Dunaway) turns off her alarm at 4 a.m. and saunters into the bathroom to begin her morning routine, we know we’re in for something out of the ordinary. Dressed to kill, she heads to the studio, reading scripts and autographing photos in the back of a limo, Crawford was nothing if not devoted to her craft and fans.

She was also devoted to cleanliness, an obsession that would become one of the contributing factors in her descent. In one iconic scene, she berates a housekeeper, “I’m not mad at you, I’m mad at the dirt.”

A first-rate performer in all aspects, Crawford’s annual Christmas gift-giving extravaganza at an orphanage stirs up her desire for motherhood. Unable to conceive, the twice-divorced actress discovers she is not a candidate for adoption, despite believing she can be a mother and a father, providing both a “wonderful and advantaged life.” Her lawyer boyfriend Greg (Steve Forrest) pulls some strings and Crawford becomes mother to baby Christina.

It doesn’t take long (OK, a few years) before the cracks start to show, beginning with a birthday party for Christina (Mara Hobel, in a thankless role), complete with a carousel, an organ grinder and monkey, and a new baby brother named Christopher. Signs of tension are present in Joan’s interactions with Christina, including her bristling at her daughter’s tone of voice. When Joan catches Christina mimicking her while seated at her mother’s vanity, she flips out, butchering her hair.

Christina isn’t the only object of Joan’s aggression. Greg walks out on Joan after a disagreement, and she deals with it by cutting him out of every photo they took together. Studio head Mayer (Howard Da Silva) sends her packing, utilizing the creative differences excuse. This leads to the famous rose garden freak out (of “Tina, bring me the ax” fame). Shortly after winning the Oscar for “Mildred Pierce,” Joan discovers a wire hanger in Christina’s closet leading to the notorious “No wire hangers, ever!” beating scene.

Not even teenage Christina (Diana Scarwid), away at boarding school is safe from Joan’s wrath. After Christina is caught getting intimate with a boy, Joan removes her from the school. Back at home, where a journalist is busy writing a story about Joan, Christina and her mother have a heated argument, resulting in the classic slap sequence and the delivery of the “I’m not one of your fans” lines.

Having almost killed Christina, Joan sends her off to convent school. After graduating, Christina returns home to discover that not only has her mother remarried – to soft drink king Al Steele (Harry Goz) – but she has put her home up for sale with plans to relocate to New York. Needless to say, the mother/daughter relationship never improves, which explains Christina’s barbed-wire memoir.

Perhaps Dunaway, who worked with uneven director Frank Perry (“The Swimmer,” “Diary of Mad Housewife,” and “Play It As It Lays,” and the bombs “Hello Again” and “Monsignor”) in the past, should have known better. Regardless, “Mommie Dearest” went from shocking biopic to camp classic at light speed, and for that, we are forever grateful. Plus, with Halloween just around the corner, “Mommie Dearest” is a fab reminder of what a great (and terrifying) costume Joan Crawford can be.

In a 2015 interview with the Blade, actress Rutanya Alda, who played long-suffering maid Carol Ann in the film, talked about her surprise at first seeing the film.

“When the audience laughed, I was like, ‘Oh my gosh,’ I was kind of taken aback because I knew (producer) Frank Yablans and (director) Frank Perry’s intention was to make this really serious drama and of course it turned into this kind of camp happening right from the get go,” Alda said. “Even Paramount was caught off guard and they didn’t know how to promote it because it became such an audience experience right away. … I was actually quite pleased because the audience really got into it. It was just amazing to me.”

Alda added that Dunaway should have embraced the campy results of the final film.

“The audience of ‘Mommie Dearest’ is a great audience and I think they are disappointed that Faye has never embraced the film,” Alda said. “If I were Faye Dunaway, I would have said, ‘Look, I was great in the part, I did great things. OK, maybe I had an over-the-top performance, but it worked, didn’t it?’ … She’s really deprived herself of a great audience of people who love the movie and it’s a detriment to her. Look at all the joy she missed.”

