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no on 8

THE NUTCRACKER-LA BALLET STYLE


The Nutcracker is a holiday tradition worldwide, and to launch its 3rd season, Los Angeles Ballet presents a Southern California variation on the classic, in hopes of shaping Angelinos holiday traditions for holiday seasons to come.

With sets created by designer Catherine Kanner that reflect a Spanish style Los Angeles home circa 1912, and costumes created by famed Danish designer Mikael Melbye that show a variation on the traditional Nutcracker look, this presentation is accessible, and different, and distinctively LA.  Comprised of 2 acts, the first segment works more like a play than a ballet, with a throng of Dickensian characters gathering to celebrate the holidays. 

As we know, the story centers on Clara, played with a touch of attitude here by LILIT HOGTANIAN, every bit the diva she is destined to become.  Her uncle, played by JONATHAN SHARP, a world traveler bedecked in fur brings her a nutcracker toy, and that’s where the whimsy begins.  Toys come to life and the nutcracker must fend off a horde of mice, as CLARA looks on unimpressed.  LILIT looks like she would rather ditch the rest of the cast ad just dance center stage, a feat she seems quite capable of doing.

The first act comes to an exhilarating close, with a hint of the dancing that will come in the second act.  The Snowflakes, a dozen beautifully outfitted dancers, thanks to designer Franco Martinez, dazzle the senses in a stunning number which starts as they take turns bouncing out onto the stage, floating to Tchaikovsky’s memorable score.  The curtain comes down as they all slip from the stage on their toes in a fantastic, symmetric, close.

The second act wastes no time, as the curtain reveals an entire stage of dancers, all assembled, as if a hip-hop troupe, each waiting their turn to take the center of the circle and impress with their tricks.  CORINA GILL and RAINER KRENSTETTER are the focus of attention here as CLARA’S favorite doll, MARIE and her prince.  CORINA is captivating, and RANER is up to being her partner.  They have more than 1 star turn n the second act, which is packed with solid dancing.

But the best dancer on this stage, at least during the Sunday matinee performance at Royce Hall on the campus of UCLA, was clearly SERGEY KHEYLIK, first as the Cossack doll, and then here in the second act as a part of a 3-member Russian troupe who flew through some synchronized acrobatics that wowed the audience.  SERGEY stood out, or better yet, flew out above the rest of a capable, and entertaining cast of The Nutcracker, LA BALLET style.

On this day, SANTA was seen granting wishes and handing out candy canes at intermission, and after the show some of the cast were on hand in the lobby to great the audience.  It was the best Nutcracker I have ever seen.





no on 8

THE IRONIES OF AN HISTORIC ELECTION


no on 8BARACK OBAMA’S defeat of JOHN McCAIN was an historic event, to be sure.  It was a remarkable milestone in the long, hard struggle by African Americans to achieve equality in this country.  It was no less a remarkable achievement for the Democratic party, and progressive Americans in finally defeating the Republicans, and vanquishing the stranglehold they have had on this nation for the last 8 years.

But for all the celebration that will surely follow this glorious result, Election Day 2008 was still fraught with irony, hypocrisy and injustice.

First off, how is it possible, after 8 years of the mindless, divisive policies of George W. Bush, that republicans mustered some 47% of the vote?  Are you kidding me?  There are only 42% of the country that identify as republican, in good times, so I suppose McCAIN/PALIN won over all of them, no regard to President BUSH and his 20-something approval rating, and went a step further and lured another 5% of independents.  Come on.

Alaska voted to send a convicted felon back to the senate, where the republican will no doubt be expelled.  TED STEVENS has spent 40 years in government; he’s 85 years old.  Is there no one else capable of serving the interests of Alaskans, other than a convicted criminal?

Californians voted to give chickens and pigs and baby calves civil rights, but stripped gays and lesbians of the right to marry, a right that a conservative California Supreme Court awarded them earlier this year.  What’s wrong with this picture?

