Beyoncé

Oh, YES SHE DID

Oh.

My.

God.

::praise break::catching-the-holy-ghost-o

Y’all.

Oh.

Y’aaaaaaaaaaall.

::praise break::

::pass the offering basket::

I can’t. I can’t even. Like, first can we talk about how last night’s Scandal basically doused itself in kerosene and lit itself on fire while tap-dancing to “My Heart Belongs to Daddy” and I don’t have time to talk about it. It doesn’t even rank. Mama Pope is in the wind! Papa Pope read Fitz for toilet crust like the President was a contestant on America’s Next Top DILF! Jake is Command! Cyrus is the Devil! James is CJ Cregg! Harrison is still a cutout from an upscale men’s magazine called Black Men with Limited Plot Function and Nice Taste in Socks! AND I CAN’T EVEN TALK TO YOU ABOUT IT!

I don’t have time!

In the future, we will gather around computer generated simulations of campfires and tell each other when we found out the greatest news of the 20th century. What’s that? It’s the 21st century? Since when? Oh, okay Marty McFly. Anyway.

It was the mic drop heard round the world.Beyonce "The Mrs. Carter Show World Tour" - Los Angeles

I was convalescing at home, wrapped in a blanket and binge-watching Orphan Black. (I want to talk to you about that, too, and I JUST DON’T HAVE TIME!) My roommate came home and said, “Hey, my friend in the music industry said that he heard Beyoncé’s about to release a secret album on iTunes.”

I instantly started speaking in tongues. “King B! H-town! Oh, girl, the stans been waiting! How you gonna tour on no album? But didn’t she do it? Yes, indeedy! Ring the alarm! Can’t no one touch, Mrs. Carter! “Grown Woman” leaked months ago. Still my jam! ::praise break:: This is the place where her sweat hit me at the B-Day concert! Fuck Keri Hilson! Buzz buzz buzz.”

He was like, “Uh. Okay. Whatever. Um, anyway. Apparently, it’s out. Check iTunes.”

ACTUAL FOOTAGE OF MY REACTIONwoke up like dis

OH YES SHE DID!

surprise bitchNow, I love organizational systems. I’m a process whore. A color-coded spreadsheet is as attractive to me as a Details magazine with Channing Tatum on the cover. And my mind immediately started spinning at the sheer magnitude of this achievement. She managed to construct 14-track album, coordinate a multi-continent, 17-video shoot, with footage in very public places, and get it uploaded on to iTunes (this is the hardest part; I can’t even figure out how to get my 2012 tax return off of H&R Block’s website. Like, what button do I press? No, I don’t remember my password or PIN or if I actually used Turbo Tax. I made 7 and a half dollars last year; can you just print it out and send it to me?). And she did it all in secret! Not a rumor! Not a whiff! And trust me, these Beyoncé fans all think they’re Olivia Pope, marching around in bedazzled white trench coats, wild-eyed because they’ve been locked in the hole of musical deprivation for years, posting crazy messages on B’s Instagram using burner phones. How’d she sneak it by us?

Lemme say this to the haters. If she could pull this off–a project that involved hundreds, if not thousands, of people of varying levels of importance and pay scale, with nary a weave-tamer or wind-machine operator speaking to TMZ or getting a little loose on Goose at Chateau Marmont–don’t you think if she had faked her pregnancy, she would’ve been able to cover it up? The woman could’ve given birth to a blonde-haired, blue-eyed, 6-foot tall, 40-year-old Scandinavian man and made us believe it. This conversation is above your pay grade. So I need you to buy a one-way ticket to Australia, take the T2 Aiport Line to Museum Station, transfer to the L94, get off at the Sydney Opera House, go inside, look at the 5,738 seats therein and TAKE ANY ONE.hi haters

I’m feeling light-headed. Someone bring me my smelling scarves.

