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Introducing PrideLight: Our Spotlight on Theatre and Entertainment

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This week at TravelPride, we introduce PrideLight, your guide to recommended best bets in entertainment. Fall is a popular time for theatre companies to schedule season openings, so there’s a lot going on in almost every town across America, too much to cover in one pithy column. But this seems a fitting time to focus on some of the cities where foliage tours and the waning last days of outdoor amusement might take you hiking, biking, and exploring in the less urban centers. For example, Asheville and Richmond might not make the cut every week. While larger markets like San Francisco and leading LGBTQ-specific theatres will receive more consistent coverage, I’ll seek to guide you off the beaten path to seek out the best of regional and community theatre events that might not pique your curiosity at first glance.

The goal is exploration, after all.

Asheville, North Carolina

What: Carry On written and performed by Murphy Funkhouser Capps
Where: Asheville Community Theatre
When: September 29-October 1

Playwright Murphy Funkhouser Capps (great name, right?) expands on her award-winning one-act play with a new act and a fresh title. In 2007, Murphy Funkhouser Capps quit her job and hit the road with 500 pounds of luggage hooked to the back of her Subaru to take her one-act Crazy Bag on the road. The autobiographical one woman show about her journey from minister’s daughter to rebellion to redemption premiered at Colorado Theatre Festival and won numerous awards, including one recognizing Capps for her acting chops in the Festival performance and a nomination for Best Solo Performance of 2008 by the Denver Post.

Crazy Bag went on to rave reviews in Breckenridge, Aspen, Denver, Albuquerque, and Oklahoma City and was accepted into the 2008 San Francisco Fringe Festival. The journey brought her back to Asheville where her story began two decades before. Do not be repelled by the “community theatre” stigma that can sometimes haunt the small-town playhouses of middle America. This performance is a must see for those who love to discover that unexpected gem, and support original work by talented artists. The performance is one weekend only, and tickets are available at www.ashevilletheatre.org and range in price up to $50. The company website provides detailed travel and parking directions and advertises free parking after 6 pm.

What: Listen to This hosted by Tom Chalmers
Where: Asheville Community Theatre
When: October 26, November 30
What to do? You just missed Carry On at Asheville Community Theatre. If it’s a Thursday, head to the theatre for the 7:30 performance of Listen to This staged in ACT’s intimate black box space 35below every Thursday. Quickly becoming Asheville’s most popular series, actor/comedian Tom Chalmers hosts this collection of stories and songs from Asheville’s most interesting writers and performers, a fresh theme and new performers each week bring to mind a good old fashioned southern potluck. Fair warning: the show could be hit or miss depending on the featured artists chosen, but for an admission price of only $15, I’d say it’s worth the risk. The company encourages you to enjoy refreshments in the theatre but also cautions that seating is limited and punctuality a must, both for parking availability and choice seating (even for those with tickets in hand). Purchase tickets in advance at www.ashevilletheatre.org. Arrive and park earlier in the day and check out the Tom Wolfe Memorial, downtown shops, and other sites of the quaint downtown area.

Atlanta, GA

What: Atlanta Black Theatre Festival
Where: West End Performing Arts Center
When: October 4-7

A diverse lineup of artists drawn from around the globe to around the corner. The Atlanta Black Theatre Festival is “40 plays in 4 days,” hardly enough time to preserve and share the stories of the African diaspora. But whether you’re a lover of Tyler Perry, August Wilson, or world-class Black Art, the amazing shows and international vendors’ market will make this popular fall festival one of your favorite things to do in Atlanta. Don’t just pick a play; pick a DAY (or all four) and immerse yourself in a marathon of bold, exciting theatre. Produced by Micah 6:8 Media “a professional management company.”

