Culture Club

What to Watch: A gay climax, a hidden trans history, and a tribute to a dance legend

No Ordinary Man

Whatever your entertainment needs, we got your back (and hopefully your mind) with Queerty’s weekly “Culture Club” column with some of the highlights of new releases, streaming shows, classics worth revisiting, and what to drink while you watch.

The Catch: No Ordinary Man

We fell in love with this fascinating documentary when it played the Toronto Film Festival last year. No Ordinary Man chronicles the life of Billy Tipton, a respected jazz musician and family man whose 1989 death sparked a national scandal. The reason: Billy was revealed as a transgender man. The new film from directors Aisling Chin-Yee & Chase Joynt aims to shed light on Billy’s story—how he lived, his love of music, and how transphobia affected his life and that of his children. Featuring interviews with Billy’s son, Billy Jr., No Ordinary Man chronicles a life almost lost to history. It’s a fascinating character portrait, and a subtle reminder that, yes, LGBTQ people have existed throughout history.

In theatres July 16.

The Climax: Fear Street Part 3 – 1666

The oh-so-gay trilogy that aims to convert the work of RL Stine into Lord of the Rings concludes this week, bringing the saga of Shadyside full circle. 1666—our favorite entry in the trilogy—jumps back in time almost 500 years to the town’s origin, and brings the recasts the performers from 1994 and 1978 as early townsfolk a la American Horror Story. Much as with the first two installments, 1666 emulates the contemporary horror of the era. In this case, that involves witches, pacts with the devil and religious persecution. Of course, the film covers the beginnings of the Shadyside curse before building to an epic conclusion that sees characters from all three movies team up for one final battle.

Director Leigh Janiak and writer Phil Graziadei do their damnedest to elevate the pulp schlock of RL Stine to high art. They never quite get there, but the resultant trilogy, when viewed as a whole, is a lot of fun. It also proves itself an unexpected gay love story—one that spans the centuries, and one which proves key to besting the demonic forces plaguing Shadyside. We recommend the trilogy as an entertaining horror romp with a bold queer streak. Here’s hoping that if it does well, it can open the door to a full-on, queer Lord of the Rings-type epic.

Streams on Netflix July 16.

The Nibbles: The Circuit

We covered this digital series when it debuted just before the COVID-19 pandemic. This week, it arrives on the streaming service TubiTV for free, bringing with it all its glitz, sex and drama. To recap: The Circuit follows a group of self-proclaimed “circuit queens” living the party life in New York. The outbreak of COVID-19 provides one hell of a twist to the show, particularly after a few characters get caught at the notorious Rona Rave. Fans of circuit parties and those who find them morally objectionable alike should find plenty to enjoy here (not to mention plenty to reinforce their existing arguments). Made with technical polish and a sexual charge, The Circuit features as much drama as any other reality show out there and a lot more gayness. That’s not a bad thing.

Streams on TubiTV.

The History Maker: Can You Bring It

This new documentary from directors Rosalynde LeBlanc and Tom Hurwitz focuses on the life of legendary dancer (and Queerty Pride50 honoree) Bill T. Jones, and his legacy of dance-as-political-protest. For the uninitiated, Jones and his then-boyfriend Arnie Zane thrived in the 1970s and 80s having founded the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane dance company which used same-sex couples in unapologetic, erotic and romantic dance numbers. Zane’s HIV diagnosis led the pair to choreograph the stunning D-Man in the Waters, an uber-athletic dance piece meant to portray the pain and desperation of the AIDS epidemic. Can You Bring It follows an aging Jones as he works to reinterpret the dance with a new generation of performers, and tool it as a protest against the current injustices of gun violence, racism and sexual exploitation that occupy the center of the cultural zeitgeist. Ultimately, the film paints a portrait of a brilliant innovator and underrated artist, one unafraid to work politics and righteous anger into his work. The movie also underlines Jones’ status as a living queer hero—one whose artistic will and human compassion throbs in every movement he makes.

In theatres July 16.

The Festive: Dance On Camera

Speaking of dance, this weekend sees the Dance on Camera festival return to New York’s Lincoln Center with a special retrospective of the festival’s 49-year history. That includes showings of a litany of short films that recorded some of the best dances in festival history, as well as other innovations from all over the world. The best part: viewers can take part in the festival from home via streaming links which will feature both the archival short films as well as the festival’s newest dances. It’s a must for fans of dance, New York culture, and self-expression.

Runs July 16-18 at Lincoln Center. Fans who wish to attend virtually can sign up at Dancefilms.org.

The Spin: X. ARI’s “Stranger to Savior (acoustic)”

Queer songstress X. ARI drops her new single this week, an acoustic piano tribute to her first (and current) girlfriend. X. ARI’s lyrical style recalls the delicate poetry of Sarah McLachlan. For that matter, so do her piano stylings, which have a similar firm but gentle sound to them. “Stranger to Savior” plays on feelings of betrayal, enlightenment and healing from trauma, and how finding someone to love and trust can bring about a certain peace. We recommend it to anyone who has ever recovered from heartache, or has experienced the joy of true love.

Streams on YouTube.

The Sip: Vampire Punch

via Shutterstock

In honor of the very satisfying conclusion to the Fear Street trilogy, we offer up this sweet and strong favorite normally reserved for the Halloween season. Blending fruity flavors with some fizzy and tropical goodness, it’ll have you ready to battle ancient curses, ex-boyfriends or even the dreaded family vacation.

Mix ingredients in large pitcher over ice. Stir well and serve.