Blu-ray special features include commentary by drag legend Hedda Lettuce and filmmaker John Waters, “Filmmaker Focus” with Frank Perry biographer Justin Bozung, short features including “The Revival of Joan,” “Life With Joan,” and “Joan Lives On,” as well as a photo gallery and the original theatrical trailer. Rating: B-

Faye Dunaway, left, as Joan Crawford, and Rutanya Alda as Carol Ann on the set of ‘Mommie Dearest.’ (Photo courtesy Alda)
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Stupid things not to do when you get old

Steven Petrow’s new book on aging is funny yet poignant

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Author Steven Petrow’s new book addresses aging issues. (Photo by Bethany Cubino)

Diane Sawyer, the former ABC News anchor, gave award-winning journalist Steven Petrow some advice on what he could do to look younger. “Anchors don’t get older, they just get blonder,” she told him.

For many years, Petrow, who is gay, took Sawyer’s wisdom to heart. He had his salt and pepper hair colored. This went well, until a new colorist offered to use a new “natural” coloring process that would remove a third of his gray hair. Petrow came away “a honey brash blonde” whose hair “screamed dye job.”

This is one of the many funny, yet poignant, stories that Petrow with Roseann Foley Henry tells in “Stupid Things I Won’t Do When I Get Old: A Highly Judgmental, Unapologetically Honest Accounting of All the Things Our Elders Are Doing Wrong.”

Written by Petrow with Henry, “Stupid Things I Won’t Do When I Get Old” is part memoir and part manifesto.

Few things are more fraught with fear, anxiety and ageism than knowing that, if we live long enough, we’ll get old. Whether hetero or LGBTQ, no matter how much we love our parents, we don’t want to become like our folks when we’re elders.

Shortly after he turned 50, Petrow, who writes about aging, health, manners and civility, began to confront his ageist beliefs and vowed not to let aging limit or diminish his life.

As he reached the half-century mark and his parents “entered their sunset years,” Petrow began to make a list of what he called “the stupid things I won’t do when I get old.”

The list, which kept growing longer and longer, “proved to be a highly judgmental, not-quite-mean-spirited-but-close accounting of everything I thought my parents were doing wrong,” Petrow, now 64, writes in the book’s introduction.

Petrow first wrote about his list in a popular New York Times essay “Things I’ll Do Differently When I Get Old.” “Stupid Things I Won’t Do When I Get Old” grew out of the essay.

Petrow’s list is, by turns, laugh-out-loud funny and incredibly moving.

He vows not to, as his Mom did, “forgo a walker because it wrecked my outfit.”

In one chapter, he promises that, “I Won’t Become a Miserable Malcontent, a Cranky Curmudgeon, or a Surly Sourpuss.”

Yet, in other more serious chapters, Petrow says that “I Won’t Lie to My Doctor Anymore (Because These Lies Can Kill),” “I Won’t Burden My Family with Taking Care of Me” and “I Won’t Forget to Plan My Own Funeral.”

Petrow, a columnist for the Washington Post and USA Today as well as a regular New York Times contributor, talked with the Blade by phone and email.

Petrow, whose previous books include “Steven Petrow’s Complete Gay & Lesbian Manners,” “The Lost Hamptons” and “When Someone You Know has AIDS” (3rd edition), grew up in New York City.

In 1978, Petrow graduated from Duke University with a bachelor’s degree in history. He graduated from the University of California, Berkeley with a master’s in history in 1982.

A former president of NLGJA (the Association of LGBTQ Journalists), Petrow lives in Hillsborough, N.C. His 2019 Ted Talk, “3 Ways to Practice Civility” has been viewed nearly two million times.

Petrow was born with journalism in his DNA. His father, journalist Richard Petrow, taught journalism for decades at New York University.

“My Dad was a great teacher,” Petrow said, “He traveled – got to meet people. I wanted to do what he did.”

In 1984, Petrow was diagnosed with testicular cancer. This experience is one reason why Petrow became a health care journalist. “I wanted to focus on health and medicine to teach people how to negotiate the health care system,” he said.

Negative buzz about aging is everywhere in the culture from magazine ads to birthday cards. “We start to become invisible when we’re in our 50s,” Petrow said, “this may be even more true – ageism may come earlier for gay men, and separately, more true, for women.”

