Yes opulence is indeed the issue du jour, as excruciatingly spelled out in this New York Observer ass-kiss-a-thon about “Power Gays.”
Oh Prunella! If you’re gay and rich you’ve got power. You always had. The only difference today is things are being called by their right name nowadays. And those in Power long to appear, hip, “with-it” and funky to the max.
“The Fire Island outpost of Oak, the New York boutique frequented by stylish gay men, sells a T-shirt bearing the words “New York 1987.” Seth Weissman, the young co-owner of the Fire Island Pines, wore the shirt on a recent Saturday night and was bombarded with one repeated question: What did “New York 1987” mean? “It’s the year I was born!” he told one friend. (Not quite—the boyish Mr. Weissman graduated Wharton in 2005.)”
He’s the queen in the striped shirt. Where’s your T, dear? At the Tea Dance?
“Turns out the phrase is a reference to the title card of Jennie Livingston’s legendary 1991 documentary, Paris Is Burning. The film, for those—like Mr. Weissman—who need a refresher, is a seminal tract on a very specific sort of gay power. It follows a number of competitors through a series of underground drag balls in Harlem—battles for supremacy in which one-upsmanship is achieved through a gaze, a flawlessly executed pose and the ability to, as they put it, “throw shade.”
One competitive event shown in the film, known as “Executive Realness,” involves an elaborate pantomime of corporate life with contestants outfitted in business suits and swinging briefcases. “The fact that you are not an executive is merely because of the social standing of life,” one aspirant explains. This is, emphatically, gay power of an older vintage, power conjured through artifice and self-invention, by men defining themselves at an oblique angle to the society at large.”
“In those days, gay power was also maintained through other forms of performance. Andrew Kirtzman—the co-owner, with Mr. Weissman, of the Pines—began his career as a journalist on the island and once almost had his camera shattered by a closeted clubgoer. “That man’s concern was that [a photo] would be a career killer,” he said. “This man was probably not out to his family or in his workplace. And now, 30 years later, every other person you see is shooting pics with his cellphone.” (Indeed, we can’t wait for the cell-phone snaps from President Obama’s “Gala With the Gay Community” to get tweeted out.)”
Oh honey, Tweeting is just so Five Minutes Ago !
“Let’s not forget Larry Kramer’s novel Faggots, set on Fire Island and published more than a decade before Paris Is Burning, which features a self-loathing, gay would-be titan of industry, the waggishly named Randy Dildough, who must conceal his sexuality everywhere else on earth to make it in business. (Mr. Kramer has said that Randy Dildough is based on Barry Diller.)”
Times have changed, but Barry hasn’t.
He STILL hasn’t come out!
“It really does get better! These days, gay power seems more or less the same as any other sort of power in society. “What happens with gay people as they become successful is that what they do eclipses their gayness,” said Simon Doonan, creative ambassador-at-large for Barneys.”
No it doesn’t.
“Indeed, as we reported this list, a variety of career-conscious types asked us if they’d made the cut—not because they wanted to hide their sexuality but because they wanted in. (It was the “power,” more than the “gay,” that attracted them, we think.)
Which raised a question: Why bother with a gay power list at all, given how passé the whole idea has become? The answer: Don’t worry, we’re working on next year’s straight white male power list, be they national news anchors, media moguls, or prominent architects.”
You mean like this National Socialist?
He’s gone. But I’m sure others have filled his Pradas.
“On the eve of what may be an historic vote finally establishing gay marriage in New York, it seems clear that homosexuality has gone mainstream. (Even straight men want to be lesbian bloggers, it seems!)”
Straight men have always wanted to be lesbians.
“As a result, narrowing a list of powerful gay figures down to 50 was something of a challenge. And, as ever, whom you leave off is all the fun!
About that: we’ve excluded anyone still clinging to the closet as we speak, not out of respect for their personal choices (far from it, fellas), but because the power to be oneself is the most essential power there is, and an unwillingness to seize that power—hell, flaunt it—seems like a reasonable disqualifying factor.
Twenty years after Paris Is Burning, the rules of gay power have changed, but the need for it is just as profound.
Welcome to “New York 2011.”