Black voters in California came out en masse to elect BARACK OBAMA, and then in a moment of unparalleled hypocrisy, voted to deny gays and lesbians a basic civil right.  How soon the sting of discrimination fades.  Exit polls indicate more than 70% of Afro-American voters in California supported Proposition 8, which denies gays and lesbians the right to marry, despite a finding by California’s top court otherwise.no on 8

It wasn’t that long ago when blacks, in addition to facing general discrimination, were similarly denied rights to marry.  It was 1967 when the United States Supreme Court eliminated laws against interracial marriages in the case LOVING v. VIRGINIA.  Then, as now, the very same arguments about preserving traditional marriage, and the destruction of families and society were made, but a court of wise judges ruled, in an act of constitutional protection for minorities, a function that is spun to read activism by liberal judges in the current battle, that “marriage is one of the basic civil rights of man, fundamental to our very existence and survival…Under our Constitution, the freedom to marry or not marry, a person of another race resides with the individual and cannot be infringed by the state.”

President-elect BARACK OBAMA is the result of one of these interracial marriages.  He knows first hand, not only because he is black, but also because of his parents interracial union, the hardship and discrimination associated with denial of civil rights.  He has lived it.  Perhaps that is why he opposed Proposition 8.

no on 8But why is it the first time I learned of his opposition was the day after the election?  Why didn’t President-elect OBAMA run commercials opposing this bigoted ballot initiative?  Why didn’t the NO ON 8 people make this more widely known?

For that matter, why did SAMUEL JACKSON lend his voice to a commercial for the NO ON 8 campaign, but not his image? 

How on a night of historical implications for civil rights could such a hateful and bigoted result unfold?  And why didn’t black America, President-elect OBAMA included, do anything to stop it?

Worse still, just who was behind this campaign to enshrine hate and inequality into California’s Constitution?

The Mormon Church, and its’ president Thomas Monson were major backers of this legislation.  He and his followers contributed more than $15 million to the effort to deny marriage to gays and lesbians.  Now that is something to wrap your head around-a church that promotes the idea of multiple wives, and to this day has members living in open violation of marriage laws banning polygamy, is seeking to deny the right of marriage to other members of our society.  Something is very wrong with this picture folks.

Other church groups were prominent in getting out the vote.  Polling places in my neighborhood all had mothers holding babies and waving signs imploring voters to vote Yes on 8.  Why in the world would anyone care if two people who loved each other decided to marry?  It is senseless, particularly in these days of declining real estate.  Obviously these idiots didn’t get the memo on gays and home keeping.  Married gay and lesbian couples bring the values of real estate up in their neighborhoods.

These Yes on 8 foot soldiers were misled by their churches.  They had to have been.  Why else would they be wasting their morning standing in the cold, issue in hand, barking at fellow citizens.  What about soccer practice, and Pilates, and Oprah?

How in the world can a church defend its’ actions in promoting hate and bigotry is beyond me.  What damage results to traditional marriages, or married couples, or churches for that matter, if gays and lesbians are allowed to pursue their relationships in the same stable, loving environments as straight people completely escapes me.  Maybe the churches won’t be getting their share of the pie?  Or perhaps they’ll lose half their clergy to matrimony?  Whatever, it just is baffling to me.  Aren’t churches, and religion supposed to be about love?

And what ever happened to the idea of separation of church and state?  Churches are not supposed to be active participants in the political game.  Aren’t there enough homeless, and hungry, and otherwise needy people to care for?

Meanwhile, in Colorado, voters elected the first openly gay man to the US Congress.  JARED POLIS easily won the 2nd congressional seat from the Boulder area in Colorado.  TAMMY BALDWIN won as an openly gay woman in Wisconsin years ago.  BARNEY FRANK came out once he was in Congress, and has won a number of elections since, including Tuesday’s bid for re-election.  But POLIS did it out in the open, and won.

To be sure, OBAMA’S victory Tuesday gives the civil rights struggle of gays and lesbians new life.  Had JOHN McCAIN won the White House, homosexuals could have kissed any evolution of rights goodbye, as the already conservative Supreme Court would have been solidified for many years to come.  As things stand now, there is still much to be done before gay marriage, or hate crime legislation, or a myriad of other issues effecting gays and lesbians may be resolved favorably by the Supreme Court.  As it sits now, there is no chance.