Boston, MA

What: Faceless by Selina Fillinger
Where: Zeitgeist Stage Company at Boston Center for the Arts
When: NOW PLAYING through October 7
With especially positive reviews in The Boston Globe, Boston Phoenix, Broadway World, and Boston Arts Review for its solid performers and the visual impact of its set designs, founder and artistic director David Miller has lead this smaller fringe company in exploring contemporary plays and rediscovering historic works for 17 seasons. In Faceless, eighteen-year-old Susie Glenn is on trial for conspiring to commit acts of terrorism, and recent Harvard Law grad and practicing Muslim, Claire Fathi, has been brought on to prosecute. Though pitted against one another in the courtroom, these two young women are fighting a similar battle to defend their morals, motives and religious freedoms in this riveting and timely new drama. An explosion of identity politics, questions of faith, and a face-off between two seemingly diametrically-opposed women drives this compelling narrative.
Faceless is presented at the Plaza Black Box Theatre at the Boston Center for the Arts. Purchase tickets and peruse other upcoming Boston productions at www.bostontheatrescene.com. Tickets for Faceless are reasonably priced at $20. Count on having an intimate theatre experience in the 90-seat black box, expect thought-provoking subject matter, and enjoy excellent performances from the play’s two strong female leads.
What: Wicked Queer
Where: Boston Museum of Fine Art
When: Ongoing
While in Boston, also check in with Wicked Queer: the Boston LGBT Film Festival housed in the Museum of Fine Art, Boston. The group sponsors ongoing events and film screenings. Check the user-friendly calendar prior to your trip at www.wickedqueer.org for titles and showtimes.

Boulder, CO

What: The Revolutionists by Lauren Gunderson
Where: Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company at Dairy Arts Center
When: NOW PLAYING through October 8

You may think you know Marie Antoinette. You don’t. You may believe you can outsmart Charlotte Corday. You can’t. You may have never heard of Olympe de Gouges. You will. In this irreverent, girl-powered comedy, these women live, die, and dare boldly in revolutionary Paris.
Producing Artistic Director Stephen Weitz shared his thoughts about the programming for this season “…as things were unfolding over the last eight to 10 months, we had some internal conversations about who we wanted to be in this climate.” This season, the company has assembled the most diverse ensemble in the company’s history. For the season debut of The Revolutionists, for example, BETC assembled an all-female production staff to complement the show’s all-female cast, and a majority of the plays in their 6-show lineup are written by women or persons of color. Tickets range from $20-$45 (most tickets priced at $36.50). The $45 ticket on opening night September 16 includes admission to the post-show reception. Purchase tickets at www.thedairy.org and investigate more about BETC at www.betc.org.

Chicago, IL

What: A Perfect Arrangement
Where: Pride Films and Plays at Pride Arts Center
When: NOW PLAYING-October 22

In Topher Payne’s comedy A Perfect Arrangement, it’s 1950, and new colors are being added to the Red Scare. Two U.S. State Department employees, Bob and Norma, have been tasked with identifying sexual deviants within their ranks. There’s just one problem: Both Bob and Norma are gay, and have married each other’s partners and moved next door to each other as a carefully constructed cover. Set amidst the earliest stirrings of the American gay rights movement, madcap classic sitcom-style laughs give way to provocative drama as two “All-American” couples are forced to stare down the closet door.
This relatively new theatre company in the Chicago theatre scene is housed at Pride Arts Center. Pride Films and Plays, seeks to bring theatre to the Chicago area that is “essential viewing” for all audiences. The Huffington Post has called this, “A powerful and empowering entity.” Tickets are on sale now www.pridefilmsandplays.com.
What: The CiviliTy of Albert Cashier, music & lyrics by Joe Stevens and Keaton Wooden, book by GLAAD Award nominated writer/producer Jay Paul Deratany
Where: Stage 773 (Permoveo Productions)
When: NOW PLAYING through October 15
This new musical, set between 1862 and 1915, tells the astonishing, “timely, essential, insightful” and true story of “an amazing figure from [our]history” -The Windy City Times. In The CiviliTy of Albert Cashier, Albert Cashier is a Civil War soldier with a secret that resonates with today’s modern world. Detailing the soldier’s life fighting in more than 40 engagements during the Civil War, the musical follows Cashier through retirement and the onset of dementia, when a life-long secret was discovered: That Albert was born Jennifer Hodgers. Causing an uproar in the small southern Illinois community where Cashier lived, Cashier was prosecuted for impersonating a soldier, requiring fellow soldiers to return once again after 60 years to detail Albert’s heroism and life.
Stage 773 acts to embody the vibrant spirit of Chicago off-loop theater. The group strives to present excellent and affordable theatre and provide a foster home for emerging artists and creative groups. The theatre hosts various companies and acts throughout the year. See Bullets over Broadway or choose from a list of other current shows now playing. Tickets for The CiviliTy of Albert Cashier are $40. Visit www.stage773.org or www.theatreinchicago.com.

