InstaHunk Round-Up: Weekend Edition

Rodiney Santiago got his selfie on at the beach
Instahunk Ródiney Santiago got his selfie on at the beach
Instahunk Ródiney Santiago (via Instagram)

Checking in with some of our favorite Hunks of Insta this weekend.

First up, Instahunk Ródiney Santiago (above) got his selfie on at the beach.

The latest Instinct Hottie Basit Eniafe took on his Drag Race UK pit crew duties:

 

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Joel Green dropped wise words while flexing – “Don’t be afraid to give up the good to look for the excellent.”

 

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The Rock shows he’s still a beast in the gym:

 

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Chicago Realtor Greg Bloomer shows he knows how to strike a pose:

 

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Aussie pro wrestler Dave Marshall went to the beach with his big, fat championship belt:

 

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Social media model Bolu Okupe, the son of a former Nigerian presidential advisor, came out via an Instagram photo: “Yes I’m Gay AF.”

Dato Foland simply ‘was’ and it was more than enough:

 

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Professional wrestler Anthony Bowens had to work:

 

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TRR favorite Matt Zarley was in the studio for a Sunday Showtune:

 

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Dan Tai got his workout on with run:

 

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Holiday Playlist To Keep Your Christmas Day Merry & Bright

Bringing you 10 holiday songs for your uber-gay Christmas Day.

All of these artists are proudly LGBTQ and celebrated for their artistry in their respective genres.

1. George Michael (back in his Wham! days) delivered unto us this now-required listening holiday pop gem, “Last Christmas,” in 1986.

2. Out country hunk Ty Herndon takes the iconic “O Come All Ye Faithful” into African rhythm territory here, and it totes works.

3. It doesn’t get any more camp than this: the first true bear band, Bearforce1, with their holiday mashup, “Christmas is here!”

4. Two-time Out Music Award winner Matt Zarley covered Mariah Carey’s “Miss You Most At Christmastime” to spectacular result as part of his ‘UnCOVERED’ cover song series.

5. Award-winning cabaret star Ann Hampton Callaway offers this uber-jazzy “Jingle Bells.”

6. Before winning an Emmy Award as an insane murderer on American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace, Darren Criss’ “Blaine” was singing and dancing the holiday classic “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” in high style with out actor Chris Colfer’s “Kurt” on GLEE.

7. Tony Award winner Levi Kreis (Million Dollar Quartet) gives you a little bit gospel, a little bit rockabilly on his new cover of “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town.”

8. Elton John released his “Step Into Christmas” in 1973 and it raced all the way to #1 on the Billboard Christmas Singles chart that year.

9. Handsome out smooth jazz saxophonist Dave Koz shared this cover of “The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire)” on his 1997 release, December Makes Me Feel This Way.

10. Bright Light Bright Light gifted us with this synth-pop version of the classic “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas”

 

Podcast: CATS Chat With Leslie Ellis & Matt Zarley

Matt Zarley and Leslie Ellis

As a young actor, my first big break was being cast as the ‘Magical Mr. Mistoffelees’ in a brand new national touring company of the blockbuster Broadway musical CATS.

While I was ‘living a dream’ over those years back in the 1980s, a nightmare called HIV/AIDS was taking thousands of lives from us. As a company, we wanted to do ‘something.’

So in 1987, we organized one of the first large-scale benefits performances by a touring company to help those affected by HIV. Amazingly, we raised over $36K in one night.

Fast forward to today, and another viral pandemic is here. A few months ago, one of my former CATS castmates reached out to say, “Anyone want to do another fundraiser?”

And so, we did.

 

“With Love, Now and Forever! Cats4CovidRelief” premiered on October 23 and will be available until October 28. At this writing, combining donations at Broadway Cares and YouTube, we’ve raised over $20,000 and counting

Today, I’m talking to two of my closest CATS castmates, Grammy Award-winner Leslie Ellis and two-time OutMusic Award-winner Matt Zarley, about this recent company reunion.

