June 2008 Archives

A neon guitar outside the Hard Rock CafeAt a time in which the price of nearly everything seems to be going up, Lucy Lawless fans were presented with a free outdoor concert at the Universal CityWalk, located in the studio-state of Universal City.

The Cute Little Red-Headed Girlfriend and I showed up at the concert several hours early, as is our custom, to take up a waiting position close to the stage. A barrier had been set up roughly eight feet back from center stage, and when we arrived, a single layer of Lucy's fans was already entrenched around it. We chose a position in the second "row," near the center, and settled in with many familiar faces.

For those unfamiliar with the CityWalk, it is an outdoor complex combining entertainment, shopping and dining. If you can imagine the architectural equivalent of a pinball machine playfield, you have grasped the essential experience of it. It is chaotic to navigate, dense with colorful facades, and filled with gargantuan neon objects.

CityWalk surprised me by being not just a good place to see a show, but a good place to wait for a show. It was easy to grab a snack and and go back to waiting, and there was a constant stream of activity to observe in every direction.

One of the bonuses of arriving early was getting to see Lucy and her band perform a soundcheck. While the band and the back up singers tweaked and tuned, the fans got to see Lucy onstage sporting her new, darker hair color and a ravishing blue gown.

Looking drop-dead gorgeous without makeup, Lucy stared back at us through her reflective shades and occasionally turned to her iPhone for a bout of texting (hey, aren't the fans supposed to be the nerds?). Lucy and the band performed a few songs all the way through, including "Superstar," which once again brought me close to tears (see earlier concert report).

Shortly after the sound check, a series of opening acts commenced, introduced by a Universal CityWalk Master of Ceremonies. Throughout the evening, this MC found it greatly entertaining to repeat the name "Lucy Lawless" at every chance so as to elicit squeals from Lucy's female fans. It became tiresomely Pavlovian after a while, but the MC continued, in his simple way, to enjoy it, and we continued to oblige him.

Lucy on the big screen where she belongsA Circus on Stilts was paraded out onto a separate stage, situated behind the fans. I was able to watch the act with the aid of a giant screen, which later carried Lucy's image. There were several such screens, positioned to provide a good view of the stage acts to various locations on the CityWalk, such as the terraced dining areas. The act concluded with an explosion of streamers that dispersed throughout the crowd.

Next, we were introduced to the opening band, called Paperback Hero. They were an amazingly decent, unsigned hard rock band. It cheered me to see that Los Angeles still offers casual opportunities to see a hard-working band on its way up. Lucy's fans listened to them appreciatively as the evening half-light darkened into night.

After the MC took some minutes to aggressively wrest as many screams as possible from the fans, Lucy finally entered on stage in a drapey knit two-tone dress and stack heel boots. The thin knit swung easily as Lucy danced and sang to "Tell Mama," the opening song. The purple and beige dress gently clung to Lucy's shape as she twisted and turned--it was a great performance outfit.

Having seen many of Lucy's concerts and appearances, my impression is that her singing abilities are consistently better each time I see her. I love hearing the development of her voice and her renditions of specific songs over time. At this point in Lucy's singing career, she sounds fantastic. This was the first concert I have attended where it seemed like Lucy's voice was fully her own, unique, complex and distinctive. I felt like I could both see it and hear it in the confidence she showed on stage.

Lucy's dress stunned her fansMoving into "Are You Gonna Be My Girl?" and "Like the Way I Do," Lucy began working that dress in some unexpected ways. Lucy's repertoire of stage moves seems to have expanded, and "Like the Way I Do" included a plunging crotch grab down the front of the dress that brought gasps and sudden screams from her fans. You can find it at around 3:28 on the .wmv version of the file (likethewayidoconcert.wmv) available for download from Lucy's fan club page.

It is not an exaggeration to compare the impact the dress made on fans to the first appearance of chaps at the Roxy concert in 2007. Later, after the show, it would be much discussed at the planned fan gathering at the Hard Rock Cafe. The dress also seemed to click with more casual concert watchers as well. Several guys, presumably in casual attendance, yelled "We Love You, Lucy!" in unison.

Lucy pitched her voice low, in imitation of the guys' deep voices, and said "Thanks, guys," before wisecracking, "It must be the dress." Lucy teased gently, "Why haven't I seen you at any of my other shows?" Pointing to her "old fans" in front, Lucy commented, "These three rows in front--I recognize them." The underlying message was, "You think you love me, but these are the ones who really love me."

Lucy played consistently to her audience, often prefacing her songs with a few words to indicate that they were intended for her fans. She chatted easily on stage and called out or waved to various people in the crowd, including former Xena: Warrior Princess director T.J. Scott and Victoria Pratt, who played the character Cyane on the show. Encouraging everyone to "think of their favorite actor," Lucy goofed with musical director Michael Orland and her backup vocalists Terry Wood and Peggi Blu during "You're So Vain."