Dallas, TX

What: In the Tall Grass written and directed by Paul Kalburgi
Where: TeCo Theatrical Productions at Bishop Arts Center
When: NOW PLAYING through September 24
In the Tall Grass, produced in association with Transgender Education Network of Texas, follows the harrowing true story of the murder of Shade Schuler, a 22-year-old Dallas transgender woman. The community is left asking “why” and fearing who could be next. Told through the first-hand testimonies of trans women of color in Dallas, the world premiere of In the Tall Grass explores the circumstances which force many to exist in the underworld – ignored by society, cut off from support and legal systems.
TeCo Theatrical productions, an award-winning multi-cultural “oasis for the next generation” of artists, was founded in 1993. The company offers a full season of theatrical performances, jazz concerts, a speaker series, and year-round arts education programs. Tickets range in price from $12-$25 and can be purchased online at www.bishopartstheatre.org.
What: Hair: the American Tribal Love Rock Musical
Book and Lyrics by Gerome Ragni & James Rado
Music by Galt Macdermont Directed by Kevin Moriarty
Where: Dallas Theatre Center
When: September 22-October 22

Dallas Theatre Center is aptly named as it is truly the center of the Dallas Theatre Scene with a long-standing record of excellent professional entertainment. They just won a Regional Tony Award in case you missed it. If you’re a resident or frequent visitor, you already know about them. Granted, their offerings are a little more commercial, a little more mainstream, but this production is somewhat of a diversion for them and really caught my eye. People in red states are just dying to rip their clothes off, apparently. I was about to scroll on by until I saw this:

WARNING: This production will include Hippies cursing, smoking pot, getting naked, mocking societal conventions, meditating, taking LSD, flaunting their sexuality, celebrating their race, creating a happening, singing and dancing. Also, there will be audience participation. Consider yourself warned, and come to the Be-In.

Ok, so if you haven’t already seen Hair, besides just assigning you a failing grade in Musical Theatre class, I’m going to push you through the doors to see this production. Find tickets and more at www.dallastheatrecenter.org. (TravelPride is not responsible for any STDs you acquire during this performance.)

New York, NY

What: Fearless: Art in the Face of Adversity
A series of performances by LGBTQ artists
Where: The Clemente Soto Velez Cultural & Educational Center
When: Ongoing throughout 2017-18, Next event opens September 29

Artists at The Clemente created this series of works in direct response to the tragedy in Orlando and continuing attacks against the LGBTQ community. Connected by the theme of understanding and unity, these events are spread throughout The Clemente’s 2017-18 season. See Tjasa Ferme’s “The Female Role Model Project,” directed by Ana Marginaunu September 29-October 1. The artists describe it as a “scientifically enhanced multimedia-devised theatre piece built by an ensemble of female-identified artists about recreating modern female role models in the world of cataclysmic climate change, cataclysmic political change, and possibility of reprogramming our brains.” Check www.theclementecenter.org for other titles coming up in this exciting series. Admission is $15 per performance.
Since 1993 The Clemente has focused on “cultivation, presentation, and preservation” of Puerto Rican and Latino culture. Equally “determined to operate in a multi-cultural and inclusive manner,” the organization promotes artists and performance events that “fully reflect the cultural diversity of the Lower East Side and the city as a whole.”