Hit the play button to hear us chat on this recent collaboration, reminisce about life on the road as young actors, and laugh a bit about the life-changing experience that was CATS.

While our streaming event is scheduled to be removed from Broadway Cares website at the end of October 28, the video is still up at this writing on BC/EFA’s YouTube channel on an unlisted page here.

Plus, you can see Matt’s gorgeous segment featuring Leslie singing “Memory” here.

News Round-Up: August 27, 2020

L-R Michael Caprio, Matt Zarley, Chad Quintero, Randy Slovacek, Greg Chase

Some news items you might have missed:

TBT: Remembering sunsets at our pool (above) when we could actually have a group of folks over for summertime cocktails in our Olivia Newton-John cups. Ah, good times…

The Advocate: The city of Anchorage has become the first in Alaska to ban so-called ‘conversion therapy’ for minors. This makes Alaska the 40th state where some jurisdiction has taken action against the harmful practice.

New York Times: More than 100 former staff members for Senator John McCain are supporting former Vice President Joe Biden in a show of support across the political divide. The list of signatories includes a range of people — from chiefs of staff in Mr. McCain’s Senate office to junior aides on his campaigns — who worked for him over his 35 years in Congress and during two presidential bids. Republican Voters Against Trump also released this ad today in McCain’s home state of Arizona.

OUT: A bodybuilding gay couple in Malta were brutally slain in their home on August 18. Police are looking for three persons captured on security cameras leaving the residence, as well as a suspected driver in an awaiting vehicle.

JoeMyGod: After GoFundMe canceled a crowdfunding campaign for legal costs for accused 17-year-old murderer Kyle Rittenhouse, ‘Christian’ crowdfunding site GiveSendGo raised over $59,000 in the first few hours.

ABC News: Cocky North Carolina congressional candidate Madison Cawthorn, 25, got it wrong during his four-minute speech during the Republican National Convention last night when he boasted the accomplishments of other youthful politicians in history, like James Madison, who he mistakenly announced signed the Declaration of Independence.

“If you don’t think young people can change the world, then you just don’t know American history. George Washington was 21 when he received his first military commission. Abe Lincoln, 22 when he first ran for office. And my personal favorite: James Madison was just 25 years old when he signed the Declaration of Independence.” Today, Cawthorn says he was just testing the fact-checkers.

New Music: Ty Taylor & Matt Zarley Reimagine ‘Close Every Door’ From JOSEPH…

L-R Ty Taylor, Matt Zarley (courtesy photo)

 

Indie artists Matt Zarley and Ty Taylor have been friends for over 27 years – ever since they appeared on Broadway in the 1993 revival of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

In fact, the two talented men were both understudies for the title role.

Taylor and Zarley went on to additional featured appearances on the Great White Way (like Grease and Tommy, respectively) before moving on to successful careers as recording artists as well.

The two had been discussing recording together and they hit on the perfect song for the duo considering their shared experience with Joseph.

“When Ty and I first discussed collaborating on something together, he suggested we do a reimagined version of ‘Close Every Door,’ says Zarley. “We collectively agreed that we should do it with a more acoustic approach, sort of reminiscent of the Indigo Girls and that type of sound. As a result, we settled on just an acoustic guitar and bass as the instrumentation.”

Set in a prison cell, Joseph laments his situation and assures himself he can make it to the other side of his imprisonment.

But the coronavirus pandemic put the project on pause for a few months. When they reconvened for the project, both felt the new world of ‘sheltering at home’ coupled with the homicide of George Floyd had created a new perspective for the song.

Taylor says he looked at issues like “brutality and imprisonment, things that are thrust upon us wrongfully” as he revisited the song. In the video’s introduction, he shares, “It’s fueled with a whole different backstory than I’d ever planned.”

Shot in black and white (see what they did there?), the new guitar-driven track (thank you very much, Mike Messer, on guitar) is infused with a pop/soul flavor that instantly reinvents the song.

