By Gregg Shapiro
Photo: Ian Bonhôte, Ann Ray
One of the many things for which the year 2018 will be remembered is the number of (mostly) good documentaries playing in theaters. “Won’t You Be My Neighbor” and “RBG” are sure to be remembered as “best of” lists are compiled at year’s end. Both films are also shoo-ins for Oscar nominations. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for the flawed “Whitney.”
Closer in quality to “…Neighbor” and “RBG” than to “Whitney,” the Alexander McQueen doc “McQueen” (Bleecker Street), co-directed Ian Bonhôte and Peter Ettedgui, tells the rags to riches story of the fashion designer born Lee Alexander McQueen. Separated into five sections, “McQueen” portrays the brilliant man who went to the far reaches of his dark side to pull the horror from his soul, and then put them on the catwalk.
McQueen, who admitted he wasn’t very good in school, except for art, and was “always drawing clothes in every lesson,” was encouraged by his mother Joyce to apply for (and got) a Saville Row apprenticeship. He learned Bespoke tailoring from master tailor Cornelius O’Callaghan and then went work for avant-garde designer Koji Tatsuno. The “sweet boy from the East End” who “listened continually to Sinead O’Connor” learned about “visual research” and historical and sexual references in fashion from Red or Dead designer John McKitterick.
Before you know it, McQueen lands a job in Italy with designer Romeo Gigli. Back in London, McQueen earned his MA at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design under the guidance of Bobby Hillson, thanks to his generous Aunt Renee who paid is tuition.
From there, McQueen made his name by combining the “modern and the classical” and “sabotage and tradition,” creating beautiful things out of his dark side. A fashion disrupter, McQueen incorporated fetish fascination into his work, which he boldly displayed in his designs as well as his legendary runway shows. Along the way, the “romantic craftsman” with a self-destructive streak, won British Designer of the Year two years in a row. But there were casualties and his intertwined personal and work lives suffered.
Fame didn’t provide McQueen with happiness. He indulged in drug use. He changed his physical appearance. He felt pressured which led to paranoia. McQueen did, however, find pleasure with his dog at the seaside. Still, the deaths of influential magazine editor Isabella Blow (with whom he had a falling out) and his mother proved to be too much. McQueen committed suicide in 2010.
Interviews with sister Janet McQueen, nephew Gary James McQueen and boyfriends Andrew Groves (who was also an assistant designer) and Murray Arthur, provide intimate details. Most of the other insider interview subjects, including Detmar Blow (Isabella Blow’s husband), hairstylist Mira Chai Hyde, agent Alice Smith, writer Plum Sykes, assistants Sebastien Pons and Ruti Danan, and models Jodie Kidd, Debra Shaw and Magdalena Frackowiak, may only be recognizable to those with some familiarity of the high fashion world of the nineties and early aughts. While they may not be familiar names, their connections to the McQueen and the industry definitely give their insights considerable weight.
Rating: 3 1/2 peaches
By Scott King
“But she never lost her head, even when she was giving head”.
– Lou Reed, Walk on the Wild Side
Dear Mr. President,
How are you? I hope you are well. I hear that recently you have met with some trying times, that you are at maximum stress level and are frustrated with the state of your Presidency and public image.
Needless to say, I have been there. I hope this letter finds you well, and I hope that the words that follow will be of some comfort to you in the weeks and months to come.
As you know, I am a proud and long-standing Liberal American. I identify as liberal, Democrat, and progressive. I’m fluid like that.
I, along with the other members of this proud and robust coalition, wish to send you a message.
We, on the Left, PROMISE not to judge you for the pee tape.
We won’t be so haughty as to deny the fact that we are all a little pee curious at some point in our beautiful lives. Heck, I had a good friend in college who I’m pretty sure was into that. He got this weird look on his face sometimes when I went to the loo. I never talked to him about it, but I wouldn’t have judged him either way. Whatever floats your boat, ya know?