For weeks my family has been pestering me about sending them a Christmas list. After this I was like “Psssh, y’all couldn’t even if you tried. Oprah could hand-deliver all of her favorite things to my door and I’d be like ‘Gurl, just leave it in the vestibule. Armelia at the dentist’s office downstairs will sign for it.’ Look, I’m sorry. This Christmas is the Superdome during the second half of last year’s Super Bowl. Lights out.”

Here’s my list:

1) Oh. Yes. She. Did!

2) Socks

If you can’t handle that, then why did you give birth to all of this gay?!

Anyway, y’all, I’m nearing my word limit and my editor’s going to kill me (LOL word limit. LOL editor) so here’s some totally sane, composed thoughts on every track. Continue reading

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Love

This is Just a Test…

Guys, I might have accidentally fallen in love with the guy who gave me my HIV test. What’s the proper term? HIV tester? Test administrator? Precept? Docent? Whatever. Whomever. I love him.

It really must be love because I’m not usually one to talk about my, um, sex life. And, okay, testing is actually just responsible behavior and self-care, but baby with the bathwater, I say. easyaWhile in theory I believe in normalizing regular testing for sexually active adults of all stripes, I am also a prude. Philadelphia, where I live, has a great number of sex-positive organizations, which is all well and good, but I have a long history of sex-negativity. I’m all for sex, but don’t like to talk about it, think about it, or acknowledge that it happens. I’m kind of a Puritan at heart; I’m still not convinced that The Crucible and The Scarlet Letter weren’t black comedies about appropriate responses to rips in the moral fabric of a level-headed community. My parents used to tell me that they tried for so long to have me and I honestly thought that that meant that they prayed really hard.

Anyway, where was I? Oh, my impending nuptials!

The other night, I popped into a local testing center run by a wonderful organization called GALAEI because it was time. I’ve been in a monogamous relationship for two years. It ended in July and I figured it behooved me to restart my regular practice of getting tested every six months. Climb back on the horse, as it were. Okrrr?!

falling-off-the-horse

I wasn’t looking for love, but they say that’s when it strikes. Like a serial killer in a movie. The super cute scrub-clad doctor led me to the private room, pricked my finger (like Cupid!) and started the clock. All doctors are hot, aren’t they? Like physically attractive. Their faces are symmetrical or whatever it is that makes people hot. They have small pores. I don’t know what it is. But they have it. Even the ones with slightly less than symmetrical faces are hot. And it’s not just the money; it’s the confidence, I think. They’ve got that Fitzgerald Grant Alpha-personality going on. And I’m a firm believer in making all my life decisions as if I’m Olivia Pope. Live every week like you’re wearing sharkskin gloves.

I twiddled my thumbs. In previous HIV tests, I’d been ushered out to the lobby (is it really a lobby if there isn’t a concierge desk?) and browsed through old issues of Entertainment Weekly while the test developed. Clearly he wanted to keep me around.

“What do you do for fun?” the doctor asked. I immediately got confused. What was he looking for?

“What do you mean, fun?” He cast me a look askance. I was like, Gurl, don’t come for me, gurl. It’s unclear whether you’re asking me about possible risky behavior or just shooting the shit. I’m not sure whether I should answer “Well, for fun I like take home intravenous drug users I just met on the street” or if I should say, “You know, brunch.” Is this a first date or an interrogation?!

He’s like, “I was just making conversation.”  Okay, okay. Okay. No need to get snappy. Okay.

He took off his glasses, leaned back in his chair and propped his feet up on the desk. “I hope you don’t mind; this is my 14-hour day.”

I said, “Make yourself comfortable!” But in the back of my mind, I thought “Honey, if this test comes back sideways, you’re going to need to adjust your bedside manner right quick.”

We chatted for a bit. I told him I work in theater; he said he recognized me from advertisements for a show I’d done. I flipped my hurr.

pw

The conversation turned to dating. I told him I was recently out of a long-term relationship and I was surprised by how soul-sucking dates can be. We take each other apart and judge the pieces. It’s a consumer activity or, worse, a clinical one. We forget that these boys we’re assessing at an arms length are people. And then, in turn, we forget that we’re people, too. He agreed with me. “I dated someone for a 6 weeks and then he just stopped calling,” he said. Out loud, I said, “Aww, that’s terrible!” but inside I was screaming “HE’S LETTING ME KNOW HE’S SINGLE! Ooh! Look at his pretty hair.”

