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EDITORIAL
EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
Randy Shulman

APRIL 16, 2015
Volume 21 / Issue 49

ART DIRECTOR
Todd Franson
NEWS & BUSINESS EDITOR
John Riley
ASSISTANT EDITOR
Rhuaridh Marr

NEWS

12

SCENE

16

FEATURES

18

COMMUNITY CALENDAR

22

JAMES ALEFANTIS
by Doug Rule
photography by Todd Franson

PRODUCTION ASSISTANT
Julian Vankim

OUT ON THE TOWN

28

THE COMPLETE GUIDE TO
DINING OUT FOR LIFE

32

TIGER ORANGE
by Rhuaridh Marr

PUBLISHER
Randy Shulman
BRAND STRATEGY & MARKETING
Christopher Cunetto
Cunetto Creative

36

GALLIM DANCE
by Doug Rule

SCENE

37

NATIONAL ADVERTISING REPRESENTATIVE
Rivendell Media Co.
212-242-6863
DISTRIBUTION MANAGER
Dennis Havrilla

TEAMDC’S SPRING SPORTSFEST
photography by Ward Morrison

WEBMASTER
David Uy

SALES & MARKETING

MINOR VICTORY
by John Riley

CONTRIBUTING ILLUSTRATOR
Scott G. Brooks
CONTRIBUTING WRITERS
Christian Gerard, Troy Petenbrink,
Kate Wingfield

THE EVOLUTION OF HILLARY
by Rhuaridh Marr

CONTRIBUTING EDITOR
Doug Rule
SENIOR PHOTOGRAPHERS
Ward Morrison, Julian Vankim

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2015 HELEN HAYES AWARDS
AFTER PARTY
photography by Ward Morrison

STAGE

38

VANYA AND SONIA AND
MASHA AND SPIKE
by Kate Wingfield

PATRON SAINT
Comet Liquors
COVER PHOTOGRAPHY
Todd Franson

SCENE

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PHASE 1 RE-OPENING
photography by Ward Morrison

NIGHTLIFE

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MADONNARAMA AT TOWN
photography by Ward Morrison

CLUBLIFE
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TOWN & COUNTRY
by John Riley

CLUBLIFE

53

JIM GRAHAM’S NUDE MOVE
by John Riley

54

LAST WORD

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LGBT

News

Now online at MetroWeekly.com
Rubio enters the race for President
Vatican shuts out gay French ambassador

The Evolution of Hillary
As Clinton makes her case for the presidential nomination, it’s important
to take note of her shifting LGBT positions

’M RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT.”
With those words, Hillary
Rodham Clinton — former First
Lady, former junior Senator from
New York, former Secretary of State
— ended two years of rampant speculation, confirming that she will once again
seek the highest political office in the
United States.
In a slick campaign video, Clinton
spoke of everyday, hard-working
Americans and her desire to be their
champion. She featured families, retirees,
workers, mothers, students and, almost a
prerequisite for any prominent Democrat
at this stage, two gay couples — complete
with an upcoming wedding and a sentiment about strong families. However,
though Clinton may now be positioning
herself as a champion not just of the
middle class but of all things LGBT, her
history on that latter matter is somewhat
more obtuse than she’d have us believe.
Of course, it would be improper to
describe Clinton as anything less than a
supporter of LGBT rights. Throughout
her career, whether as the nation’s most
preeminent woman during her husband’s
Presidency, or her widely commended
(ignoring several conservative critics) tenure as Secretary of State, Clinton has vocally supported equality. It’s a perspective
often masked by two key pieces of legislation during her time in the White House:
the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and
Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT).
The former was a Republican bill
granting states the right to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages performed in
other states, while also classifying marriage as between a man and a woman. Bill
Clinton signed it into law a few months
before his re-election, citing overwhelming support from both Democrats and
Republicans in Congress (with a vetocrushing majority in both the House and
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U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT

I

By Rhuaridh Marr

Clinton

the Senate) and the desire to quell any
attempts from conservatives to enshrine
a heterosexual definition of marriage in
the Constitution.
The latter was a compromise (something Clinton herself acknowledged
during the 2007 Democratic primary
debates), formed after Bill Clinton’s election promises to allow gays to serve openly in the military met opposition from the
Joint Chiefs, Congress and large portions
of the public. DADT allowed gay, lesbian
and bisexual soldiers to serve, but forced
them into a legally-binding closet — military personnel were prohibited from asking a soldier about their sexuality or
from harassing or discriminating against
them, but the law was a far cry from the
President’s original pledge.
In terms of DADT, the law directly
contravened Clinton’s personal stance
with regard to the rights of LGBT people
(in 1999 she stated, “I don’t believe [it]
has worked”). She has long advocated
for equal rights in terms of employment
and partner benefits. White House docu-

ments, reported by Politico, show that
during Bill Clinton’s presidency, Hillary
Clinton used the First Lady’s office to
pressure her husband into taking broader steps towards embracing gay rights,
including the potential introduction of an
executive order banning federal contractors from discriminating on the basis of
sexual orientation. It stalled — as did the
Employment Non-Discrimination Act,
which would have prevented discrimination in the private sector based on sexual orientation and which both Clintons
supported — but would eventually be
enacted by President Obama, coming into
effect this month.
During her tenure at the State
Department, Clinton championed LGBT
rights on a global scale. At the United
Nations’ Geneva office in 2011, Clinton
urged world leaders — including those
from countries with horrific records on
the treatment of LGBT citizens — to “be
on the right side of history” and support
gay rights.
“Like being a woman, like being a

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LGBTNews
racial, religious, tribal, or ethnic minority, being LGBT does not make you less
human,” she said. “And that is why gay
rights are human rights, and human
rights are gay rights.”
Even more landmark was Clinton’s
inclusion of transgender rights in her
speech, a subject seldom discussed on the
world stage. During an interview with
NPR’s Terry Gross last year, Clinton was
asked why she chose to highlight transgender equality. “LGBT includes the T,
and I wanted to stand up for the entire
community,” she replied. “I don’t believe
that people who are the L, the G, the B
or the T should be persecuted, assaulted,
imprisoned, even killed for who they are.”
Further cementing her credentials on
equality for LGBT employees, Clinton
introduced federal benefits at the State
Department for same-sex spouses of
foreign diplomats, putting them on par
with heterosexual couples. In a memo
provided to the New York Times Clinton
wrote that “Like all families, our Foreign
Service families come in different configurations; all are part of the common
fabric of our post communities abroad....
At bottom, the department will provide
these benefits for both opposite-sex and
same-sex partners because it is the right
thing to do.”
For many, however, it’s Clinton’s
stance on same-sex marriage that will
ultimately define her.
In 2013, after leaving the State
Department, Clinton used the Human
Rights Campaign’s Americans for
Marriage Equality initiative to announce
her support for marriage equality. “[LGBT
Americans] are full and equal citizens and
deserve the rights of citizenship,” she
proclaimed. “That includes marriage.”
Clinton noted that her views on marriage equality have changed over time —
she was staunchly opposed to same-sex
marriage for personal reasons for most
of her political career. Both Clintons
opposed same-sex marriage during their
time in the White House, a sentiment
that followed Clinton into the Senate.
“I think a marriage has always been
between a man and a woman,” the New
York Times quoted her as saying during
a press conference for her 2000 Senate
campaign, to which she later added that
she would have supported DOMA were
she in the Senate in 1996.
By 2006, Clinton noted that the way
she spoke about same-sex marriage “has
certainly evolved.” The following year,
during the Democratic primaries, she
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responded to an HRC form about marriage by calling for the section of DOMA
which restricted the federal government
from recognizing same-sex unions to be
repealed. She stopped short, however,
of calling for the entire law to be dismantled or declaring support for marriage equality. Alongside her opponent,
Barack Obama, Clinton continued to iterate a personal opposition to same-sex
marriage, telling viewers of a forum on
Logo, “It’s a personal position.... [W]e
have made it clear in our country that we
believe in equality. How we get to full
equality is the debate we’re having, and
I am absolutely in favor of civil unions
with full equality.”
LGBT advocates have long argued that
civil unions are a “separate but equal”
measure, but Clinton had supported
them as an alternative for years. “I don’t
support gay marriages, but I do support
extending benefits to couples, domestic
partner benefits,” The Washington Post
reports her telling a voter in 2000.
As such, Clinton’s about-face on marriage equality raised more than a few eyebrows. In her much publicized interview
with Gross on NPR, Clinton was asked
whether she had always supported marriage equality, but had remained silent
for political reasons.
“That’s just flat wrong,” Clinton shot
back. Why had her views changed?
“I think evolved is the word that a lot
of people have used,” she told CNN during a town hall interview last year. “It
really became very clear to me that if we’re
going to support marriage in our country,
it should be available to everyone.... So
yes, I evolved over time and I’m very, very
proud to state that I’m a full supporter of
marriage equality right now.”
Whether or not Clinton is to be
believed — she is nothing if not an intel-

ligent, shrewd politician — her comments echo the feelings of a majority of
Americans. In 1996, when DOMA was
signed into law by her husband, twentyseven percent of the population supported same-sex marriage, according
to Gallup. By 2014, that number had
increased to fifty-five percent. Ten years
ago, over thirty states had some manner of ban on same-sex unions — today,
over thirty states have equal marriage.
America continues to evolve, as does
Hillary Clinton.
“Just because you’re a politician,
doesn’t mean you’re not a thinking
human being,” Clinton told NPR’s Gross.
“You gather information. You think
through positions. You’re not 100 percent set.... You’re constantly reevaluating
where you stand. That was true for me.”
Clinton has been happy to take a back
seat in the fight for marriage equality —
she often stated that it was an issue best
left to the states, and used her time at the
State Department to refrain from commenting on domestic policy. Her current
stance in favor, however, will be invaluable in shoring up liberal and LGBT
support for the Democratic nomination.
Still, she could be punished by voters
in the face of potential opposition with
stronger records (Gov. Martin O’Malley,
for instance, approved Maryland’s marriage equality bill before Clinton made
her HRC declaration.) Clinton hopes her
strong past on LGBT rights will overshadow her shaky evolution on marriage.
“I’m hitting the road to earn your vote,
because it’s your time and I hope you’ll
join me on this journey,” she said in her
campaign announcement video.
For potential voters, whether Hillary
Clinton’s personal journey on LGBT
issues has gone far enough remains to
be seen. l

Minor Victory
LGBT advocates receive White House backing in their fight to ban
conversion therapy for minors at the state level

by John Riley

F

OR APRYL PRENTISS, THE
news out of the White House last
Wednesday was a validation.
That was the day the White
House responded to an online petition

posted on its website calling for a legislative ban on conversion therapy. Valerie
Jarrett, a senior adviser to President
Obama, told those who had signed the
petition that the president was not currently supporting any federal law but was
throwing his support behind state-level
efforts to prohibit licensed therapists

