Celebrating My Birthday & The Anniversary Of My Best Friendship

Carlye at Disney World; both of us at the opening night of ‘Hello, Dolly!’ on Broadway

Today, France celebrates Bastille Day, or as we say in my house, my birthday.

I am not a ‘birthday person.’ I never have been, not that I mind getting older.

The best part of my birthday really isn’t about me.

The best part of my birthday is the anniversary of one of the best parts of my life.

The best part of my birthday is that on July 14, 1980, I found my best friend, the foundation of who I am and how I got here.

Today is the anniversary of the day Carlye and I officially became best friends. Yes, officially. We decided on that day.

I can never write enough about how I was made better the day we met.

I can never write enough about how Carlye and her family made me feel like I belonged.

I can never write enough about how Carlye and I survived New York City and life together:

• being briefly homeless at midnight on October 30, 1985
• living in what we called ‘the hovel’ in a six-floor walk-up on the Upper East Side
• waiting tables and auditioning, and waiting tables and auditioning, and waiting tables and auditioning
• getting to opening nights
• getting through funerals
• getting through illnesses – hers and mine

I could all go on and on. But I’ll leave it at that – for now.

The best part of my birthday is not about ‘me.’ It is about ‘we.’

Happy birthday to me, but more importantly happy anniversary Carlye.

Carlye and I at a holiday party some year in NYC

 

Happy 99th Birthday Judy Garland

The legendary Judy Garland (screen capture)

Today would have been the 99th birthday of LGBTQ icon and Hollywood legend Judy Garland.

As a young gay, I knew Garland was one of the LGBTQ world’s “high holies” in the pantheon of idols. I wasn’t the biggest fan, but I appreciated the talent.

Getting older as a gay man, as an artist in the theatre, AND as I learned to raise my voice as an activist, when I came across this clip from Judy’s 1960s TV show, I suddenly got it.

On December 13, 1963, Judy sang “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” in honor of the recent death of President John F. Kennedy.

Garland and Kennedy were friends and she had campaigned on his behalf.

According to Garland’s daughter, Lorna Luft, at the taping of this performance Judy looked into the camera and said, “This is for you, Jack,” but CBS edited it out as too political. Still, everyone knew what the song was about.

This performance is, by far, my favorite by Garland. I see her vulnerability, her conviction, and her indomitable strength all at the same time.

Like a sorcerer whose once awesome powers might have dimmed, through sheer force of will she again summons powerful artistry to pay honor to her friend.

For a brief, shining moment the magic returned.

The loss of the president and the inspiration of his promise is clear in her eyes. Check out the 3:10 mark as she stands strong and tall in her conviction.

THIS was why she was a star. This is why she remains in our consciousness.

With virtual and actual pride events beginning to happen all over the country, I’m sure we’ll all hold more than one rainbow in our hearts.

Happy birthday Judy Garland.

If you get this, please share 👍

Happy 99th Birthday Betty White!

Happy birthday Betty White! Chippendales dancer Jace Crispin surprised White on The Ellen Show
Happy birthday Betty White! Chippendales dancer Jace Crispin surprised White on The Ellen Show
L-R Chippendales dancer Jace Crispin, Betty White (screen capture)

Celebrating the 99th birthday of the awesome, gifted Betty White.

My one brush with the winning Ms. White happened a few years ago at The Ellen DeGeneres Show.

My hubby Michael had to be in New York City with one of his clients when The Ellen Show decided it would be fun to surprise White with a Chippendales dancer. Since Michael was on the other other side of the country, I offered to accompany Chippendale Jace Crispin on a quick in-and-out of Los Angeles for the shoot.

Jace was, as you’ll see, perfection in balancing the sexy without going out of bounds of afternoon TV. I was just barely out of sight backstage while this happened.

Click the image of Jace and White below to play the video clip.

Betty White swoons for Chippendales dancer Jace Crispin
(photo courtesy of The Ellen DeGeneres Show)

Plus, Michael and I have been binge watching the 1970s sitcom The Mary Tyler Moore Show which starred White as the ‘happy homemaker Sue Ann Nivens. Check out some highlights of her MTM days below.

