I AM MICHAEL

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“I Am Michael”  directed by Justin Kelly and Executive Produced by Gus Van Sant filmed in 2015 made the rounds on the film festival circuit winning rave reviews at Sundance. Two years later, the film earned a distribution deal.  The true story based on Michael Glatze, a former LGBT advocate and San-Francisco based editor of the gay magazine XY, abandons his “homosexual” lifestyle to become a Christian pastor.

We  hear stories about men living heterosexual lifestyles who engage in DL activities or leave their families for the same sex. But rarely to do we see the flip side. James Franco plays Michael with ease. His performance as a gay man in a relationship who enjoys partying and threesomes is comfortably effortless.

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Franco’s partner played by Zachary Quinto  is his support system and biggest cheerleader. However,  Michael is never satisfied. He seems to want more out of life and has a deep desire to help gay youth on a grad level. He wants to change the world.

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Michael is neurotic often having panic attacks. He lives in constant fear  he will die of a heart attack. Due to a health scare, Michael turns to prayer. One is left  to assume he thinks God saved him. Michael becomes obsessed with reading the bible. He seems lost; you can see it in his eyes.

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As Michael rejects his former life, he is deeply conflicted with feelings of lust for other men. That doesn’t stop him from marrying a fellow bible student played by Emma Roberts. She accepts  him and his past. Their chemistry feels awkward, somewhat forced.

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I don’t know if Michael truly becomes “heterosexual” – the point being it doesn’t matter. “I Am Michael” is about removing labels and  self discovery.  A topic Franco embraces with delight.

“I Am Michael” is showing in select theaters and is available on iTunes and OnDemand.

Love Wins On Skid Row

16403333_10154583106804580_2124531928576622190_oA sea of tents line the streets of Skid Row. 

It’s been one week since I volunteered at the 3rd Annual Skid Row Carnival of Love.  I spent the day  filled with joy and tears. I was happy to help but seeing people living on the edge was truly heartbreaking.

As a personal guide, I met Tony.  A thoughtful young man who was more concerned about picking up clothing donations  for his girlfriend than for himself. After filling up four bags of clothes, Tony stopped to get his feet washed, signed up for health insurance and saw a doctor for the first time in months (just one of many essential services offered).  Afterwards, as Tony enjoyed a barbecued meal, we sat down and talked about life.  Seeing his bright smile throughout the day warmed my heart.

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I was also  reminded of my own struggles. I am fortunate enough to have an apartment, food, friends and a family that supports me. However without that support, I wouldn’t be able to afford the high cost of living.  Since relocating to Los Angeles, it’s been hard to find work. I have a college education and a solid resume and but am not being called for interviews. Which makes me wonder how are people living in tents supposed to get ahead? I don’t have the answer. But I do know, last Saturday, a beacon of light shined down on a community in much need.

Extra special thanks to Jane The Virgin star, Justin Baldoni and his team at Wayfarer Entertainment (along with their sponsors) for putting on such an incredible event!  As people danced in the street with smiles, Tony looked at me and said “I wish everyday could be like this.” I couldn’t agree more. :)

16299637_10154582979289580_7005414796971689001_oJustin Baldoni expresses thanks with hand over heart. http://wearewayfarer.com

 

Arsenal

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If you are looking for a formulatic action thriller, then Arsenal is not it. The new film directed by Steven C. Miller feels more like an indie experiment. And that’s just fine. Shot in just thirteen days, Arsenal is a fast moving, blood soaked thrill ride that asks “How far would you go to save your brother?”

Adrian Grenier and Johnathon Schaech play brothers bound by the childhood discovery of their uncle who commits suicide by shotgun. Mikey (Schaech) protects JT (Grenier) from the gruesome mess by sending him to the arcade.

Later, I’m not sure why or how,  but Mikey stumbles into gangster Eddie King’s (Nicolas Cage)  plastic draped hide out and witnesses  another instance of brutality. One is left to assume this event ties Mikey to Eddie King as an adult. Some details may have been lost, as I viewed the film at a screening held at Laemmle’s Music Hall 3 in Beverly Hills with Schaech and Grenier in attendance.  I was too  busy watching them watch themselves.