What: Torch Song by Harvey Fierstein, Directed by Moises Kaufman
Where: Second Stage Theater at Tony Kiser Theater
When: Opens September 26

Torch Song takes place in 1979 in New York City. Arnold Beckoff is on a quest for love, purpose and family. He’s fierce in drag and fearless in crisis, and he won’t stop until he achieves the life he desires. Now, Arnold is back… And he’s here to sing you a torch song. The Tony Award-winning play that forever changed the trajectory of Broadway returns for a new generation.
Second Stage Theater produces an adventurous range of premieres, musicals, bold new interpretations of contemporary plays, and unique theatrical experiences from America’s most dynamic writers of the 21st century. Through the discovery of emerging talent, the commissioning of new work, and the creation of a training base for directors, Second Stage reflects the diverse city and the world we live in today and reaches an ever-growing audience through its Broadway runs, national tours and regional productions.
Torch Song runs 2 hours and 20 minutes including intermission. Ticket are limited and prices vary, so we recommend contacting the Box Office at 212-246-4422. The theater also offers student access tickets one hour prior to curtain to full time students and $30 under 30 tickets will be available in advance for patrons under 30 and for limited performances before October 19. (Valid ID required.) Find out more at www.2ST.com.
What: {my lingerie play} 2017: The Concert and Call to Arms. Story, Music, and Lyrics by Diana Oh
Where: Rattlestick Playwright’s Theatre
When: September 27-October 28

What drives an artist to stand in her black corset in Times Square on a soapbox? It began for Diana Oh at 17 with her first shoplifted f*ck me bra. Over the course of this unfiltered and soul-baring, performance art event, Diana Oh’s personal collection of unmentionables comes on and off as she and her band ignite the audience to create a saner, safer, more courageous world for us all.
World premiere {my lingerie play} is a play, a protest, a concert, and an installation all at once. Through this concert-play, Diana and her band explore mainstream culture’s relationship to the body and the deep and complex dynamics that exist regarding sex and gender politics. This culminates in a genre-bending soulful rock and R&B concert-play and final installation of {my lingerie play} 2017: 10 underground performance installations in lingerie (as supported by the Venturous Theater Fund of Tides Foundation for 2017) staged in an effort to provide a saner, safer, more courageous world for women, trans, queer, and non-binary humans to live in. Tickets range from $10-$30 (preview performances) and $40 general admission after October 13. Rattlestick is on the cutting edge of art and theatre. Explore www.rattlestick.org to purchase tickets and find out more.

 Portland, OR

What: Hand of God by Robert Askins
Where: Triangle Productions (The Sanctuary at Sandy Plaza)
When: NOW PLAYING through September 30
Nominated for 5 Tony Awards including Best Play for its Broadway production, Hand of God is a must see. If you missed this dark comedy in New York, don’t worry. Regional theatres across the country are jumping at the chance to produce it. The plot follows Jason who finds an outlet for his anxiety through the Christian puppet ministry in a conservative town in Texas, but when his puppet Tyrone takes on a shocking and dangerously irreverent personality of his own, Jason’s life is thrown into upheaval. Based on Triangle’s 27-year history and consistently positive reviews, expect a solid production of Hand of God in Portland. Presented in The Sanctuary at Sandy Plaza, Hand of God couldn’t be a better choice for this company that produces “rich stories told through diverse perspectives, particularly the gay perspective.” Audience members sit in church pews! A full bar and bistro with a limited dine in menu opens an hour and a half before show times and stays open after the show. The company’s website offers other nearby dining recommendations that range from Asian to American BBQ. There are two free parking lots and free parking on the street close to the theatre, a rare find in Portland. Tickets are still available from $15-$35 (no handling charge) and can be purchased online through the company website www.trianglepro.org

Richmond, VA

What: Cloud 9 by Caryl Churchill
Where: Richmond Triangle Players
When: September 27-October 3
Hailed as the best professional theatre in Richmond of any style or stripe, Richmond Triangle Players is taking a big bite out of the queer theatre anthology in its 25th season. If you took a modern theatre class in college, you’re probably already familiar with at least one play by the illusive, reclusive playwright Caryl Churchill who is known for evading questions about her plays preferring that each audience member decide for themselves what “it” (fill in the blank) means. Graduate students could write tomes on any one of her plays. Cloud 9, the surreal, gender-bending, ethnic cross-casting comment on feminism, colonialism, and gender identity was decades ahead of its time when it first premiered in the 80s, but the show still feels futuristic to today’s audiences. This theatre fare is less for those seeking a delightful theatrical diversion, but more for those who love provocation, to think and to discuss long after the final curtain goes down. Look to be challenged, enlightened, dumbfounded, and entranced. You’ll wake up the next morning still thinking about the ins and outs of this one. Look for a feature column on this exciting company in TravelPride next week. RTP’s 25th season is well-chosen, thought-provoking, joyous, and balanced with a little something for everyone (everyone except Granny Kate, that is). Go to www.rtriangle.org for more information and to purchase tickets in advance.