I apologize. That was an extremely insensitive metaphor to employ just then. I really do want you to know that, all joking and polemics aside, there is a community of people out there who will support you when that viral doomsday comes. The truth will set you free. Just ask anyone who’s ever come out of the closet with any sort of alternative sexual orientation or as a member of any alternative sex community.
Now, I know that all this terminology is probably new to you, and harrowing. It probably feels like you’re attending your first day of orientation at PC University.
Never fear. The Left is here. I’m guessing you will be surprised and delighted to learn that alternative sex communities know no political orientation. Libertarians, liberals, gun-toting conservatives – all are welcome under the fetish tent. Heck, I even read a fanzine once about people with fetishes for political theatre. Do you know anyone who’s into that?
Shame is not worth it. It’s not worth the tension in your shoulders. It’s not worth Melania spending all your money on those subversive raincoats. It’s not worth turning over American patriots to foreign dictators for imprisonment, ridicule, torture, and “accidental” murder.
Above all, the integrity of your reputation is not worth the degradation of America’s. Just because you like to get peed on, that doesn’t mean America wants to get shit on by our allies in retaliation for your humongous bag of condescending, entitled, willfully ignorant bullshit.
It’s just not worth it. Calm down, queen. Let me pour you a glass of your very first champagne. Champagne is French, you know. You like the French.
Don’t you feel better now? I know, I know. Your father didn’t love you as much as you wanted him to. But fuck that racist, withholding c**t of an asshole. Who is he to tell you you’re only worth a million dollars? You’re a billion if you’re a day.
Who cares if you don’t get reelected? At least then you’ll have plenty of time to pursue your private legal issues. And golf!
And heck, if you really are as hung as everyone is saying you are, maybe you can do porn! Give Stormy Daniels a call for the sequel. Working title: “Executive Sweet, Part Deux.”
I can’t wait to see your huge penis.
By Gregg Shapiro
When it comes to album titles, gay singer/songwriter came up with a good one for his second album. Not the End of Me (stevegrand.com), on which Grand deals with his pre-sobriety downward spiral, is definitely fitting. Facing his demons head on, Grand has written some of his most visceral songs for this album (check out “Disciple”). Nevertheless, Grand knows his fan-base well enough to also include the kinds of songs his devoted followers will appreciate, as in the case of “You or the Music”. We spoke about the new album and his newfound clarity in July 2018, while Grand was doing his Provincetown residency.
When we spoke in late spring 2017, I asked you about being “laser-focused” on your second album and you mentioned having just written and recorded a chorus, as well as the production work you were doing. How much of what you were creating at that time ended up on what is now Not The End of Me?
(At that time) I think I was really refining my song “Safe and Sound” which is on the new record, track number five. I was hoping to get the album all done before I got to Provincetown (in the summer of 2017). I was going to do a shorter version of an album. But it’s such a time commitment being out here and promoting the show. I was flying out on the weekends, so I didn’t have any time to record.
One of the first things I noticed about the songs on Not The End of Me is that you are doing different things with your voice, for example the gorgeous vulnerability of “Can’t Go Back”. Can you please say something about that?
I wanted the sentiment of the song to be reflected in the way I was singing it. With this album I was more focused on being truly honest and vulnerable instead of just making something that was as mass-appealing as possible. I allowed my voice to do what it was going to do. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve gotten more comfortable with some parts of my voice that I wasn’t always comfortable with. Which is also a metaphor for the way we go through life, I guess. I’m more comfortable with it and I’m more than okay with parts of my voice that used to bother me. I’ve come to appreciate them more. It’s my voice and I know what’s behind that voice, what that voice has been through. There’s an authenticity there that’s been earned. When I was younger I didn’t always feel that way. I’m confident I’ve earned whatever authenticity and vulnerability is there in my voice.
If there is a prominent theme on Not The End of Me, it would be the issue of indulgence and recovery, something listeners can hear on “Pink Champagne”, “Don’t Let The Light In” and “Ain’t It Somethin’”, to mention a few. Please say something about addressing these subjects in song.