As an adult Mikey is no angel. He drinks, has a violent temper and can’t seem to get this life together. JT on the other hand, is a mildly successful business owner who enjoys family backyard barbecues. JT loves and defends his brother despite Mikey’s outburst and shortcomings.

Mikey, in need of cash,  borrows 10K from JT and buys cocaine in hopes of flipping it. This is when the shit hits the fan. The coke is stolen and Mikey is knee deep. Eddie King has his dirty hands in this and kidnaps Mikey in order to extort more money out of JT.

Nicolas Cage, who dons a crazy wig and nose is over the top as Eddie King. The prosthetic nose is kind of distracting, but I told myself it’s because he did so much blow over the years.

It is now JT’s turn to protect and rescue his brother. Adrian Grenier plays the part with conviction. A fine versatile actor who I’d love to see more of. He appears as darling off screen.

Johnathon Schaech is the stand out. He sets the screen on fire – his presence is strong and powerful.  Blood, sweat and muscle, Schaech breathes life into Mikey with a punch. This is not a man you want to get into an argument with. I could not help but envision Schaech starring in a Die Hard-esque reboot.

Schaech has enjoyed a substantial film and television career. But keep a close eye on him – I predict much more success ahead.

Arsenal is in theaters and on demand now. Check it out! http://lionsgatepremiere.com/arsenalmovie

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Selfie time with Johnathon. 

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Candid shot of Adrian Grenier pictutred with friend outside the theater. 

Evil Nanny

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The camp thriller Evil Nanny directed by Jared Cohn is good fun with plenty of roll your eyes, shake your head and laugh out loud moments.  And I got to appear in a scene! What’s not to love?

When working parents Tim and Fay Tripp (Matthew Pohlkamp and Nicole Sterling) move into Fay’s grandmother’s very old but charming home they decide to hire a nanny to help with their young son and new born baby.  They only need someone part-time, so they offer room and board as a way to entice prospective hires.

“Jen” replies to the ad and meets Tim and Fay for coffee.  “Jen” has a  past – the only thing we know about her is that she burnt a house down, died her hair and assumed the identity of a picture perfect girl next door. The Tripp’s are dazzled and offer her the gig. Before you know it, “Jen” is rearranging furniture and causing waves within the home and couples marriage.

“Jen” convincingly played by Lindsay Elston turns out to be a true nightmare in every sense of the word. After the couple throw a party, “Jen” drinks her face off.  She nearly kills the baby by leaving it in the bathtub while sleeping off a hangover. Clearly, grounds for firing. “Jen” is no dummy and knows her tenants rights. This crazy bitch isn’t going anywhere soon. Sex, drugs, loud music, wild partries and murder. Evil Nanny delivers it all.

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This summer, I got to work on Evil Nanny. It was an early morning call in DTLA, somewhere near the warehouse district. I got lost but eventually found my way.  With my wardrobe options packed in my garment bag, I entered the studio.  The studio looked like something out of a horror movie itself; in desperate need of a renovation.

I was hired to portray a library clerk. I put on my eyeglasses and slipped into character. Before the cameras rolled, I was placed behind the desk with a computer. It was hot as hell and smoke was being used to create effect.

While checking out books, I got to watch Fay trying to dig up dirt on her unwanted house guest. It was a blast. Look for my cameo around 16 minutes in. Hopefully, my next film role will be bigger. Evil Nanny 2?

Evil Nanny is now showing on Lifetime Movie Network.  Check it out! http://www.mylifetime.com/movies/evil-nanny

George Michael 1963-2016

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I woke up on Christmas morning by a text reading  George Michael died. A tear rolled down the side of my face. Here’s why…

When I was around 8 years old, I remember driving in the car with my sister, her friend Elizabeth and Elizabeth’s mom on the way to the bowling alley in Mill Basin, Brooklyn. “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” by Wham! played on the radio. We just loved the song and sang with joy. In this moment, life was perfect…

By 1987, I was in the 7th grade and although I attended Catholic school, I  knew exactly what George was singing about in his “I Want Your Sex” video.  George Michael by then  was a bonafied MTV solo star.  He shook his ass and donned a dangling cross earning. All while promoting monogamy.

The single “Freedom! ’90” was released in 1990 on the acclaimed Listen With Out Prejudice Vol. 1 and “Too Funky” on  the AIDS benefit album Red Hot + Dance. George began to shy away from the camera focusing on an elite group of “Super” models – he  blended music, art and fashion.  Two of the most iconic music videos of all time and personal favorites.