“Old age ain’t no place for sissies,” Petrow added, quoting Bette Davis.

Research shows that the damage inflicted by ageism is real, Petrow said.

When we associate getting older with negative stereotypes about aging, our lives are shortened. “This ageism is as bad as smoking,” he said, “it takes seven years off our lives.”

It can be hard for people to find support and friends when they get old. But finding support is often more difficult for many in the queer community. There is more isolation among queer people as they age, Petrow said. “Many in their 60s lost their circle of friends during the height of the AIDS epidemic.”

Petrow seeks out multigenerational friendships. “I’m open to different perspectives,” he said, “I’ve learned so much from younger people.”

Petrow thinks outside the box of generational labels (boomers, millennials, etc.). He identifies as a “perennial.”

“Perennials are curious, engaged, passionate, and compassionate,” he said, “Millennials can be perennials. Boomers can be perennials. Anyone can choose to be a perennial.”

Petrow, who is often referred to as “Mr. Manners,” became interested in manners on a blind date in the 1990s. He and his date ended up as good friends. Through this connection, a book editor asked Petrow to do a book on gay manners.

“I’ve always been a bit like the weird person who’s fascinated with collecting and reading about arcane rules,” Petrow said. Wisdom can be found in etiquette books from decades ago, Petrow said. One of his favorite finds was in the first edition of a 1922 etiquette book by Emily Post. Just as we should think before we tweet, “It cautions people,” Petrow said, “not to write love letters that could end up on the front page of the newspaper.”

Generally, manners are the same for LGBTQ and hetero people. But there are some etiquette issues that apply specifically to queer people.

For example, what is the etiquette around revealing that someone you know – a family member, friend or co-worker is LGBTQ? “This is for an individual to do for themselves,” Petrow said, “not for any of us to do for another.”

Civility and manners are important to all of us in the COVID era, he reminds us.

“Throughout the pandemic I’ve been talking about, ‘we, not me,’ which is about thinking about others before self,” Petrow said, “And that’s really the only way we will get out of this.”

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Schock treatment: an interview with Gina Schock of the Go-Go’s

Drummer on her new book and upcoming Hall of Fame induction

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Gina Schock’s new book is out this month titled, ‘Made In Hollywood: All Access with the Go-Go’s.’

Too much of the Go-Go’s is never enough. In the 40 years since the all-female punk band burst on the scene with its unforgettable debut album “Beauty and the Beat” to some of the band members’ solo careers that followed its break-up to its ongoing reunion and the eye-opening 2020 documentary about the band, we just can’t get our fill. 

But wait, there’s more! Gina Schock, the Go-Go’s legendary drummer (she’s got the beat!), has just published a sensational coffee-table book, “Made In Hollywood: All Access with the Go-Go’s” (Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers, 2021) that features photos from Schock’s own stock, as well as her own personal recollections of her life in music. She made time for an interview before the publication of the book as well as the Go-Go’s long-awaited induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame later this month.

GREGG SHAPIRO/WASHINGTON BLADE: I’d like to begin by congratulating you, as well as the rest of the Go-Go’s, on your upcoming induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. How do you feel about it?

GINA SCHOCK: It took so long for this to happen, and at first we were sort of like, “Hell’s bells! We don’t even care anymore.” Every year, we’d think “Maybe it’s gonna happen next year,” and it just wasn’t happening. Then it happens! We were all dumbfounded. We couldn’t really believe that we were nominated and then we got inducted! Everybody was pleasantly surprised. This is kind of great, kind of neat. I’m really happy about this now [laugh].

BLADE: At the same time, your memoir “Made in Hollywood: All Access with the Go-Go’s,” is being released. What did the experience of writing such a book mean to you?

SCHOCK: Actually, Gregg, it’s not a memoir. Kathy (Valentine) wrote a memoir. Mine is actually a book of photography.

BLADE: Right, but you also tell your story in the book.