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LGBTNews
from subjecting minors to any therapy
that bills itself as able to “change” or
“convert” one’s sexual orientation or
gender identity.
“When assessing the validity of conversion therapy, or other practices that
seek to change an individual’s gender
identity or sexual orientation, it is as
imperative to seek guidance from certified medical experts,” Jarrett wrote on
behalf of the president. “The overwhelming scientific evidence demonstrates that
conversion therapy, especially when it
is practiced on young people, is neither
medically nor ethically appropriate and
can cause substantial harm.”
Prentiss, who serves as deputy director of LGBT issues at the Richmondbased Alliance for Progressive Values,
called the Obama administration’s
expressed support for an end to the practice of conversion therapy on minors
“revolutionary” for a sitting president.
As a former Christian youth group
leader-turned LGBT activist, receiving
Obama’s backing is not just a political
validation, but a personal one. Prentiss
has experience with conversion therapy,
which she underwent to try and suppress her attraction to other women.
Raised in a conservative household in
Virginia Beach, she underwent an eightyear struggle with her identity and has
previously testified in favor of local bans
on conversion therapy before both the
D.C. Council and the Virginia General
Assembly, calling the period from the
time she was 19 to 27 “an emotional,
physical hell.”
Prentiss said Obama’s bringing publicity to the issue is a step towards healing some of the emotional and psychological damage done to children questioning
their sexual orientation or gender identity who undergo conversion therapy.
“By coming forward and speaking
out on an issue that has struggled to
gain national recognition because of the
nature of the trauma and the condition of the survivors, [President Obama]
has brought the issue into the light
and made it nationally known. This is
huge,” Prentiss says. “The trauma that is
often an effect of conversion therapy is
consistently downplayed by those who
continue to practice it. They wrap the
trauma up in rhetoric aimed at convincing those who would advocate against
a ban that the same-sex attractions are
unwanted and that every parent has the
right to choose treatment for their kids.
Yet, if parents were truly informed about
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the long history of significant trauma
caused by conversion therapists, I fully
believe many of them would not choose
to subject their kids to it. They buy a lie
in an hour of desperation that change is
possible. These therapists continue to
peddle that lie.”
Prentiss believes that hearing from
the president, the Surgeon General of the
United States, and organizations opposed
to the practice of conversion therapy will
help change the national conversation as
it relates to issues of LGBT identity, and
may even lead more people who have
undergone the practice — without successfully altering their sexuality — to
speak out.
“One of the things I’ve been more surprised by in organizing for this cause for
the past year is how many people, both
in the LGBT community and outside
it, have no idea that this form of therapy exists anymore,” she said. “When
they find that it does, most people are
astounded and outraged.”
Also validated by Obama’s support
for state-level bans of conversion therapy? The D.C. Council, which received
a barrage of criticism from conservative groups and organizations, such as
Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and
Gays (PFOX), the Family Research
Council (FRC) and the Maryland-based
International Healing Foundation (IHF)
after it passed a bill prohibiting licensed
therapists from practicing on minors last
year. The bill, which went into effect
after surviving a period of congressional
review, mirrors similar measures passed
and signed into law in both California
and New Jersey.
“I’m very pleased to see the
President’s statement calling for an end
to conversion therapy for minors,” said
Councilmember Mary Cheh (D-Ward 3),
the lead sponsor of the bill. “The District
has already recognized the harm of this
so-called therapy and voted unanimously
to ban it in 2014.”
Obama’s stance on conversion therapy
was also praised by the National Center
for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), which in
June 2014 launched the #BornPerfect
campaign, aimed at ending the practice
of conversion therapy by 2019, as well as
advancing the rights and equal treatment
of LGBT youth.
“There are few things more powerful
to our children’s self-worth than having the President of the United States
say you matter,” said NCLR Executive
Director Kate Kendall in a statement.

“These powerful statements from
President Obama and Valerie Jarrett not
only affirm the lives of our transgender
brothers and sisters, but the lives of
all LGBT people. Today, our president
made clear that we can and must do
better. Every LGBT child deserves to
live with full dignity, free from shame,
embraced for who they are.”
Samantha Ames, a staff attorney and
the #BornPerfect campaign coordinator for NCLR, notes that the president’s
approach to banning conversion therapy
aligns closely with her organization’s
goals. While U.S. Rep. Jackie Speier
(D-Calif.) introduced a joint resolution
in 2012 known as the Stop Harming Our
Kids Act, the resolution merely encouraged individual states to take their own
steps to protect minors from efforts that
promote or endorse conversion therapy.
The state-by-state approach is preferred
over a national piece of legislation, partly
because a ban would be difficult to get
through Congress, but more importantly
because it is the individual states who
deal with issues related to the licensing
of counselors and therapists.
According to Ames, 18 states have
introduced legislation to prohibit conversion therapy on minors this year.
Although some of the bills have been
defeated, others are still working their
way through the committee process.
“These measures usually attract broad
bipartisan support,” Ames says. “There
are several still in the process of being
drafted, and I anticipate more this year.”
Ashley Lourdes Hunter, the national
director of the Trans Women of Color
Collective (TWOCC), commended the
White House for opposing the practice
of conversion therapy, but also noted that
leaders need to take a stronger stance
on violence directed against transgender
people, particularly transgender women
of color.
“We are thrilled that President Obama
is in support of banning conversion therapy, as there is nothing wrong with us,”
Hunter says. “However, it is time that
the White House and President Obama
stand up against the brutal violence and
institutionalized structural oppression
trans and gender non-conforming people
of color are facing every day.”
Despite the District’s passage of a ban
on conversion therapy for minors last
year, similar bills in neighboring states
have stalled, regardless of which party
controls the state legislature. In 2014,
former Del. Jon Cardin (D-Baltimore

Co.) introduced a bill calling for a conversion therapy ban, but eventually
withdrew it after the bill failed to gain
significant traction in the Democraticdominated General Assembly during an
election year. As a result, LGBT rights
advocates decided to focus their efforts
on regulatory oversight of the practice.
“We applaud the White House for
bringing attention to the harmful practice of so-called conversion therapy,”
said Carrie Evans, the executive director
of Equality Maryland, the Free State’s
top LGBT rights organization. “Equality
Maryland and our allies in Maryland’s
medical and behavioral occupations continue to believe that the current regulatory scheme is the sharpest tool we
have in Maryland to combat this practice.
To date, there have been no complaints
lodged in Maryland. We urge anyone
who has underwent this ‘therapy’ from
a licensed professional in Maryland and
wishes to file a complaint to contact us.”
Across the Potomac, Equality
Virginia’s executive director, James
Parrish, also had words of support for
the White House’s stance.
“As we work here in Virginia to end
so-called ‘conversion therapy,’ it is mean-

ingful to know that we have support
from the White House,’ Parrish says. “It’s
unbelievable, really, that such a damaging practice — and one that is condemned
by all the major health organizations — is
still legal in almost all states. Being gay
or transgender is not a choice — we must
do everything we can to protect all of our
youth as they come to terms with who
they are.”
Del. Patrick Hope (D-Arlington), the
lead patron of a bill proposing a conversion therapy ban in Virginia, said the
president’s support of state-level efforts
to halt the practice illustrates not only
the evolution of his personal stance on
gay rights, but that of society at large.
“I hope this announcement will be the
shot in the arm that the bill needs,” Hope
says. “I’m just delighted the president has
decided to get involved in this issue. No
one in the science community believes
that homosexuality is a mental disorder
or curable.”
Hope’s bill died in committee, due
largely in part to across-the-board opposition from the Republicans who control
both chambers of the Virginia General
Assembly. But Hope is currently in talks
with the office of Attorney General Mark

Herring (D) over the prospect of tackling
the issue from a different angle. The talks
deal with whether the attorney general or
the courts could begin going after those
who practice conversion therapy using
consumer protection laws. A New Jersey
Superior Court judge ruled in February
that therapists who engage in conversion
therapy and misrepresent homosexuality
as a disease or disorder that can be cured
or changed are violating that state’s consumer protection laws.
Regardless of what Herring does,
Hope intends to keep introducing the
bill during each subsequent legislative
session until it finally passes. “I’ve always
believed that we are changing hearts and
minds,” he says. “Every year we bring
this bill up, we make people more comfortable with it, bringing us closer to our
goal of achieving equality for everyone.”
Hope’s determination to keep bringing the bill back up wins support from
allies such as the Alliance for Progressive
Values and especially Prentiss, who is
looking forward to partnering with him
to advocate on the bill’s behalf.
“I am determined to see this ban take
place in Virginia,” Prentiss says. “I don’t
care how long it takes.” l

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scene
TeamDC’s Spring
SportsFest at
Room & Board
Thursday, April 9
scan this tag
with your
smartphone
for bonus scene
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PHOTOGRAPHY BY
WARD MORRISON

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LGBTCommunityCalendar
Metro Weekly’s Community Calendar highlights important events in
the D.C.-area LGBT community, from alternative social events to
volunteer opportunities. Event information should be sent by email to
calendar@MetroWeekly.com. Deadline for inclusion is noon
of the Friday before Thursday’s publication. Questions about
the calendar may be directed to the Metro Weekly office at
202-638-6830 or the calendar email address.

SATURDAY, APRIL 18
ADVENTURING outdoors group hikes a moderate
7.5 miles along the Bull Run-Occoquan Trail near
Manassas, Va. Bring beverages, lunch, mud-worthy
boots, bug spray, sunscreen, and about $7 for fees.
Carpool at 9 a.m. from the East Falls Church Metro
Kiss & Ride lot. For more info, contact Theresa,
252-876-1469. adventuring.org.
BURGUNDY CRESCENT, a gay volunteer organization, volunteers today for Lost Dog & Cat Rescue
Foundation at Falls Church PetSmart. To participate, burgundycrescent.org.
CHRYSALIS arts & culture group hears panel

THURSDAY, APRIL 16

FRIDAY, APRIL 17

CENTER GLOBAL, a group of The DC Center,
holds its annual reception at Cobalt/30 Degrees.
6:30-8:30 p.m. 1639 R St. NW. For more information, visit thedccenter.org.

LGB PSYCHOTHERAPY GROUP FOR
MONTGOMERY COUNTY offers a safe place to

The HUMAN RIGHTS CAMPAIGN and BET
MISCHPACHAH present a screening of Triangles:

Witnesses of the Holocaust. The film uses interviews
and images to tell the story of the LGBT victims of
the Holocaust. Question-and-answer session to follow. Tickets are $10 online or at the door. 7-9 p.m.
1640 Rhode Island Ave. NW. For more information,
visit hrc.org.

The POLY DISCUSSION GROUP of The DC
Center holds its monthly meeting for those interested in polyamory or non-monogamous relationships.
7-8 p.m. 2000 14th St. NW, Suite 105. For more
information, visit thedccenter.org.

WEEKLY EVENTS
DC AQUATICS CLUB (DCAC) practice session at
Takoma Aquatic Center, 300 Van Buren St. NW.
7:30-9 p.m. swimdcac.org.

DC LAMBDA SQUARES gay and lesbian squaredancing group features mainstream through
advanced square dancing at the National City
Christian Church, 5 Thomas Circle NW, 7-9:30 p.m.
Casual dress. 301-257-0517, dclambdasquares.org.
The DULLES TRIANGLES Northern Virginia social
group meets for happy hour at Sheraton in Reston,
11810 Sunrise Valley Drive, second-floor bar, 7-9
p.m. All welcome. dullestriangles.com.

IDENTITY offers free and confidential HIV testing

connect and explore issues of identity. 10-11:30 a.m.
16220 S. Frederick Rd., Suite 512, Gaithersburg, Md.
For more information, visit thedccenter.org.

WEEKLY EVENTS
ANDROMEDA TRANSCULTURAL HEALTH offers

WEEKLY EVENTS

DC AQUATICS CLUB (DCAC) practice session

ANDROMEDA TRANSCULTURAL HEALTH offers

at Hains Point, 927 Ohio Dr. SW. 6:30-8 p.m. Visit
swimdcac.org.

GAY DISTRICT holds facilitated discussion for
GBTQ men, 18-35, first and third Fridays. 8:30 p.m.
The DC Center, 2000 14th St. NW, Suite 105. 202682-2245, gaydistrict.org.
GAY MARRIED MEN’S ASSOCIATION (GAMMA)

HIV TESTING at Whitman-Walker Health. At the

Hains Point, 972 Ohio Dr., SW. 8:30-10 a.m. Visit
swimdcac.org.

Elizabeth Taylor Medical Center, 1701 14th St. NW,
9 a.m.-5 p.m. At the Max Robinson Center, 2301
MLK Jr. Ave. SE, 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. For an appointment call 202-745-7000. Visit whitman-walker.org.

METROHEALTH CENTER offers free, rapid HIV
testing. Appointment needed. 1012 14th St. NW,
Suite 700. 202-638-0750.

SMYAL’S REC NIGHT provides a social atmo-

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BET MISHPACHAH, founded by members of the
LGBT community, holds Saturday morning Shabbat
services, 10 a.m., followed by Kiddush luncheon.
Services in DCJCC Community Room, 1529 16th St.
NW. betmish.org.
BRAZILIAN GLBT GROUP, including others interested in Brazilian culture, meets. For location/time,
email braziliangaygroup@yahoo.com.

SMYAL offers free HIV Testing, 3-5 p.m., by

WOMEN’S LEADERSHIP INSTITUTE for young
LBTQ women, 13-21, interested in leadership development. 5-6:30 p.m. SMYAL Youth Center, 410 7th
St. SE. 202-567-3163, catherine.chu@smyal.org.

free HIV testing, 9-5 p.m., and HIV services (by
appointment). 202-291-4707 or andromedatransculturalhealth.org.

is a confidential support group for men who are
gay, bisexual, questioning and who are married
or involved with a woman, that meets regularly
in Dupont Circle at 7:30 PM and also Northern
Virginia and Maryland. For more information:
GAMMAinDC.org.

PROJECT STRIPES hosts LGBT-affirming social

US HELPING US hosts a Narcotics Anonymous
Meeting, 6:30-7:30 p.m., 3636 Georgia Ave. NW.
The group is independent of UHU. 202-446-1100.

