This Week: 2016 in Review
Hello friends, and welcome to a special year-end edition of the Sewers of Paris. On this episode, I've invited some of my favorite gay podcasters to recommend their favorite entertainment of the year, from Lemonade to Difficult People and Moonlight and Reba. If you've been feeling down in the dumps about 2016, now's the time to take a deep breath and remember that it's actually been a great year to enjoy some amazing art and culture, and the next few years could be even more fertile.
Guests this week include Dan Savage of Savage Lovecast;, Kevin Allison of RISK!; Ryan O'Connor of LadyWatch, Tomefoolery with Cody Melcher; Daniel Krolik and Bil Antonio of BGM: Bad Gay Movies/Bitchy Gay Men; Marc Felion of Feast of Fun; and Dave White & Alonso Duralde of Linoleum Knife podcast. I couldn't be more grateful to them for joining me this week.
Among their picks:
Dan Savage loved Moonlight. “I was forced to confront my own privilege and bias and expectations," he said. Mark Felion liked Moonlight as well, and also had a blast working on the show Cooking with Drag Queens.
Kevin Allison of the RISK! podcast got into Game of Thrones this year -- and was surprised by how seductive the show made the emotion of revenge feel. From the Linoleum Knife podcast, Dave White liked the contemplative Cemetery of Splendor, while his husband Alonso Duralde liked Take me to the River -- a chilling take on family secrets.
Bil Antoniou and Daniel Krolik of BGM: Bad Gay Movies/Bitchy Gay Men appreciated the movie Elle and the show Difficult People, respectively. From LadyWatch, Ryan O'Connor raved for Sally Field in Hello My Name is Doris, and also suggested that we might be entering a film renaissance: "We're just an Easy Rider away from this generation's 9 to 5," he said. (Which triggers a whole conversation about who you would cast in a 9 to 5 remake.)
And Cody Melcher, from the podcast Tomefoolery, went back to the basics. Rather than wallow in 2016, he found comfort in the show Reba, and also in celebrity editions of The Weakest Link. "None of them know anything!" he laughed.
This Week's Recommendation: Inferno A-Go-Go
I hope that in 2017, you'll have an opportunity to experience MY favorite thing of this past year: BenDeLaCreme's live show, Inferno A-Go-Go, a one-drag-queen adaptation of Dante's Inferno. It may look from the outside like a kooky colorful literary joke, but the show develops layer upon layer through musical numbers, groany puns, and inventive puppetry; and by the time you get to the stunning halfway point, it's clear that what you're actually seeing is an incisive, sophisticated, and darkly funny exploration of the nature of Hell itself -- not just the biblical place, but the very ideas of cruelty, punishment suffering, and inhumanity.
The wacky concept of Inferno A-Go-Go may sound like a gay book report, but BenDeLaCreme's divinely comedic cabaret journey winds up plumbing far deeper questions than you might expect. Why did humans come up with the concept of Hell? Why do people suffer? And what can we do to escape the Hell that we live in -- or at least enjoy our time there?
The show is at some points hold-your-breath serious, and at others hilarious. But no joke, I believe Ben to be not just one of the greatest drag queens in the country, not just one of the greatest gay performers in the country, but one of the greatest living American artists period. I see a lot of drag shows, and I love recommending them because they're inventive, or surprising, or hilarious, or heartfelt. Inferno A-Go-Go is the first one I've ever recommended for being all of those things -- and also important.