SCHOCK: There’s a lot of writing in it, too. But I basically put this together because I had tons and tons of photographs. I’ve been moving them all over. Putting them in the closet here, under the bed there. I was like, “I have to do something with this. All these years of taking photos of the band.” Of course, everybody in the band was like. “Gina, you really need to put a photo book together!” I finally found the right guy to do it with and he helped me get it together, organize it, and help me work on the book. I couldn’t believe that along with the list of my credits will be photographer and author. It’s kind of mind-blowing. Things that you don’t think you’re capable of, and then when you have an opportunity to do something and maybe make a difference…certainly for The Go-Go’s. This needed to be out there. This is way long overdue; a book of photos with all of us. Photos that I’ve had that people have never seen. Also, you’re getting these photos from a band member’s perspective. With writing from one of the band members about what was going on during that period of time.

BLADE: I’m sure that looking at the pictures brought back lots of memories, but were you also a journal or diary keeper?

SCHOCK: Check this out! I don’t have a journal, but since 1978, Gregg, I have been keeping daily planners every single year. I’ve written down things that were going on during that time period. Not big, long stories, but this happened today, that happened yesterday, next week we’re going to be doing this. I used that as my reference. It was invaluable in the process. I now need to make room for them in the closet. I’ve got them all in drawers in cabinets in my office. It’s like, “OK, there’s no more room here [laughs]!” They were invaluable, like I said, in putting this together. What exact date did this happen? What was going on in November of ’83? It was important to have.

BLADE: Do you see the book as an extension of Alison Ellwood’s 2020 Go-Go’s documentary?

SCHOCK: No, but I’ll tell you that 99% of the photos in Alison’s documentary are mine.

It’s not an extension of that. This book has been in the works for decades. I just needed to find the right person to help me get it together. But when Alison was interviewing, I’d show her a photo and she would say, “Gina, can we come back and get some of these photos for the documentary?” I was like, “Of course, you can!” The majority of what you saw are my photos.

BLADE: The book is full of marvelous personal history details, such as performing with the late Edith Massey, known to many from her performances in some of John Waters’ movies. What do you think Edie would think of the book?

SCHOCK: She would be, [imitating Massey] “Oh, Gina, I’m so happy about your book! Finally, it’s about time!” Bless her heart and soul. I was doing an interview yesterday and I said, “If it wasn’t for Edie, I don’t know if The Go-Go’s would exist. Certainly not in the way that they have for the last more than 40 years. Things happen in a magical way, how it all comes together. No one really knows why somebody meets someone on that particular day at that particular time, and then something comes out of that that you can’t believe. Edie gave me the opportunity to come out to LA and San Francisco and New York and actually play in clubs. We got to play at Max’s Kansas City and CBGB’s; what a thrill that was. Then to come to LA and do three nights of the Nuart Theater and then play The Warfield up in San Francisco. That was the first time I’d ever been on a plane! After doing that with Edie, the minute I got back to Baltimore I realized it was time to make a move. It gave me the courage to believe that I could go back to any one of these places and I’m going to do something! By the way, Edie was such a lovely person. A sweetheart.

BLADE: Another scoop for the readers that I loved was the part about the Go-Go’s performing with ska in the early 1980s, leading to the collaboration with Terry Hall on the song “Our Lips are Sealed,” which was a much bigger hit for the Go-Go’s than for Terry’s band Fun Boy Three. Do you know how he felt about that?

SCHOCK: I have no idea how he felt, but I’m sure he was happy because all Terry Hall  was hearing was “ka-ching, ka-ching, ka-ching [laughs].” I think Terry was quite happy about that. I would be. When Jane brought in the song, she was scared to death to play it for us because it was basically like a love letter that she readjusted a little bit lyrically and put some chords and a melody to. She played it for us, and we were like, “Jane, this song’s great!”

BLADE: We are all saddened by the recent passing of Charlie Watts, drummer for the Rolling Stones. In your book, you wrote about the Go-Go’s opening for The Rolling Stones. Can you please say a few words about what Charlie meant to you as a fellow drummer?

SCHOCK: There were two drummers that were my heroes growing up. That was Charlie Watts and John Bonham (of Led Zeppelin). Those two guys are part of the reason I started and kept playing drums. To think that many years later I actually got to meet my hero and talk to him. I got to sit on his drum kit! I talked to his drum tech!