The DC Center holds its monthly LGBT ASYLUM
SEEKERS/ASYLEES FORUM for refugees and
people in the midst of the asylum seeking process.
7-9 p.m. 2000 14th St. NW, Suite 105. For more
information, visit thedccenter.org.

free HIV testing, 9-5 p.m., and HIV services (by
appointment). 202-291-4707, andromedatransculturalhealth.org.

in Gaithersburg, 414 East Diamond Ave., and in
Takoma Park, 7676 New Hampshire Ave., Suite 411.
Walk-ins 2-6 p.m. For appointments other hours,
call Gaithersburg, 301-300-9978, or Takoma Park,
301-422-2398.

appointment and walk-in, for youth 21 and younger.
202-567-3155 or testing@smyal.org.

discussion hosted by the Washington Historical
Society on “Walt Whitman in Washington,” featuring Martin Murray, President of the Washington
Friends of Walt Whitman, and Garrett Peck, author
of new book on Whitman in Washington. Free. 11
a.m.-12:30 p.m., Carnegie Library in Mount Vernon
Square. Lunch follows. Craig, 202-462-0535. craighowell1@verizon.net.

group for ages 11-24. 4-6 p.m. 1419 Columbia Road
NW. Contact Tamara, 202-319-0422, layc-dc.org.

sphere for GLBT and questioning youth, featuring
dance parties, vogue nights, movies and games.
More info, catherine.chu@smyal.org.

SMYAL offers free HIV Testing, 3-6 p.m., by

appointment and walk-in, for youth 21 and younger.
Youth Center, 410 7th St. SE. 202-567-3155, testing@smyal.org.

DC AQUATICS CLUB (DCAC) practice session at

DC FRONT RUNNERS running/walking/social

club welcomes all levels for exercise in a fun and
supportive environment, socializing afterward.
Meet 9:30 a.m., 23rd & P Streets NW, for a walk; or
10 a.m. for fun run. dcfrontrunners.org.

DC SENTINELS basketball team meets at Turkey

Thicket Recreation Center, 1100 Michigan Ave. NE,
2-4 p.m. For players of all levels, gay or straight.
teamdcbasketball.org.

DIGNITYUSA sponsors Mass for LGBT community,
family and friends. 6:30 p.m., Immanuel Churchon-the-Hill, 3606 Seminary Road, Alexandria. All
welcome. For more info, visit dignitynova.org.

GAY LANGUAGE CLUB discusses critical languages and foreign languages. 7 p.m. Nellie’s, 900 U St.
NW. RVSP preferred. brendandarcy@gmail.com.
IDENTITY offers free and confidential HIV testing
in Takoma Park, 7676 New Hampshire Ave., Suite
411. Walk-ins 12-3 p.m. For appointments other
hours, call 301-422-2398.

LGBTCommunityCalendar
SUNDAY, APRIL 19

MONDAY, APRIL 20

WEEKLY EVENTS

CENTER FAITH, a group of The DC Center for LGBT
people and their religious allies, holds its monthly
meeting. 7:30-8:30 p.m. 2000 14th St. NW, Suite 105.
For more information, visit thedccenter.org.

DC AQUATICS CLUB (DCAC) practice session at
Hains Point, 972 Ohio Dr., SW. 9:30-11 a.m. Visit
swimdcac.org.

DIGNITYUSA offers Roman Catholic Mass for the

LGBT community. 6 p.m., St. Margaret’s Church,
1820 Connecticut Ave. NW. All welcome. Sign interpreted. For more info, visit dignitynova.org.

FRIENDS MEETING OF WASHINGTON meets for

worship, 10:30 a.m., 2111 Florida Ave. NW, Quaker
House Living Room (next to Meeting House on
Decatur Place), 2nd floor. Special welcome to lesbians and gays. Handicapped accessible from Phelps
Place gate. Hearing assistance. quakersdc.org.

WEEKLY EVENTS
DC AQUATICS CLUB (DCAC) practice session

at Hains Point, 927 Ohio Dr. SW. 7-8:30 p.m. Visit
swimdcac.org.

DC SCANDALS RUGBY holds practice, 6:30-8:30

p.m. Garrison Elementary, 1200 S St. NW. dcscandals.wordpress.com.

GETEQUAL meets 6:30-8 p.m. at Quaker House,
2111 Florida Ave. NW. getequal.wdc@gmail.com.
HIV TESTING at Whitman-Walker Health. At the
Elizabeth Taylor Medical Center, 1701 14th St. NW,
9 a.m.-5 p.m. At the Max Robinson Center, 2301
MLK Jr. Ave. SE, 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. For an appointment call 202-745-7000. Visit whitman-walker.org.
KARING WITH INDIVIDUALITY (K.I.) SERVICES,

3333 Duke St., Alexandria, offers free “rapid” HIV
testing and counseling, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. 703-823-4401.

INSTITUTE FOR SPIRITUAL DEVELOPMENT,
God-centered new age church & learning center.
Sunday Services and Workshops event. 5419 Sherier
Place NW. isd-dc.org.
LUTHERAN CHURCH OF REFORMATION invites all
to Sunday worship at 8:30 or 11 a.m. Childcare is available at both services. Welcoming LGBT people for 25
years. 212 East Capitol St. NE. reformationdc.org.
METROPOLITAN COMMUNITY CHURCH OF
WASHINGTON, D.C. services at 9 a.m. (ASL inter-

preted) and 11 a.m. Children’s Sunday School at 11
a.m. 474 Ridge St. NW. 202-638-7373, mccdc.com.

NEW HSV-2 SOCIAL AND SUPPORT GROUP for
gay men living in the DC metro area. This group
will be meeting once a month. For information on
location and time, email to not.the.only.one.dc@
gmail.com.
ST. STEPHEN AND THE INCARNATION, an

“interracial, multi-ethnic Christian Community”
offers services in English, 8 a.m. and 10:30 a.m., and
in Spanish at 5:15 p.m. 1525 Newton St. NW. 202232-0900, saintstephensdc.org.

UNITARIAN CHURCH OF ARLINGTON, an
LGBTQ welcoming-and-affirming congregation,
offers services at 10 a.m. Virginia Rainbow UU
Ministry. 4444 Arlington Blvd. uucava.org.
UNITARIAN UNIVERSALIST CHURCH OF
SILVER SPRING invites LGBTQ families and indi-

viduals of all creeds and cultures to join the church.
Services 9:15 and 11:15 a.m. 10309 New Hampshire
Ave. uucss.org.

UNIVERSALIST NATIONAL MEMORIAL
CHURCH, a welcoming and inclusive church. GLBT

Interweave social/service group meets monthly.
Services at 11 a.m., Romanesque sanctuary. 1810 16th
St. NW. 202-387-3411, universalist.org.

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19

METROHEALTH CENTER offers free, rapid HIV testing. No appointment
needed. 11 a.m.-7 p.m. 1012 14th St. NW, Suite 700. 202-638-0750.

NOVASALUD offers free HIV testing. 5-7 p.m. 2049 N. 15th St., Suite 200,
Arlington. Appointments: 703-789-4467.

SMYAL offers free HIV Testing, 3-5 p.m., by appointment and walk-in, for
youth 21 and younger. Youth Center, 410 7th St. SE. 202-567-3155 or testing@
smyal.org.
The DC Center hosts COFFEE DROP-IN FOR THE SENIOR LGBT
COMMUNITY. 10 a.m.-noon. 2000 14th St. NW. 202-682-2245, thedccenter.org.

US HELPING US hosts a black gay men’s evening affinity group. 3636 Georgia
Ave. NW. 202-446-1100.
WASHINGTON WETSKINS Water Polo Team practices 7-9 p.m. Takoma
Aquatic Center, 300 Van Buren St. NW. Newcomers with at least basic swimming ability always welcome. Tom, 703-299-0504, secretary@wetskins.org,
wetskins.org.
Whitman-Walker Health HIV/AIDS SUPPORT GROUP for newly diagnosed
individuals, meets 7 p.m. Registration required. 202-939-7671, hivsupport@
whitman-walker.org.

TUESDAY, APRIL 21
Join The DC Center for a CENTER BI ROUNDTABLE DISCUSSION for people
who want to discuss issues related to bisexuality. 7-8 p.m. 2000 14th St. NW,
Suite 105. For more information, visit thedccenter.org.

COMMON BONDS, a group for men of color, ages 18-29, who are living with
HIV, meets on the first and third Tuesdays of each month. 6-8 p.m. 3636 Georgia
Ave. NW. For more information, visit uhupil.org.

WEEKLY EVENTS
ANDROMEDA TRANSCULTURAL HEALTH offers free HIV testing, 9-5 p.m.,
and HIV services (by appointment). 202-291-4707, andromedatransculturalhealth.org.

ASIANS AND FRIENDS weekly dinner in Dupont/Logan Circle area, 6:30 p.m.
afwash@aol.com, afwashington.net.
DC AQUATICS CLUB (DCAC) practice session at Takoma Aquatic Center, 300
Van Buren St. NW. 7:30-9 p.m. swimdcac.org.

DC FRONT RUNNERS running/walking/social club serving greater D.C.’s

LGBT community and allies hosts an evening run/walk. dcfrontrunners.org.

THE GAY MEN’S HEALTH COLLABORATIVE offers free HIV testing and STI
screening and treatment every Tuesday. 5-6:30 p.m. Rainbow Tuesday LGBT
Clinic, Alexandria Health Department, 4480 King St. 703-746-4986 or text 571214-9617. james.leslie@inova.org.
HIV TESTING at Whitman-Walker Health. At the Elizabeth Taylor Medical
Center, 1701 14th St. NW, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. At the Max Robinson Center, 2301
MLK Jr. Ave. SE, 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. For an appointment call 202-745-7000. Visit
whitman-walker.org.
THE HIV WORKING GROUP of THE DC CENTER hosts “Packing Party,”

where volunteers assemble safe-sex kits of condoms and lube. 7 p.m., Green
Lantern, 1335 Green Court NW. thedccenter.org.

IDENTITY offers free and confidential HIV testing in Gaithersburg, 414 East

Diamond Ave., and in Takoma Park, 7676 New Hampshire Ave., Suite 411. Walkins 2-6 p.m. For appointments other hours, call Gaithersburg at 301-300-9978 or
Takoma Park at 301-422-2398.

KARING WITH INDIVIDUALITY (K.I.) SERVICES, at 3333 Duke St.,
Alexandria, offers free “rapid” HIV testing and counseling, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. 703823-4401.
METROHEALTH CENTER offers free, rapid HIV testing. Appointment needed.
1012 14th St. NW, Suite 700. 202-638-0750.

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OVEREATERS ANONYMOUS—LGBT focused meeting every Tuesday, 7 p.m.
St. George’s Episcopal Church, 915 Oakland Ave., Arlington, just steps from
Virginia Square Metro. For more info. call Dick, 703-521-1999. Handicapped
accessible. Newcomers welcome. liveandletliveoa@gmail.com.
SMYAL offers free HIV Testing, 3-5 p.m., by appointment and walk-in, for
youth 21 and younger. Youth Center, 410 7th St. SE. 202-567-3155, testing@
smyal.org.
SUPPORT GROUP FOR LGBTQ YOUTH ages 13-21 meets at SMYAL, 410 7th
St. SE, 5-6:30 p.m. Cathy Chu, 202-567-3163, catherine.chu@smyal.org.
US HELPING US hosts a support group for black gay men 40 and older. 7-9
p.m., 3636 Georgia Ave. NW. 202-446-1100.
Whitman-Walker Health’s GAY MEN’S HEALTH AND WELLNESS/STD
CLINIC opens at 6 p.m., 1701 14th St. NW. Patients are seen on walk-in basis.
No-cost screening for HIV, syphilis, gonorrhea and chlamydia. Hepatitis and
herpes testing available for fee. whitman-walker.org.

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 22
BURGUNDY CRESCENT, a gay volunteer organization, volunteers today for
Everybody Wins! DC’s 2015 Gala. To participate, burgundycrescent.org.
The HIV WORKING GROUP of The DC Center holds a monthly meeting. 6-8
p.m. 2000 14th St. NW, Suite 105. For more information, visit thedccenter.org.

THE LAMBDA BRIDGE CLUB meets for Duplicate Bridge. 7:30 p.m. Dignity
Center, 721 8th St. SE, across from the Marine Barracks. No reservation needed.
703-407-6540 if you need a partner.

