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On the Radio

Country Music’s Big Gay Moment

The Kickstarter campaign to fund openly gay musician Steve Grand’s debut album ‘All-American Boy’ is soaring. Is Nashville ready for its own Frank Ocean?

On July 2, 2013, little-known singer-songwriter Steve Grand YouTubed the video for his indie single “All-American Boy”, which the now 24-year-old Illinois-native made for a little over $7,000. “I’d never used a credit card before,” he recalled with a laugh. The video featured a chiseled Grand serenading an oblivious (but ultimately understanding) straight male friend, asking him to be his “All-American boy tonight/Where every day’s the 4th of July.” Seven days later, the song had gone hyper-viral and Grand was being written about by every media outlet in the country (I covered him here). It even rocketed him to a spot on Good Morning America, where they proclaimed him a “gay country star.”


Steve Grand (Joem C. Bayawa)

Perhaps it would be more correct to say the gay male country star, since there has yet to be one in America (Canada, on the other hand, is home to sexy bear crooner Drake Jensen). But while the response from fans was instantaneous and overwhelming, critics opined that a single did not a star make, and that country music just wasn’t ready for an out gay man to top the charts.

Closing Time

How to End ‘Mad Men’?

The creator and showrunner Matthew Weiner says that ‘there is a shadow being cast over this whole season that started not just last season, but the first time we met Don.’

Speaking Monday afternoon by phone, Mad Men creator and showrunner Matthew Weiner confessed that it’s been “challenging” to find the right ending for his acclaimed 1960s Madison Avenue period piece, explicitly comparing the upcoming conclusion of AMC’s flagship drama to the controversial finale of The Sopranos, the previous series Weiner worked on, and implying that some viewers may not be immediately happy with Mad Men’s denouement, either.


Frank Ockenfels 3/AMC

“There’s an immediate reaction to it and there’s a long-term reaction to it,” Weiner said. “If people behaved about The Sopranos the way they do now—with the reverence and understanding about what it was—it would have been a lot more pleasant for everybody involved. But there was such an uproar. Now we know that was the perfect ending for that show, and now we know that show is in the pantheon of the greatest shows ever. Did the ending affect that? Yeah. There are good ones and bad ones. As a writer, I want to end the story [of Mad Men] the way I think the story was told.”


Will Kim and Kanye Kill Vogue?


The Daily Beast

Is it a bravura business decision, or will it lead to an exodus of appalled readers? Unsurprisingly, Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour is not apologizing for putting Kim Kardashian and Kanye West on the cover.

Usually it takes a major scandal to shake consumer confidence in a brand. But in the case of Vogue magazine it appears that all it took was putting Kim Kardashian on its cover. The reality show starlet graces the April issue in a wedding gown alongside her fiancé Kanye West.

The backlash has been swift and brutal. Actress Sarah Michelle Gellar led the charge with a tweet that read “Well……I guess I’m canceling my Vogue subscription. Who is with me???”

Apparently many are with her. As of this writing Gellar’s call for a boycott had been retweeted over 8,000 times and favorited by more than 11,000 people. But the outrage has not been limited to Twitter. Vogue’s Facebook page has been inundated with hundreds of angry messages. One reading, I’m done with Vogue. Subscription cancelled sick to death of Kanye and Kim used to be high fashion, your standards have been highly compromised!!!!!!” had received 146 Facebook likes so far.


Annie Leibovitz/Vogue

The ‘World’s Most Talked About Couple’ opens up to Vogue’s Hamish Bowles.

“The fast-cooling Los Angeles afternoon air is filled with the scent of eucalyptus and mimosa,” is how Vogue’s Hamish Bowles begins his cover story featuring "The World's Most Talked About Couple," Kim Kardashian and Kanye West, for the magazine’s April issue.

Photographed by the legendary Annie Leibovitz (who also shot the Kardashian Kollection for Sears campaign in 2011), the editorial spread of the “creative polyglot” and his fiancee, a “cultural phenomenon,” is a display of gratuitous excess. Kardashian dons an array of wedding dresses by Lanvin, Shiaparelli, and Alexander McQueen’s Sarah Burton (who also designed Kate Middleton’s nuptials gown) as she poses alongside West and their daughter/muse, baby North.

“I put Kanye’s big chains around her, and I put a little Louis bag and some Jordans, and I was like, ‘What up, Daddy?’” Kardashian says of her daughter. West has even created a stop-frame video of North that makes it look like she is break-dancing.

Not Shock Value

‘Good Wife’s Perfect ‘OMG’ Moment

The showrunners promised that unlike George Clooney in ‘E.R.,’ characters wouldn’t be written off by being sent to Seattle. They really weren’t kidding. Warning: Spoilers.