That was one of the biggest thrills of my life. Then to be able to just open for the Stones, I mean, God! Wow, what a thrill! He was, of course, a gentleman. Very quiet kind of guy; soft-spoken. A lovely guy; very personable, very sweet. I didn’t have a lot of time to talk to him, but when I did my heart was pounding. I couldn’t believe it. Meeting David Bowie was the same sort of thing. You have such adoration for these people. The impact they have on your life in many ways, not just musically.

BLADE: You put some personal thoughts and experiences in the book, including your open-heart surgery to correct an atrial septal defect, yours and the band’s encounters with drugs and recovery, the break-up of the band and issues with songwriting revenue. Was it painful or freeing to revisit these subjects?

SCHOCK: It was a little bit of both. It brought up some really heavy things that went down. But all those things have been ironed out and taken care of. Everything is good now and it has been for many years. The songwriting splits were a big part of why the band broke up. It seemed very unfair to me. I have to tell the truth [laughs]. I have to be honest with the people that I’m working with. They are my family, and nobody can hurt you worse than somebody in your family. I think I explained it all in the book the best that I can.

BLADE: Following the original break-up of the Go-Go’s, you formed the band House of Schock with Vance DeGeneres, brother of Ellen DeGeneres. What are the chances that, aside from the Smothers Brothers, two funny people would come from the same womb?

SCHOCK: Yeah, right [laughs]? It’s crazy, right? Vance was fresh out of New Orleans and I don’t know how I met him; (through) a friend of a friend or something. We hit it off right away. I don’t like to do anything by myself, Gregg. I always want a partner in crime. I like a team! That’s why I always want to be in a band. I never want to be a solo anything. I like being in a band. I like having other people to bounce ideas off of. I’m not the greatest at anything, but I’m pretty good when you put me with somebody else who’s talented as well. Vance and I worked great together. Ellen had just come to town and she was just starting out in the comedy clubs. We’d meet and have dinner. She’d ask me lots of questions about who I thought was a good agent to see. It was very sweet to watch everything happen for her. One of the funniest things, I told this to somebody the other day, I’ll never forget this. Ellen said to me, “Gina, do you think if I make a lot of money one day, would you sell me your house [laughs]?” I don’t remember what I said, but I’ll never forget her asking me that. Because Ellen could buy a city block!

BLADE: In 2018, the Go-Go’s went to Broadway with the musical Head Over Heels, featuring the band’s music. What was that experience like for you?

SCHOCK: That was another unbelievable moment being in the Go-Go’s. To think that this punk band, so many years later, has a musical on Broadway is absurd. But it happened! It’s another crazy thing that just happened! There’s a lot of work involved, don’t get me wrong, and years and years of being in this band and working our butts off to achieve the status that we have in the industry. But it was still an incredible thrill. To meet all the Broadway actors and all, my God, those people can really sing and act! I was never a big fan of Broadway, but I am now. I was knocked out! They’re so fucking talented. It’s such a thrill to watch them interpreting our songs woven into this 17th-century short story.

BLADE: Recently, Belinda’s son (James) Duke (Mason), posted a happy birthday message to you on social media in which he referred to you as his “Auntie.”

SCHOCK: Yes! I love Dukie! I watched that little boy grow up. I just adore him. I will always be in his life. He’s very precious to me.

BLADE: When Duke came out, Belinda became a very outspoken advocate for the community. Would you mind saying a few words about your connection to the LGBTQ+ community?

SCHOCK: I don’t know what my relationship really is. All I know is that I’m who I am. I’m a musician and I will fight for anything or anybody that has had a difficult time in society. Just live your life. Society creates its own do’s and don’ts and rights and wrongs for people, which is just a load of crap to me. Everyone should be allowed to be who they are, and love who they want to love, and marry who they want to marry. Love is love; it has no gender. It’s the most important thing we can give to one another. It’s what this world needs now more than ever. Never think for a second you haven’t got the right to love whomever you fall for because love is always right. It is a human right! 

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