WEEKLY EVENTS
AD LIB, a group for freestyle conversation, meets about 6:30-6 p.m., Steam, 17th
and R NW. All welcome. For more information, call Fausto Fernandez, 703-7325174.
ANDROMEDA TRANSCULTURAL HEALTH offers free HIV testing, 9-5 p.m.,
and HIV services (by appointment). 202-291-4707, andromedatransculturalhealth.org.

DC AQUATICS CLUB (DCAC) practice session at Hains Point, 927 Ohio Dr.
SW. 7-8:30 p.m. Visit swimdcac.org.

DC SCANDALS RUGBY holds practice, 6:30-8:30 p.m. Garrison Elementary,
1200 S St. NW. dcscandals.wordpress.com.

HISTORIC CHRIST CHURCH offers Wednesday worship 7:15 a.m. and 12:05
p.m. All welcome. 118 N. Washington St., Alexandria. 703-549-1450, historicchristchurch.org.
HIV TESTING at Whitman-Walker Health. At the Elizabeth Taylor Medical
Center, 1701 14th St. NW, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. At the Max Robinson Center, 2301
MLK Jr. Ave. SE, 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. For an appointment call 202-745-7000. Visit
whitman-walker.org.
IDENTITY offers free and confidential HIV testing in Gaithersburg, 414

East Diamond Ave. Walk-ins 2-7 p.m. For appointments other hours, call
Gaithersburg at 301-300-9978.

JOB CLUB, a weekly support program for job entrants and seekers, meets at

The DC Center. 2000 14th St. NW, Suite 105. 6 p.m.-7:30 p.m. More info, www.
centercareers.org.

METROHEALTH CENTER offers free, rapid HIV testing. No appointment
needed. 11 a.m.-7 p.m. 1012 14th St. NW, Suite 700. 202-638-0750.

NOVASALUD offers free HIV testing. 11 a.m.-2 p.m. 2049 N. 15th St., Suite 200,
Arlington. Appointments: 703-789-4467.

PRIME TIMERS OF DC, social club for mature gay men, hosts weekly happy
hour/dinner. 6:30 p.m., Windows Bar above Dupont Italian Kitchen, 1637 17th
St. NW. Carl, 703-573-8316. l
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21

FROM
SCRATCH

With community-centric restaurants and generous
support of the arts and gay causes, James Alefantis has
a commitment to the common good
Interview by Doug Rule
Photography by Todd Franson

G

UY FIERI WAS SKEPTICAL OF JAMES ALEFANtis’ cooking skills.
“Guy comes in and he’s really nice,” Alefantis
recounts of their first encounter five years ago. “But
he’s looking at me a little bit like, ‘What’s this kid doing? How is
this guy going to cook?’”
But Alefantis quickly won over the Food Network star during
his visit to Comet Ping Pong. “We start making the clam pizza,
making the dough. Then he sees me tie the pork, roast the pork
for the calzone. He’s looking like, ‘Alright, you get it.’ He’s loving it.”
An understatement to be sure. In the episode of Diners,
Drive-Ins and Dives that featured Comet, Fieri raved that the
Yalie clam pizza and the Philly calzone churned out by Alefantis’
D.C. “dive” were “some of the best he’s ever had.” He also
praised Alefantis for making his own tomato sauce. Fieri was
even inspired by Comet’s wood-burning oven, imported from
Italy and built on-site: “He’s built three ovens on his properties,
just like mine.”
The appeal of Comet Ping Pong goes well beyond the pies
and other menu items that are often slightly healthier yet hearty
versions of standard Italian-American diner fare. Over the
years, Comet has developed into “a kind of community center,”
regularly hosting fundraisers for local schools and other causes.
And in the back of the upper Connecticut Avenue restaurant
you’ll regularly find groups of people playing friendly rounds
of ping-pong.
Launched in 2006, Comet Ping Pong is Alefantis’ first restaurant in which he’s the executive chef, and only second as
owner, after Buck’s Fishing & Camping — which he had opened
roughly two years before, and two doors down Connecticut
Avenue. But Alefantis, who turns 40 this year, has worked in
restaurants since high school, including a stint in New York
working at a Bobby Flay location. Prior to opening Buck’s, he
had served two years as the general manager of Johnny’s Half
Shell in Dupont Circle.
Alefantis, who briefly owned a small art gallery in Georgetown
a decade ago, now serves as board president of Transformer, a
contemporary art gallery in Logan Circle. His passion for the
arts is reflected in both his restaurants, but notably Comet,
which boasts a large mural of a blazing comet created by a collective of artists, this magazine’s Christopher Cunetto among
them. His unabashed love of theater has lead him to sponsor
several local theatrical productions, and he equates operating a
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APRIL 16, 2015

METROWEEKLY.COM

restaurant with theatrical endeavors.
“Restaurants are a bit like theater,” he says. “Every day is like
a new show. The interior is like a set. So it fulfills a lot of my
desires.” But while he points out that “it’s fun to do projects that
begin and end,” as most plays have a closing date, “a restaurant
has no end.”
Over the years, Alefantis has also become well-known for
his grass-roots philanthropy, though his approach is decidedly
low-key.
“I try to support a lot of things in the community — usually
schools and the arts, but some gay causes as well.” One such
cause is Food and Friends’ Dining Out for Life (see our annual
guide, pg. xx). This year, both Buck’s and Comet will donate 50
percent of every bill to the cause.
“I think it’s important for gay people to support our com-

munity’s causes,” he says. “And I think it’s important for small
businesses to support local organizations, too.”
Alefantis attributes his loose-limbed, casual outlook to his
noncompetitive nature, a quality best exemplified by the game in
Comet’s name. “I love ping-pong,” he says. “It’s not table tennis.
You play to win, kind of, but you’re not trying to kill your opponent. You’re trying to have a good time.”
MW: Do you ever wish you had pursued more theater? Or would

you like to do that in the future?
ALEFANTIS: I would love to. The restaurants are a bit like theater.

Every day is like a new show. The interior is like a set. So it fulfills a lot of those desires. [But] it’s fun to do projects that begin
and end — a restaurant has no end. So it would be exciting to do
something that opens, is a success or failure, and then closes,

over a shorter term.
But I’ve been able to support theater. Last year at Studio
Theatre, I sponsored a play directed by my friend Tom [Story],
Terminus — really experimental, in the black box upstairs. And
I’ve [supported] other work. My good friend Chris Moukarbel,
who grew up in Washington with me and was a waiter with
me on 17th Street — I was a waiter at Il Radicchio back in high
school and college, and Chris worked at Pepper’s. He went to the
Corcoran and went to Yale and became an artist and a filmmaker. I was the producer of his first film, Me @ The Zoo, about the
birth of the Internet celebrity-ism and Chris Crocker — “Leave
Britney Alone” — who was kind of one of the first big YouTube
celebrities. Growing up in rural Tennessee, Crocker was gay
and a cross-dresser, and he was really bullied. He couldn’t go
to high school because it was too dangerous, so he was like
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23

homeschooled by his grandmother. [The film] got accepted to
Sundance in 2012; we sold it to HBO.
MW: Have you produced other films?
ALEFANTIS: Yeah. Joan Nathan, the world’s expert in Jewish
American cooking, who’s won a bunch of James Beard Awards
for her cookbooks — she’s my great friend. She’s amazing. She
introduced me to her son [actor/filmmaker] David Gerson,
who was working on a short film. I helped produce that film
and we won the audience award at Sundance [in 2014]. That
was called Chapel Perilous — it’s a metaphysical horror film.
And we’re working on a couple of other things that we’re still
processing through.
METRO WEEKLY: Buck’s Fishing & Camping became your first
venture as restaurant owner, in a partnership with local celebrity
chef/owner Carole Greenwood. When was this exactly and how
did it come to be?
JAMES ALEFANTIS: I opened Buck’s in October of 2003. Carole
and I conceptualized Buck’s together. She became the chef, I
became the owner. We changed the name from Greenwood to
Buck’s, but kept the commitment to art and artists, seasonality,
community and a sort of communal table eating together. Carole
and I have similar values when it comes to food, we kind of apply
them in different ways. Buck’s is more community-oriented in a
way. It’s a little bit more welcoming.
MW: Growing up, did you think that you might be in this business
someday?
ALEFANTIS: I’ve always really loved restaurants, and I was always
really interested in food and wine as a kid. My mother was a
caterer part-time, so I would help her cook a lot.
Actually, when I was a kid I wanted to be a baker. I wanted to
have a baker’s hat and wear an apron and make cakes and breads.
But I never knew quite what I wanted to do.
MW: Did you grow up in D.C.?
ALEFANTIS: Yeah. I went to Georgetown Day School, down the
street, which I also support a lot. I have their teacher receptions,
auction things, I’m on the benefit committee. I won the alumni
award — it was for Most Supportive of the School or something
— two or three years ago.
MW: When did you come out to your family? Was that a struggle?
ALEFANTIS: I came out to my family in my early 20s. I was running Johnny’s. I was kind of out to some friends, had a boyfriend,
and my relationship with my parents had deteriorated over a
period of time in my early 20s when I was in New York and partying too much. Once back in D.C., as I was building my life and
trying to figure out what I wanted to really become, I realized,
as many people do, that in order to become a truer person, I had
to be honest and out.
I took my mother and father to dinner at Pesce, and came out
to them. In the past my father had asked me and I had lied. And I
felt tremendous guilt about that for a year or two. But they were
pretty supportive. My mother’s initial reaction was, “You always
have to do things to get attention.” And my father was like, “We
love you no matter what.”
MW: Professionally speaking, have you faced any challenges being
openly gay as a chef or restaurateur?
ALEFANTIS: Coming out as a young adult had its challenges, but
I think about 11 years ago when I opened Buck’s. I was out, but
I was kind of closeted in the business world, where you have to
meet with your landlord and your banker and your lenders and
all those things. And you leave out a lot. You don’t personalize,
or I didn’t then, because it was a different time. I was a little bit
cagey in my business dealings at the beginning.
It’s such a privilege and an honor that we’ve all worked so
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APRIL 16, 2015

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“We make everything
from scratch. Other
restaurants will not
roast their own peppers
and just buy them in a
can. I WAS LIKE,
‘WHAT DO YOU MEAN?
THERE’S
ANOTHER WAY?
YOU CAN JUST
BUY
THESE THINGS?’”

hard, and the generation before us worked so hard, to get to a
point where I can do an interview like this and not worry about
its ramifications to me and the business. And it’s important for
me, or for anyone who is kind of out there as a gay business
owner, to be out and active and available to be role models.
MW: It’s interesting to hear you put it that way. It’s quite possible
that a fair number of gay Washingtonians aren’t aware that Buck’s
and Comet are gay-owned. I only learned of it recently.
ALEFANTIS: Oh really? Well, they are. [Laughs.] One of the ways
that a restaurant is so fascinating is that it’s really not about me,
it’s about everyone who works here in a way. I have 70 employees between the two places. And at any one moment, a couple
of them might be gay. And it makes me really happy when that
happens, because it’s a way of mutually supporting each other.
But it’s also really interesting to be working with cooks who are
from other countries — Gambia, Nigeria, El Salvador, Guatemala.
And having them be like, this guy is just like me and he’s gay. And
he’s out. And that’s okay.
A lot of my staff has worked for me for 10 years. My cooks
at Comet have been there since I opened. And over those eight
years I hope they’ve learned to respect me for who I am, and
that being gay is part of who I am. There have been issues where
a cook will call someone a maricón — fag, in Spanish — and I’ll
come down really hard on that person. But kind of in the same
way I would come down on an employee who said something
racist. I’ve had incidents where we’ve had to remove people who
don’t share our values. I really try to create an environment of
extreme tolerance and diversity within these communities, and
it’s really one of my missions and goals. It’s really nice to have
black people and white people working together, gay people
and straight people, Hispanics working with a Gambian guy.