But there is hope.  Change is coming.
And there are other heroes.

Mayor NEWSOME in San Francisco and Mayor VILLARAIGOSA of Los Angeles are exploring lawsuits to challenge Proposition 8, as have several private citizens.  Experts expect much more litigation before the ban ever takes effect.

More importantly, it should be noted, public opinion is slowly evolving.  A similar proposition in 2000 only garnered 39% of Californian’s support for gay rights versus the 48% in 2008.  A majority of voters 30 and under opposed the gay marriage ban this time around.  Now that’s something.

In Connecticut voters rejected an attempt to alter that state’s Constitution to disallow gay marriage.  California is not leading the nation on the issue, New England is. 

BARACK OBAMA is living proof that history is long and hard in coming.  But it can happen, and it will. As he said in his victory speech, “That’s the genius of America, America can change.”

 For now, I guess, change comes for one minority at a time.  Wouldn’t it be nice if we all hung together,  for a “change”?  Wasn’t that BARACK’S message?




Best in Drag 08
October 19, 2008 – Los Angeles, CA-Best In Drag Show, a "beauty" contest was held at the Orpheum Theatre Sunday night to benefit Aid for AIDS.  In attendance were, Charlie Sheen and his wife Brooke Mueller, host Kathy Griffin, Maria Menousos, David Dean Bottrell, Camryn Manheim, Jennifer Coolidge, Holland Taylor, Kathy Kinney, Molly Shannon, Peri Gilpin and drag queens for days! The event raised more than $350,000.00 for the charity.

Pictures by Mike Skiff

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Brooke_Mueller_and_Charlie_Sheen
Camryn_Manheim
Camryn_Manheim
Charlie_Sheen
Charlie_Sheen
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Drag Queen
Drag_Queens
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Funky couple
Holland Tylor
Jennifer Coolidge
Jennifer_Coolidge
Kathy_Griffin
Kathy_Griffin
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Kathy Kinney
Kathy_Kinney
Maria_Menounos
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Marquee


the_women
Village People Is Honored With A Star On The Hollywood Walk Of Fame
September 12, 2008
Hollywood, California United States


Candice Bergen
Celeste Holm
Cloris Leachman
Debra Messing
Debra Messing
Debra Messing
Eva Mendez
India Ennenga
Jada Pinkett
Lucy Scwartz
Meg Ryan
Meg Ryan
Tara Reid
The Women
the women
the women
the women
Tilly Scott Pedersen
Tilly Scott Pedersen
Warren Beatty
Will Smith
Village People
Vilage People






the_women
Picturehouse Presents The LA Premiere Of "The Women" - Arrivals
September 4, 2008 - Mann Village Theater
Los Angeles, CA United States



Candice Bergen
Celeste Holm
Cloris Leachman
Debra Messing
Debra Messing
Debra Messing
Eva Mendez
India Ennenga
Jada Pinkett
Lucy Scwartz
Meg Ryan
Meg Ryan
Tara Reid
The Women
the women
the women
the women
Tilly Scott Pedersen
Tilly Scott Pedersen
Warren Beatty
Will Smith

VIDEO: check the Los Angeles premiere of "The Women"




Melissa Ethridge

 

Grammy and Academy Award winning singer-songwriter and female rock icon Melissa Etheridge will perform Friday, August 29th at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles in support of her ninght studio album, The Awaikening.
A Kansas native, Etheridge began playing guitar when she was eight years old. After high school she attended Boston's Berklee College and Music for a year before heading to the west coast to persue her rock star dreams and soon found herself signed to Island Records. Now a multi-platinum artist with two Grammys under her belt for the hit songs "Ain't it Heavy" and "Come to My Window," and an Academy Award for her musical contribution to Al Gore's documentary on Global Warmin, An Inconvenient Truth, Etheridge has been recognized by the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers as one of the top female recording artists of our time.
In October of 2004 Melissa Etheridge was diagnosed with breat cancer. After undergoing chemotherapy treatments she lost her all her hair and at the 2005 Grammy awards she inspired cancer patients around the world when she appeared bald on-stage to sing Janis Joplin's "Piece of My Heart." A little over three years later Etheridge is cancer free and rocking the US once again on The Revival Tour.
Melissa Etheridge is a female rock icon, a cancer survivor, a humanitarian, a guy rights activist, a singer-songwriting, and an inspiration to many.

