Culture Club

What to Watch: Gay Hollywood hustlers, queer sk8r girls, and a drag queen workout

Jake Picking in ‘Hollywood’

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 Stream: Hollywood

Ryan Murphy & Netflix‘s latest endeavor finally arrives, reimagining the Golden Age of Hollywood as it should have been. The series follows a group of young creatives who come to Tinseltown in search of a dream, and instead, discover a gas station brothel run by an eccentric would-be star (obviously modeled on Scotty Bowers). Sexy and star-making antics ensue–and we mean that in the best possible way. Hollywood combines nostalgic Hollywood glamour with the sexually-charged drama upon which Murphy has earned his reputation. The resultant show both earns some very big laughs, and even a teary-eyed moment or two. The stellar cast includes David Corenswet, Patti LuPone, Dylan McDermott, Jake Picking, Mira Sorvino, Queen Latifah, Rob Reiner, Darren Criss and Jim Parsons, though the real standout is Broadway hunk Jeremy Pope, who gives a star-making performance as a closeted, African-American writer. LuPone and Parsons also get two of their best roles as a silent movie star-cum-studio boss, and a snake-like manager, respectively. With the nation thirsting for levity during a time of pandemic, Hollywood is the perfect reprieve.

Streams on Netflix May 1.

The Catch: Betty

This new HBO series, based on the 2018 indie film Skate Kitchen arrives this week, bringing with it a group of ironic feminist heroes. Like the film that inspired it, Betty focuses on a group of female skateboarders in New York, including the queer rebel Kurt (played, as in the film, by Nina Moran). Hijinks, camaraderie and sexual exploration ensue as Kurt and her friends confront the perils of coming-of-age and the male-dominated world of skateboarding. We found Kurt and her friends irresistible; they reminded us much more of the women we knew in our late teens than most other characters on TV. Refreshing and fun, Betty takes girl power to new territory.

Debuts on HBO May 1.

The Premiere: Driveways

Writer/director Andrew Ahn’s (Spa Night) quiet indie drama finally gets wide release this week. We covered the film last year on the festival circuit, where it enchanted us with its tenderness and thoughtfulness. Driveways follows the story of a mother and son (Hong Chau and Lucas Jaye) tasked with cleaning out the house of a deceased relative. During their visit, young Cody (Jaye) befriends the aging military vet Del (the late Brian Dennehy, in one of his final performances) a man mourning the final days of his life, and a combative relationship with his estranged, lesbian daughter. The film also hints that young Cody is gay, and how that subtle observation affects Del and Cody’s mother. Chou, Jaye and Dennehy give marvelous, thoughtful performances, and Broadway diva Christine Ebersole is a hoot as a busybody neighbor. Ahn isn’t interested in plot so much as human behavior, and the way people communicate in unspoken ways. Much like Spa NightDriveways has a particular sensitivity to it and the kind of observations that make the story as mysterious as it is provocative.

Streams on iTunes. For more information on screening, visit the FilmRise website.

The Tear Jerker: A Secret Love

Speaking of Ryan Murphy (who is on a roll at the moment), this Murphy-produced doc debuts on Netflix this week. A Secret Love follows the +60 year relationship of a lesbian couple, Terry Donahue and Pat Henschel. The film catches up with the women as they inch further into their 80s and have to begin to plan for their final years together. A Secret Love traces the history of their relationship, juxtaposing it with pressing questions involving marriage, family and end-of-life care–questions that will face an increasing number of same-sex couples in the coming years. By turns sweet and tough but always tender, A Secret Love is a magnificent love story–one to watch with Kleenex close at hand.

Streams on Netflix.

The Read: What Makes a Marriage Last

Married couple Phil Donahue and Marlo Thomas penned this tome together, a series of interviews with married couples that tries to discover the secret to a longtime love affair. That includes a number of same-sex couples, including Neil Patrick Harris & David Burtka, Elton John & David Furnish, Jane Wagner & Lily Tomlin and Patricia Cornwell & Staci Gruber. Ultimately, the book reveals that marriage, like so much in life, is what a couple makes it, and how they tailor it to their needs. It’s a fascinating read, one in which couples bare their souls, and their love and patience for one another.

In bookstores May 5.

The Upbeat: Working Out is a Drag

Celebrity trainer Jason Wimberly lands his new work out show with World of Wonder this week, in which he helps some of America’s most popular drag queens get in shape. Heels stay at home, while Wimberly instructs his clients Raja, Monique Heart, Laganja, Sonique, and Kameron Michaels on how to look good and stay healthy with or without a wig. During a time of lockdown, Working Out is a Drag is a terrific way to keep entertained and learn a few new ticks to staying in shape. 

Streams on World of Wonder Presents Plus beginning May 6.

The Spin: Billy Porter’s “For What it’s Worth”

Never one to stay silent, Billy Porter dropped his newest single this week, a cover of the classic Buffalo Springfield song. Porter infuses the classic protest tune with his own soulful vocals; turning an anti-war song into a rallying cry for Americans to vote out the Trump catastrophe come this November. If nothing else, “For What it’s Worth” makes a perfect calling card for Porter: passionate, rich and full of life. More importantly though, the song reminds listeners that in a time of crisis, getting angry isn’t enough. Rather, focusing on positive change is the first step to ending it.

Streams on YouTube.

The Sip: Champagne Cocktail

In honor of Hollywood and Hollywood, we offer up this sip of some Golden Age glamour. Sweet, bubbly and easy to make, it is the perfect sip for a bit of relaxation without getting totally blasted.

  • 1 sugar cube
  • Angostura bitters
  • Champagne
  • Lemon or orange twist, for garnish

Add bitters to sugar cube in a spoon. Drop into a champagne flute. Add champagne, Garnish with a citrus twist.