Six years later, while in college at SUNY Oswego, I discovered an “Older” sense of self and George Michael.  His music continued to speak to me and well as his sexy look in the “Fastlove” video. I wanted to look just like him when “I grew up.”

In 1998,  George Michael got busted for performing a “lewd act” in a Beverly Hills public restroom.  He proudly came out as gay and made ZERO apologies. I too was out as a young gay man and appreciated his f*ck you attitude. He even poked fun at the situation with the release of  the cheeky dance track “Outside.”

In 2004, I stayed out all night and fell in love with a bartender who worked the bar Eastern Block in NYC. Gabe and I shut the place down with his friend, preformed drunk yoga  and listened to “Amazing.”  The next day at work, I sat at my desk and played the song thinking of my wild night. I never saw Gabe again…

In 2008, my friend Eric invited me to see George Michael’s 25 year anniversary tour at MSG. It was one of the most memorable concerts I’ve ever seen. George Michael’s voice was razor sharp, one of the best. I watched and listened in awe of his great talent. A wonderful memory.

George Michael will be greatly missed by myself and millions around the world. A truly beautiful man…

Thanks for the memories.

Photo via http://www.georgemichael.com

Paula Abdul Set To Tour After 25 Years

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Over 25yrs ago, Paula Abdul burst into the spotlight. The song and dance girl emerged as a choreographer on the Tracey Ullman Show to a global superstar. Before launching her music career, Paula was choreographing music videos for Janet Jackson and Prince.

In 1988, Paula Abdul released her first album “Forever Your Girl.” The lead single “Knocked Out” began to get traction on MTV. But it wasn’t until “Straight Up,” did the world begin to take notice.  Only until recently, after being bumped to number 3 by Adele, Paula’s “Forever Your Girl” reigned as the second longest charting album on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Abdul enjoyed further success with release of subsequent albums, 1991’s “Spellbound” and  1995’s “Head over Heals.”

Due to chronic pain associated with neck and back injuries from a cheerleading fall (former Laker Girl),  dance, car accidents and even a plane crash. Paula put her career on pause until she landed at the judges table on  American Idol. 

At 53 years old, Paula is teaming up with New Kids On The Block and Boyz II Men on The Total Package Tour. Kicking off in May with a show at the Schottenstein Center in Columbus, Ohio. The tour runs through July 16 with a show at Hard Rock Live in Hollywood, Florida.

Tickets:  http://www.livenation.com/artists/165428/the-total-package-tour-new-kids-on-the-block

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Earlier this year, Paula made a cameo on Spike TV’s Lip Synch Battle looking absolutely amazing showing off her signature dance moves.  Paula Adbul is proving she really is “Forever Our Girl.” 

In celebration of #ThrowbackThursday,  enjoy!

Photo via https://paulaabdul.com

Twitter/Instagram: @PaulaAbdul

 

 

Vic Mensa Takes A Stand

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Vic Mensa, the outspoken, Grammy-nominated rapper from Chicago is using his voice to bring attention to the on-going stand-off between water protectors and militarized police over the Dakota Access Pipeline. The pipeline will run under the Missouri River and connect North Dakota to Illinois, where oil will then be transported to the Gulf and East Coast.

The indigenous tribal lands’ water supply is at risk for oil leaks and contamination. The pipeline would also destroy Native American burial sites. Protestors have taken camp and have been met with extreme violence by police through the use of water cannons in freezing temperatures, rubber bullets, pepper spray and other horrific means of force.

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The news media is virtually turning a blind eye to what is happening with most reports coming directly from protestors via social media. Vic tweeted, “Standing Rock is the most important struggle to support right now. What has been done to Native Americans for 500+ years can’t continue. If we don’t take a stand at Standing Rock and stop BIG OIL polluting drinking water we could all be next. Standing Rock is BLM.  Standing Rock is LGBTQ rights. Standing Rock is the Latino struggle. All this shit is one.”  For food and clothing donations please visit: http://standingrock.org

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This is not the first time Mensa has spoken out against police brutality.  His new music video for “16 Shots” recreates the slaying of friend, Laquan McDonald, a 17-year-old gunned down by police. Vic remains an advocate for criminal justice reform and other social justice issues.