Earlier in the week, Los Angeles has experienced an intense heat wave. Although the worst heat was over, temperatures rose on Saturday in Universal City, but it was never truly uncomfortable during the afternoon wait for the concert to begin. However, once the opening band took the stage and the crowd began to close in, the temperature seemed to increase despite lower evening temperatures.

After performing "Wonderful," with its lyric question, "Does it feel hot?" Lucy remarked about being warm on stage. As the show progressed, the heat was evident in the glowing sheen of perspiration that appeared at the hollow of her throat.

The warmth, however, never marred Lucy's appearance. In keeping with the 70s fashion evident in her wrap dress, Lucy wore a "natural" style of makeup, including nude tone lipstick and eye shadow. Heavy black eyeliner and false eyelashes completed the look, making Lucy's blue eyes blaze out from between fringed lids.

Lucy works the dressI had not thought that a dress would be a good match for the fiercer side of Lucy's personality, but she was able to make it work on angry songs like "What's Up?" and "Bitch." Regrettably, Universal's "family-friendly" policies required Lucy to change the lyrics to the latter song from "I'm a bitch," to "I'm a witch," a switch that made me dissolve in giggles each time I heard it.

That wasn't the only editing required by Universal. The opening band also mentioned Universal's family-friendly requirements (also known as censorship in some circles). Despite these strictures, Lucy wriggled in a few naughty moments, including the aforementioned crotch grab, and slipping a same-sex pronoun into the second verse of "Fooled Around and Fell in Love."

I noticed that Lucy changed lyrics in several songs when it suited her phrasing. Its another example of Lucy's growing conformability on stage. There was an easy, almost effortless feeling to the show as it moved from tender songs, like "New and Beautiful," to the poetic "Hallelujah" to the raucous "River Deep Mountain High."

All of the elements I've mentioned--Lucy's voice, her stage presence, her personality and her beauty--all seemingly upped a notch--combined to make this hour long concert a stand out. Just when I thought I'd seen all the talent and all the sexy that Lucy knows how to bring, it was like she broke open her secret stash and brought out the really good stuff.

After the show, several fans gathered for dinner and drinks at the Hard Rock Cafe. As it turned out, Lucy was also there with her good friend Marissa Jaret Winokur, seated at the opposite end of the terrace. Midway through our meal, Lucy and Marissa joined us for several minutes to chat.

Yes, that's right--we were in the Presence. Lucy asked us to pass on to the other fans how happy she was that we all came out to see her and support her at the concert and that we gave her confidence and courage during her performance. I managed to commit the message to memory before the dulling force of Lucy Haze descended upon me, blotting out rational thought.

Things Past

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Yves Saint Laurent wearing bulky glassesI was sad to hear about Yves Saint Laurent's passing last week. He was a fashion icon for me back in the day. I'm not talking about his women's wear, but rather his own personal style. He had a proto-nerdcore look going on that I really liked. I copied it by purchasing a pair of eyeglasses just like his.

The obituary in the L.A. Times reminded me of why I was so drawn to Saint Laurent's person in the first place. There's a quote from his former partner, Pierre Berge, on Saint Laurent's personality: he was "born with a nervous breakdown." That is a description of someone I could spend time with. And then there's Saint Laurent's own testimony that he had "known those fair-weather friends we call tranquilizers and drugs." By a strange coincidence, I have known those fair-weather friends, too.

I used to lust like crazy after Saint Laurent's homes--all of them, but especially his Paris pad. Some thoughtful soul has gone ahead and scanned in some pictures so you can see for yourself how lovely the interiors were.

Who Got My Hot 100 Votes

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Last year, AfterEllen.com decided to put together a list of the 100 women that lesbians and bisexual women found most attractive. The list, know as the AfterEllen Hot 100, came together in response to Maxim Magazine's list of the most desirable women. AfterElton.com also got in on the act, putting together their own list of the hottest guys according to gay and bisexual men.

This year, AfterEllen.com has put together another Hot 100 list, along with four countdown videos describing the appeal of each listee. Voting this year was done by write-in ballot, with 10 slots available. The instructions said to nominate "the hottest women on the planet," which I found amusing because so many of my entries were inspired by scifi characters, who live mainly in space. Here's the 10 women I voted for, in alphabetical order:

Victoria Abril's cute faceVictoria Abril
Abril is a Spanish actor probably best known to U.S. audiences for her appearances in several Pedro Almodovar films. She's played lesbian or bisexual characters in films such as Gazon Maudit (French Twist) and 101 Reykjavik. Besides being a talented comic actor, she's a trained dancer with lovely sinuous legs.

