Don’t even bother putting out a device in 2014 unless it’s ‘connected.’ Your gadget ain’t worth shit if it can’t connect to the Internet, and talk to your iPhone, iPad, laptop and Mp3 rollerskates. You might have been able to get away with a non-connected device in 2013, but not anymore, the rules have changed (might be time to throw out those old Logitech laptop speakers I’m afraid).
Cone is a new entry in the wireless speaker category. It’s inventors refer to it as a “thinking music player” because it does more than just connect wirelessly to your iPhone — it also has wifi and is capable of playing audio directly from streaming music services, internet radio stations, and podcasts “all with a simple turn of a dial.” Besides its gorgeous copper base, the dial on the front of it is it’s major selling point. You turn the dial to make it play, if you like what you hear you’ll get more of the same, if you don’t, turn it again and it’ll play something else. You can also hold the button in the middle and tell the cone what you’d like to listen to. It’s a pretty nifty party trick, one of many making the Cone such a desirable device. Another cool thing about the cone is that over time, using machine learning, it’s able to better predict what you like to hear.
The inventors behind the Cone are a new startup called Aether — comprised of former Nokia, Apple, and Google employees. At $399 it’s a little pricier than your average wireless speaker, but then your average wireless speaker doesn’t look as good as the Cone, nor is it as smart. The cone will be available early summer.
If you like what you see you can reserve one today.
An art benefit for the Sylvia Rivera Law Project
I’m the kind of person who’s always in the mood for new art. Never mind that I have no room in my apartment for any of it, and no, it doesn’t mean I’m a nascent hoarder (hopefully). There’s simply something gratifying about personal curation in a very American, maybe horribly capitalist kind of way. So when my collecting habit goes toward benefitting something truly amazing and socially conscious, then it quickly becomes an excellent excuse to stockpile. Luckily for me, Small Works for Big Change, an art benefit featuring work from queer and trans artists from around the country, is looking to do just that.
Small Works for Big Change is an annual benefit going into its 9th year in support of the Sylvia Rivera Law Project, a non-profit organization that “provides legal services to low-income people and people of color who are transgender or gender non-conforming,” as well as grassroots organizing. Sponsored by such reputable forces as GLAAD, Visual AIDS, and the Leslie Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art, Small Works for Big Change‘s main event is a silent auction of works produced by various contributing queer artists at Jack Studios in Chelsea. This year, the auction is being set to music by DJ Precolumbian, live performances, raffle prizes, and an after party hosted by Azucar. Start clearing some room for your new collection now, friends.
Small Works for Big Change goes down March 8 at 5:00PM. Register for the auction and check out the art catalogue here.
What a great name for a party, straight to the point, I like that and really what else do we go out for? Pickup was created by DJ Aaron Tilford, and is presented by the Spunk [arts] magazine. From everything I hear, it’s a pretty casual affair. No fancy shit. Which for a Friday night is perfect. Just play good music and turn the lights down, the rest will figure itself out. The party’s only flourish are the visuals by Cocksnaut. Don’t ask me what that will entail, hopefully 1000’s of swirling colorful cocks in space? There’s no cover and all well drinks are $5. I say start your night here and then work your way down to Phoenix, then Eastern Bloc and finally the Boiler Room. If you don’t pick up by the end of that...well you’re doing something wrong, maybe it’s those jeans?
A panel discussion on the fusion of performance art and pop culture
When you hear the phrase “performance art,” what do you think of? Perhaps you see Tilda Swinton sleeping in a glass box at MoMA last year, or Marina Abramović‘s seated endurance test in the same space a few years before that. Maybe it’s the legends you think of first, like Laurie Anderson or Yoko Ono, who helped pioneer the art form in the 60′s. Or maybe it’s Jay Z‘s video for “Picasso Baby” that comes to mind, the self-described “performance art film” in which he bogarted Pace Gallery and had a coterie of both celebrities and regular joes join him on camera.
Regardless, there’s no denying that the execution of performance art has changed drastically over the past decade or so, particularly when looking at its recent mergence with mainstream pop culture. This union is the topic of conversation at Concept/Icon, a panel discussion that’s part of the New York Performance Artists Collective‘s partnership with VOLTA NY 2014. Moderated by Kate Sutton, the panel includes Pati Hertling, Ryan McNamara, Adam Whitney Nichols & Carl Swanson, all of whom will be discussing performance art as it functions in the current cultural landscape. Artists can get pretty touchy about this stuff (see: the near-intolerable case of Lady Gaga), so there’s no doubt it’s going to be a fascinating dialogue.
Concept/Icon is on March 8 at 6:00PM at Volta Talks Lounge. RSVP via Facebook here.
Here’s what we know about the Dirty Boots music video premiere party at The Cock this week. 1. It’s at The Cock (duh, but that’s always fun). 2. They are premiering a music video/short film directed by filmmaker, and the first person to ever interview GAYLETTER and made us show our butts to the photographer, (for BUTT Magazine) Adam Baran. 3. The film features Boys in Jockstraps! Horny Biker Gangs, Underground sex clubs, TUMBLR porn, ABeardedBoy.com’s Dominic J. Fournier, The 3 Bits’ Margaret Singer and “iconic German porn star” Peter Berlin. If you’re a fan of any, or all of those things, then you must get your dirty boots to the party for some old school New York sleazy fun. Along with the aforementioned attractions they’re also promising: “go-go boys, cheap drinks, and scores of hot dirty men.” The film will premier at midnight, but I’d suggest you get there a little earlier than that. Those hot dirty men will go fast hunty!
