Where 2 Start?!
Rise Up and Shout! was a glittering evening at the beautiful Barnsdall Theater next to the exquisite Hollyhock House in Barnsdall Park. Seventeen wonderfully talented, young gay men and lesbians, ranging in age from 16 to their late-20s, danced, sang, read and otherwise entertained and regaled a packed house. Thai Rivera was the hilarious Master of Ceremonies. Already paying his dues across the country in stand-up comedy clubs, this young talent had a sharp and smart sense of humor that kept the evening moving. A year’s worth of work, headed by White Crane contributor and Advisory Board member, Mark Thompson (and his estimable partner, Malcolm Boyd) and the efforts of Don Kilhefner and the Los Angeles Men’s Medicine Circle, resulted in an inclusive rainbow of ethnicities and genders offering bright and shining acts that gave us poetry, opera, drag, the spirit of Tennessee Williams and dancing (that only made me wish my knees still worked that way!)
Let me see if I can recall it all (links are provided where available…some of the kids are so young and so new they don’t even have web pages….imagine that!)…musician, Richard Rocha, comedian Sandy Helen Bowles, actor Brionne Davis, folk singer Angie Evans, the Voices of G.L.A.S.S. (which, despite their name were dancers…G.L.A.S.S. is Gay and Lesbian Adolescent Social Services, one of the most important gay and lesbian services organizations in Los Angeles, providing shelter, food, therapy and other nurturing support to outcast gay and lesbian youth), rapper JenRO, filmmaker and poet Steven Liang.
Singer/songwriter Dan Holguin was followed by tenor Greg Iriart, pianist Peter Kirkpatrick, the glittering and outrageous John Quale, poet Elliott Reed and of course, being L.A., a line-up of actors including Corey Saucier, who did a wonderful reflection on aging in the gay community, Derek Ringold and a garage band, sLoW…I’m running out of breath! The panoply of talent was masterfully directed by Broadway and Disney movie veteran, Jim Pentecost. And, as if this wasn’t fabulous enough, the whole evening was a benefit for White Crane Institute.
It was wonderful. Watch for these young people…some of them are surely going to be the rising stars of tomorrow. But more importantly, as Don Kilhefner put it in his heartfelt introduction that evening, this was an opportunity for us elders to bless these young talents and welcome them into the community. In an era when transitions are rarely noted, (if not reduced to mere marketing) it was an exciting and moving evening of "Generation Conversation." A full length documentary, due out Spring 2007, is being prepared after months of following the performers and organizers up to their stellar debut at the Barnsdall Theater.
On a personal level it was my pleasure to sit for a series of portraits by noted artist (and White Crane winter issue featured interview) Don Bachardy.
Bachardy, pictured at the left, works with almost breathtaking speed; each portrait takes under two hours (though try holding one position for that length of time and you’ll see it’s grueling work for a model). He works in acrylics and his gaze is like a laser scanner you feel taking in every inch of your face. He has pots of paints and an enameled cafeteria tray as a pallette and at times his brush simply sweeps across the watery splashes of color he’s pooled on the tray and picks up an opalescent array of colors on the brush.
At the same time, while he is working very quickly, sketching on the paper with the colors as he captures you, on some level it would be nice to be able to smile…you know, give the world your best, friendly face? But it is physically impossible to hold a smile for that period of time, and you end up with this deep, serious gaze being recorded, to say nothing of the actual interaction between you as the subject and Bachardy as the painter. The effect is, I will admit, slightly unsettling when you finally get to see what he has created. One person called his vision "Bachardy’s eagle eye."
My friends Robert Croonquist, Robert Rigdon and I also did the grand architectural tour of the booming downtown Los Angeles, specifically to see the spectacular Disney Music Hall which is everything and more that it has been cracked up to be. We walked in and around the hall, climbing into some of the swooping titanium forms themselves, and in and around the truly amazing addition to Los Angeles. Imagine our delight and amazement as we were leaving to walk Grand Street to see the new R.C. cathedral, to run into none other than Frank Gehrey himself being photographed on the sidewalk!
The Catholic cathedral, Our Lady of Angels, was interesting, an almost blank wall to the community in the style of the old Spanish plazas and the missions enclosure of various businesses. Inside is a very beautiful set of tapestries depicting the congregation of saints facing towards the altar. The "mission plaza" was a-buzz with people that Sunday. The cathedral has it’s own "Hollywood" touches, with the late Gregory Peck entombed in the mausoleum and the grand and heavy bronze doors and sconces in the cathedral created by Angelica Huston’s husband, Robert Graham.