Because I’m lucky enough to have a lot of loving and caring people in my life, they were able to catch me before things got too bad. But I was definitely on a road to self-destruction. I’ll say that. I was able to catch myself before it got too bad. It did get to the point where I was drinking every single day. I would drink in the morning and I started to rationalize drinking for just about every situation. It became my way of self-medicating. I wanted to numb myself out when I was feeling too stressed, anxious or overwhelmed, which is something I was feeling all the time those first couple of years. I always want to talk about this in a nuanced way and it’s hard to communicate that nuance in a headline. I feel like there’s an understandable tendency for writers and bloggers to sensationalize the experience of addiction of whatever you want to call what I went through. Like everything, it’s complex and it’s different for everybody.
I’m glad you said that because, in addition to your record, recent albums by Nicole Atkins (Goodnight Rhonda Lee), Girl In a Coma’s Nina Diaz (The Beat is Dead) and fellow Chicago musician Michael McDermott (Out From Under), are indicators that recovery music has become its own genre. What do you think about that?
I think we can continue to break everything down into infinitely smaller sub-genres [laughs]. But if that’s a way for people to classify music, then so be it. If it’s something that has an audience that wants to hear that and take strength from it, I’m for that.
You included two versions of “Walking” – an “original cut” and a “radio cut” – on the album. Was this because you couldn’t decide which you liked better?
That was part of it. Also, the original version is the one that came first. At some point after that, I wasn’t sure how much I wanted to try and make a fun pop record. I was experimenting with making it sound more fun and lighter than more commercially viable. That was version that I released and made a video for last year. I always kept going back to the original version. It was one of the first songs I recorded for this album. I wanted to put it on the album because it was the initial intention that I had for the song. I thought it would be a great way to start the album; also because of the lyrical content. I really love books and songs that start right in. I love when, with the first line or two, the writer throws you into it. I sing, “Caught up in the lights/Cameras in my face/Where did we go wrong/Why’d you walk away”. It gives you the right amount of information with the minimal amount of words to take you to exactly where I’m at. That’s where I wanted the album to start; in the chaos and confusion of having a viral hit and being overwhelmed by trying to keep my life together as things in my personal life are spiraling out of control. How that fed into whatever I was doing professionally at the time.
“You or the Music” is also reflective of the kind of pure pop elation that your fans have come to expect from you. Have you ever had to choose between your music and a boyfriend?
It sometimes has felt that way. I was in a very tumultuous relationship, my first relationship ever that lasted quite a long time. Of course, it’s not that simple. In order to make a cool song about it, you have to drastically oversimplify things.
Exaggerate a little bit.
Yes. There were times when it felt that way. Because of the life I live and the guys I tend to go for – they really want no part of all the flying around and social stuff and social media. The guys I like are generally very reserved and keep to themselves. Which I think makes a nice yin and yang. I’m very much an introvert who is forced to put myself out there. Like today, I went to the Ptown Inn pool and I was flyering. It makes me anxious to walk up to strangers and say, “Hi! Come to see my show”, because not everyone is going to react positively to you. You know some people just want you to get lost. I don’t necessarily like it when people get up in my face and are trying to sell me something or get me to go somewhere. I know I don’t like it, so I understand how other people feel. Still, it takes courage to do that when I’m inclined to want to stay home and spend time with one person or a group of close friends. It forces me out a little bit. To answer your question, the guys I like are generally the ones I feel a genuine sense of home with. I don’t need all the hustle and bustle of all those other things in my life.
I know that you come from a religious background and the song “Disciple” is full of religious imagery. Would you mind saying a few words about that song?
I want to leave that song open to interpretation. It was a cathartic experience writing that song.
I can imagine.
I wrote it in a dark place, at the very end of my drinking days. I threw it all out there on the table. The song’s about a lot of things. There are things that have double meanings. There are things that have taken on additional meaning over time. I want to leave it up to my fans…I’ve already had a lot of people message me about it, wanting to know what it’s about. People are sending me their different interpretations. I like that. I was super-unsettled when I wrote that song. I was at my wit’s end. There’s a quote that goes something like, “It’s an artist’s job to comfort those who need comforting and to make those who are comfortable feel uncomfortable”. If people walk away from that song feeling uncomfortable, that’s not a bad thing. Not everything wraps up neatly in life. I want people to feel what I was feeling at the time. That push forward. The anxiety of life changing around you, forcing you on, even if you’re not ready.