The ABT dancer on Russia's most famous gay composer
Late last summer, Russian minister of culture Vladimir Medinsky told a news outlet that historic composer Peter Tchaikovsky, despite years of documented proof otherwise, was not a homosexual. While Tchaikovsky’s sexuality has little import over his epic oeuvre of music, he has long been understood by historians and Russians alike to be gay, and Medinsky’s claim functions as an attempt among many in recent months to rewrite history in service of Russia’s newly homophobic political agenda. There has been a decent amount of opposition to the controversial disavowal of the composer’s sexuality since, but none have quite as much resonance as Tchaikovsky: None But the Lonely Heart, a new theatrical concert coming to BAM this week.
Presented by Ensemble for the Romantic Century, the concert is a combination of music, theater, and dance that hones in on the composer’s uncanny relationship with his patroness, Madame von Meck, conducted solely through letters spanning an incredible fourteen years. One member of the production, however, holds a personal interest in the story of Tchaikovsky’s life: Daniel Mantei Keene, the openly gay and extraordinarily talented American Ballet Theatre member who serves as dance choreographer as well as dancer in the production. Although Mantei has been dancing for about twenty years, Tchaikovsky: None But the Lonely Heart is truly a reason for him to stand out, providing the audience with some gorgeous choreography (alongside some decent eye candy while he’s at it).
We got in touch with Daniel ahead of the production’s run at BAM’s new Fishman Space to ask a few questions about the concert, how he thinks it functions in conversation with Russia’s current political climate, and what it was like choreographing to one of the most famous gay composers of all time.
Where did you start your dance education? I started at a small ballet studio called Ozsoy School of Ballet in a Southern suburb of Dallas. My teacher, Ceyhun Ozsoy, is Turkish — he danced at Ankara National Ballet Company before moving to the states. When I started, the supercollider was being built nearby so there were lot of kids from all over — my family moved to Texas from Indonesia—my father is a mining engineer.
How did you get involved in this project? A board member at ERC, Susan Winokur, is also a patron at ABT. She contacted ABT in search of a dancer and choreographer for the show. I’ve done pieces on ABT for a choreography workshop and for a kids show at the Metropolitan Opera House — I’m very eager to choreograph more. I’m grateful that artistic staff at ABT directed this project to me.
Was Tchaikovsky: None But the Lonely Heart, produced as a direct response to Russia’s anti-gay legislation? I believe the show was written before the anti-gay legislation was passed, but the legislation gives Tchaikovsky: None But the Lonely Heart a greater relevance and power. It illustrates that, though some would try to deny it, great Russian heroes were and are homosexuals — challenging the notion that gays are lesser.
Who is your favorite choreographer and why? It’s hard to pick one! I love Jiri Kylian’s and Antony Tudor’s work. I feel like they take dance and make it relevant to everyone. Their work pushes the boundaries of the art form — they give power to dance, and they tell truths — which we all need.
What has been the most challenging role to play on stage? Again it’s hard to pick just one! There are many different kinds of challenges. There are roles that are so physically demanding that you are exhausted and you have that inner dialogue with yourself on stage: “I could just stop now.” You have to push through the pain, push through not being able to even feel your legs anymore. Then there are roles that are challenging because of the acting aspect. Then there are roles that are challenging emotionally. Sometimes the hardest thing is to perform 8 shows a week as townsperson number whatever — you can feel like you are just stage dressing or moving scenery.
Tchaikovsky’s ballets are arguably his most famous works. What was it like creating new choreography for such an eminent composer’s music? Did you ever find yourself drawing from the classic ballets or distancing yourself from them? I definitely want to try my hand at choreographing the full lengths — especially Tchaikovsky’s. There’s a lot of pressure when it comes to reworking these classics because there have been many great versions in the past. Sometimes it’s hard to get away from what one has already seen, but I try to do it in a way that is true to myself. I aim to emphasize awareness — which I feel is the hallmark of classicism. In dance this means an attention to alignment and coordination — aiming to strip away tension and affectation — and using purity and simplicity of line and movement to create a whole that is greater than the sum of each part. I find myself moving away from the trends of ballet today — trends like overwrought, busy movement, affectation, circus acts and the celebration of a freak-of-nature-ness. When I see dance, I want to feel an awareness, a heightened human-ness, a return to naturalism.
What has been the general response from Russian citizens regarding the production? Has there been any so far? I haven’t heard from any Russian citizens so far — I hope they come check out the show!
What do you hope audiences will take away from the story of Tchaikovsky’s life after seeing this production? I hope they gain a better understanding of Tchaikovsky and a greater appreciation for his music. I want the audience to take away the importance of art and its patronage. I would love if they would hear his music in a different way than they’ve heard it before. I think his music is so powerful it affects all of us emotionally — reminds us of our commonality. I hope the audience can feel the pain of being gay in a world that does not accept gays.