ABC’s Scandal should take a note from The Good Wife. This is what a well-executed “OMG” moment actually looks like.


David M. Russell/CBS

Following its return from a Winter Olympics imposed hiatus, CBS had been teasing a three-episode event that would culminate in “the most shocking Good Wife moment ever.” And holy sh** did it deliver. Nothing could have prepared us for the final act of last night’s episode “Dramatics, Your Honor.”

Bring the Punk

Punk Goddess Who Wouldn’t Quit

From Bikini Kill to Le Tigre and The Julie Ruin, the many band names of ‘revolution girl’ Kathleen Hanna still add up to one epic feminist front woman as proven in the rock doc ‘The Punk Singer.’

The Punk Singer, a powerful documentary out on DVD this week, chronicles singer Kathleen Hanna’s revolutionary struggles—one cultural and one personal—and how they intertwine.


Sophie Howarth

Directed by Sini Anderson, the film follows both the iconic “revolution girl sound” as it became known, that Kathleen Hanna and a group of committed feminists started in Olympia, Washington in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, as well as the singer’s brush with illness and recovery.


A History of ‘Real’ Movie Sex

From nifty CGI trickery to having their actors actually have sex, here’s how some of cinema’s most famous sex scenes were made.

“Sex and death,” William Butler Yeats once wrote, “are the only things that can interest a serious mind.” And since its inception, the cinema has held a unique fascination with human sexuality.


Magnolia Pictures

In 1899, just four years after the Lumière brothers hosted their first private screening of moving black-and-white images—or motion pictures—French filmmakers Albert Kirchner and Eugène Pirou birthed Le Coucher de la Mariée. The film, silent and seven minutes in length, featured cabaret star Louise Willy performing a sultry striptease. Kirchner and Pirou’s short is widely regarded as the first pornographic film ever made.


The Story of Noah

Read the passage from the book of Genesis of the King James Version of the Bible that is the source of Darren Aronofsky’s new epic, ‘Noah.’

And Lamech lived an hundred eighty and two years, and begat a son: and he called his name Noah, saying, This same shall comfort us concerning our work and toil of our hands, because of the ground which the Lord hath cursed. And Lamech lived after he begat Noah five hundred ninety and five years, and begat sons and daughters: and all the days of Lamech were seven hundred seventy and seven years: and he died.


Niko Tavernise

And Noah was five hundred years old: and Noah begat Shem, Ham, and Japheth.


And The Escort of The Year Is…

The finalists wore tight mesh tops, yet their fans, so dedicated in their support of their idols in private, shrunk back from direct contact. Welcome to the International Escort Awards—and an uncomfortable evening celebrating the sex economy.

Three blocks from Aladdin on Broadway, two blocks from the Port Authority Bus Terminal, and one block from Papaya Dog, home of Midtown West’s best 99-cent hot dog, stands the Out NYC Urban Resort. It styles itself as New York’s first gay hotel, “the Big Apple’s local sanctuary” for a clientele of jet-setting homosexual tourists from Pittsburgh and Fresno. Opened in the summer of 2012, the hotel’s steel-and-glass-and-marble-and-more-glass aesthetic aims for posh futurism and manages neither.


Co-hosts Leslie Jordan, front left, and Shequida, front right, present the 2014 lineup of Mr. International Escort nominees to start the show. (Melissa Bunni Elian)

The Out NYC boasts a middling faux-Mediterranean restaurant, a vast and chilly discotheque, chairs that look like human faces, and this year, the 8th Annual International Escort Awards. The Hookies, for short.


Is Terminus Full of Cannibals?

The Walking Dead’s penultimate season four episode finally gave us our first glimpse of Terminus—but is the "community for all" a trap? Spoilers ahead!

“Welcome to Terminus.”


Gene Page/AMC

Sunday’s episode of The Walking Dead, “Us,” finally offered us a glimpse of the so-called “sanctuary for all” that has been the show’s main object of mystery for weeks. There were flowers and palm trees and meat was ready on the grill. It actually looked lovely—and no one in their right mind should trust it for a second.

The third season of HBO’s saga following the lives of four self-absorbed twenty-something women in New York ended on a sweet and sour note. [Warning: Spoilers!]

On its surface, the HBO series Girls appears to be a trifle of a show—a paper-thin portrait of four vapid, self-absorbed twenty-something New York women trapped in a state of arrested development. Look closer, and you’ll realize that the show has, over three seasons of television, become the series that best distills the wealth of contradictions that define Generation Selfie.