I asked him whether testing was his full time job. He said it wasn’t and his eye lit up as he told me about his day job working with teens at a non-profit. It sounded wonderful and good for society and totally not medical. I was shocked.

“Wait a minute,” I said, “You’re not a doctor? Why am I being honest with you?”

“Why would you think I was a doctor?”

“Um, maybe because you’re wearing scrub bottoms and an expensive plaid shirt, and you’re handsome and I want to marry you.” I mean, is it even legal to wear scrubs bottoms if you don’t have a medical degree? Can I just wear scrubs? This changes everything. Most of my dating criteria are contingent upon the question “Is he wearing scrubs?” I’m not TLC; I want some scrubs. I want all the scrubs. A scrub is a guy who can pay my student loans. He can get some love from me.

Still reeling, I asked him about how he got into testing and what the training was like. “The training was a breezy two weeks,” he said. “There’s not a lot of support.” He told me that’s why he found it so important to make a personal connection with the people he was testing. A lot of the community’s needs extend far beyond a diagnosis and it’s hard to talk about serious issues with a stranger who had only been through nominal training. It was important that when a person got tested, they felt like they were still a person for those 20 long minutes. I swooned, even as a small voice whispered in my ear, Fool, he’s just doing his job. He’s not flirting with you! BTW, do you think maybe you should maybe get a Frosty after this?

Let me just say, that voice is an asshole. And, of course, I’m getting a Frosty. What are you, new?

I have a long history of falling for anyone who is nice to me. Salesmen at J. Crew, convivial ticket-takers at the movies, bright-eyed busboys–they all made my heart go pitter patter with tiny acts of kindness. It really doesn’t take much.

Beyonce_hemyhusband

Tell me that this expensive sweater you want me to buy looks great on me and I will start a wedding registry for us at Target with a quickness.

Whether or not he was in love with me (he was) and whether or not he was actually a doctor (I’m still not convinced. There were scrubs!), his friendliness was a welcome tonic to most medical experiences I’ve had. Getting tested, even if it’s just out of practice, can be a nerve-wracking 20 minutes. And one that’s shrouded in shame. As much as we talk about sex in America, there’s not actually a lot of sex-positivity going around. I got into an argument on a first date a couple weeks ago with a guy who said he could never date someone who was HIV-positive. He said, “It would freak me out. And it’s not fair. They’ve had their fun; that’s how they got it.”

That’s the kind of attitude that keeps people out of their friendly neighborhood testing places (that and the fact that they don’t clearly advertise that there are hot “doctors” inside). The logic goes: good people do good things and that’s what keeps them “clean”. They don’t have risky behaviors. That’s not true. All sex is a risk. Morality exists in the ether; bodies exist in reality.

Dino was the first documented gay dinosaur

During the Jurassic Period, we wear pink.

At the end of my 20-minute dream date with the doctor, I told him “This was the best testing experience I’ve had in all my 9,000 years of being gay.” He laughed. “I like that, 9,000 years of being gay.”

“I’m serious,” I said. “I’ve been gay since before the dinosaurs. I used to kiki with this triceratops who would do drag at Bob & Barbara’s under the name TriSara Vaughn. Fierce bitch. She’s dead now. Ice age. When will they find a cure?”

He wrote me a reminder for my next test. 1/24/14: Our second date.

“Normally, every 6 months is a good frequency for getting tested,” he said. “But with the breakup and the likelihood of increased sexual activity, I’m going to recommend you come back in 3 months.” I was like, “Well, thank you, but you highly over-estimate my game. But okay. I’m picking up what you’re putting down, you sexy sumbitch.”

He smiled at me, “Have a good night. See you in 3 months.”