Tchaikovsky: None But the Lonely Heart opens March 3 and runs through March 9 at BAM. Buy your tickets here.
As their Facebook event page declares: “calling all drag queens, drag kings, performance artists, burlesque performers, singers, musicians and undecided.” This event is for anyone who has talent and wants to share it with the world, or in this case with Brooklyn. This is the second installment of the 9 weeks event, an “open competition to all of Brooklyn” which features new contestants and every round takes place at a different Brooklyn location and includes cash prizes. This time the contestants feature Rify Royalty, Mat Kastella, Rachel Ratchet, Sandi Beaches and Jackie Reloaded. Your host for the night is the mother of Brooklyn drag Merrie Cherry. Whenever I’m in the BK and I hear the word drag Merrie is the first person I wanna see. Come strut your stuff and make some money, Mr(s) Williamsburg wants you.
Gert is a 20 year old boy from Tallinn, Estonia. He is a high school student, eventually he wants to do something related with fashion. “I love fashion, it’s my life.” I believe him, he’s a very stylish guy. Even though Gert knew he liked guys when he was 13-14 years old, he just recently came out as gay back in January when he posted the following on his Facebook wall: “Well. Yeah, I’m gay. Who cares? I’m still a person? I have the exact same rights as you.” He told me that his sister came out of the closet first, then he did… When he was young he “was very much like a girl, I loved to play with Barbies, I was in the company of girls during school…and my sister was like a boy and she loved playing with cars…” We think that’s just adorable!
As I was chatting with Gert, he pointed out that he was a “special person” because he was born deaf. “My family are all deaf too. He adds, “I can’t hear music or when people talk to each other, I can only hear noise, I can feel vibrations and I can read lips slowly.” So, when Gert goes out to dance “I feel the rhythm of the music, but I do not understand the words…” I found this fascinating and surprising, I couldn’t stop asking him questions about being deaf.
The first thing that he does when he wakes up is make “the best coffee,” he usually grinds the beans, then he uses a coffee press. His prefect date would be “going to the beach or to an outdoor cafe.” He likes guys who are more mature than him, sweet, considerate, smart and stylish — this boy has standards, as he should. When it’s time for Gert to go to bed he wears shorts or just underwear. “I’d love to be naked, though, somehow I dont have a private room…” Gert’s future plans are to go abroad and to travel to the ‘fashion capitals,’ Estonia is such a small country and will always be home, but there’s not many activities to do.”
He used his Samsung phone to take some selfies for us, he took most of them in his high school, in the classroom and in the bathroom, then he got home and into bed where he got even more comfortable. He looks very sweet wearing a GAYLETTER t-shirt — he insisted he wanted the fit to be oversized, I have to agree with him, it suits him very well.
Obama, Shante you stay. Putin, Sashay away.
War Drags You Out is an awesome new art project created by an artist known only as Saint Hoax, that challenges notions of leadership, performance and gender. The artist came up with the idea after “watching a drag show for the first time last May, I was fascinated by drag art. I then linked the concept of faux queens to political and religious leaders. I always perceived leaders as performers, as if they are in their own continuous drag show.”
The portraits of world leaders in drag have caused quite a stir online, especially the ones of Osama Bin Laden and Egypt’s King Abdullah, “I just wanted to extract the idea of getting dressed and becoming someone else for the show and linking it to leaders,” Saint Hoax said. “I pick men that work so hard on creating some sort of ‘public image’ and end up neglecting the people they’re assigned to lead.”
After watching last night’s episode of Drag Race, I can’t help but wonder if perhaps the world would be a better off if it was run by real drag queens, instead of clowns we currently have in place.
Devin Wallace illustrates the night's best moments.
What can we say about the Oscars that hasn’t been said by every other two-bit blog and website in the last 18 hours? We enjoyed the show, it was probably the funniest Oscars since Chris Rock hosted 5 years ago. Ellen DeGeneres was a great host. I know some people think differently, but they’re stoopid. This is one of the hardest gigs on TV and Ellen pulled it off brilliantly. She was quick on her feet, silly, and many times hilarious. The pizza delivery guy was by far the highlight of the night. Seeing all those A-listers chowing down on a slice of greasy pepperoni pizza was just great (although Leonardo DiCaprio did himself no favors by refusing a slice: you too good for pizza hey Romeo!?)
We asked our friend Devin Wallace to illustrate some of the highlights of the night. He did a wonderful job, as always.
Check ‘em out.
Ellen in her Wizard of Oz outfit.
Liza with a ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ…(someone poke her, she seems to have nodded off again).
Brad and Angie making out. Ewww, pizza breath.
Leo looking old as fuck.
Jared Leto may have won an Academy Award for his role in The Dallas Buyers Club, but his hair was the real night’s winner.
So pretty, oh so pretty.
Lupita Nyong’o. Pretty in Prada blue.
By far the best speech of the night. She is so adorable.
Cate Blanchett tells us the world is round.
Matthew McCounghey thanks god and hardly anyone claps. Guess this ain’t the Grammy’s.