San Diego, CA

What: Homos, OR Everyone in America by Jordan Seavey
Where: Diversionary Theatre
When: NOW IN PREVIEWS, open September 23-October 15
Founded in 1986, Diversionary Theatre provides quality theatre for the LGBT community with a vision for amplifying the next generation of LGBT voices. By exploring stories of what sets our culture and history apart, as well as stories that focus on LGBT people’s humanity rather than their sexuality, Diversionary bridges the gaps of cultural understanding. Homos, Or Everyone in America a new play by Jordan Seavey follows a Brooklyn couple attempting to navigate the complexities of contemporary gay life together. Hopscotching back and forth over the timeline of their relationship, a sensual, hilarious and compelling story of their bond emerges. This brave, new play confronts the lingering dangers and interconnected values of our nation, and the way our future may be found through our past. Previews began September 15 with a September 23 opening. Look for a feature on this ground-breaking company, the 3rd oldest continuously producing LGBT theatre in the United States. Diversionary’s decades-long track record of collaboration and new work development has solidified the company’s status as a leading queer theatre- a must see if you’re in the San Diego area.

San Francisco, CA

What: The Legend of Pink by Kheven LaGrone
Where: Theatre Rhinoceros at the Gateway Theatre
When: NOW PLAYING through September 30
GLAAD Media Award Winner Theatre Rhinoceros now in its 40th season and the longest running queer theatre in the world presents the world premiere of a new play The Legend of Pink, a local story set in West Oakland. The time is the late Twentieth Century. Drug wars rage and the lovely African American transgender woman, Pink, does her best to bring a bit of beauty to the harsh environment. But people are watching Pink as she tries to form a connection with a beautiful young man, and they don’t like it.
All shows produced at the Gateway Theatre (formerly Eureka Theatre). Tickets are $20-$40. Call the 24-hour box office hotline at 1-800-838-3006 or link to Brown Paper Tickets. If you miss The Legend of Pink, find information about future shows at this leading queer theatre company at www.therhino.org.
What: Dash Improv: An hour of free-form comedy chaos
Where: Un-scripted Theater Company
When: Saturdays at 10 pm
If you don’t get your act together in time to catch The Legend of Pink at the Rhinocerous, drop by Un-Scripted Theater Company Saturdays at 10 PM and enjoy all the fast, funny, fearless hilarity the company can jam into an hour for an admission price of only $10. The fact that this show is offered weekly is testament to the company’s depth of talent and audience demand. Un-Scripted bills the weekly show as “a seamless, spontaneous, and continuously morphing spectacle of excitement and laughs.” www.un-scripted.com

Seattle, WA

What: Next Fall by Geoffrey Nauffts
Where: Fantastic.Z
When: September 29-October 14
Named last year by Playbill as one of “15 Regional Theatre Companies Leading the Charge in Gay Theatre,” may I introduce Fantastic.Z. An artist founded and run company presenting quality theatre focused through a queer lense, Fantastic.Z’s presence in the national queer theatre scene has been growing in recent years. With a commitment to producing new plays in the Puget Sound area, the company produces an annual New Works Festival of 10-minute plays and also seeks out new full-length plays to be considered for its mainstage season. Upcoming production Next Fall takes a witty and provocative look at faith, commitment, and unconditional love. This timely and compelling new play forces us all to examine what it means to “believe” and what it might cost us. Tickets available www.fantasticZ.org.
When you see any of the shows on our list, please share your thoughts about the experience and the welcome you received. Did we get it right or miss the mark? Do you have a favorite theatre company or performing arts group in your area? Tell us about them!