Plus, check out the moments at the 2:40 and 4:30 marks as each singer respectfully takes note of the other’s riffs.

Props to Zarley for the creative, current feel on the editing of the video.

Since 2015, Zarley has been producing his “UnCOVERED” series of cover songs requested by fans.

In addition to reimagining pop songs by artists like Sara Bareilles, Sam Smith, Whitney Houston, and George Michael, he’s also explored songs from Broadway shows like Dear Evan Hansen, Ghost the Musical, and Waitress.

Check out the full “UnCOVERED” series on YouTube here.

Music Video: Matt Zarley & Jeb Havens Honor Class Of 2020 ‘Stronger’

Award-winning singer/songwriter/producer Matt Zarley teams up with critically acclaimed indie artist Jeb Havens to honor the educators and students of the class of 2020 with a reimagined rendition of the Kelly Clarkson hit, “Stronger.”

The GLEE-tastic music video, featuring a cast of 50+ students and parents from Canoga Park High School in California, was shot on location at the school two weeks before the coronavirus pandemic lockdown.

“If we had to delay shooting a week, we probably wouldn’t have been able to complete this,” says Zarley.

“I can’t imagine being a high school senior and not getting to experience those special end of school year moments that you’ve been looking forward to for the past 4 years,” he adds. “I feel so bad for these kids. This entire situation is just awful.”

As Havens and Zarley take on multiple roles as teachers, coaches, janitors, and cafeteria workers, the video tells the tale of a new student at school who finds his way to tryouts for the dance team.  In a short time, he goes from misunderstood (#QuackIsWhack) to ‘rad’ (#FunkADuck).

The duo’s soulful pop vocals are a perfect match for the soaring self-empowerment anthem.

I’ve shared music from both Zarley and Havens over the years, but just in case you missed it…

Zarley made his theatrical debut at 17-years-old in the national touring company of CATS, at that time the youngest to ever perform in the mega-blockbuster. His career continued with roles on Broadway in A Chorus Line, The Who’s Tommy, and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat as well as TV appearances in Disney’s Cinderella (w/ Whitney Houston), Geppetto (w/ Drew Carey) & Annie (w/ Kathy Bates), The Drew Carey Show, Fame, The Tonight Show, The Rosie O’Donnell Show, and Smash, among others.

An award-winning, 4-time Billboard charting recording artist, his albums include Debut, Here I Am (2008 Billboard Critics Top Ten and American Idol Top 20 Songwriter), and Change Begins With Me (2012 OUTMusic Award for Album & Single Of The Year). He was also the first openly gay man featured in People Magazine’s ‘Hottest Bachelors’ annual issue.

He added filmmaker to his resume when he released hopefulROMANTIC, an award-winning musical short film he wrote, produced and starred in which played dozens of international film festivals including Cannes, Mumbai, Montreal, and as well as numerous stateside festivals.

L-R Matt Zarley, Jeb Havens

Jeb Havens is an international recording artist and songwriter whose music is a blend of catchy pop and raw emotional therapy.

He became a viral sensation when he began recording original and cover songs in his closet (good sound) and shared them on YouTube.

One of his earliest “Closet Covers” was his emotional, moving take of Tracy Chapman’s “Fast Car,” which quickly garnered hundreds of thousands of views. As it spread across the internet, his performance grabbed the attention of mainstream entertainment media outlets like Buzzfeed which raved, “Seriously, someone get this guy a record deal already.”

His debut solo album “Home Base” was named one of the Top 5 in LGBT Music for 2016.

The woofy duo has collaborated several times over the years on projects ranging from music videos to live performances in the U.S. and abroad including their ‘Works of Heart’ concerts.

You can find my posts on Jeb Havens’s music here, and my previous coverage of Matt Zarley here.

Jeb Havens, Matt Zarley & Julie Garnye Cover ‘You Will Be Found’

L-R Jeb Havens, Julie Garnye, Matt Zarley

Another week, another Hump Day, another look out the window as the pandemic continues and I contemplate our relative solitude.