On a side note, I am featured as one of the officers – in the opening scene. I’m honored to be featured  in the video and to be part of this important movement.

http://vicmensa.com

 

The Evolution of Jeff Beacher

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AFTER LOSING OVER 200 POUNDS, COMEDIAN JEFF BEACHER LAUNCHES THE NEXT VERSION OF HIS INFAMOUS MADHOUSE

Over the years, Beacher’s Madhouse evolved from a comedy show to a vaudeville revue to the wildest party in Los Angeles, frequented by the likes of Mick Jagger and other celebrities. The remodeled Beacher’s Madhouse at The Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel reopened in September. Drinks poured by dwarfs, anything- goes performances, audience interaction, goats, and monkeys are the norm. Beacher describes the Madhouse as a party for the people, made by the people. “It’s a haven for self-expression,” says Beacher. His motto? “As long as no one gets hurt, nothing is off limits.” Acts like Tiny Kiss, a three “little person” Kiss cover band backed by a 300-pound female lead singer resulted in the show’s popularity.

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To maintain a more balanced lifestyle, Jeff has stepped down as president of Beacher’s Madhouse—turning over the day-to-day operations to Head Little Person Donny Davis. Still, Beacher remains heavily involved, serving as chairman with his main priority focusing inward.

The self-described “reformed douchebag,” Jeff made an
enormous spiritual and physical transformation. Today, he reflects on his journey with a sense of calm and clarity. Growing up on Long Island, Jeff was popular, but, being adopted left him with feelings of abandonment. “It’s something most people don’t understand,” he said. Most of his life he was insecure and, in many ways, his insecurities are what drove his success. The “serial entrepreneur” ran several businesses before diving into the world of comedy and performance art. By the age of 17, he sold t-shirts in high school, worked as a nightclub and concert promoter and ran a lucrative flower company. Now, he is CEO of Beacher Media Group, which focuses on consulting and entertainment relations.

That was enough for Jeff, but not for his mom. She had a different vision. While sick with cancer she asked, “When am I going to see you on TV?” The following week Jeff started to do stand-up comedy. He soon began producing and hosting nightly comedy shows. By summer of 2002, he was selling out shows at Madison Square Garden’s Paramount Theater and the Supper Club on Broadway.

When Jeff’s mom passed, he continued to press on with comedy in LA, and with the encouragement of his friend Jeff Pollack (co-creator, writer, and producer of The Fresh Prince of Bel Air), he took his show to the Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas for five successful years. And in 2010, he signed a five-year, $25 million deal to open Beacher’s Madhouse at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel.

Although Jeff was enjoying tremendous success, he wasn’t taking care of himself and was severely unhappy. He tried to make himself feel better by overeating, binge drinking and gambling. In Oct. 2014, weighing 400 pounds, Jeff was at an all-time low. “Looking over the balcony and wanting to jump,” he remembers. “I was at critical mass, I wanted to kill myself. Thank God I didn’t.” Luckily, Jeff’s friends staged a “fat intervention.” Jeff credits Britney Spears’ manager, Larry Rudolph and Larry’s Fiance and Xcycle CEO Jen Barnett as his biggest influencers during this difficult time. “I needed to make a change or I’d be dead,” he said.

He went to a “vegan camp” and began a journey of getting mentally and spiritually healthy. Beacher lost a remarkable 225 pounds, and later opted for gastric sleeve surgery, which decreased the size of his stomach. As he began to feel more secure in himself, the weight continued to come off. He works every day at self improvement and he suggests that anyone suffering addiction ask for the help they need. “You have to ask for help,” Beacher says. “You cannot do it yourself.” Jeff is grateful for his friends and steady support system. He wouldn’t trade them for any of the material objects he is fortunate enough to enjoy.

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Sitting poolside at his estate in Beverly Hills down the block from his idol and buddy Brett Ratner’s and next door to Jay Leno, Jeff appears to be living his best life. Of all the cities he has visited over the course of his career, he says, “There’s nowhere [that] compares to Los Angeles.” From riding with the top down in one of his classic convertibles to riding his bike and running on UCLA’s track to dining at LA’s tastiest restaurants, he loves this city and all it has to offer. Although Jeff is eating much healthier, he can still enjoy a good meal. You can find him dining at Craig’s at least five nights a week, he says.