Friday, August 29th @ 8 PM
THE GREEK THEATRE


Tickets available at all Ticketmaster outlets including select Macy's locations and Ritmo Latino. To charge by phone call (213) 480-3232 or (714) 740-2000. Tickets can also be purchased online at www.ticketmaster.com or at The Greek Theatre box office.






freestyle

 

Freestyle Session 11, the world’s largest b-boy break dancing battle, will be taking place at Circus
Hollywood on Saturday, August 23 and Sunday, August 24 at 12 Noon on both days. 
All ages are welcome to this ground-breaking event.  Tickets are on sale now. 
Produced by Cros1, Freestyle Session first began as a small b-boy gathering in 1997 and this year’s
competition marks the 11th anniversary of what has now become an annual assembly for hip-hop
communities worldwide.  Over 100 crews from the U.S., Japan, Korea, Europe and other countries
will be competing over two day for $25,000 in cash and prizes. 
The preliminary battles take place on Saturday with the winners being crowned on Sunday in the
three categories of breaking, popping and locking. Zulu Kings from New York City will be
defending their crown as winners of last year’s break dancing competition.  Live performances
include Storm and Selah on Saturday and Jabbawockeez, winners of MTV’s
“America’s Best Dance Crew” and Super Crew wowing the crowd on Sunday.
Freestyle Session 11 will be chances to witness some of the greatest dancers from around the world
perform their best routines.  This momentous occasion will also provide a greater appreciation for
the art of skill of break dancing along with bringing b-boy unity to the participant and spectator alike.
Freestyle Session


Freestyle Session 11 Circus Hollywood 6655 Santa Monica Blvd. Los Angeles, CA   90038
Saturday, August 23      12 Noon - 8 PM Sunday, August 24        12 Noon - 8 PM 


TICKETS ON SALE NOW


Purchase tickets at www.groovetickets.com, Workman’s Outlet and select ticket outlets. All dates,
acts and ticket prices subject to change without notice.
# # #
For more information: Janette Baxa 323-464-5534 jdbaxa@sbcglobal.net




KA battle
SLESLIE JORDAN Booksigning
8.15.08
photos by Mike Skiff


For such a diminutive (4' 11") frame, character actor Leslie Jordan has a tall propensity for scene-stealing. He hails from the South, as his dead-giveaway drawl quickly exposes, and was raised in a highly conservative, deeply religious atmosphere in Chattanooga, Tennessee. His father, a Lieutenant Colonel with the Army, was killed in a plane crash when he was only 11. more

Leslie Jordan

Leslie Jordan

Leslie Jordan

Leslie Jordan

Leslie Jordan

Leslie Jordan





KA battle
SOMEWHERE OVER THE RAINBOW
7.14.08
by: memo menos

 

     Boulder, Colorado will field an openly gay Democrat in the general election to fill the congressional seat held by Democrat MARK UDALL, who is bolting his seat to run for the U. S. Senate in November.  JARED POLIS, a 33-year old internet entrepeneur, who made his fortune selling greeting cards and flowers online, beat out two other Democrats in Tuesday’s primary, and will face Republican candidate SCOTT STARIN in the fall.  POLIS is favored to win.

     If elected he would become the 3rd openly gay member of the Congress, joining Massachusetts’s BARNEY FRANK and Wisconsin’s TAMMY BALDWIN.  Congressman FRANK came out once he was in office, but POLIS, who has served on Colorado’s State Board of Education since 2000,  would be the first man elected to the House as an open gay man.  BALDWIN did it as a woman back in 1998.

     “I think this sends a signal to young gays and lesbians across the country that they can consider a career in public service and they shouldn’t be scared away from that merely because of their sexual orientation,” POLIS commented after the election results.  Being rich didn’t hurt.  It is estimated he spent more than $5 million of his own money to get the primary win.