Mark Schafer/HBO

When we last left things, aspiring writer Hannah (Lena Dunham) had a quarter-life crisis of sorts. She’d quit her job penning punny advertorials for GQ magazine, proclaiming, “I just expect more from life! I want every day to be exciting, and scary, and a rollercoaster of creative experiences!” It was classic Hannah—asserting what she believes is her moral and ethical superiority over her ‘sell-out’ peers in lieu of compassion. Hannah is a ‘90s kid in every respect—a coddled woman-child whose choices in life are purely governed by self-interest.

Fact Check

The Cartoon History of ‘Cosmos’

Neil Degrasse Tyson’s remake of the 1980s series tries to explain how early-modern thinkers began to discover the wonders of the universe. Its history is as cartoonish as its graphics.

Cosmos, Fox’s much-anticipated remake of Carl Sagan’s classic wonder-of-science series, is drawing attention for an unexpected reason. The middle of the premier episode features a long segment on Giordano Bruno, an early-modern friar and philosopher who was burned at the stake for his outlandish theological views. Bruno’s heresy was partially related to his hypotheses about the universe, some of which were astonishingly correct: that the cosmos is infinite, and that the sun is just another star. His proto-scientific inquiry and his clash with the Catholic Church made Bruno an Enlightenment hero, lionized by modern historians and even by figures as celebrated as the German philosopher G.W.F. Hegel.



That’s more or less the story that gets told in Cosmos. Bruno is introduced as “only one man on the whole planet” who suspected that the universe was larger than everyone living in the year 1600 thought. Neil Degrasse Tyson ambles through alleys in the Vatican, explaining that there was “no freedom of thought in Italy,” and Bruno’s theories brought him “into the clutches of the thought police.” Bruno, according to Cosmos, wandered around Europe, arguing passionately but fruitlessly for his new explanation of the universe, only to be mocked, impoverished, and eventually imprisoned and executed. Catholic authorities are depicted as cartoon ghouls, and introduced with sinister theme music. Tyson explains that the church’s modus operandi was to “investigate and torment anyone who voiced views that differed from theirs.”

Ultimate Feminist

Miss Piggy Leans In

Miss Piggy

Paul Drinkwater/NBC, via Getty

Miss Piggy is confident, driven, and fights for what she wants. She embraces her "extra fabulous" looks and is unapologetically outspoken. And she doesn’t care what you think about it.

Over the years, Miss Piggy has been faulted for her clingy, seemingly obsessive relationship with Kermit the Frog. His unwillingness to marry her and settle down has only increased her fervor. Miss Piggy is so desperate, many think. So how does this longingness for acceptance and attention by a male figure a true feminist make?

Since her emergence on the television screen in the mid-seventies, Miss Piggy has been one of Hollywood’s reigning divas, overcoming and surpassing her years as a nameless swine in a male-dominated group. Her roots were humble and tinged with tragedy. “She grew up in a small town in Iowa; her father died when she was young, and her mother wasn't that nice to her,” Frank Oz told The New York Times in 1979. “She had to enter beauty contests to survive, as many single women do. She has a lot of vulnerability which she has to hide, because of her need to be a superstar." But Miss Piggy persevered, transforming her culpabilities into a successful career and becoming an icon to countless generations.  

It was her confident and aggressive personality that first earned Miss Piggy a reputation as the Gloria Steinem of the Muppet world. She is the perfect dichotomy of strength and femininity—she doesn’t take any shit from anybody (either physically or mentally), all the while still maintaining an incredibly glamorous persona. She’s a working woman, with a career ranging from acting as the face of a M.A.C. Cosmetics campaign to serving as a bonafide journalist and a fashion magazine editor in The Muppet Movie. In 1981, Miss Piggy penned her own self-help/advice book, Miss Piggy’s Guide to Life, which, naturally, was a New York Times bestseller for 29 weeks. Her words of wisdom are as sharp and to-the-point as she is: on style, “Style comes in all shapes and sizes. Therefore, the bigger you are, the more style you have”; on dating, “There is only one gift you should accept on your first date—diamonds”; and on beauty, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and it may be necessary from time to time to give a stupid or misinformed beholder a black eye.”

Artful Erotica

A Sex Doc Diagnoses ‘Nymphomaniac’

Lars von Trier’s “Nymphomaniac” portrays the story of a young woman with an incurable case of insatiable lust. So is this textbook sex addiction or overblown eroticism?

It’s been nearly a year since Lars von Trier first teased Nymphomaniac with a series of titillating trailers released on the Internet—a marketing ploy that generated predictable shock, awe, and hype about the Danish filmmaker’s explicit two-part sex epic.


Magnolia Pictures

Why the GOP Is Angry About Colbert

When Stephen Colbert was announced as David Letterman's successor, Rush Limbaugh and company both criticized and politicized the move. Keli Goff discusses whether they're actually mad.

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