At the time this interview is taking place, you are performing in Provincetown throughout the summer of 2018. Is there an autumn and winter concert tour in the works?
I’m going to go wherever this album takes me. You can follow me on bandsintown.com/stevegrand and that notifies people when their favorite artists, and hopefully that includes me, come to a town near them. That’s the best way to know when I’ll be in your area. Slowly but surely my dates are filling in. We’re starting to get more offers, especially with my new album coming out. We’re getting a lot of great press and my fans are excited about it. All of that is helping.
To celebrate the queen of pop’s 60th birthday, the Heretic will be the venue for a 100% Madonna-themed M60 party.
Get ready to ‘Get Together’ for a Madonna-thon unlike you’ve seen or heard before to thrill hardcore Madge fans and newbies alike. DJ Mike Pope will have you confessing on the dance floor all night long spinning beats from the extensive catalog of Madonna remixes, and the evening will also feature a special performance by Material Girl incarnate, Tristan Panuchi.
Get Into the Groove because this Celebration of Ms. Ciccone is one you will Live To Tell about!
The What, When, and Where
What: M60 – a celebration of Madonna turning 60 this year
When: Saturday, August 4, 10 pm- 3 am
Where: The Heretic Atlanta
By Mikkel Hyldebrandt
Where do you go for support if you may consider coming out as gay but struggle with your male, “straight” identity, your circumstances, and cultural norms? Peach talked to Bill Lewis who is the organizer of GAMMA ATLANTA – a support group for men that identify as gay, bisexual, or questioning but who are typically currently or previously married or involved with a woman.
What is the purpose of GAMMA (Gay and Married Men’s Association)?
Men who come to GAMMA identify as gay, bisexual or questioning, or, in some cases, they prefer not to label themselves at all. What they have in common is an attraction to men. Most are currently married or involved with a woman—some for several decades, while others for a couple of years or less; and some men were previously married or involved with a woman. Men of all ages come to GAMMA meetings, and some attendees are fathers. Over the course of attending GAMMA meetings, some men may decide to stay married, while others to separate or divorce.
Tell us a little bit about the background of GAMMA Atlanta
After coming out to my wife several years ago, I turned to a small group of friends that helped me transition from living in the “straight” world to living as an openly gay man. Not having to live alone and isolated was a huge relief during a dark period of my life. During that period, I discovered the GAMMA DC chapter and attended a couple of meetings when I was in the area. While I wasn’t ready to start a group here in Atlanta at that time, I began to dream about a time when I could.
Why do you think there is a need for a group like GAMMA?
We live in a culture that often suppresses openness and transparency. Males are taught from an early age to put up facades. As a result, many gay males hide their true selves. In turn, many men follow the cultural norm of marrying in their 20’s. GAMMA is a place of support of refuge for men to be free of judgment and shame. It is critical that men know that they are not alone and there are thousands of men in metro Atlanta just like them.
Do you think the group helps men to come out as gay – or come to terms with their sexuality?
While the path that each of the members of GAMMA walks is similar, each one is also unique. Some of the members are divorced, and out to their family, others are out to their family and choose to remain married, and others are not out to anyone. A major goal of the group is to support each member wherever they are. When a member is ready to “come out,” members will be there to offer support and encouragement. However, it is never a requirement for membership in the group.
Describe a typical meeting?
All of our meetings are different, but they all follow the format of a) review of guidelines, b) brief summaries of guys situation, c) open discussion and closure.
What are the group’s guidelines?
We are committed to confidentiality; we will not judge the choices that anyone has made, and we will not give advice. GAMMA has no party line regarding divorce/separation or the choice to stay married; everyone ’s situation is unique.
Do you deal with deeper issues like self-hatred and homophobia?