Originally posted 2017-09-19 14:35:02.

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#FiveFilms4Freedom LGBT+ Film Festival

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The #FiveFilms4Freedom 2017 film festival is travelling across the pond this November. Originally hosted in Britain this past March, it is the first and largest LGBT+ film festival, and has featured independent LGBT+ short films from around the globe.

The film festival began in 2014 in Britain, sponsored by the British Council and the British Film Institute. It is a part of the larger BFI Flare film festival, which began in 1986, and is sponsored by the Love is GREAT Britain Campaign. .

This year’s #FiveFilms4Freedom festival marked 50 years since the decriminalization of homosexuality in Britain. As such, all five films were created by UK filmmakers.

After the films premiered in the UK in March, they were brought to Washington, D.C. on November 1, and will be shown in Los Angeles on November 13 and in New York City on November 16. The festival will also feature a panel of prominent LGBT+  rights advocates from the US and the UK, as well as two participating directors.  

The films focus on a range of LGBT+ relationships and issues. The majority of them are love stories; Crush tells the story of a young girl who finds herself smitten with another girl she sees at a train station, Heavy Weight deals with a young male boxer and his reaction to the arrival of a new fighter, and Jamie is a very modern story about a man who bravely decides to meet with the man he has been talking to on a dating site. The other two films explore very different experiences in the LGBT+ community. Still Burning is about a young migrant living in Paris who shows his brother the exciting and freeing voguing movement. The title is taken from the film Paris is Burning, a documentary about the voguing movement in New York City and its effect on the African American, Latino, gay and transgender communities. The final film is a documentary set in Scotland, entitled Where We Are Now, and focuses on a transgender parent and her bisexual daughter.

The BFI Flare festival as well as #FiveFilms4Freedom have given the LGBT+ community an excellent place for celebration and representation, especially in the UK. With the decriminalization of homosexuality 31 years ago, British LGBT+ representation is extremely important because it has only been able to exist for a short amount of time. The festival allows filmmakers to make LGBT+ people and relationships extremely public, and continues to encourage and support the idea that LGBT+ people can make and star in incredible pieces of media. The move from showing the films in Britain alone to showing them in the US will hopefully continue to encourage the rise of LGBT+ relationships in mainstream media as well as in independent media.

Tickets for the festival in New York City are still available for reservation here. The festival is on November 16 from 6 – 9 PM at the Barclays-ASK Auditorium on Seventh Avenue. The festival is also currently accepting submissions for next year’s festival here.

Originally posted 2017-11-13 21:00:23.

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That Looks Like A…: Provocative Holiday Foods

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(*Article contains mature themes.*)

 

Have you ever looked at a food or read its name and instinctively turned into a tomato?  (Or better still, maybe you and your freaky self were actually turned on by it!)  Well, you don’t have to be depraved or even gay to enjoy these three provocative foods, but you’ll have more fun with them if you are.

 

SPOTTED DICK

 

While this dessert has a wonderfully raunchy name, it is sadly tame in appearance.  It hails from Britain (go figure), and does unnatural things with currants or raisins.  It is typically categorized as a pudding, but looks more like an odd-shaped muffin, to be honest.  Here’s just one recipe:  https://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/spotted-dick-103210

 

The best way to pervert this dish is to shape it, but I won’t be graphic in my description of the ways you can do that.  If you’re not handy in the kitchen, just go to a naughty bakery!  However, you should always be a good (or slutty) host and serve this dish with vanilla custard, as is tradition…

 

HIDE THE SAUSAGE

 

Another British treat, this spongy, sausage infested con-cock-tion is little more than cheap meat in dough.  To the bane of the straight community, it is still a popular dish to serve to a large dinner party because it is not difficult to make.  (Note:  It’s also called “Toad in the Hole” because heterosexuals are often uptight about where they hide their sausages.)