Check out my previous celebrations of the wondrous White here.

White’s TV co-stars Ed Asner (Mary Tyler Moore Show) and Valerie Bertinelli (Hot in Cleveland) tweeted their birthday greetings to White.

Adam Rippon Skates On A ‘River’ Of Ice For His 30th Birthday

Olympic bronze medalist Adam Rippon shares his 30th birthday skate

Olympic bronze medalist Adam Rippon shares his 30th birthday skate

Out Olympic bronze medalist Adam Rippon celebrates 30 trips around the sun today!

For his birthday, the self-appointed ‘America’s sweetheart’ took to the ice for a skate to Joni Mitchell’s “River,” covered by Tony Award winner Ben Platt in his Netflix series, The Politician.

In sharing the video clip, Rippon wrote on Facebook:

“Today is my 30th birthday. I couldn’t be more grateful for everything and everyone in my life.

“Thank you for always sending love and positive energy my way. I hope I’m always able to do the same for you.

“I wanted to do something fun for myself so I asked one of my old skating choreographers, Cindy Stuart, to put this together with me. She is amazing. And Ben Platt is also amazing (duh) and when I heard him do a cover of this song I knew I had to skate to it. A huge thank you to On Ice Perspectives for putting it all together.”

Happy birthday, Adam!

I had the utterly charming experience of interviewing Rippon for the release of his memoir, Beautiful on the Outside. Hit the play button below to take a listen:

Billy Porter Makes An Entrance (Or Three) On ‘The Late Late Show’

Billy Porter sings 'I Will Survive' on The Late Late Show with James Corden

Billy Porter makes an entrance on The Late Late Show with James Corden

To say that Emmy Award nominee Billy Porter ‘dropped by’ The Late Late Show with James Corden on Wednesday could be one of the great understatements of the week.

After his fellow guest, Kirsten Dunst, entered through the show’s curtains looking lovely as ever and took a seat on the interview couch, Corden introduced the POSE star.

Enter Hurricane Billy.

Adorned in a gold lamé cape (which became wings a la his Met gala fashion statement), Porter made his way down the stairs towards the stage only to u-turn and head back behind the curtains.

Sporting a new rainbow robe and a bouquet of roses, Porter re-emerged to make his way through the audience again.

And he’s not done yet!

Dropping the robe to reveal a purple, glitter jumpsuit, Porter runs to the band to shake a tambourine like a pro. He’s then carried on a platform, in Cleopatra-style, to the stage by two shirtless muscle hunks.

The crowd goes wild, but Corden – feigning outrage that time has been taken from Ms. Dunst – dismisses Porter from the stage.

“Fine, James, fine!” says Porter as he exits.

But wait – there’s more!

Billy Porter sings 'I Will Survive' on The Late Late Show with James Corden

As Corden attempts to interview Dunst, music swirls, curtains open and Porter launches into a spectacular disco-tastic performance of Gloria Gaynor’s iconic “I Will Survive” complete with hunky dancers and roller-skaters.

Watch Billy Porter’s lesson in how to make an entrance below.

In a later segment, Porter is back on the couch as Corden asks the Tony Award winner about turning 50 this Saturday, just a day before he could make history as the first openly gay black man to win an Emmy Award for ‘Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama.’

“I feel great,” says Porter. “I have to say, everything that people say about getting older, that it gets better – is the truth.”

“I’m the healthiest I’ve ever been, I’m experiencing a type of success that I didn’t even know how to dream of,” he added. “It’s really, really remarkable.”

“And – the best part about it is – once you get to a certain age you have zero f*cks to give about anything or anybody! Period.”

“It’s the greatest feeling in the world – the shackles are off,” he declared. “Say what you want – I’m gonna do me, and I’m gonna do it ’til I’m dead!”

Make sure to tune in to the 71st Primetime Emmy Awards on Sunday night, September 22, at 8 pm ET on Fox.

Happy 75th Birthday Diana Ross!