Particularly in terms of the strides we’ve made as Americans,
where at least in urban areas, there’s much more tolerance,
much more acceptance and great laws that have been put in
place in many areas of the country. But then if you go to Africa or
you go to El Salvador, or you go somewhere else, the protections
are not there. So these are people who are from a different culture, who are able to maybe have a few examples of gay people
who they like and respect.
MW: But as you just said, outside of major metropolitan areas
America isn’t often a beacon on LGBT concerns. For example, I
noticed in the bathroom lined with state plates at Buck’s, you have
an Indiana plate front and center above the toilet.
ALEFANTIS: A customer just mentioned that the other day. You
know, Indiana is a place in America. It’s unfortunate that they
have leaders that are terrible people, but the gay citizens of
Indiana are people, too. So we fight the battle to include, not to
exclude. Indiana is where people live. We’re Americans. You
can’t condemn them just because there are a few crazy leaders.
MW: You mentioned having a lot of employees who have worked
for you since nearly the beginning. Why do you think people seem
to like working for you, or that you have pretty low staff turnover?
ALEFANTIS: Oh, I hope that they do. I try and pay people a good
wage. It takes a long time to train someone to do things as a chef,
the way you want it done. And those people are really valuable
people. And if you have those people for a long time, they usually
share your values. Another thing we try and do here is create a
community. So those people are a part of our community, and
they share our values, and I show them respect because they are
hardworking and talented. Mutual respect, good pay. I try and
give people the schedule they want. But at this point it’s not just
me. I have managers in place that are strong, good leaders too.

MW: What inspired you to open Comet Ping Pong?
ALEFANTIS: I had Buck’s, and there wasn’t a lot up here. There’s

Politics and Prose, an amazing bookstore and an institution. And
there was a Thai restaurant called the Thai Room — the first
Thai restaurant in Washington. It had kind of gone downhill. It
was known for its Thai food, but either our conception of Thai
food changed, or their food changed — but anyway, they were
there for 32 years. And then one day there was a For Lease sign
on the outside, and they were closed. So I was like, “Oh, no! I’m
going to have to open a restaurant there or else someone else is
going to do it. And it’s my block.” It was just a couple years after
I started Buck’s. It felt like I had been in Buck’s for a long time
at that point, because it was like two years and I was exhausted.
It was just grueling.
I ended up getting the space. At that time, it had been an open
restaurant for 32 years, and I was like 31 or something, so that
restaurant had been there for longer than I had been alive. This
is a lot of responsibility. And then my friend Eric Hirshfield, who
used to own Duplex Diner, was like, “I’m going to buy the Comet
sign. You’re opening a restaurant, why don’t you take it?” And I
thought, I should totally have that sign, and then I’ll have a name.
The Comet sign used to hang next to Cashion’s in Adams
Morgan, over a liquor store and deli owned by Sid and his wife
Beverly Drazin. They were there for a long time, and people
really loved that place and had a lot of nostalgia for it. And they
were really part of the community.
MW: So Comet Liquors essentially inspired the ethos of Comet Ping
Pong, though not ping-pong itself. Where did that come from? Did
you grow up with the game?
ALEFANTIS: Yeah, I loved ping-pong. We played it at my family’s
lake cottage in upstate New York, because my parents are from
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APRIL 16, 2015

25

outside of Buffalo.
I wanted a place that was really inclusive, where people
would feel you could just jump in and play. You don’t have to
be super-skilled. It’s for everyone. And it has the nostalgia. It
reminds people of where they came from, or their childhood.
I’ve seen kids born and now they’re starting to play ping-pong.
They’re someday going to be like, “Oh, this is the place I went
every Friday night with my dad, and it was so cool. I could run
around, I could play ping-pong, and it had the best food — best
sundaes, best pizza, whatever.”
MW: But as fundamental as it is now to the business, I understand
you didn’t actually go in with a vision for a back room with pingpong tables.
ALEFANTIS: Costs escalated so that I could only afford to renovate
the front half of the building. So I thought, “What am I going to
do with the whole back half? Well, I’ll put ping-pong tables in
there, and then I can roll them away if I want to have a party or
do something else back there. They’re not permanent.” But then
that really informed my design decisions — like the ball lights,
and the tabletops made out of old ping-pong tables.
I’m about making things from scratch. Comet’s wood-burning oven I imported from Italy, we built it on site. We built
everything from scratch on site. It took way too long — it was
like a year and a half in construction, every day. Every detail.
Custom-building those light fixtures.
MW: When did you decide that the back room could also double as
a makeshift, DIY-esque concert venue?
ALEFANTIS: That started happening because when we first opened
Comet, no one came. So we were trying to do anything we could.
So we would have parties and have bands. And then we found out
we were operating outside of our license for that. [Laughs.] So we
went and got a music license, and suddenly there were all these
cool bands that wanted a smaller venue, and so we could have them
here. There are not a lot of opportunities for that in Washington.
And also it fits with our commitment to communities. So D.C.’s
old punk rock scene is here all the time — members of Fugazi, Bad
Brains. Mary Timony of Ex Hex, she’s at Comet all the time — also,
she’s a music teacher, so she does a showcase of her students twice
a year where we do a daytime rock and roll show.
So basically that started out as anything we could do to stay
in business. And now we’ve become a kind of community center. We host fundraisers for local schools. And I do partnering
events with Politics and Prose, which are more high-end, seated
dinners.
MW: You’ve cooked for some culinary heavy-hitters at those dinners, including Alice Waters of Chez Panisse and David Tanis,
a former chef at Chez Panisse. Those must have been nervewracking.
ALEFANTIS: Yeah, it’s crazy. Actually, David Tanis was my most
nerve-wracking, because he’s one of my chef heroes. His cookbooks are so important to me, and his column in the New York
Times is so important to me. I read it every week, we think about
it, it becomes part of our vernacular. Alice is honestly my friend
now, because I’ve known her for years. Every time she comes to
town, she always comes here.
Waters, and in some ways Gabrielle Hamilton [chef/owner of
Prune in New York], were kind of the inspiration for a restaurant
like this to exist. You have a real commitment to the seasons, a
real commitment to the farmers, a real commitment to the community. And it’s really independent. Alice only owns one restaurant, you know what I mean? But when she talks about it, she’s
like, “I’m creating a revolution.” The revolution is everything:
how people eat, where your food comes from, who is respected
26

APRIL 16, 2015

METROWEEKLY.COM

in your community. She was like a mentor to me.
MW: Meanwhile, another celebrity chef was helpful in putting

Comet on the map — Guy Fieri, who filmed an episode of his
popular Food Network show Diners, Dive-Ins and Dives there
five years ago.
ALEFANTIS: It’s so crazy. We had been open a few years by then.
It took forever for Comet to be figured out. People were like,
“You’re just a beer bar.” They didn’t appreciate what we were
doing with the food right away. And I was honestly a little bit
nervous. Because I had Buck’s, which had gotten good reviews.
And I was young, and nervous to put myself out there. At Comet
I was the chef, and I was thinking, “What if people don’t like my
pizza?” So I didn’t really do anything, I didn’t really tell anyone.
Then the Food Network called, and I thought, “Oh, this will
be cool, we’ll do it.” I didn’t really know the show even. His
producers said, “You need to close for a day. These are all the
requirements.” We filmed all day for two days. And as we’re
cooking, they’re like, “You make this?” I said, “Yeah, what do
you mean?” And they say, “You know, this is the best restaurant
we’ve ever done.”
MW: What was it they couldn’t believe you had made?
ALEFANTIS: Well, we make everything from scratch. Other restaurants, even good restaurants, will, like, not roast their own
peppers. You can just buy the roasted peppers in a can. Or you
can buy garlic oil. Some products you can get, and they’re consistent and they’re easy. But I didn’t even know that existed actually until they said that. I was like, “What do you mean? There’s
another way? You can just buy these things?” Because a lot of
restaurants will open a can and put it on. Like our sauce — we
harvest a whole crop of organic tomatoes — 10 tons of tomatoes
every year. Can them all, store them in the basement, have like a
harvest party when it gets loaded in.
Guy was very enthusiastic. We had a really great long segment, and it aired, and we had a viewing party. The next day I’m
exhausted, I come late, and there’s literally a line from the front
of the restaurant, down and around the corner.
MW: That had not happened before?
ALEFANTIS: I mean, sometimes we’d have a few people waiting.
We open at 5. By 6, we may have a wait. This was 200 people
standing in line. And it was like that for a week and a half. And
they’re all ordering the same things, exactly what was on TV.
And people drove in from Ohio, New Jersey, Florida. “We saw
you on TV yesterday. We got in our car and drove overnight
to come have your pizza.” But it also introduced us to a lot of
Washington people. And now Comet is consistently busy with
tons of the same people.
And also the Food Network just came back, a month ago. It was
a one-day shoot for their favorite places from all the shows. Like
five- or six-minute segments. So it’s like a full Comet segment with
me cooking that’s going to air all over the place next month.
MW: I guess you’d better prepare for that.
ALEFANTIS: I know. The New York producer was like, “James,
you need to open another Comet before this airs.” And I said,
“When is it airing? May. I don’t have time to do that.”
MW: Are you considering that though, opening another Comet?
ALEFANTIS: A lot of people have approached me and talked
to me about it. And a lot of people want it. Oh, I was just in
this college town in Colorado. A Comet would be awesome
there.” I do think it would make a lot of communities happy,
because it’s a great gathering place. And everything is about
fast-casual now — people just want to get in and get out. But I
really think that there is a need to have somewhere to go with
your friends to sit down and hang out for an hour or an hour

and a half, and have good food.
I also believe in value. You should be able to go out to eat and
not be gouged. The job of a restaurant is not to extricate as much
money as possible from you over a certain amount of time, and
then have you leave. We try not to rush people. Even like casual
restaurants now, or these small-plates places, you end up spending $50, $70 a person and you didn’t even notice it and you didn’t
really have anything. And you’ve been there for an hour and a
half. [Laughs.] Whereas Comet you can have legitimately good
food, good for you, sourced from a farm, fresh and healthy, and
yet it’s still affordable.
MW: Do you have another restaurant concept in the works?
ALEFANTIS: No, I’m not working on another restaurant right
now, at all. I feel like it’s hard enough to do these things, and it’s
important to be committed to them. And after almost 12 years,
I’m kind of able to do other things too. And to do something
bigger, you have to delegate better than I’m capable of doing.
I have looked in a lot of locations, but so far nothing has stuck
with me. It’s also a really big commitment opening a restaurant
as an independent businessman. A lot of restaurants these days
are run by groups of people — like four brothers, and they can all
do their own thing. For me, if I can hold on to what I have, I’m
happy enough.
MW: And your brother is not involved with the restaurants, right?
ALEFANTIS: No, my brother I think wouldn’t mind it. But he
isn’t. He has a wife and a kid. I think also being gay, you have a
little bit more freedom. You’re taught at the beginning that you
can be your own person, so take a risk. You’ve already taken so
many risks, you’re like, “Let’s just do another one.” [Laughs.]
Like when I opened Buck’s, people were saying, “You’re opening a restaurant? You’re so crazy! What if you fail?” And I was

27. “What do you mean, fail? I’m just opening a restaurant. It’s
going to be great. It’s going to be awesome.” And luckily so far
that’s turned out to be the case, but you never know. So now I’m
thinking, “Opening another restaurant? That’s really risky. What
if you fail?” [Laughs.] And also now it’s gotten really expensive,
building things in Washington. Every time I look at a space, we
get a quote for it, it’s $1 million at least. Usually it’s $1.5 million.
I’m like, “To build a pizza dive?”
People are doing great work where they’re doing it. There’s
a lot of Comet wannabe restaurants around this town as it is.
Comet-inspired restaurants. It’s great, it’s great.
MW: Do you have time for a personal life? Do you have a significant
other?
ALEFANTIS: I do have time for a personal life. I make time. At the
moment, I’m single. But I date. I had a 10-year partner starting
Buck’s. That was helpful because you could work all the time
because you’re in a relationship, especially if you’re in a relationship with someone else who wants to work on their own things
all the time. So that was nice getting started. I’m dating someone
now. Who’s adorable! And so nice. But he lives in New York, so
it’s a problem.
MW: You wouldn’t move back to New York even for love?
ALEFANTIS: No, no way. New York is great to visit, but Washington
is a great place to live.
Buck’s Fishing and Camping is located at 5301 Connecticut Ave.
NW. For reservations, call 202-364-0777 or visit bucksfishingandcamping.com.
Comet Ping Pong is located at 5307 Connecticut Ave. NW. Call
202-364-0404 or visit cometpingpong.com. l

METROWEEKLY.COM

APRIL 16, 2015

27

DINING
A COMPLETE GUIDE TO

OUT FOR

LIFE
TODD FRANSON

THURSDAY, APRIL 23, 2015

28

APRIL 16, 2015

METROWEEKLY.COM

A complete guide to all participating
restaurants, as of press time, by
neighborhood, including meals and what
percentage of each bill will be donated to
Food & Friends. This year’s DINING OUT FOR
LIFE takes place on THURSDAY, APRIL
23rd. Please note that RESERVATIONS ARE
SUGGESTED at most restaurants. Please call
ahead or visit OpenTable.com. For an up-todate list of restaurants visit
foodandfriends.org/dol.
WASHINGTON, D.C.