 

In my opinion, this dish looks less sexual and more like something the cast of Duck Dynasty would serve to their guests.  If you like odd tasting desserts, though, this recipe could be just what you’re looking for.  https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/5822/toad-in-the-hole-in-4-easy-steps

 

AN INSTANT CLASSIC:  THE BANANA SPLIT

 

Ok, so I’m gonna catch hell for throwing this popular dessert into the mix, but I do so by request.  We all know how to make it; two scoops of vanilla or chocolate ice cream, one banana, some hot fudge sauce, and a cherry.

 

There are so many jokes I could make out of this, but I will simply describe something I saw at a holiday party that will forever change the way you look at this ice cream treat.  The banana sat in the center, two gobs of chocolate ice cream, one on each side… Need I go on?  I’ve never seen more suggestively placed hot fudge syrup, all of it lying at one end of the plate.  Even the cherry looked like it was blushing, sitting daintily on the banana’s tip with its vein, er… vine facing backwards.  It was quite a sight – I only wish I had quit laughing long enough to snap a picture.

 

If you’re a fan of the more traditional approach, just be sure you combine the standard ingredients in equal proportions around the plate.

 

So, there you have it ladies and gents, three foods that you imagination can run wild with. Other top contenders were the meatball grinder (also the name of a sex act), beef jerky (just because it sounds funny), and the buttery nipple cupcake (for obvious reasons).  

 

Feel free to leave your comments and recipes for more depraved sexual foods for all of us at TravelPride to investigate.  

 

Have a happy holiday season!

Originally posted 2017-11-13 16:20:13.

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Practical Yoga’s Wisdom for Everyday People-Review and Interview

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I want to start off by saying that I’ve never been much of a believer in self-help books. Born with a hyper-sensitive BS detector, a practical mind, and color-coordinated set of lifelong baggage of major depression and physical and emotional trauma, I’m a pretty hard sell. I scoff at books that say I can “breathe and believe” my way into lifelong happiness. That the only reason I was depressed was that I didn’t believe hard enough. Give me a break.

Then I read Will Donnelly’s Practical Yoga’s Wisdom for Everyday People, and it rocked my world.

What makes Will’s book different from your average run-of-the-mill yogi self-help book is that he’s not trying to sell you a better life, but asking you to look at your life at a different angle with relatable and simple messages with quotes at the beginning of each essay. The essays in the book are only a few pages long, giving you “bite-size” wisdom, separated into easy-to-find categories; if you’re looking for advice on personal responsibility or love and relationships, it’s easy to find what essays to read. While most self-help books act like a preacher on a pulpit, Will’s book speaks more like a friend giving you a little life advice, making him relatable to his reader. He knows love and grief and loss because he’s been there. After the death of his life partner Jeff to Lou Gehrig’s disease, or ALS, in 2010, Will was at a loss with his grief. He went on a long road of mourning and depression and found healing in both yoga and writing. Will knows what it means to struggle and come back.

Will Donnelly is a nationally recognized, certified yoga teacher and writer. He has been a pioneer in the field of yoga, developing Practical Yoga, and co-creating/co-hosting a yoga–reality series for fitTV (Guru2Go, Discovery Communications, 2004). As a writer and teacher (and gay man), Will encourages all students to trust their impulses and find their true voice.  While Will has been teaching yoga for 17 years and practicing it for much longer, you don’t have to be a yogi to get the full benefits of this book. You just have to be a person. There are so many wonderful lessons to take away from this book, from essays on doubt to trust, his words stay with you long after you close the book.

I had the absolute privilege to “virtually” sit down with Will and have an enlightening conversation about his book.

How did the process of this book get started? 

I was processing grief during that time and I had a voice for yoga and wellness so I put the two together, journaling about life issues, about loss, about doubt, all sorts of things you’ll find in the book that I talk about in my yoga classes. My students would often say to me “Whatever you said at the beginning of class was really incredible, do you have that written down?” and I always say I actually don’t, so over the years I’ve been chronicling each of my thoughts that I would bring up in class that were relevant to personal growth and tried to write an essay about it and how it could help. These lessons I talk about saved me from the depression I was living with for the last eight years.