Absolutely. These issues get discussed in many different ways in our meetings. Just the idea of coming to grips with our sexuality and coming out to our wives and kids can inevitably lead to a basic question of why we haven’t dealt with this issue in the past? The problems that can be faced when finally connecting with the LGBTQ+ world can present difficult challenges and are discussed at meetings.
What do you hope to change with a group like GAMMA?
GAMMA Atlanta strives to remove the stereotypical norms that exist in the culture in regards to sexuality and heterosexual marriage. By providing a safe place where men can share their experiences we will help them deal with family issues and be comfortable in the larger LGBTQ+ community.
Interested men can go to meetup.com/GAMMA-in-Atlanta or visit atlantagamma.weebly.com for more information.
The Georgia native grew up in Cairo, (GA), lived for 15 years in Nashville, and moved to Atlanta two years ago to work as a flight attendant for Delta. Even though he is still adjusting, he has made some great friends in the city. Mark enjoys the outdoors, loves traveling, and wishes to explore even more of the world. He has been single for a while, which he is perfectly happy with, but he also looks forward to having a relationship one day. Follow the handsome Georgia boy on IG @markgvanl.
– Would you like to be PotW? Email email@example.com.
Lives in Atlanta
Variety of photos
Guy next door
By Jamie Kirk
Cliché: Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. But oh so very true indeed. It is amazing how two people can look at the same photo, same home, same car, and the same two people can walk away with two very differing opinions.
One opinion could be that the object is strikingly breath-taking, while the other opinion could be that the object is completely flawed. Both people could be the same age, same ethnicity, and have very similar educational backgrounds, yet have totally different take-aways upon observation.
I think this is absolutely astonishing that our taste can be so different in what we attribute to being handsome, pretty, “big-boned,” lean, dark, light, pale, short or tall. All of these labels can be clearly visible to the naked eye, but who’s naked eye is the real question.
When you see someone for the first time, we run them through our filters of past experiences, current situations, and sub-conscious expectations. When we look at someone, we actually DO feel more comfortable if we can identify them with a word or a title. It makes us feel more in control. Most of us don’t like the feeling of not being able to identify/relate to something. So when we are able to call someone unattractive, or “big-boned” we feel like we have a handle on the situation; even though these labels are 100% subjective.
At face value, we have no right to judge someone. We should not be comfortable calling someone too skinny, not-in-shape or needing to get some sun. These types of comments are pretty immature and could be a sign of our own insecurities about our own weight, our own skin color or our own inability not to count calories. There are often extenuating circumstances regarding a person’s appearance. A heavy person may be overweight due to an illness. A person that is very pale may have a skin disorder, or a person that is skinny could suffer from bulimia. It is not our job or our duty to pre-judge anyone based on what appears to be unquestionable or potentially controllable.
Don’t get me wrong, we ALL jump on the judging soapbox from time to time. It helps us feel better about ourselves. We look at folks in the gym and compare our muscles. Women look at make-up, shoes, eyelashes, etc. and judge (good and bad). After all, we are all human and being petty is sometimes a part of it. And by petty I mean, not being above putting someone else down in order to try and lift ourselves up. Unhappy people are dangerous and being intentionally mean is a sure sign of someone that is unhappy.
Keep in mind, as summer continues, we wear less clothing, we are out and about more, and we are generally a little bit more carefree. That is all great and all, but we should be as carefree with our spare time, as we are with caring about what people think or say about us. As long as we are honest, up-standing and confident individuals we are #winning. People watch how you treat yourself. If you treat yourself with kindness, calmness and have a peacefulness about your life, people will be forced to handle you that way. It doesn’t mean that they will not have private thoughts about you, but they will not share them. Private thoughts should be kept private, especially if they are not flattering and could be just plain ole mean.
In order to not fall into caring about being judged and more importantly not judging someone else, we just need to stay focused on our own lives. Making sure that we are living our best life, volunteering, being someone that is empathetic to others, is compassionate, funny when necessary, serious when needed, loving and kind – it doesn’t matter if the outside is wrapped in extra pounds or the exterior is not what society deems as attractive.