ADAMS MORGAN
18TH & U DUPLEX DINER
2004 18th St. NW
202-265-7828
Dinner, 25%
CASHION’S EAT PLACE
1819 Columbia Rd. NW
202-797-1819
Dinner, 35%
LA FOURCHETTE
2429 18th St. NW
202-332-3077
Lunch & Dinner, 35%

L’ENFANT CAFÉ AND
BAR
2000 18th St. NW
202-319-1800
Dinner, 25%
LITTLE FOUNTAIN CAFÉ
2339 18th St. NW
202-462-8100
Dinner, 35%
MINTWOOD PLACE
1813 Columbia Rd. NW
202-234-6732
Dinner, 25%

PERRY’S
1811 Columbia Rd. NW
202-234-6218
Dinner, 25%
POP’S SEA BAR
1817 Columbia Rd. NW
202-534-3933
Lunch & Dinner, 35%
ATLAS/H ST.
LE GRENIER
502 H St. NE
202-544-4999
Dinner, 25%

BLOOMINGDALE
EL CAMINO
108 Rhode Island Ave.
202-847-0419
Dinner, 25%
RUSTIK TAVERN
84 T St. NW
202-290-2936
Dinner, 25%

BRENTWOOD
SALA THAI
RESTAURANT
2300 Washington Place NE
202-808-2189
Lunch & Dinner, 25%

BROOKLAND
BUSBOYS AND POETS
625 Monroe St. NE
202-636-7230
Dinner, 35%
STEEL PLATE
3523 12th St. NE
202-290-2310
Dinner, 25%

CAPITOL HILL
BANANA CAFÉ & PIANO
BAR
500 8th St. SE
202-543-5906
Dinner, 25%
CAFÉ BERLIN
322 Massachusetts Ave. NE
202-543-7656
Lunch & Dinner, 25%
HANK’S OYSTER BAR
ON THE HILL
633 Pennsylvannia Ave. SE
202-733-1971
Dinner, 25%
THE OLD SIAM
406 8th St. SE
202-544-7426
Dinner, 25%

CLEVELAND
PARK
CACTUS CANTINA
3300 Wisconsin Ave. NW
202-362-0776
Lunch & Dinner, 25%

COLUMBIA
HEIGHTS

MOURAYO
1734 Connecticut Ave. NW
202-667-2100
Dinner, 25%
PESCE RESTAURANT
2002 P St. NW
202-466-3474
Dinner, 35%

ACRE 121
1400 Irving St. NW
202-328-0121
Dinner, 25%

STATION KITCHEN &
COCKTAILS
2015 Massachusetts Ave.
NW
(202) 265-1600
Dinner, 25%

THE HEIGHTS
3115 14th St. NW
202-797-7227
Dinner, 25%

FRIENDSHIP
HEIGHTS

DOWNTOWN
RURAL SOCIETY
1177 15th St. NW
202-587-2629
Dinner, 25%

DUPONT CIRCLE
ANNIE’S PARAMOUNT
STEAKHOUSE
1609 17th St. NW
202-667-9148
Lunch & Dinner, 100%

LE CHAT NOIR
4907 Wisconsin Ave. NW
202-244-2044
Dinner, 35%

LOGAN CIRCLE
COMMISSARY
1443 P St. NW
202-299-0018
Lunch & Dinner, 25%

MOUNT
PLEASANT
BEAU THAI
3162 Mount Pleasant
St. NW
202-450-5317
Dinner, 25%

BUSBOYS AND POETS
1025 5th St. NW
202-789-2227
Dinner, 35%

BLACKSALT
4883 MacArthur Blvd. NW
202-342-9101
Dinner, 25%

PENN QUARTER
RISTORANTE TOSCA
1112 F St. NW
202-367-1990
Dinner, 100%

PETWORTH

BEACON BAR & GRILL
1615 Rhode Island Ave.
NW
202-872-1126
Dinner, 25%

LOGAN TAVERN
1423 P St. NW
202-332-3710
Lunch & Dinner, 25%

SALA THAI
RESTAURANT
3716 Georgia Ave. NW
202-629-1643
Lunch & Dinner, 25%

DUPONT ITALIAN
KITCHEN
1637 17th St. NW
202-328-3222
Dinner, 25%

NAGE
1608 Rhode Island Ave.
NW
202-448-8005
Dinner, 25%

BUCK’S FISHING &
CAMPING
5031 Connecticut Ave. NW
202-364-0777
Dinner, 50%

GRILLFISH
1200 New Hampshire
Ave. NW
202-331-7310
Lunch & Dinner, 25%

PEARL DIVE OYSTER
PALACE
1612 14th St. NW
202-319-1612
Dinner, 50%

HANK’S OYSTER BAR
1624 Q St. NW
202-462-4265
Dinner, 25%

POSTO
1515 14th St. NW
202-332-8613
Dinner, 50%

COMET PING PONG
5037 Connecticut Ave. NW
202-364-0404
Dinner, 50%

LA TOMATE
1701 Connecticut Ave. NW
202-667-5505
Dinner, 25%

THE PIG
1320 14th St. NW
202-290-2821
Dinner, 25%

LAURIOL PLAZA
1835 18th St. NW
202-387-0035
Lunch & Dinner, 25%

VERANDA
1100 P St. NW
202-234-6870
Dinner, 25%

ARUCOLA OSTERIA
5534 Connecticut Ave. NW
202-244-1555
Dinner, 25%
BLUE 44 DC
5507 Connecticut Ave. NW
202.36225%83
Dinner, 25%

CHINATOWN
RARE SWEETS
963 Palmer Alley NW
202-499-0077
Lunch, 25%

M ST. BAR AND GRILL
2033 M St. NW
202-530-3621
Dinner, 25%

TAKOMA
BUSBOYS AND POETS
235 Carroll St. NW
202-726-0856
Dinner, 35%

THE PALISADES

DC REYNOLDS
3628 Georgia Ave. NW
Dinner, 25%

CHEVY CHASE

THALLY
1316 9th St. NW
202-733-3849
Dinner, 25%

MOUNT VERNON

LE DIPLOMATE
1601 14th St. NW
202-332-3333
Dinner

TRATTORIA ALBERTO
506 8th St. SE
202-544-2007
Dinner, 25%

SHAW’S TAVERN
520 Florida Ave. NW
202-518-4092
Dinner, 25%

SHAW
1905 RESTAURANT
1905 Ninth St. NW
202-332-1905
Dinner, 25%
BEAU THAI
1700 New Jersey Ave. NW
205.37750%329
Dinner, 25%
DINO’S GROTTO
1914 9th St. NW
202-686-2966
Dinner, 25%

U ST.
BUSBOYS AND POETS
2021 14th St. NW
202-387-7638
Dinner, 35%
CAFÉ SAINT-EX
1847 14th St. NW
202-265-7839
Dinner, 25%
COMPASS ROSE
1346 T St. NW
202-506-4765
Dinner, 25%
EATONVILLE
2121 14th St. NW
202-332-9672
Dinner, 35%
JOJO RESTAURANT
AND BAR
1518 U St. NW
202-319-9350
Dinner, 35%
SALA THAI
RESTAURANT
1301 U St. NW
202-462-1333
Lunch & Dinner, 25%
TICO
1926 14th St. NW
202-319-1400
Dinner, 25%

MARYLAND

BETHESDA
BLACK’S BAR &
KITCHEN
7750 Woodmont Ave.
301-652-5525
Dinner, 25%
SALA THAI
RESTAURANT
4828 Cordell Ave.
301-654-4676
Lunch & Dinner, 25%

METROWEEKLY.COM

TRATTORIA SORRENTO
4930 Cordell Ave
301-718-0344
Dinner, 25%

GARRET PARK
BLACK MARKET BISTRO
4600 Waverly Ave.
301-933-3000
Dinner, 25%

APRIL 16, 2015

29

HYATTSVILLE

SILVER SPRING

BUSBOYS AND POETS
5331 Baltimore Ave.
301-779-2787
Dinner, 35%

ALL SET RESTAURANT
& BAR
8630 Fenton St.
301-495-8800
Dinner, 50%

ROCKVILLE

CUBANO’S
1201 Fidler Ln.
301-563-4020
Dinner, 35%

IL PIZZICO
15209 Frederick Rd.
301-309-0610
Dinner, 35%
MOSAIC CUISINE AND
CAFÉ
186 Halpine Rd.
301-468-0682
Dinner, 25%

TAKOMA PARK
MARK’S KITCHEN
7006 Carroll Ave.
301-270-1884
Lunch & Dinner, 25%
REPUBLIC
6939 Laurel Ave.
301-270-3000
Dinner, 25%

VIRGINIA

CHADWICKS
203 The Strand
703-836-4442
Dinner, 25%
INDIGO LANDING
One Marina Drive
703-548-0001
Dinner, 25%

ARLINGTON
LA COTE D’OR CAFÉ
6876 Lee Highway
703-538-3033
Dinner, 25%

CLIFTON
TRUMMER’S ON MAIN
7134 Main St.
703-266-1623
Dinner, 25%

CRYSTAL CITY
FREDDIES BEACH BAR
555 23rd St. S.
703-685-0555
Dinner, 100%

FALLS CHURCH
CLARE AND DON’S
BEACH SHACK
130 N. Washington St.
703-532-9283
Lunch & Dinner, 35%

MOSAIC DISTRICT
SEA PEARL
8191 Strawberry Lane #2
703-372-5161
Dinner, 25%

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APRIL 16, 2015

METROWEEKLY.COM

OLD TOWN
ALEXANDRIA
HANK’S OYSTER BAR
OLD TOWN
1026 King St.
703-739-4265
Dinner, 25%

PENTAGON CITY
THAIPHOON AT
PENTAGON ROW
1301 South Joyce St.
703-413-8200
Dinner, 25%

PINECREST
FOXFIRE
6550 Little River Tpk.
703-914-9280
Dinner, 25%

SHIRLINGTON
BUSBOYS AND POETS
4251 S. Campbell Ave.
703-379-9757
Dinner, 35%
GUAPOS RESTAURANT
4028 Campbell Ave.
703-671-1701
Dinner, 25%
PING BY CHARLIE
CHIANG’S
4060 Campbell Ave.
703-671-4900
Dinner, 25%

TYSON’S CORNER
KIZUNA
8221 Leesburg Pike
703-442-7888
Dinner, 35%

TODD FRANSON

ALEXANDRIA

TODD FRANSON

METROWEEKLY.COM

APRIL 16, 2015

31

APRIL 16 - 23, 2015

Compiled by Doug Rule

SPOTLIGHT
AFI FILM SERIES: ADVENTURES IN 3D

Family
Hazzard
Tiger Orange is a launchpad for

pornstar-cum-actor Johnny Hazzard,
but offers much more than that

I

F TIGER ORANGE ACCOMPLISHES ANYTHING, IT’S IN ANSWERING ONE IMPORtant question: Is there life after porn? For Johnny Hazzard, here under his real name,
Frankie Valenti, the answer is an assured “yes.”
Valenti undoubtedly will draw people to the film, eager to see if his charisma with his
clothes off can translate into work on the silver screen. In fact, Valenti is one of Tiger Orange’s
strongest aspects.
The story follows two openly gay brothers. Todd (Valenti) moves back home to live with
Chet (Mark Strano, the film’s co-author) after his life in L.A. falls apart, and proceeds to
disrupt his brother’s life. Chet has mastered the art of closeted living, blending into his rural
community, running his deceased father’s hardware store, and existing alone. Todd is the
opposite: outspoken, unashamed of his sexuality, but in a similarly empty state of existence to
Chet, his life a series of sexual encounters and unfulfilling jobs.
The film’s conceit is the bubbling tension between the pair. Chet, jealous that Todd was
able to overcome their oppressive father and live openly, loathes his brother’s looks and lack
of responsibility. Todd is angry that his brother has shut off his sexuality, but resents that
his inability to do so cost him time with his father that Chet enjoyed. When the two finally
explode at one another, after Todd threatens Chet’s budding relationship with a former high
school fling (Gregory Marcel), it’s tense, dramatic, wonderfully staged.
The rest of the film doesn’t always maintain the same standard. As a freshman effort from
director and co-writer Wade Gasque, there are obvious signs of a lack of experience. Rough
edges exist, but they don’t mar the overall experience, and a higher budget and tighter editing
would likely have solved most of them.
It’s the performances you’ll remember after the credits roll. Valenti shines, striking a
balance between asshole, rogue and passionate dreamer. With further experience and refinement, he could forge a career as a serious actor. Strano almost disappears under Valenti’s
charisma, forced into a sad pout for much of the film — but it pays dividends when his character is finally allowed to let rip and open up his emotions. There’s a wide range of supporting
characters, all of whom convey the folksy, small town ethos the film seeks to convey.
Though it can occasionally feel a little paint-by-numbers in its construction, Tiger Orange
overcomes its familiar plot devices, offering two strong central performances and an intriguing contrast between its main characters. For Valenti, it’s proof there’s life after porn — and
it’s a good life indeed. — Rhuaridh Marr
Tiger Orange (HHHHH) plays Friday, April 17, at 7 and 9:15 p.m. at the HRC Equality Center, 1640 Rhode
Island Ave. NW. Valenti will make a brief appearance after the 7 p.m. showing. For more information,
visit reelaffirmations.org.

