Culture Club

What to Watch: a ‘Pose’ extravaganza, a grieving boyfriend, Morgxn returns and a gay serial killer

Stone Fruit

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 Event: Pose Season 3/The Exhibition Ball

The final season of the landmark drama debuts this weekend, and true to form, it begins with a fabulous bang. Celebrate the season premiere with The Exhibition Ball, a special virtual ballroom event hosted by the show’s choreographer Twiggy Pucci Garçon. The 90-minute special will give viewers a crash course in ballroom history, dance and style and feature a real-life ballroom competition. It’s the perfect lead-in to the show’s farewell season.

As for Season 3 itself, yes, we’ve seen it, and no, we can’t reveal much here. We can say that the story picks up in 1994 as Blanca (MJ Rodriguez) begins a new romance with a handsome doctor (Jeremy Pope), Angel (Indya Moore) and Lil Papi (a much bulked-up Angel Bismark Curiel) plan their future together, and Electra (Dominique Jackson) enters a new business venture. Meanwhile, Pray Tell (Billy Porter) laments a more commercial, less communal ballroom scene, and begins to suffer the effects of AIDS. We can say that Season 3 lightens the mood of the show considerably; it’s more Sex & the City than Paris is Burning. That levity also offsets the show’s darker final episodes which bring the story to a moving and appropriate conclusion. As for the performers, Jackson, Dyllón Burnside and Curiel shine in expanded roles, while Pope once again proves himself a charismatic leading man. The show, however still belongs to Rodriguez and Porter, both of whom flex their considerable dramatic gifts. It’s a fitting end to a show that changed television, and to characters that make us feel part of the family.

Pose – An Exhibition Ball begins at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT on Sunday, May 2, and followed by the Season 3 premiere at 10 p.m. ET/PT on FX

The Indie: Stone Fruit

This true independent film caught our eye on the festival circuit last year. We’re happy to share it with you, dear readers, as it finally arrives on streaming. Stone Fruit follows the story of a gay married couple, Manny and Russ (Matt Palazzolo & Rob Warner) as they confront their failing relationship. The pair set off on a trip of California wine country together in hopes of saving their marriage, and along the way, begin to wonder if they ever really knew each other at all. Things get even more complicated with the arrival of Bryon (Thomas Hobson), Manny’s sometime friend with benefits, who decides to become the couple’s vacation plaything. For all its heavy subject matter, Stone Fruit doesn’t depress. Rather, it raises very real questions that all couples face in the long-term in a thoughtful exploration: are Manny & Russ still in love? Or are they afraid to part with the past? The film is also notable as the final screen performance for Palazzolo, who died suddenly in 2018. Here, he proves himself a likable and handsome lead in an intriguing character drama. Just as Russ & Mann ask “What if?”, so will viewers of a fine actor gone too soon.

Streams on Amazon, Dekkoo & iTunes April 29.

The Overlooked: Tu Me Manques

Speaking of festival favorites finally coming to the fore, this delightful Spanish drama comes home this week. Tu Me Manques follows the story of Sebastian (Fernando Barbosa), a playwright grieving over the suicide of his boyfriend Gabriel (Jose Duran). Then Gabriel’s ultra-religious father Jorge (Oscar Martinez) arrives from Bolivia to demand answers about his son’s death. Jorge and Sebastian begin an uneasy relationship as Sebastian tries to educate Jorge about the queer world, and allow him insight into a son that always concealed his identity.

Told in both English and Spanish, and featuring a hybrid of dramatized scenes and documentary interviews with real gay men discussing their lives, Tu Me Manques excels as both a tender relationship drama and a meditation on the contemporary gay world. We chalk that up to two stellar performances by Martinez and Barbosa, as well as the outstanding direction by Rodrigo Bellott. Bellott doesn’t shy away from frank depictions of sex, criticism of religious homophobia, or criticism of the gay, male community itself. Provocative, sexy and tough, Tu me Manques is the rare kind of movie that moves us both to feel for its characters, and to ask questions about how gay men suppressing their trauma breeds toxicity of its own.

On DVD and VOD May 4.

The Creepy: The Doodler – Season Finale

It’s rare here on Queerty that we recommend a podcast—it seems like everybody has one these days—though this time, we’ve found one too good to pass up. The Doodler follows the case of the titular serial killer who preyed on gay men in the San Francisco area in the 1970s. Today, police estimate he killed at least 16 queer men, while three others survived. The podcast, hosted by reporters Kevin Fagin and Michael Taylor, retraces the Doodler’s crimes, and the role that homophobia in the police department and the public played in allowing him to continue his crimes. The pair also put forward a series of suspects and examine modern evidence in hopes of finally bringing the killer to justice. Chilling, infuriating, and utterly compelling, we recommend giving it a listen. Trust us; you’ll find yourself looking over your shoulder after you do.

Streams on DoodlerPod.com

The Plug: When The Beat Drops on DVD

We can’t say enough about this 2018 documentary, the directorial debut for choreographer Jamal Sims. When the Beat Drops dives into the underground world of “bucking,” a dance style that involves men—of all shapes and sizes—donning heels to perform some of the most athletic moves we’ve ever seen. The film also explores the communities of gay men of color that helped popularize the style, and how bucking’s subversion of gender norms leads to personal empowerment. Part musical, part sports epic, it’s simply terrific.

Available on DVD and WOW Presents Plus.

The Spin: Morgxn’s Meridian Vol. 1

Queer pop crooner Morgxn returns this week with a new album of introspective tracks focusing on finding a balance of mind and body. For Morgxn, that kind of thoughtful exploration helped him stay grounded amid the chaos of COVID-19. For our money, the blend of dance electronica, synthpop and simple piano represents his most accomplished work to date, both in terms of the melody and in terms of his always-impressive lyrics. Our favorite track: the dark rock-pop fury of “Reframe,” which reminds us of a latter-day Miley Cyrus at her most brazen.

Available on iTunes. 

The Sip: Billy Porter’s Craft Ice Texas Martini

via Shutterstock

As a final salute to Pose and the incomparable Mr. Porter, we suggest trying out the man’s own favorite cocktail this week. This spicy margarita of sorts doesn’t make Porter’s blood rise (so he says) but is a soothing way to unwind before bed.

  • 2 oz of tequila,
  • 1 oz of freshly squeezed lime juice,
  • ¾ oz of Cointreau
  • ½ to ¾ oz of jalapeño agave (to taste)
  • Tajin seasoning

Mix liquid ingredients in a shaker over ice. Add Tajin seasoning to the rim of a highball glass. Pour cocktail over ice and serve.