Chaves-Jacobsen in RazorStephanie Chaves-Jacobsen
In the two-hour Battlestar Galactica special, Razor, Stephanie Chaves-Jacobsen played Kendra Shaw, the solider forced into hard tutelage under the dominating Admiral Helena Cain, played by Michelle Forbes. Although I liked Razor's ending, I wish there was some way for Chaves-Jacobsen's character to return. Lacking that, I'm going to keep an eye out for her in other productions.

Helfer as NatalieTrish Helfer
Battlestar Galactica is such a cornucopia of lesbian delight--I could easily have voted for all of the regular female actors on the show. But I only had 10 votes, so I gave mine to the incredibly dishy Trish Helfer. She plays the femme-bot model number Six on BSG. The audience sees several distinct Sixes on the show; I'm partial to the Six named Natalie, pictured here. With such incredible women on the show I sometimes think BSG's creators must really love their lesbian audience; then an unclothed Gauis Baltar will show up on screen and I realize, no, I am mistaken.

Holloman beams playing TinaLaurel Holloman
Many lesbians complain about character inconsistencies on the show The L Word. But if it weren't for that inconsistency, I probably wouldn't have voted for Laurel Holloman, because her character on the show, Tina, would still be on my shit list. But Tina made a big rebound in the last season and Holloman worked it to the max. She appeared confident, stylish and sexy. Holloman is also a self-described bisexual, which may be why I've never heard her make any intentional or unintentional homophobic comments in personal interviews. Many hotness points to you, Laurel, for understanding your lesbian fans.
Place on the AE 2008 Hot 100 List: 13

Lawless with shy smileLucy Lawless
I like reading books about the theater, especially when they describe famous performances of the past. It's the only way to relive what it would have been like to see great stage performers bring to life the roles that made them famous. But it's also sad to think those moments cannot be fully experienced in the present, because nothing, not even film, can truly capture what it feels like to be in the presence of someone with star quality or outstanding personal charisma. Likewise, I sometimes feel sad thinking about lesbians of earlier times because they will never, ever be able to experience the smoldering sexual power that emanates from Lucy Lawless in person. It's one of those existential issues that's too sad and disturbing to contemplate for very long--like the fate of the poor unborn babies in limbo--so I push the thought to the back of my brain and try to be thankful that I live in such a blessed era.
Place on the AE 2008 Hot 100 List: 16

Author Ariel LevyAriel Levy
I saw Ariel Levy on The Colbert Report one night being smart and became enamored with her. It's a bit perverse putting Levy on this list, since she's the author of a very though-provoking book, called Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture, which argues that women have adopted male chauvinist behaviors like, uh, creating Hot 100 lists. Even if voting for Levy makes me a bit piggy, it's also proof of what an old-school dyke I am. After all, the woman discussed hardcore feminism for ten minutes on national TV and I was completely bewitched. I recommend reading her book (yes, I read it after seeing her), which incidentally starts with a Susan Sontag quote, giving her additional hotness points from me.

Matlin in a blue dressMarlee Matlin
I like bossy women. Matlin's character on The L Word, Jodi, was a big, big bowl of bossy. I have never met Marlee Matlin personally, so I don't know if she herself is bossy; when I watched her on Dancing With The Stars, she seemed intelligent, determined and driven. Matlin also has a fine, taut body, which her dancing costumes made the most of. I especially loved her in the tiger-print dress. And of course, who can forget her end-of-season "fuck me" scene on The L Word? Begging will get you everywhere, Marlee.

O'Connor singing on stageRenee O'Connor
Although I identify myself as a Xena: Warrior Princess fan, while the show was on it might as well have been called Gabrielle: Warrior in Need of Female Assistance--that's how focused I was on Renee O'Connor's character. Since then, I've followed O'Connor's every movement career and been enthused by her decision to take on independent projects, including movies and stage plays. DIY and artistic cred = major hotness.
Place on the AE 2008 Hot 100 List: 21

Streep wearing purpleMeryl Streep
There is a contingent of lesbians who have it bad for Meryl, and I count myself among them. I suspect lesbian attraction for Meryl might be a generational thing. I imagine it's that group of dykes whose maturation process--from girlhood to womanhood, from closeted adolescence to out lesbian--roughly corresponds to the rise of Meryl's film career. Plus the fact that anyone who can emote as hard as Meryl is going to be a totally awesome bottom.
Place on the AE 2008 Hot 100 List: 91

Torres on FireflyGina Torres
Another woman who has distinguished herself in my mind primarily through scifi and other genre shows. I loved her as the second-in-command on Firefly and as the bad ass on Alias. She's great at anything that involves punching or shooting. Torres also has a radiant smile and possesses a womanly quality that I find very attractive. The word "womanly" is hard to define, but I think it means the capacity to appear feminine without being girlish, and it implies a certain knowingness as well.

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