     JARED POLIS ran a values campaign, with exit from the war in Iraq as a focal point.  In his campaigning he often went door to door, using his internet savvy by fixing people’s internet connections and other computer problems along the way.  He figures, “it got me a few votes.”

     Colorado is undergoing a transformation from red state, which was squarely behind GEORGE W. BUSH in 200 and 2004, to blue state, where BARACK OBAMA leads in the polling by 5 or more points.  MARK UDALL, the son of 1976 presidential candidate “MO” UDALL, has held the second congressional district seat in Colorado since 1998.    He decided to challenge for the senate seat held by Republican WAYNE ALLARD who decided to step down after 2 terms.  A Quinnipiac University/Washington Post/Wall Street Journal poll conducted in late June had UDALL with a 10-point lead over Republican candidate BOB SHAFFER.

    Happy little bluebirds fly, above the rainbow, at least in Boulder, Colorado.




KA battle
VERTIKÀL
5.25.08
by: memo menos


Cirque du Soleil’s production in Las Vegas at the MGM Grand Hotel, KÀ, is an old fashioned coming of age story.  The show itself has come of age, now in its 4th year, but it is no less spectacular than any show on the strip.  In a word, it is awesome.

Inspired by the ancient Egyptian belief that each person has an invisible spirit that guides the body through this life and into the next, KÀ is indeed spiritual.  It combines elements of martial arts, acrobatics, puppetry, interactive video projections and pyrotechnics to tell a tale of Imperial twins on an adventurous journey.  It’s kind of like Cirque meets Peter Pan meets the most awesome rock wall in the universe. 

The stage is spectacular, as it morphs from a traditional show stage to a flying ship, to sandy beach, to waterfall, to giant human Pachinko machine, to the largest touch screen you’ve ever seen, to ice wall, and finally to a vertical monster upon which characters traverse and descend and combat and fly about.  To give you an idea of the fly-a-bouts in this show, there are more than 160 harnesses, with 21 different types for the artists in the show.

As good as the performers are in this show, and they are as good as you have come to expect from a Cirque production, the stage, and the staging are the real stars here.

ka post and beam

When you come into the theater, you are at once impressed with the immense scaffolding that makes up the framework and periphery of the outer stage.  It invades the theater space, making the audience part of the show.

As for the stage itself, there are actually 2 decks comprising it, one weighing in at 80,000 pounds the other 100,000 pounds.  They are able to slide out like a drawer to almost 50 feet, and pivot 360 degrees and tilt from flat to 110 degrees.

Then there is the lighting and shims.  For one scene, “The Deep”, the combination of music, sound effects, lighting and a thin curtain create the tragedy and drama of a ship’s sinking.  It is so real, and such a breath taking moment.

ka storm

Like all Cirque productions, there are many moments of awe and wonder.  But the scale and size of this show set it apart from the others.  The theater seats nearly 2000 people.  Every seat in the theater has 2 speakers built into it to allow the sound effects to be targeted, and customized, and precise for each sound zone in the space.  Some 524,150 watts of power drive sound to more than 4,000 loudspeaker drivers in more than 2,000 speaker cabinets.



More than 100 fireballs measuring 30 feet in height are discharged in the pre-show alone, not to mention the 119 explosions of fire during the show.  There is fog bred from liquid nitrogen; and mist, which makes up a surreal curtain for the forest scene; and snow, comprised of soapsuds floated through large fans.   Add to this a mesmerizing stick bug, and a snake over 80 feet long and you begin to get the picture.  More than 110 live arrows are shot by spearmen in their quest to derail the heroes of this story about twins on an adventurous journey to fulfill their destiny.  The key word there is adventurous.

 If you like spectacle, and artistry, and acrobatics, then you will love KÀ.

Two scenes are of particular note.  One in which the characters come across the stage posing as rock wall.  They begin to playfully ascend, performing a comedic and beautiful ballet on the challenging slope.  But from the audience comes a danger, as warriors shooting arrows interrupt their folly.  The ensuing confrontation turns into a human Pachinko machine with bodies ricocheting off and around the arrow points, now acting as obstacles on a vertical wall, until they fall into space.