And just as you would expect it’s chock-a-blockwith “executive” airheads, mindless fashionistas, and Phoebes of all stripes.
Plus a few actual names of note.
“46. Christine Vachon, film producer
Ms. Vachon has slowed her roll a bit since the go-go early 2000s, when she practically ruled the arthouses with Boys Don’t Cry, Happiness and Far From Heaven. But given Ms. Vachon’s energy and her willingness to take risks, her Killer Films still ranks among far better-funded Indiewood studios. She recently shepherded the edgy schoolgirl drama Cracks and produced Todd Haynes’s HBO miniseries Mildred Pierce (it’s Kate Winslet’s Emmy to lose!). Now, she’s working on Oscar-winning screenwriter Dustin Lance Black’s directorial debut.”
Christine is relentless. Don’t even think of fucking with her.
“38. Tony Kushner, playwright
The playwright’s two-part epic of gay life and death, Angels in America, left Broadway audiences stunned—twice!—was made into an award-winning miniseries by HBO and recently enjoyed an impressive revival, making Mr. Kushner perhaps the most culturally influential dramatist of the day. His recent off-stage drama was also compelling: after his honorary degree from CUNY was scuttled over his support of Palestinian issues, Mr. Kushner fought back and prevailed.”
He’s also on Larry Kramer’s shit list. Not sure how he’ll “prevail” over that. Unless of course he scripts for Spielberg the gay Lincoln that Larry and I — among a great many others — want to see.
“24. Laurence Kaiser, broker, Key-Ventures
A master of the soft sell, Mr. Kaiser famously sold a $10 million apartment at the Pierre to a Swedish oil executive he met at the hotel’s bar. Known as the “King of 834 Fifth” for his record sale—the Art Deco beauty in which Rupert Murdoch resides—the dapper Mr. Kaiser made news of a different sort last November with his impulsive gay status marriage to art-world”
NEVER MARRY YOUR TADZIO!
“20. Adam Moss, editor-in-chief, New York
Not only did the media apocalypse (to say nothing of the death of New York’s owner) fail to lay a glove on Mr. Moss, it appears to have made him stronger. And now that he’s conquered the print product and acquired a herd of Ellies, Mr. Moss has increasingly turned his attention to the web, helping to build a strong network of blogs (smartly acquiring MenuPages, pumping up Vulture, and partnering with dating site howaboutwe.com). After losing a few key staffers to The New York Times Magazine, Mr. Moss countered by hiring Frank Rich, one of the paper’s marquee columnists.”
And here we get to the beating heart of the matter. For The New York Observer every gay must aspire to the condition of Adam Moss.
Who we should aspire to is of course
“16. Larry Kramer, playwright
The Normal Heart, Mr. Kramer’s 1985 masterpiece regarding the AIDS crisis, was recently presented on Broadway for the first time, prompting Mr. Kramer, still the gay community’s fiery conscience, to stand outside the theater before performances to hand out pamphlets. It was another chapter in Mr. Kramer’s decades-long advocacy on behalf of AIDS causes, and another demonstration of his prickly apostasy. Meanwhile, his book on America’s secret history of homosexuality (pardon us, Mr. Lincoln!) has been acquired by Farrar, Straus and Giroux for publication next year.”
Go pardon yourself, bitch. The history Larry has spent decades writing about isn’t “secret” it’s been rigorously ignored. That will be obvious once The American People hits the shelves.
At which time The New York Observer will doubtless ignore it.
“13. Ken Mehlman, head of global public affairs, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts
The P.R. gig helps Mr. Mehlman bankroll his newfound Chelsea lifestyle, but Mr. Mehlman has long been a creature of the Beltway. The former Republican National Committee chair and architect of George W. Bush’s 2004 re-election came out in 2010 to widespread jeers; after all, that presidential campaign had been run, in part, as a crusade against gay rights. He’s changed his ways as well as his address, and is now a strong advocate for gay marriage.”
Voldemort herself. What’s changed is the power of the closet. It’s rapidly vanishing. This creep simply realized he could no longer function there — as Barry Diller and Anderson Cooper continue to try to do — with zero success.
