GAYLETTER

GAYLETTER

Tuesday 06.21.22

Vivek Shraya

Vivek Shraya (she/her) is a chameleonic artist who has produced award-nominated albums like 2019’s Part-Time Woman, best-selling books like 2018’s I’m Afraid of Men, and a publishing imprint of her own, VS Books. In I’m Afraid of Men, Shraya shares her record of the traumas that homophobia, misogyny, and transphobia inflict. Her talent for pulling off whatever genre best frames her creative vision has long been nurtured by regular trips to the library. “Being an introvert,” Shraya recalled, “I wasn’t drawn to the so-called cool places in the mall, but I loved the Edmonton Public Library (which was also in malls!) because it was a quiet place full of adventure and discovery, where I could access dozens of books filled with knock-knock jokes, origami instructions, and detective stories. That library was a portal — I could go anywhere, try anything, be anyone — and for free, which was especially useful being from an immigrant household.”

 

The multidisciplinary artist’s commitment to community shines through when asked what changes she’d like to see by next year’s Pride. Highlighting values like respect and generosity, Shraya revealed, “I would love to see our communities address lateral violence more head-on. How do we find ways to be kinder to each other and if we need to hold each other accountable, how do we do this with respect and generosity?” This sense of responsibility is nourished by the wisdom that to care for the self is to care for others. , “A self-care practice that I’m deeply invested in,” Shraya shared, “is my friendships (and doing what I can not to just center romantic intimacy). …

Monday 06.20.22

The Aesop Queer Library 2022

The Aesop queer library is now open! This Pride initiative by the beloved beauty brand Aesop, is the kind of pride programming we can get behind. Instead of slapping a couple of rainbows on the side of their Reverence Aromatique Hand Wash, and calling it a day, the brand is putting their dollars to truly good use. For pride they are turning some of their stores around the world (Williamsburg, New York, Silver Lake, L.A. and Queen Street West, Toronto) into actual queer libraries. Each store will stock over 140 titles by talented queer writers like Paul Tran, Vivek Shraya, Isaac Fitzsimons, Alok Vaid-Menon, Meredith Talusan and many others.

 

According to the brand “The library is fuelled by a belief in the transformative power of queer storytelling: its ability to broaden minds, embolden individuals and unite the community and its allies.” Any young queer kid who was able to find queer stories when they were learning about their gender expression and sexuality knows how valuable the written word can be. Books have the power to introduce us to new worlds, and new ways of thinking that can be life lines for many people. With new bans on queer books in repressive states across the U.S. it’s more important than ever to elevate queer voices.

 

This year the library is putting a focus on voices that explore the BIPOC trans experience. The Aesop Queer Library is a meaningful way to support our community and probably the nerdiest Pride event you’ll ever find — which is obviously why we love it, and why we feel so honored to be a part of it.  …

Monday 06.13.22

Puro Pinche Pride – 06.04.22

An event presented by Horrorchata with shows by La Zavaleta, Pixie Aventura, Warhola Pop, Freeda Kulo and Jenn D Role at C'mon Everybody, Brooklyn, NY.

Thursday 06.09.22

Charli XCX

Charli XCX has always had a plan. It’s been that way ever since she started making music in her bedroom in Essex, England as a young teen. At 15 she convinced her parents to loan her money to record her songs in a professional studio. They also chaperoned her to illegal warehouse parties where she would perform her music to zonked out ravers, often not heading home until sunrise. When she was signed to a major record label at 16, one of the first things she did was pay back the money she’d borrowed from her parents.

 

Five albums later — her newest, titled Crash, is the last in her record deal — and she’s still calling all the shots. Charli XCX has deconstructed the female pop star and reconstructed her with only the parts she most likes. She’s gone through many iterations, her most recent is the sexed-up bombshell who knows she’s hot and isn’t afraid to flaunt it. After speaking with some of her fans, it’s clear that one of the most compelling things about Charli is her vulnerability. She’s long been vocal about the ups and downs of pop stardom. In 2020 she shared her struggles with anxiety in a documentary that chronicled her writing and recording an album in only five weeks during lockdown. In our conversation she credits that experience, and starting therapy, for her newfound confidence in embracing her body and sexual energy.

 

We photographed the 29-year-old pop star one early fall day at the Tom of Finland Foundation in Los Angeles’ Victor Heights neighborhood. …

Friday 05.13.22

JW Anderson & Saks celebrate the launch of Pre-Fall 2022 and the Bumper bag collection

Hosted by Roopal Patel + Jonathan Anderson with a special performance by Justin Vivian Bond at Joe's Pub

Tuesday 05.10.22

HOLE by POL ANGLADA at CULTUREEDIT GALLERY

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Monday 05.09.22

MATT ROGERS

We met up with Matt Rogers, at the Bowery Hotel in New York City, where the comedian, singer, and Las Culturistas co-host was staying, while in town to perform his annual musical spectacular Have You Heard of Christmas? Matt was gracious and willing to create some iconic whale tail imagery for this feature and to also answer some probing questions.

 

What was your first onstage comedy experience? I guess this would be when I hosted my high school talent show, which can’t possibly have been funny but at the time I thought was an absolute barnburner.