The final battle is a vertical aerial fight, with all parties suspended on wires, and the audience looking top down on the parlay.  How they keep the various wires from entangling is beyond me, but the effect is dumbfounding.  You’re jaw will drop!

Oh, and did I mention the shadow puppets.  There is so much.  See KÀ, then, see it again.  It’s that good!

KÀ is performed twice nightly, Tuesday through Saturday at MGM GRAND, Las Vegas.  For more info go to www.cirquedusoleil.com/CirqueDuSoleil/en/showstickets/ka

ka imerial twins

 

zumanity 2man
THE SENSUAL WORLD OF ZUMANITY
7.15.08
by: memo menos


ZUMANITY is a Cirque du Soleil production unlike any of the others.  There are acrobats, and contortionists, singers and live musicians, comedy mixed with drama, and costumes that will amaze (designed here by renowned Thierry Mugler.)  But upon entering the theater, there is an intimate, cozy vibe, different from the typical Cirque experience.  It’s more like being in a cabaret.  The stage, jutting out into the audience, is simple, just a piano bedecked with flowers.  Or was it a candelabra?nicky and shannon

Prior to the show, a lecherous, Latin lover, Antonio works the crowd.  He interacts with members in the audience, flattering and assaulting members of both sexes as he goes.  It’s fun, and funny, and sets the mood for the racy show to follow.  Clearly, there will be no boundaries.

Then come the Botero sisters, a bawdy, busty pair who add the perfect counter balance to the lusty, lounge lizard’s lunges.  They walk through the aisles, serving strawberries, and sandwiching audience members in their meaty embraces. 

There is a sexy half-man/half goat that tantalizes and terrorizes in the theater.

Finally, there is a wildly funny couple, a Frenchman and his oversexed American wife, who tweak both sides of the sexuality issues with members of the opposite sex. They are clowns in every sense of the word, but sensual, nasty clowns.

By the time the show starts the audience is ready for anything.

edieOur guide into the world of Zumanity is Edie, a lanky, luxurious mix of hostess and dominatrix.  The “Mistress of Seduction”, she introduces each act in an elegant, polished drag persona that has most in the crowd wondering.  What, who, why?  Oh my.

The show is a collection of acts, some purely acrobatic, typical Cirque amazement.  Others are dance and music oriented (Zumanity is the first Cirque production with recognizable lyrics); still others are purely comedic.  But the overriding theme here is sex.  Zumanity is Cirque for adults.

On this night, a performance as part of the GAY DAYS and NIGHTS July 4th weekend, there were a fair number of gays and lesbians in the audience, not atypical for this show.  There are acts for everyone, and in the world of Zumanity, sex and sexiness are not limited to topless babes sauntering around the stage.  Men are sexy here too.
For so long, particularly in Las Vegas, women have been sexual objects in almost all forms of entertainment.  It’s a change to see a beefy man in the hot seat. 

Then there is the beautifully choreographed cage scene with two muscular dancers-part ballet, part ultimate fighting match, with a romantic ending.  It is without a doubt something most in the audience, including the gays, have never seen before.  It’s groundbreaking to be sure, and a little edgy, but that’s how things roll, in the world of Zumanity.

The show ends with Edie interacting with the crowd.  On this night she pulled a hot guy onto the stage and threw him in the mix, as well as a 6’9” beauty that played along so well she surely must have been a plant.  Not.  The two of them blended right in on the giant sexual lazy susan of Cirque flesh.

It’s as if you are at a giant swingers ball, a voyeur at the classiest orgy you could ever imagine.  And with Edie as our guide, we are set softly down for a satisfying, gentle landing.  It’s as close to a “happy ending” that you want to get to with 1,200 sordid strangers, in public.

That’s the sensual world of Zumanity.

Zumanity currently plays twice nightly, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday through Sunday at the NEW YORK, NEW YORK casino, on the strip in Las Vegas.

For more info, go to:

www.nynyhotelcasino.com/zumanity/2008/?CMP=KNC-Google-NYNY_Zum

 

waterbowl

 

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