Culture Club

What to Watch: Leslie Jordan live, love after death, and a proud farewell to Larry Kramer

Sordid Lives

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 Classy: Sordid Lives: Live

Writer/director Del Shores brings his own COVID culture to the web with this special live reading of his cult play. Sordid Lives focuses on the family of a closeted gay Texan, who has escaped the wilderness for the wildness of West Hollywood. Meanwhile, his wacky Texas family struggles to cope with a scandalous death in the family, and with the suspicion that their golden boy is gay. Shores directs, and reunites a combination of the original stage and film version cast, including Bonnie Bedelia, Beth Grant, Beau Bridges, Caroline Rhea and national treasure Leslie Jordan. The live stream will also include a special appearance by Olivia Newton-John. The show is a must for fans of all things Sordid, or anyone that has experienced the clash between sissy and southern life.

Streams May 31 at 5pm Pacific/8pm Eastern on YouTube and Facebook Live.

The Golden: After Forever Season 2

Call it the little digital series that could: this tender, if soapy show just landed six Daytime Emmy Nominations, including nods for Best Supporting Actor, Best Actress and Best Digital Drama. After Forever follows the plight of Brian (Kevin Spirtas), a middle-aged gay man reeling from the death of his husband, Jason (Mitchell Anderson). Season 1 ended with Jason’s parents setting Brian up on a date with the handsome David (Mike McGowan). Season 2 picks up with David and Brian trying to have a relationship without the spectre of Jason haunting both of them. After Forever looks at a little-discussed reality of queer love: that of the sudden loss of a spouse, and how recovery in the LGBTQ world has its own set of perils. Moreover, a talented cast lends urgency to the drama, even when the plot feels lifted from Days of Our Lives. Like that show, even at it silliest, it’s still addictive as Hell.

Streams on Amazon.

The Overlooked: Poz Roz

A reader email (yes, we do read them), tipped us off to this digital series which debuted last year. Quite simply, we’ve never seen anything like it anywhere else. Poz Roz tells the story of Rozzlyn Mayweather, a straight woman adjusting to her divorce from a gay man, and trying to understand LGBTQ life through the eyes of her gay bestie. When Roz tests positive for HIV, she finds a whole new comfort in the queer community as she wrestles with what her diagnosis means for the rest of her life. Series creator Carlton Jordan finds a delicate tone for the series, somehow teetering between outright hilarity and overwhelming sorrow. Even better, he’s also an inspired director, with unique shot compositions, and who blends live-action with animated overlays to get better insight into his characters. Though it focuses on a heterosexual woman, Poz Roz deals very directly with the queer African-American experience with special attention paid to the role of masculinity. The full first season landed on YouTube last summer. It makes for a great binge in the days of lockdown.

Streams on YouTube.

The Spin: Blimes & Gab “Shelly’s (It’s Chill)”

Female hip hop duo Blimes & Gab drop a new single this week, a throwback to 80s synthpop and the late 90s smooth jams of Sean Combs. “Shelly’s” meditates on meeting someone beautiful on the dance floor, and the kind of wild fantasies of bliss that follow. With our thirst for dancing and human contact ever-growing, “Shelly’s” at least allows us a fantasy of sensual contact with somebody special. The track is as a good as its title: it’s chill.

Studio track available on The Orchard.

The Memorial: The Normal Heart

We continue to mourn the loss of writer Larry Kramer, a man who became an important voice for activism and art for LGBTQ people. In honor of his passing, we recommend revisiting the film version of The Normal Heart, directed by fellow gay lion Ryan Murphy. Mark Ruffalo stars as Ned, a gay man witnessing the scourge of AIDS and who, in his sorrow, is driven to activism. The film portrays the decimation and alienation of queer people by political figures, the end of post-Stonewall euphoria, and the transformation of a community learning to defend itself. Taylor Kitch, Matt Bomer, Jim Parsons, Alfred Molina and Julia Roberts also star. Much like Kramer himself, The Normal Heart can infuriate viewers at times, though, as with the man himself, it will also enrich and move audiences to come away with a better understanding of LGBTQ life and history. As with Larry Kramer, we’re better for having known it.

Streams on HBO, Amazon, iTunes, Hulu, VUDU & YouTube.

The Encore: Hairspray Live

This gem, part of NBC’s live theatrical productions (you know, the series that also produced Jesus Christ Superstar, The Sound of Music and Peter Pan), makes a return this week courtesy of the magic of YouTube. Hairspray Live features a cast that includes Maddie Baillio, Dove Cameron, Kristin Chenoweth, Garrett Clayton, Harvey Fierstein, Ariana Grande, Derek Hough, Jennifer Hudson, & Martin Short, and for our money, is far more enjoyable than the feature film version. The reason boils down to the character Edna Turnblad. Whereas John Travolta’s Edna always felt one-note, Fierstein’s version of the character (he won a Tony for the original Broadway production) teems with passion, femininity, and maternal grace. Moreover, where Travolta’s Edna and her on-screen husband Wilbur (Christopher Walken) had no chemistry and barely touched each other, Firestein’s Edna and Martin Short’s Wilbur seem passionately in love. They also, despite their body types, have an obviously healthy sex life. Even with the foibles of live theatre on full display (such as when Jennifer Hudson reduces the cast to tears with one of her vocal renditions), Hairspray Live feels more natural and alive. Quite simply, it’s a ball.

Streams on YouTube starting Friday (5/29) at 11am PT / 2pm ET for 48 hours only. 

The Sip: June Bug

With June rapidly approaching on the horizon, we thought it best to theme this week’s sippage to the dawn of Pride. This sweet cocktail will put you in the mood for all kinds of things fruity. We wouldn’t have it any other way.

  • 1 part Melon liqueur
  • ½ part Coconut rum
  • ½ part Banana liqueur
  • 2 parts Pineapple juice
  • 1 part Lemon juice

Mix over ice in a martini shaker. Shake well and serve.

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