Clearly just a ruse to see me again. Guys, this means we’re engaged, right?

rericthomas.com

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Smash

Happy Black History Smonth!

Oh, it’s been so long since we last had a Smash! (That’s what she said!) The last time Smash came on TV was forever ago! An asteroid hadn’t hit the Earth! And I had yet to sell my soul to Robin Wright’s bangs on House of Cards. It’s a different world, Dwayne Wayne.

Previously on Smash: new show runner Josh Safran showed up and was all like “Last season didn’t happen, okay? We burned a scarf, spat on its grave, and lined up so many buses to throw Theresa Rebeck under you would’ve thought it was a student matinee. We’re different!”

And it’s true.

Smash is so different in fact that this episode opens with a scene from Queer as Folk. Karen is…yawn. Sorry. Karen is being held aloft by what looks to be a mass of gyrating and jump-dancing homosexuals. Pop quiz: Is this is A) Limelight during my freshman year of college (I’m 31, do your own damn math) B) Boys Night Out at Fuerza Bruta (motto: look up… so it’s harder to identify who groped you), or C) the bouncy castle as my son’s Christening (what? I don’t have any straight friends and a petting zoo seemed a little Catholic)?

Hands up if you like Mackelmore and Jager bombs!

Hands up if you like Mackelmore and Jager bombs!

Anywhoozles, this scene is a blah blah dream sequence blah blah Mean Jeremy Jordan zzzzz subplot of intrigue.

Guys, I really wanted to write about Karen this week. I did!  I have so many thoughts about her and about Katherine McPhee (who really hits the riffs in this song snippet with a wallop; that girl should try out for a television singing competition or something). But, listen, I was already sick of her by the time the sexy new credit sequence hit. (That I WILL address that at some point, but suffice to say it was the most enjoyable grand mal seizure I’ve ever had).

Too bad, so sad, Karen. Maybe next episode. (If every other character suddenly dies like this is Downton Abbey or something).

We can however, take a second—Hallelujah—to talk about the triumphant return—Praise your name, Lord—of the only thing keeping this ship sailing (and the only black person any of them know—and yes, I am aware of Tom’s “boyfriend” and no I don’t care). JHUD returns!

And what a return! She’s introduced in a HUGE apartment over-looking Central Park that on most shows signifies that the owner or resident is a mogul of some sort or Patty Hewes or Buzz Aldrin in that one episode of 30 Rock. But, this is Smash-world, which means that someone with a 1999 Audra McDonald level of fame and accomplishment  can totally afford it, too! No (110 in the) shade to Ms. McDonald, but I mean come on. CPWVeronica Chase is supposed to be a 29-year-old Broadway darling, not Alicia Keys. You know in real life she’d still be propped up in a sublet in Brooklyn, selling real estate on weekends.

Smoving on! JHUD is singing! (Because the writers of Smash know which side of the bread their bread is buttered on… what’s that phrase? Where their bread butter comes from? Who brings the boys to the milkyard? Where the dogs got let out from whence? I don’t know.)  ANYWAY, JHUD is singing “Soon As I Get Home” from The Wiz! I’m just going to give you a moment to compose yourself.

Ready?

AAAAGH JHUD in all-white singing the second best song from The Wiz!  Have I died? Am I deceased? Is this my funeral? Because these things are clearly stipulated in my living will? Am I in E. Lynn Heaven?

Jennifer Hudson and her hair

Unbe-weave-able.

It is glorious.

I must admit, however, I’m pulled out of the moment by her Coretta Scott King weave. I know it’s Black History Month, but I am 100% not here for that His Girl Friday cinnamon bun swirl.

Speaking of black hair, I’ve got to go work on my new Good Times-meets-Dark & Lovely drag character, Madame J.J. Walker. I was going to go on and on about, ::cue dramatic music:: THE DRAMATURG, but that’ll have to wait til tomorrow.

Happy Black History Smonth!