Focus on the main thing, which is making sure we are keeping our private thoughts private and not carrying ourselves in a way that people feel comfortable telling us what they think of us or someone else, good or bad. It’s not our business the opinion others have of us, we should only care about the opinion we have of ourselves.
By Darren Floro-Bryant
Finding the motivation to workout in this Atlanta heat can be tough! Sometimes even the air conditioning in the gym is not a hard sell, especially when there is a pool party or patio calling your name. You’ve worked hard for months on your summer body and you want to continue to maintain your gains, so you can’t neglect your time in the gym, but there’s summer fun to be had!
I’ve talked previously about full-body workouts, HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training), and even outlined a “Killer 20’s” workout. While these are all very viable, results-driven, efficient options, sometimes you want a traditional weight training workout, but you don’t want to be in the gym for hours.
Don’t worry, I’ve got a great solution for you that will allow you to have a good, efficient workout and leave you plenty of time for summer fun! Let’s talk Supersets!
Supersets, by definition, are very simple – a set that includes another set or sets. A broader explanation would be when you do two exercise back to back with minimal rest between them.
Supersets are great because they can really make an exercise session more efficient, more intense, and even more complex … and often times more interesting or challenging because you are constantly moving. Depending on the type of superset you do, there can be different advantages. The two exercises can either work different muscle groups, allowing the other muscle group to ‘rest’ while you alternate, or you can work the same or similar muscle groups, intensifying your results. In addition, many times the secondary exercise can be done without any equipment, allowing more flexibility in your choices – especially if your equipment options are limited.
There are 3 main types of supersets:
Unrelated muscle group superset
Allow the muscle group you are focusing on a little rest time and superset with an unrelated muscle group. For example, if your primary focus for the workout is legs, you can superset with chest. (i.e. barbell squats and push-ups back to back)
Similar muscle group superset
Pairing similar muscle groups in a superset can intensify the exercise, optimizing results. For example, immediately following up a dumbbell chest press set with a thirty-second arm-extended plank on the floor, then followed by a short rest and starting again. (limited equipment)
Opposing muscle group superset
A great way to intensify your time in the gym while balancing out your workout and maximizing results. An example of this would be doing chest and back together as a superset. Try a wide lat-pulldown paired with a push-up with your feet up on a bench (as a body weight option) or an incline dumbbell press.
If you are choosing the first option above, to superset unrelated muscle groups like legs and chest, you can knock out a chest workout while your legs recover! If you choose to superset the same muscle group, you’ll be able to dig deeper into those muscles to theoretically build a more “dense” muscle with greater strength endurance or stamina.
This second option is also great if the facility you are training at is crowded or has a limited weight selection, like a hotel. If opposing muscle groups is the option you choose, you have the opportunity to build more balanced strength gains or a stronger support system for the opposing muscle groups. This type of superset works well because, for example, you get to balance the push of the chest exercise movement with the pull of the back exercise movement – similar, but opposing movement patterns. No matter what option you choose they will all help you achieve some great results, broaden your exercise options, but also potentially a more symmetrical physique.
Let’s Talk Supersets!
Supersets not only make your gym time more efficient and intensify your workout, but they can help you build more muscle mass in a short amount of time. Supersets are also great because they are practical for everyday life because they challenge your muscles and joints by changing the movement and angles or the stress on the muscles and joints.
Keep in mind, though, it is very important for you to pay attention to your body and the exercises you are pairing or grouping together. You may want to adjust the weights you’re using with each exercise. Supersets can fatigue your muscles faster because of the increased intensity, so be sure to account for that. Additionally, with minimal rest, be sure to stay hydrated or take breaks when needed, especially if you are not used to supersetting exercises.
Here are just a few superset suggestions to help give you an idea of how to pair exercises up.
Unrelated muscle group superset – Barbell Squats w/Dumbbell Chest Press
Similar muscle group superset – Bosu Squats w/Bosu Reverse Lunges OR Dumbbell
Chest Press w/Push-Ups
Opposing muscle group superset – Wide Grip Lat Pull Down w/Push-Ups OR Tri-Cep
Rope Extension w/Bi-Cep Rope Curl