THEATER: Justin Bond Blasts “New York Times” Critic For Being Transphobic

justin vivian bondV STRIKES BACK

Gender-nonconforming cabaret star Justin Vivian Bond, who prefers the pronoun “v”, isn’t thrilled with New York Times critic Stephen Holden, who  reviewed Bond’s recent holiday show, Snow Angel.

In a scathing post on v’s blog, Bond contemplates the writeup as a possible “hate crime,” because of Holden’s use of transphobic language—including the phrase “his/her self-described freakishness.”

Bond responds:

I never called myself a freak during the show but with his twisted worldview Mr. Holden translated my observations about the ‘nature vs. nurture’ argument and my open and direct discussion of my life as a transperson and my queer identity as “self-described freakishness”.

Among other slights: The Times review assumes Bond’s brilliant hair is a wig (it isn’t), suggests Bond sounds best “when I sing like ‘a man,’” and describes v as a campy drag send-up of Kim Novak. “There is a difference between being a drag queen and being a transgender cabaret performer,” Bond clarifies.

While Holden’s review is positive overall, Bond’s umbrage stems in how, just below the surface, it’s really a critique of v’s trans identity more than the show itself.

What are your views on the Times review? Is it merely one man’s innocuous interpretation, or is it indeed fueled by hate?



Rebecca producer Ben Sprecher hasn’t finished beating his dead horse of a musical. Despite the show’s dramatic demise before the curtain ever went up, Sprecher is still working to bring the spectacle to the Great White Way by Fall 2013.

He recently extended his rights to the show—now all he needs is the $4.5 million that fell through when his fictional main allegedly investor died of malaria.

The show is so dead in everyone’s mind—and Sprecher was so royally scammed—who would be crazy enough to invest now?

Any money men out there want to buy a burning Brooklyn Bridge? [New York Times]



Hard to believe it, but Jonathan Harvey’s Beautiful Thing, the cherished tale of gay teenage love set against UK housing projects, premiered in London 20 years ago. To celebrate the anniversary, Chicago’s Pride Films and Plays is producing the seminal coming-of-age story beginning January 17. The play, along with its deeply moving 1996 film version, is a seminal work in gay drama–the original nerd-meets-jock love story mimicked countless times since, and never as effectively. With high-school bullying such a hot-button issue, Beautiful Thing‘s relevance has only grown stronger. [Pride Films and Plays]


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  • Cam

    A real problem for Beautiful thing is that it still isn’t available for streaming viewing on Netflix or Amazon.

    Come on people!

  • RomanHans

    I agree with Mx. Bond on a few points.

    Mr. Holden writes that Mx. Bond “mouths off about everything,” then repeats a Tea Party crack. Uh, complaining about the Tea Party isn’t exactly “mouth[ing] off about everything.” If he offered an example of Mx. Bond whining about, say, aerosol cheese, or Hot Pockets, I might see his point.

    He notes that Mx. Bond sings several Melanie songs, but mentions some “signature” ones that Bond left out. Really, is that intelligent theater critique? Is he also mad that Mx. Bond didn’t do Cagney impressions?

    I’m also pretty sure that Mr. Holden’s “eager-to-offend” description translates to “tells the truth.” I mean, I haven’t seen Mx. Bond perform, but I’ll bet there’s no attempted fellatio on Anderson Cooper.

  • niles

    I am not commenting on this particular case relating to the trans person, but Mr. Holden has a history of homophobic “reviews”. He wrote a shocking one on NPH’s performance in Company a while back. I’m not sure why it was never reported in the gay press at the time.

  • 2eo

    @niles: Sounds more of a lack of interest in what this cretin has to say as opposed to any oppressive agenda.

    I hadn’t even heard of him, I read a few reviews, found them tactless and poorly worded, shalln’t read of him again.

    End of. Also Bond is right in calling him out, his language is purposeful and lacks the nuances he thinks he nails.

  • PTBoat

    @Cam: Beautiful Thing has long been available as a DVD on Netflix. It was available long ago, when Blockbuster was banning it in many of its “family oriented” retail stores. Streaming availability depends on many factors, including availability and contracts. I love the convenience of streaming, but it’s not an issue to order it and wait a day. It’s a great film.

  • Trip

    Aaron, if “v” is a pronoun, it doesn’t need an apostrophe. You wouldn’t write “his’s” or “hers’s”, so you wouldn’t write “v’s”.

  • Aaron Coleman

    @Trip: Interesting point that I had considered. Since the correct grammatical usage of “v” has not been solidified (that I am aware of) in the subjective, objective, and possessive, I had to improvise. “vs” may be confusing to the reader, and read as “versus.” Just plain “v” as a possessive feels strange. So, I added the ‘s to absolutely clarify possessive intent to the unfamiliar reader. Language is fluid, and daring new forms must be introduced cautiously and with absolute clarification.

    Also “vs/vis” or “vr/ver” implies a gender preference. “V’s” seems the most neutral.

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