 

Who was the last person to make you laugh? Christine Quinn walked into a room on Selling Sunset and I did laugh.

 

Who was the last person to make you cry? The Survivor contestants Shan and Liana had a conversation about their bond on the last episode that made me cry.

 

What is your current favorite YouTube search? “Ramona Singer gets dragged.”

 

What was the first thing you did this morning? I “morning’d”. Which means I jacked off.

 

Best piece of advice? My fourth grade teacher Mr. D told me at the end of the year to “have more fun.”

 

Worst piece of advice? My first manager in New York told me to wear pants that were too tight because the casting directors look at your butt when you leave rooms. My pants were already too tight at the time so this can’t have encouraged good choices aesthetically and behaviorally. …

Friday 05.06.22

Linda Simpson’s The Drag Explosion at C’mon Everybody in Brooklyn, NY

With performances by Merrie Cherry, Horrorchata and Tyler Ashley

COLE ESCOLA

Cole Escola’s comedic sensibility transcends easy definitions. They’re brilliant at creating slightly psychotic characters, mainly female, from every era except now. We met Cole around eight years ago for a story we published online. After our chat we filmed an impromptu sketch at a deli in Flatiron where they appointed themselves as an aid to busy rich people who needed help choosing their lunch. Cole gave themselves over to the absurd character with the same gusto they’ve given to roles like the demented villain in the HBO satire Search Party and as Chassie, Amy Sedaris’s big-haired, horny neighbor on At Home With Amy Sedaris, a show they also write for. When we shot Cole for this story they inhabited our whale-tail fantasy almost immediately. Like everything Cole does, it was a joy to watch.

 

 

What was your first onstage comedy experience? When I was 11 or 12 I called QVC pretending to be my mom so I could talk on the air. Somehow I got through. They were selling a cleaning spray and I talked about how the product was a lifesaver because of “my two messy boys.” I didn’t do it to be funny, I just wanted to be on TV.

 

Who was the last person to make you laugh? John Early does this bit where he “accidentally” leaves me messages meant for someone else and talks through his extremely detailed plans to kill me and cook my flesh. Nothing funnier.

 

Who was the last person to make you cry? …

Thursday 05.05.22

JOEL KIM BOOSTER

Joel Kim Booster is everywhere. From TV to radio, talk shows to stand-up specials, the actor, writer, and comedian is prolific — maybe you’ve seen him on NBC’s Sunnyside or heard him on NPR’s Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me, or perhaps the web series he co-hosts with Patti Harrison, Unsend, has shown up on your feed. For the past decade, Joel has been making people laugh, first getting his start performing comedy in the Chicago theater scene, then moving to New York in 2014, and now based in L.A., his upward spiral continues. This past summer he filmed the highly anticipated Fire Island, which he wrote and stars in, also featuring his friend Matt Rogers, as well as Margaret Cho and Bowen Yang. We managed to grab a few moments of Joel’s time to snap the accompanying pics and ask him some deep and meaningful questions. How he has time to maintain those abs of his, we’ll never know…

 

What was your first onstage comedy experience? The theater company I was a part of in Chicago, The New Colony, had a variety show to promote our latest play, Five Lesbians Eating a Quiche, and we had an open spot that needed filling. I said I’d do something but I didn’t really have a plan. What I ended up doing was basically stand-up.

 

Who was the last person to make you laugh? My boyfriend.

 

Who was the last person to make you cry? My boyfriend. …

Thursday 04.21.22

ANA BENAROYA

Strong yet sensitive, sumptuous yet severe — the women rendered in Ana Benaroya’s paintings flex and fume in striking color.

Semi-surrealistic and with generous amounts of camp, the New Jersey-based artist’s tableaux feature herculean figures posing and smooching, smoking and drinking. Maybe they’re Titans or Amazons, perhaps genetically-modified humanoids of the future — aliens hailing from a vibrant lesbian planet.

 

Ana Benaroya grew up collecting baseball cards and action figures of strapping superheroes, and she saw herself in charismatic macho characters like Indiana Jones and James Bond. She also became obsessed with anatomy books, learning the body’s muscles. This knowledge allows her to push past mortal limits in her representations of the figure, adding and stacking bulging muscle definition to maximal, and often impossible, articulation.

 

In her latest exhibition of paintings at Morgan Presents in the Lower East Side, a two-artist show titled The Muse’s Gaze, Ana’s canvases have been worked in layers: first she uses a base of spray paint, then adds acrylics, and she finishes them off with oils. Her sense of color is on full display — neons and jewel-tones blend and glow to dazzling effect. The women in these paintings tower over audiences, claiming territory as their long hair billows in the wind. In spirit, they may act as imperfect goddesses — ultimately powerful and alluring, but passionate to a fault — moments of total synchronization and indulgent harmony paired with episodes of crippling jealousy and cruel heartbreak. Ana’s vision flips gendered archetypes, and by putting the brutish femme center stage, a new brand of hero is championed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ana Benaroya photographed in her studio, Jersey City, New Jersey. …

Tuesday 04.19.22

Bushwig – 04.15.22

Scenes from the party at Knockdown Center