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Over the next week, the American Film Institute’s
Silver Theatre screens three of the most recent
acclaimed films shot with 3D technology. It’s the
kickoff to a months-long series focused on use of
the technology in various artistic genres, including
in stage productions and animation. The first three
3D works are Jean-Luc Godard’s experimental and
hard-to-explain 3D essay Goodbye to Language, a
2014 Cannes Film Festival winner, James Gunn’s
Guardians of the Galaxy, the Marvel Comics-based
3D blockbuster following a vividly realized misfit
team of space rebels trying to root out a universal
villain, and Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity, which innovatively captured the sense of being lost in outer space.
Goodbye to Language screens Saturday, April 18, at 3
p.m., Guardians of the Galaxy screens Sunday, April
19, at 3 p.m., and Gravity screens Friday, April 24, at
9:45 p.m., Sunday, April 26, at 3 p.m., and Thursday,
April 30, at 9:15 p.m. AFI Silver Theatre, 8633
Colesville Road, Silver Spring. Tickets are $9 to $12.
Call 301-495-6720 or visit afi.com/Silver.

ALICE SMITH

Soul-pop singer-songwriter Alice Smith is as understated and sophisticated as Christina Aguilera can
be exaggerated and overdone, and she’s every bit as
vocally talented. And her music, including her astonishing sophomore set She, is better than Aguilera’s.
Released in 2013, She charts the ups and downs and
ins and outs of love, even just friendship, with musical twists and lyrical turns as sharp and surprising
as they come. Friday, April 17, the Brooklyn-based
Smith returns once again to her hometown of D.C.
“You want to do good at home,” she told Metro
Weekly in 2012. “Whenever I go, and there’s people
there, somehow it’s always a little surprising, but
it’s also always really exciting.” Friday, April 17, at
8 p.m. The Howard Theatre, 620 T St. NW. Tickets
are $25 to $60. Call 202-588-5595 or visit thehowardtheatre.com.

CHERRY NOVA: ANNUAL DANCE EVENT

Started nearly two decades ago, the annual gay
dance event Cherry returns with an astronomical
theme and six parties at five venues, including two
new to Cherry’s orbit: The swanky Howard Theatre,
hosting the Friday, April 17 party featuring popular
gay tribal-house DJ Paulo, a Cherry veteran, and
Flash, the intimate club with arguably the city’s best
lighting and sound systems, closing the weekend
with New York DJ BennyK on Sunday, April 19.
The party weekend blasts off early, Thursday, April
16, at Cobalt featuring DJs Brian Serving Ovahness
and Lizard Lounge-veteran Kostas. Saturday, April
18, brings Town Danceboutique’s usual double-dose
of Cherry, with Dr. Moody “Moodonna” Mustafa’s
afternoon birthday bash spun by gay circuit star
DJ Joe Gauthreaux, and a peak-hour party upstairs
headlined by Tom “Superchumbo” Stephan, known
for his edgy, hip-hop-informed deep-house sound.
Finally, Mexico City DJ Isaac Escalante spins this
year’s after-hours at Tropicalia early in the morning
Sunday, April 19. Tickets are $10 to $50 per party, or
$100 for a Weekend Pass offering express entry to all
events. Visit cherryfund.org for more information.

DON’T DIE IN THE DARK

City Artistic Partnerships presents this one-act play shedding light on the personal and patriotic motivations behind one of America’s most shocking acts of terror, the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. Matty Griffiths produces this theater
piece starring playwright/performer Joe Brack as John Wilkes Booth and Bradley
Foster Smith as “Guitar,” providing music and conscience to the piece. “Out of
respect for Mr. Lincoln,” the producers note, “we are not performing this play
in a theater.” To April 26. Studio 1469, 1469 Harvard St. NW. Call 202-213-2474.

FILMFEST DC

The 29th Annual Washington, DC International Film Festival presents over 70
features, documentaries and shorts from around the world over the next 11 days.
It opens Thursday, April 16, at Mazza Gallerie with Tango Glories, a feature film
from Argentina celebrating the wonders — not just musical but also psychological — of the tango. This year’s festival includes at least two films, both documentaries, of LGBT interest. Sophie Deraspe’s The Amina Profile, explores the
travails of online relationships through a focus on the email courtship between a
French-Canadian woman and the American-Syrian author of a blog, “A Gay Girl
in Damascus,” whose real identity was eventually called into question, screening
Friday, April 17, at 8:45 p.m., and Saturday, April 18, at 4:30 p.m., at Landmark E
Street Cinema. Thomas G. Miller’s Limited Partnership, focuses on the decadeslong struggle of a binational gay couple to have their marriage recognized by the
federal government and U.S. immigration officials, screening Thursday, April 23,
at 6:30 p.m., and Saturday, April 25, at 9:15 p.m. at Landmark E Street Cinema.
FilmFestDC runs to April 26. Tickets are $13 for most screenings, $45 for opening
night. Call 202-234-3456 or visit filmfestdc.org.

KEENAN ORR AT ARTS COALITION FOR THE DUPONT UNDERGROUND

One of D.C.’s most versatile DJs, Keenan Orr regularly jumps between gay and
straight events, playing sets of music as disparate as house, hip-hop and chillout. Occasionally, it all comes together, as it will next week when Orr headlines
a benefit for the Arts Coalition for the Dupont Underground. Last year the D.C.
government signed off on a five-year plan by this nonprofit entity formed to
transform a vast unused subterranean space, originally built as a trolley station
below Dupont Circle, into a cultural destination — by offering art and design
exhibitions, live performances, community events, even pop-up retail. Learn
more about still-developing plans at a U Street Music Hall hosted event also featuring music by three other local DJs/dance acts: Native Sun, Braulio Agnese and
Burymeinamink. Tuesday, April 21, at 8 p.m. U Street Music Hall, 1115A U St. NW.
Tickets are $15. Call 202-588-1880 or visit ustreetmusichall.com.

NORA POUILLON

My Organic Life: How a Pioneering Chef Helped Shape the Way We Eat Today tells
the story of this influential Austrian-born local chef, whose Restaurant Nora in
Dupont Circle became the first certified organic restaurant in the country in 1999.
Among other Pouillon efforts that helped sprout the natural foods movement
was her work initiating D.C.’s first producer-only farmers’ market, FreshFarm
Markets, which now oversees 11 markets in the area. Former Washington Post
Food and Sunday Business editor Nancy McKeon will lead the conversation
with Pouillon, followed by a book signing. Monday, April 20, at 7 p.m. Sixth & I
Historic Synagogue. 600 I St. NW. Tickets are $14, or $27 for one book and two
tickets. Call 202-408-3100 or visit sixthandi.org.

FILM
AFI FILM SERIES: ORSON WELLES CENTENNIAL

For the next two and a half months, the American Film Institute’s Silver Theatre
toasts the 100th anniversary of late filmmaker Orson Welles’ birth with a screening series of films he either made, starred in or inspired. The series kicks off this
weekend with Citizen Kane, his 1941 screen debut that is still widely considered
the greatest film ever made. Also this weekend is a screening of Chuck Workman’s
new documentary, Magician: Astonishing Life and Work of Orson Welles. Citizen
Kane screens Friday, April 17, at 7 p.m., Saturday, April 18, at 7 p.m., and Thursday,
April 23, at 7:15 p.m. The Magician documentary screens Friday, April 17, at 5
p.m., Saturday, April 18, at 12:30 p.m., Tuesday, April 21, at 5:15 p.m., Wednesday,
April 22, at 5:15 p.m, and Thursday, April 23, at 5:15 p.m. AFI Silver Theatre, 8633
Colesville Road, Silver Spring. Tickets are $9 to $12. Call 301-495-6720 or visit
afi.com/Silver.

LORD OF THE RINGS MOVIE FESTIVAL

Once again the Arlington Cinema ‘N’ Drafthouse brings athe Lord of the Rings
trilogy to the big screen for a one-day marathon. Fans are encouraged to dress up
as a favorite character to earn a free movie pass for a future screening, and there
will also be a trivia contest and a Gollum impersonation contest. The Fellowship
of the Rings screens at 12 p.m., The Two Towers at 3:15 p.m. and The Return of
the King at 7 p.m. Sunday, April 26, from 12 p.m. to 10 p.m. Arlington Cinema ‘N’
Drafthouse, 2903 Columbia Pike, Arlington. Tickets are $10. Call 703-486-2345 or
visit arlingtondrafthouse.com.

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MONKEY KINGDOM

Tina Fey narrates this nature documentary about
the struggles of a family of monkeys living in ancient
ruins in the jungles of Sri Lanka. Mark Linfield
and Alastair Fothergill direct Monkey Kingdom, a
Disneynature film timed for release around Earth
Day with portions of box office receipts to be donated
to Conservation International. Opens Friday, April
17. Now playing. Area theaters. Visit fandango.com.

PAUL BLART: MALL COP 2

There are basically two reasons you might briefly
consider, or re-consider, seeing this ridiculous sequel
to the ridiculous original about a dumpy, bumbling
mall cop. (Oh Kevin James, must you always play the
boob?) Those reasons are Saturday Night Live alum
Ana “Delicious Dish” Gasteyer and lovable comediancum-talk show host Loni Love — both funny ladies
play small roles in director Andy Flickman’s latest
flick, which, with apologies to Gasteyer and Love,
would flop hard if there was any justice in the world.
Opens Friday, April 17. Now playing. Area theaters.
Visit fandango.com.

ROAR

“There’s never been a film like Roar,” boasts the
tagline to the 1981 flop written and directed by
Noel Marshall, who also starred in the film with his
real-life wife Tippi Hedren, plus their real-life children, including Hedren’s daughter Melanie Griffith.
Landmark’s E Street Cinema will screen the flick
this weekend as part of its midnight screening series.
Why? Because, as Movies.com notes, Roar is “the
kind of bad movie that just needs to be seen to be
believed.” Set in Africa, the film featured over 100
lions, tigers, jaguars and other wild big cats who
eventually attacked essentially everyone on set at
some point, to the point of serious injury for some,
including Marshall, Hedren and especially Griffith,
who had to have facial reconstructive surgery. And
yet Marshall was undeterred. He spent 11 years and
$17 million on the film, which only made $2 million.
“Even just watching it feels dangerous,” Movies.com
says. Friday, April 17, and Saturday, April 18, at midnight. Landmark’s E Street Cinema, 555 11th St. NW.
Call 202-452-7672 or visit landmarktheatres.com.

STAGE
ARDEN OF FAVERSHAM

Brave Spirits Theatre presents this riff on Elizabethan
plays, incorporating actual Shakespearean passages,
as a housewife plots with her lover and two incompetent hit-men to murder her husband. Dan Crane
directs the production from the four-year-old Brave
Spirits, which focuses on staging dark, visceral, intimate productions. Closes Saturday, April 18. Atlas
Performing Arts Center, 1333 H St. NE. Tickets are
$20. Call 202-399-7993 or visit atlasarts.org.

CLOSET LAND

Rick Hammerly directs the latest Factory 449 production staged in the small, black box theater at the
Anacostia Arts Center. Rahda Bharadwaj’s Closet
Land focuses on a government interrogator in a nameless country torturing a writer alleged to include antiState messages in her work. David Lamont Wilson
and Sara Barker star in this two-person work staged
in the round and billed as a harrowing descent into
the nature of violence, the mind’s resolve and the
human spirit’s endurance. Opens Friday, April 17, at
8 p.m. To May 10. Anacostia Arts Center, 1231 Good
Hope Road SE. Tickets are $12. Call 202-631-6291 or
visit factory449.com.