In honor of diva Diana Ross's 75th birthday, let's take a listen to some of her biggest and best hits through the years, including the totally-gay coming out anthem, "I'm Coming Out."
Diana Ross (image via Facebook)

In honor of diva Diana Ross’s 75th birthday, let’s take a listen to some of her biggest and best hits through the years, including the totally-gay coming out anthem, “I’m Coming Out.”

Penned by Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards of Chic, the duo actually admitted to Billboard they lied to the diva when she asked if the song was a gay anthem.

There’s a new me coming out
And I just had to live
And I want to give
I’m completely positive

Ok, in all honesty this was going to be one song at the end of today’s News Round-Up, but I couldn’t stop myself LOL… So many great, great songs, I just kept adding and adding.

Happy birthday, Diana!

Happy Birthday Vanessa Williams!

Bestest birthday wishes to my “fabulous, gorgeous, always makes me comfortable, always makes me laugh” friend Vanessa Williams who celebrates her birthday today.

I’ve known Vanessa since we attended Syracuse University together many moons ago.

Obviously V has gone on to major, major accomplishments over the years in film, TV, Broadway and the recording studio. So many to name, I won’t try.

But my favorite thing about Vanessa over the years is she has never changed the way she treats me as her old friend.

We may not see each other for a while, but she’s always the same person I knew back in school.

I’ve documented a few of our meet-ups over the years here, here, and here.

Me with Vanessa Williams, husband Jim Skrip and my hubby Michael Caprio
at pre-gala reception hosted by Fendi (all photos by Denise Truscello)

In 2017, I was asked to introduce Vanessa at Nevada Ballet Theatre’s annual gala as they honored her as “Woman of the Year.”

In my introduction, I shared the story behind the pic below when I had just finished cancer treatment in 2009.

Clearly, I didn’t look like myself after chemo, and I was very self-conscious.

But seeing Vanessa backstage after her concert here in Las Vegas that year, she didn’t blink. Once she knew I was good, she ignored the way I looked and made me feel as comfortable as always.

After commenting on my hairlessness – “You look fab with your bald head!” – she immediately asked, “Do you want to hang backstage and have Chardonnay and friend chicken?”

As I told the audience at the Nevada Ballet Theatre event, that pretty much summed up Vanessa:

Like Chardonnay, she’s bright, light and intoxicating.

And like friend chicken, she is truly “Soul Food.”

Vanessa rocks. And I adore her.

Happy, happy birthday, doll!

Jimmy Kimmel Gets Aunt Chippy & The Chippendales In Bedroom Birthday Surprise

Aunt Chippy and the Chippendales

Jimmy Kimmel gets a lot of well wishes on his birthday from his family and friends, but the first one every year is a call from his Aunt Chippy at the crack of dawn.

It’s gotten to the point where Jimmy turns his phone off the night before his birthday so she doesn’t wake him up.

So this year, with some help from Jimmy’s wife Molly and his brother Jonathan, Aunt Chippy flew in from Las Vegas to wake him up in the middle of the night when he was sound asleep.

Jimmy Kimmel is cute when he wakes up

Oh, and she brought a few friends from the world-famous Chippendales to help out, cause who doesn’t want to wake up surrounded by those hunks?

Watch below.

Madonna Turns 60 Today

Happy 60th birthday, Madonna!

From her 1984 MTV Awards performance of “Like A Virgin,” to the controversial “Like A Prayer,” the now iconic “Vogue,” the empowering “Express Yourself”  and envelope pushing (at the time) “Justify My Love,” Madonna has always and continues to hold our attention.

While not a “power” vocalist, her voice does have the power to connect with us; and she’s a skilled lyricist and songwriter.

Plus, no one understands the power of style and reinvention better than Madge.

It bears mentioning that Madonna has been a potent and vocal ally for the LGBT community from the start – speaking out for equality and the AIDS crisis before it was in “vogue” to do so  (you saw what I did there, right?).

I picked some of my favorite Madonna music videos below.  Some are about the songs; some I enjoy for the visuals; and some for the change in direction they represent for her career.

Power on, Madonna. You still have our attention.