I ended up writing 70 or 80 essays through the blog “Confessions of an Accidental Yogi” and I decided that some of the essays I was very happy with and wanted to have them out in the world. So I grouped together the top 50 essays and put them in categories, such Trust & Faith, Personal Responsibility, and Love & Relationships, so it was easy reading. We’re all here to help each other, and as soon as we recognize that, then both our beauty and natural radiance, as well as our pain that we suffer through, can help others, just by saying “you’re not alone.” Life is a very weird and strange place to land in and I think by sharing stories and offering them gently, a lot of people can resonate with them as they deal with the journey of life.

What was the writing process like? How did you come up with ideas for essays? 

All of them are individual creations. Many come from my own personal experience dealing with my own fears, like traveling by myself after having been so fortunate to have had a travel companion most of my adult life (through my life partner). Some stories were triggered by quotes or passages read in books. A lot of blog posts were born in the writing group I teach in Hawaii (Writing from the Core with Will) and through meditations and conversations.

What of your own advice was the hardest to follow? 

The piece about doubt, I have to come back to that over and over again, to have faith because doubt is a part of faith. I am filled with doubt. When I think “Oh, I can’t do it,” or “I’m scared, I don’t know what to do next,” I have to recognize that that’s the beginning step of a very powerful journey in life and to have faith that it’s all going to work out.  The beauty of getting older, which is not prized in the gay male community, is that you can look back on your life and see your choices and it makes it easier to make them again if they’re positive choices. You can look back and say “I had doubt when I moved to LA and 3 years later I had my own TV show.” My favorite quote I use often on social media is by Fran Lebowitz: “Every Intention, every achievement has come out of dissatisfaction, not serenity. No one ever said ‘Things are perfect, let’s invent fire’”

What lesson or mantra do you follow everyday? 

It’s really profound to watch someone you love and adore get sick and during that time, I would think “I can’t do this, I can’t physically do this” and the mantra that stuck with me is a Stephen Hawking quote, “It matters if you just don’t give up.” If we’re not taking care of each other if we’re just here to be greedy, then what’s the point? It’s really easy to fall into despair about what humanity is doing right now, but then I realize it doesn’t matter what humanity is doing, it matters what I am doing and if I’m creating a joyful life. To go back to the Aquarian Age mantra in yoga: “Keep up and you’ll be kept up.” If you can find a way to keep going in a difficult 11-minute yoga pose, you can do that in every part of your life.

What was the easiest and what was the hardest part of writing this book?

The easiest part was going back and re-editing everything because it had all been written for the blog. The hardest part was wondering if this book was worth it because I didn’t want to end up putting more garbage out there. I wondered “Will people enjoy this? Is it pretentious or is it the real deal?” So I think the biggest challenge was having faith that my voice was worthy to be heard. It was an incredible feeling to be on the other side of that.

What is one piece of advice you want our readers to hear? 

I think the reality is that it’s our goal, perhaps especially in the LGBTQ communities, to appreciate the diversity of life and to dive into it and not feel like such an outsider or feel so threatened by it. So it’s about learning to open our minds up to a bigger picture of what life is really about. So dive in, dive into all of it, don’t miss it. Whatever our dreams are, it’s important to do it and to do some form of service to humanity, some way of giving out to the world other than taking.

Will currently lives on the Big Island of Hawaii, where he leads yoga and therapeutic writing classes at Kalani. He also leads several popular Practical Yoga adventure and healing retreats throughout the year, including the annual Holiday Yoga Retreat. His book, “Practical Yoga’s Wisdom for Everyday People: Essays & Inspiration for Life” is available here. Information on retreats, audio clips from his book, his newsletter, and access to his popular yoga & meditation workout video (now available for streaming, first of the three workouts is free) can be found at WillsPracticalYoga.com.

I’ll leave you with one last word of wisdom from Will Donnelly:

“Your struggles don’t define you. We’re all struggling through life and it’s important not to get caught up in the struggle because so many do and become defined by their issues or their past. You get to reinvent yourself every day and you can use your past, no matter how damaged, as a bouncing point to go somewhere deeper and have a richer life because of it.”

Originally posted 2017-11-09 18:01:50.

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