Last night we went to the opening-night gala for Outfest, the Los Angeles gay & lesbian film festival, which as always was held in and around downtown LA’s very grand Orpheum Theatre. Can’t remember when we’ve seen so many gays in one place before. Except maybe at last year’s Outfest. Near the entrance to the 6PM pre-party in the parking lot (an Absolut festival unto itself), we ran smack into Kenneth Anger, the legendary underground filmmaker (Scorpio Rising, Puce Moment), which would have been more exciting if we didn’t see him all the time at our local post office (Alvarado branch). After Anger, who was later to receive the festival’s 10th annual Outfest Achievement Award, celebrity spotting came to a crashing halt, save for actress Tracy Scoggins (The Colbys) and comedy writer Bruce Vilanch (Game Show Marathon). However, we did run into fellow blogger Perez Hilton, who has a hundred celebrities inside him struggling to get out. And we chatted with producer-director Michaline Babich (Kiki and Herb Reloaded). Randy, on his way to the bar, pointed out occasional clusters of “power gays.” And a bit later we pressed through the crowd to get a better look without actually staring at Martha Stewart’s partner in crime, Peter Bacanovic. We engaged in and witnessed shmoozing, like with director and WOW colleague Q Allan Brocka of Boy Culture, and lots of handsome young actors (successfully) teasing older executives. And we watched filmmaker Phil Tarley get numerous compliments on his BIG DADDY neck bling.
Seemingly hours later, inside the Orpheum, we saw Six Feet Under producer-director Alan Poul in the audience and, after some corporate festival speak and urgent pleas for funds to clean and preserve sole prints of early gay films like Word Is Out and Parting Glances, which are fading fast, the director of the opening night’s film, Maria Maggenti, charmed us with her warmth and hilarity. Her film, Puccini for Beginners, not so much. The talky farce is set in Manhattan and concerns a bisexual love triangle – a straight man (Angels in America‘s Justin Kirk), a lesbian (The Family Stone‘s Elizabeth Reaser), and a straight woman (The Notorious Bettie Page‘s Gretchen Moll). We wanted so much to like it, it saddens us that, despite its engaging stars, we didn’t. Again, just like the breeder audience at the recent Los Angeles Film Festival, the hordes of homos totally overreacted, hooting, applauding, and shrieking with laughter where a titter would have more than served. Randy called it Festival Fever.
Afterward, in a much-expanded version of the parking lot, there was the after party. Mingle mingle shmooze circulate. People we knew from WOW. People we wished we knew more intimately. Eventually we spotted Lenora Claire, who had not long ago sat in the WOW Ring My Bell chamber, answering calls. She was a vision: bright red hair, ample bosom, flawless lips and eyes, glittery black platform boots. She had just seen our picture, she said by way of greeting, in legendary New York nightlife figure Dianne Brill’s (decades-old) book, Boobs, Boys, and High Heels: Or How to Get Dressed in Just Under Six Hours. (We had no idea.) And was in fact wearing Brill’s Lip Lingerie cosmetic line, which she produced from her bag when asked for proof. For 20 or so minutes, we thought we were back at Danceteria. Which put the fest in the festival for us.
Captions, from top: Orpheum marquee; Gregory Michael, Tracy Scoggins, and John Fleming of Here TV’s Dante’s Cove; Miami filmmaker Henry Alberto (She Kills Me); filmmaker Phil Tarley and Outfest bartender; Puccini for Beginners director Maria Maggenti; Lenora Claire and Dianne Brill’s lipstick.
(Photos by Phil Tarley, except the one of him by FelixFotography.com, and of Lenora Claire by Randy Barbato)