“9. Andrew Tobias, treasurer, Democratic National Committee
Having served as treasurer of the D.N.C. since 1999, Mr. Tobias is perceived as a kingmaker, hosting various politicians (most famously, Barney Frank) at his Fire Island home for big-ticket fund-raisers, where power players convene for lobster and pool volleyball. He published a memoir about his homosexuality pseudonymously in 1973, adding his own name for the 1998 edition. In between, he has written investment guides and columns for New York and Time, funded antismoking campaigns and partnered with the late fashion designer Charles Nolan.”
He has a lot of money and knows a lot of “important” people. Big deal.
“7. Rachel Maddow, MSNBC host
The empress of the black-framed spectacles helped set her network’s agenda—and the Democratic party’s—during the 2008 campaign and is now perhaps the only successful TV talking head who doesn’t have to raise her voice, like, ever. As various of her MSNBC colleagues have flamed out (Ed Schultz) or faded away (Keith Olbermann), Ms. Maddow has held on to her following by keeping her cool. Maybe her quiet lifestyle helps: She lives in western Massachusetts, of all places, with her partner, artist Susan Mikula, and avoids watching television.”
Now you’re talkin’ someone really interesting. And witty. And insightful. How she got past the Deflavorizing machine I’ll never know.
“6. Andy Cohen, host and executive vice president of development, Bravo TV
In a TV universe packed with guilty pleasures, Mr. Cohen is responsible for some of the guiltiest—he oversees the Real Housewives franchise that has overrun both Bravo’s schedule (remember when it was a highbrow channel about the arts? No?) and the celebrity-gossip industry. Meanwhile, he is the housewives’ Svengali and their interlocutor on his talk show, Watch What Happens—a job he does so flashily that he’s reportedly in the running to take over Regis Philbin’s daytime talk show.”
He’d be more appropiately in line to take over for Barbara Walters in an all-gay version of The View.
“5. Jann Wenner, editor and publisher, Rolling Stone
The founder of America’s top rock rag shares his life with designer Matt Nye, after an ancient-history breakup with his ex-wife. Mr. Wenner and Mr. Nye are raising children together and his business life is equally productive: Rolling Stone, diminished in relevance lately, gathered speed after last summer’s McChrystal scoop and Us Weekly remains the gossip industry’s standard-bearer. Not bad for a music magazine!”
In even more ancient history, R. Meltzer met Jann before Rolling Stone began and opined “He’s gay and thinks everyone doesn’t know.”
“3. Scott Rudin, film and theater producer
Mr. Rudin is a notoriously hard-driving boss (tales of flying cell phones are legendary), but the man gets results: his Book of Mormon just completed a Tony sweep, making up for the disappointment of his movie The Social Network losing the Best Picture Oscar (and to those dastardly Weinsteins, no less). Upcoming screen projects include the Michael Lewis adaptation Moneyball, with Brad Pitt, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, with Sandra Bullock, and the eagerly awaited adaptation of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. Mr. Rudin’s track record is mostly attributable to his unusually gifted eye for material, but flying phones have their uses too.”
One of the few Hollywood power players I really like. Genuinely gay — meaning he can break into a chorus of “Me and My Town” at the drop of a hat.
“1. Christine Quinn, City Council Speaker
Ms. Quinn suddenly finds herself at the top of the list of 2013 mayoral prospects—a position she’s reached due to a certain coziness with Mayor Michael Bloomberg (endorsing his bid to overturn term limits) and her leadership on health care, housing, and L.G.B.T. issues. That, and her canny decision not to send naked pictures of her genitalia to strangers on social networks. The Mighty Quinn is Irish by heritage, and a fawning editorial in the Irish Voice last year called her the “greatest advocate for Irish issues [in the city] since Paul O’Dwyer.” Nonetheless, Ms. Quinn has also made it her habit to boycott New York’s St. Patrick’s Day parade due to its history of discrimination. Whether as candidate or kingmaker, she’s poised for an eventful two years—that may see her elected the city’s first openly gay mayor.”
That calls for a chorus of —
And now a few words about those who didn’t make the cut. First of all there’s God.
Not that he should give a shit
And then there are these two — who in one way or another probably do.
And that of course leads to the inevitable question.
Take it away Sandy!