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Eileen reviews Karen's resume. Lacking.
Smash

Famed Angelica Houston Impersonator Angelica Houston

Most Great Television is created by imagining a very specific, unique world and populating it with characters that can exist only there. Like Seinfeld: those characters don’t work anywhere else, but they make perfect sense together. Smash is not Great Television, but it is great television and what’s greatest about this show is that the characters don’t just come from a different world, they come from many different worlds. In fact, there isn’t a single character that exists in the same universe as any of the others. Smash is put together like a ransom note. You’ve got Tom, who comes from a West Elm catalogue and is just as multi-dimensional. You’ve got Julia, who came from an open-call audition for Grizzabella the Glamour Cat. You’ve got Ivy who came straight from Broadway, gat-demmit, and is better than absolutely all of this. You’ve got Jennifer Hudson who came from being Jennifer Hudson (and as my friend Barry says, “acts better in the Weight Watchers commercial.” Damn. Hurts, but it’s true.) There’s a Smobster bartender! There’s separated-at-birth twin gays! There’s Real Life Jordan Roth! And then there’s Maude!

Eileen is 100% not here for your moderately-priced haircut.

Eileen is 100% not here for your moderately-priced haircut.

And by Maude, of course, I mean the that tsunami of sass, the sultan of smirk, the drink-throwing, head-swivelling “producer” known as Eileen, played by famed Angelica Houston impersonator Angelica Houston. Eileen is on a planet all her own. And she’s the only character who seems to realize that she doesn’t know where the hell she is, how the hell she got here or who the hell all these people are.  Every time she shows up on screen everything stop making sense, which is kind of an issue for Smash as she is the engine of the plot. But who cares about plot?!

What I love most about famed Angelica Houston impersonator Angelica Houston’s portrayal of Eileen is that she’s serving you everything even though you didn’t order it. She’s giving you The Witches meets Big Business all day free of charge and the least you can do is say “thank you”. She took time off from being Wes Anderson’s Vice-Muse (she fills in any time Jason Schwartzman is sick) to let you catch the breeze from her swinging bob; breathe deep.

The Witches plus Big Business equals Smash

RIP Ellis.

I love that she doesn’t even try to clarify any of Eileen’s actions with her acting choices. I read once that whenever Cher gets a script she crosses out all of the notes or scene directions because she likes to invent the character on her own (with the help of a broken mirror ball and an orangutan dramaturg wearing a Bob Mackie gown). I like to believe that famed Angelica Houston impersonator Angelica Houston does the same thing. Safran delivers the latest Smash script and she spends a half an hour crossing out any line readings for Eileen and replacing them with the words “smug bemusement“.

Angelica Houston, master of ropes

“I don’t care where the camera is. I’ll look wherever I please! I won an Oscar for ‘Prizzi’s Honor’ for God’s sake.”

That I can accept.

What I can’t accept, however, is this ex-husband character. First of all, Eileen’s struggle to assert her independence is not an interesting plotline when it consists primarily of her wasting good vodka and being rescued by another man. Why can’t this woman have any autonomy? How did she manage to get this far without a lick of business sense? Why does she think all problems can be solved by striding triumphantly and making broad declarations? Has she been watching too much Scandal? (Impossible. There is no such thing as too much Scandal.)

Moreover, the ex-husband isn’t even interesting in a dastardly way. He’s just slinking around like Gollum, wasting screen time that should be spent letting Megan Hilty sing everyone else off the screen, down the street and into the next cab back to Los Angeles.

Eileen reviews Karen's resume. Lacking.

Definition of “lacking”. Eileen doesn’t see anything she likes. Maybe that cute Thai place down the street?

I don’t understand it from a screenwriting point-of-view. What purpose is he serving? I mean, if there were a primetime drama about my life would you see my crazy ex Clarence hanging around all creepy-like, setting bugs on fire with a magnifying glass and being questioned by the police in relation to a string of mysterious pet-nappings? Of course you would! Because that shit is actually interesting and Clarence refuses to go away. And if you’re reading this, Clarence, don’t. Because I told you not to. And don’t you dare comment. I don’t have time for these shenanigans. I’m in tech!

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