Lately, I’ve listened to the urging of my better angels and find myself reaching out to check on friends, or as I call them, ‘family.’

Dr. Julianne Holt-Lunstad, professor of psychology and neuroscience at Brigham Young University, says “loneliness is thought to be a biological drive that motivates us to reconnect.”

So, I’ve been making those calls and video chats that get put off to make sure folks don’t feel ‘forgotten in the middle of nowhere.’

Which brings me to this gorgeous new cover of “You Will Be Found” from the mega-hit Broadway musical, Dear Evan Hansen.

Recording artists Jeb Havens, Matt Zarley, and Julie Garnyé collaborated on the music video long-distance from their respective isolations during the pandemic lockdown.

I’ve profiled two-time OutMusic Award winner Zarley and the handsome Mr. Havens before on TRR, but this is my first chance to share Ms. Garnye’s talents here as well.

All three have lengthy resumes that reflect their vocal gifts and “Found” proves to be the perfect vehicle for the talented trio.

Havens leads out alongside a spare, pensive piano accompaniment, and is soon joined by Zarley and a soothing cello line. Next stop – the chorus, tightly-woven harmonies, and that key change you know is coming.

Like a powerful clarion call, Garnye sings as the beat kicks in:

There’s a place where we don’t have to feel alone / Every time that you call out, you’re a little less alone
If you only say the word / From across the silence your voice is heard

Beat, beat, beat, accelerando, more harmonies (excellent musicianship, btw) and we get to the big gorgeous ending that seems our due.

Big props to Zarley who edited the video. Three solo shots could have been a real snore to watch, but the whole shindig takes on such visual dynamics it feels like having a whole Broadway ensemble on my screen.

Enough of my prattling, though. Hit play, kick back and feel good. The right message at the right time.

InstaHunk Round-Up: Weekend Edition

Jeff Ferreira (via Instagram)

Checking in with some of our favorite hunks of Insta-Land:

First up is NYC-based Jeff Ferreira (above) living for the uber-mild winter weekend in the big apple.

Over in Spain, Fran Dullon is giving Nick Jonas some competition in the thick thighs department:

MTV’s team of hotties #JOGAN (Joss and Rogan) are prepping for their debut on the Las Vegas Strip next weekend as they take on Celebrity Hosting duties at the world-famous Chippendales:

Karlitos Amarilla in Paraguay leaned on some tires looking anything but tired:

Woofy Matthew Camp took a snow day to just lay back:

Naor Yazdan demonstrates the subtle differences between reality and Insta-life:

Tyler Valenzia worked out as he chatted on workout motivation:

Joel Green kept it “simple but significant:”

Designer Daniel Sheehan got ‘savage’ for a moment:

Award-winning singer/songwriter (and former Broadway baby) Matt Zarley caught up with longtime friend (and Tony Award winner) Lilias White:

Broadway, TV and recording star Vanessa Williams (in London for the upcoming revival of the hit musical City of Angels) shared this clip of RuPaul saying hi to the fans of DragConUK:

Christmas Music: Matt Zarley “Don’t Save It All For Christmas Day”

Matt Zarley & Jake

Matt Zarley released his new music video today, “Don’t Save It All For Christmas Day,” which shares a true nugget of wisdom: express that love and joy for people in your life every day, not just those ‘special’ moments during the holidays.

Longtime readers will recognize a cameo by my handsome hubby, Michael, and our beautiful mama dog, Sabrina, at the beginning of the video. Matt asked folks for clips of love being freely shared, and he included this clip we’ve long-loved of Sabrina who lived for kissing Michael every night.

Matt’s impressive vocals go from pensive to powerful on the touching ballad originally recorded by Celine Dion in 1998.

Since then its been covered by Christian group Avalon (2000) and American Idol alum Clay Aiken (2004). But, I’m thinking Matt pretty much nails it here.

Merry merry, folks. Don’t save it up… 🙂