Through the outrageous shenanigans at the Madhouse and now through speaking openly about his personal triumphs, Jeff continues his work of uplifting and inspiring others. His goal: “I just want to make people happy and healthy.”

 

KEYS TO IMPROVEMENT:

Jeff says everyone can work to improve their health and lifestyle: “Focus on [the] mind, body and soul, meditation, yoga. You need to be in right mind set.”

STAR STRUCK:

“Thousands of celebrities have passed through
the doors. Every one of them is memorable…in a good way. I never had to throw anyone out for bad behavior (laughs). It’s about having the fun. I want my guests to leave feeling like they had the best night ever.”

WRITTEN BY: DAMON GONZALEZ PHOTOGRAPHED BY: JOE MAGNANI & JARED SCHLACHET

*Article originally featured in the November 2016 Issue of LOCALE Magazine.  http://localemagazine.com/meet-jeff-beacher-the-man-behind-the-madness/

www.beachermadhouse.com                                                                 @jeffbeacher

Tyler Glenn’s Ex-Communication

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The title of gay icon has largely been owned by female pop divas like Beyonce, Britney, Madonna, Mariah and Gaga. Well, that’s about to change. Neon Trees frontman Tyler Glenn just dropped the gay anthem “G.D.M.M.L. GRLS” (God Didn’t Make Me Like Girls). The third single from his up-coming solo debut album Ex-Communication, due out November 11th.

Tyler is digging deep and bearing all – owning his journey on the deeply autobiographical release. Openly gay artist rarely offer a personal perspective, tending to lean on sexually ambiguous themes and imagery. The gay male voice virtually non-existent in pop music.

Tyler, a Mormon, questioned a religion that ultimately does not accept who he is. Tyler struggled with sexuality and tried to adapt to the expectations of the Church, family and friends. When he came out as gay, he experienced an ex-communication of sorts. Glenn dedicates half the album to this difficult time and the other half on a relationship with a cheating boyfriend. A relatable experience for many gay men.

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With lyrics like “I’ve been freaking out, Cause I can’t keep it up and I’m scared.” “I tried to kill myself and I’m not the only one.”  Glenn unapologetically writes from the heart. Tyler is using his star power to advocate for self love and to shine light on the high rate of LGBT suicides among Mormon youth. Glenn’s new music is a bold and noble act of gay empowerment.  Check it out!

http://www.tylerglennmusic.com

Photos via Tyler Glenn Twitter: @tylerinacoma 

BTS of TNT’s Murder In The First

n-b-0xkrAs an actor, getting steady work for a few days is a blessing in this business. That said, I was ecstatic to get cast as a court reporter for five days on the TNT hit drama Murder In The First. 

When I arrived on set, I was placed directly behind the defendant which meant plenty of camera time. I was given direction to take notes and listen carefully to the testimony.  Not a big deal, right? I’ve served on jury duty a couple of  times and seen enough of courtroom scenes to figure it out.

I spotted a guy who looked familiar but I could not place him. When I  heard him speak, I was able to figure out who it was.  Mark-Paul Gosselaar was standing before my eyes!  I grew up watching Mark-Paul play Zack Morris on the Saturday morning comedy Saved By The Bell. This was beyond surreal. I felt as if I stepped into a time machine or that I was stuck in a parallel television universe where Zack Morris grows up and becomes a big time Hollywood director. Pinch me.

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I watched Mark-Paul closely as he gave the principals notes and directed with expertise. A director who is also an actor seems to have a better understanding of the process. Mark-Paul was friendly and funny – a pure delight. I even overheard him sharing stories about his four children keeping him up at night with the cast.

I couldn’t believe where I was – far away from my home in Brooklyn where I dreamed of moments like this. With hard work and determination anything is possible.

The fictional trial ended with a jaw dropping surprise ending! Be sure to pay extra special attention to episode seven. You can’t miss me! I give major face. :)

Murder In The First airs Sundays at 10/9c only on TNT.

In other Mark-Paul news….he makes his debut as  Mike Lawson, a confident catcher on the Fox series Pitch – a drama about the first woman in Major League Baseball. The premiere episode airs tonight 9/8c.

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