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SIMPLY SONDHEIM

HHHHH
Signature Theatre’s Simply Sondheim is billed as
a “completely new revue” running for a couple of
weeks, after which it “will never be seen again.” Of
course, revues of Stephen Sondheim’s oeuvre pop up
here and there every couple years, and full Sondheim
musicals are produced even more frequently. In fact,
this revue offers a tantalizing preview of one lesserknown Sondheim work Signature will produce next
winter, Road Show, with the song “The Best Thing
That Ever Has Happened.” Nevertheless, any musical theater fan will find delight in this revue itself,
co-developed by David Loud and Eric Schaeffer and
directed and choreographed by Matthew Gardiner.
Jon Kalbfleisch leads a 16-piece orchestra from the
stage every bit like a pops night at the symphony.
Sondheim standards are cleverly intertwined and
performed by six Signature vets, most notably the
superb Donna Migliaccio, lovable gay everyman
Bobby Smith, pristine-piped Stephanie Waters and
the swoon-worthy Kellee Knighten Hough. Closes
Sunday, April 19. Signature Theatre, 4200 Campbell
Ave., Arlington. Tickets are $40 to $95. Call 703-8209771 or visit signature-theatre.org. (Doug Rule)

SWING TIME! THE MUSICAL

Mike Thornton, an actor who has worked with
the satire group the Capitol Steps, and his wife,
Cecelia Fex, have teamed up as co-producers for this
big band-era musical revue about a group of performers putting together a wartime radio broadcast.
Featuring film clips plus a live jazz band, the show
features tunes made popular by Duke Ellington,
Benny Goodman, Glenn Miller, Tommy Dorsey and
Cab Calloway. Next shows are Sunday, April 19, at
2 p.m., Wednesday, April 22, at 7:30 p.m., Thursday,
April 23, at 7:30 p.m., and Saturday, April 25, at 2 p.m.
Select dates to June 27. U.S. Navy Memorial’s Burke
Theater, 701 Pennsylvania Ave. NW. Tickets are $19
or $49. Call 202-393-4266 or visit swingtimethemusical.com.

THE ORIGINALIST

Molly Smith directs an Arena Stage world premiere
of John Strand’s play about one of the biggest enemies to the LGBT cause and civil rights in general:
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. It’s hard to
get excited about this one, although no doubt fourtime Helen Hayes Award winner Edward Gero will
do Scalia justice. The play is performed in the Mead
Center’s Kogod Cradle in a new three-quarter thrust
configuration. Extended to May 31, with a two-week
break at the start of May. Mead Center for American
Theater, 1101 6th St. SW. Call 202-488-3300 or visit
arenastage.org.

THE SORROW MESSAGE

Baltimore’s adventurous company Daydreams +
Nightmares Aerial (DNA) Theatre presents this dark
and fantastical play by Annelise Montone about a boy
who runs to the ocean after witnessing his parents
fighting. A thoroughly homegrown production, The
Sorrow Message incorporates aerial acrobatics and
high technology in addition to more standard theater
fare. Closes this Sunday, April 19. Baltimore Theatre
Project, 45 West Preston St. Baltimore. Tickets are
$24. Call 410-752-8558 or visit theatreproject.org.

MUSIC
BALTIMORE SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA

Peter Oundjian leads the BSO in a program featuring Mussorgsky’s stirring Pictures at an Exhibition,
soloist Katherine Needleman performing Vaughan
Williams’s Oboe Concerto, and Haydn’s Symphony No.
96, “Miracle.” Friday, April 17, at 8 p.m., and Sunday,
April 19, at 3 p.m. Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall,
1212 Cathedral St., Baltimore. Also Saturday, April

18, at 8 p.m., Music Center at Strathmore, 5301
Tuckerman Lane, North Bethesda. Tickets are $50 to
$105. Call 410-783-8000 or visit bsomusic.org.

BELA FLECK AND ABIGAIL WASHBURN

Legendary banjo virtuoso Bela Fleck, nominated
in more categories than anyone in Grammy history, returns to the region to perform with his wife,
Abigail Washburn, also a well-regarded banjo player
and vocalist. Sunday, April 19, at 3 p.m. Ram’s Head
On Stage, 33 West St., Annapolis. Tickets are $45.
Call 410-268-4545 or visit ramsheadonstage.com.

DUKE DUMONT

Part of a strong, young British crop of soul-informed
deep house DJs/producers also including Disclosure
and Gorgon City, Duke Dumont has had some
impressive early success, as his first two singles both
reached the top of the charts in the U.K. and also
snagged back-to-back dance Grammy nominations.
First was “Need U (100%)” featuring the Sierra
Leone-born British singer A*M*E, and next came
his song “I Got U” featuring producer Jax Jones and
vocalist Kelli-Leigh in an inspired interpolation and
homage to Whitney Houston’s “My Love Is Your
Love.” Both feature on last year’s four-song EP1.
Here’s hoping a full-length album is in the works.
Saturday, April 25. Doors at 10:30 p.m. Nightclub
9:30, 815 V St. NW. Tickets are $20. Call 202-2650930 or visit 930.com.

GILBERTO GIL

This Brazilian music legend is a leader of the
Tropicália movement and was more recently a former Brazilian Minister of Culture. The singer/guitarist/composer returns to GW Lisner to perform
from his extensive catalogue. Friday, April 24, at 8
p.m. Lisner Auditorium, The George Washington
University, 730 21st St. NW. Tickets are $45 to $75.
Call 202-994-6800 or visit lisner.org.

HURRAY FOR THE RIFF RAFF

Singer-songwriter and banjo player Alynda Lee
Segarra, a New York native of Puerto Rican descent,
leads this tender, bluegrass-inspired indie-folk collective, which is based in New Orleans. Segarra
said in an NPR interview that this current six-piece
group is “a very queer band.” Besides Segarra, who
identifies as queer and as “a longtime ally of queer
causes,” there’s also drummer/fiddle player Yosi
Perlstein, who is transgender. Hurray for the Riff
Raff tours in support of last year’s Small Town
Heroes. Tuesday, April 21. Doors at 7 p.m. Nightclub
9:30, 815 V St. NW. Tickets are $20. Call 202-2650930 or visit 930.com.

KENNEDY CENTER’S
CONSERVATORY PROJECT

Twice a year, the Kennedy Center showcases the
best young musical artists from leading music
schools through its Conservatory Project and its
free Millennium Stage programming. Concerts on
tap this round will come from star students at
Manhattan School of Music on Saturday, April 18, San
Francisco Conservatory of Music on Sunday, April
19, New England Conservatory of Music on Monday,
April 20, Bienen School of Music at Northwestern
University on Tuesday, April 21, the Juilliard School
on Wednesday, April 22, Eastman School of Music at
Rochester University on Thursday, April 23, Berklee
College of Music on Friday, April 25, and Oberlin
Conservatory of Music on Saturday, April 26. All
performances at 6 p.m. Kennedy Center Terrace
Theater. Tickets are free. Call 202-467-4600 or visit
www.kennedy-center.org.

LEE ANN WOMACK

Petite Texan continues to tour in support of last
year’s classic country set The Way I’m Livin’, her first
after a seven-year absence. Womack’s stop at Wolf

Trap next week is sold out, but tickets are still available for the show at Ram’s
Head in Annapolis. Amanda Shires opens. Tuesday, April 21, at 8 p.m. Ram’s Head
On Stage, 33 West St., Annapolis. Tickets are $65, or $145 also including dinner
and unlimited drinks. Call 410-268-4545 or visit ramsheadonstage.com.

ROSANNE CASH

The eldest daughter of country music legend Johnny Cash has carved her own
path to fame. Rosanne Cash, with her deep, velvet-lined voice, is one of those artists who is infinitely and repeatedly listenable. Her latest album, The River and the
Thread, combines roots-oriented music with her trademarked lushness. Cash told
Metro Weekly last year that the new set, produced by her husband and frequent
collaborator John Leventhal, is meant to convey “the theme of Southern place and
time.” “Somebody said that this record was the sound of a true marriage. And that
really touched me deeply. John and I worked a long time to get to a place where
the sum is greater than the parts.” Friday, April 17, at 8 p.m. Music Center at
Strathmore, 5301 Tuckerman Lane, North Bethesda. Tickets are $27 to $68. Call
301-581-5100 or visit strathmore.org.

VIJAY IYER TRIO

This celebrity jazz pianist returns with his longtime collaborators, bassist
Stephan Crump and drummer Marcus Gilmore, who as the Grammy-nominated
Vijay Iyer Trio are known for covers of everything from Bernstein to M.I.A. The
ensemble’s latest album Break Stuff includes originals plus renditions of jazz standards including Billy Strayhorn’s Bloodcount, Thelonious Monk’s Work and John
Coltrane’s Countdown. Sunday, April 19, at 7 p.m., at Sixth & I Historic Synagogue,
600 I St. NW. Tickets are $25 in advance or $28 day-of show. Call 202-408-3100
or visit sixthandi.org.

DANCE
PAN AMERICAN SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA: SOLO TANGO

DC Tango Festival presents the Pan American Symphony’s Solo Tango, a best of
tango performance featuring two bandoneon players, Argentine tenor Martin
de Leon and acclaimed tango dancers. Wednesday, April 25, at 8 p.m. Lisner
Auditorium, The George Washington University, 730 21st St. NW. Tickets are $35
to $45. Call 202-994-6800 or visit lisner.org.

PILOBOLUS

Connecticut-based dance troupe returns to D.C. to yet again show off its daring,
athletic moves, this time in the intimate space of McLean’s Alden Theatre. The
company is known, as its gay co-dance captain Nile Russell told Metro Weekly a
few years ago, “[for the] idea of weight-sharing.... Not so much lifting people, but
pouring your weight into them to leave the ground.”
Friday, April 17, at 8 p.m. Alden Theatre at the McLean Community Center, 1234
Ingleside Ave., Mclean, Va. Tickets are $45 to $50. Call 703-790-0123 or visit
www.mcleancenter.org/alden-theatre.

COMEDY
OPHIRA EISENBERG

Host of NPR’s second-most popular trivia comedy show Ask Me Another, this
comedian and writer was previously selected as one of New York Magazine’s “Top
10 Comics that Funny People Find Funny.” Matty Litwack opens for Eisenberg in
this free Millennium Stage performance also part of the new initiative Comedy at
the Kennedy Center. Sunday, April 26, at 6 p.m. Kennedy Center Terrace Theater.
Tickets are free. Call 202-467-4600 or visit www.kennedy-center.org.

PORKCHOP VOLCANO

This live short form improv troupe specializes in rapid-fire laughs inspired by
audience suggestions and performs on special Saturday nights at its home base,
the Arlington Drafthouse. Saturday, April 18, at 9 p.m. Arlington Cinema N’
Drafthouse, 2903 Columbia Pike, Arlington. Tickets are free. Call 703-486-2345
or visit arlingtondrafthouse.com.

GALLERIES
BEYOND BOLLYWOOD: INDIAN AMERICANS SHAPE THE NATION

Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center presents this ambitious and colorful exhibition on the second floor of the National Museum of Natural History,
exploring the heritage, daily experiences and diverse contributions of Indians
and Indian Americans. Through Aug. 16. National Museum of Natural History,
10th Street and Constitution Avenue NW. Call 202-633-1000 or visit mnh.si.edu.

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CONFLUENCE: CONSIDERING THE ANACOSTIA

Photographs of the Anacostia River are presented in
an exhibit at the Anacostia Arts Center and featuring
the work of National Geographic freelance photographer Becky Harlan, local gallery artist David Allen
Harris, wildlife and conservation photographer
Krista Schlyer, and documentary-style photographer
Bruce McNeil. The exhibit coincides with the firstever Anacostia River Festival, the closing event of
the National Cherry Blossom Festival. Through May
1. Anacostia Arts Center, 1231 Good Hope Road SE.
Call 202-631-6291 or visit anacostiaartscenter.com.

FORDLANDIA: THE LOST CITY OF HENRY FORD

The Art Museum of the Americas presents the first
in a series on megalomania by British artist Dan

Dubowitz, who took photographs a few years ago
revealing what became of the large chunk of land
that Henry Ford bought in the Brazilian rainforest
just before the Great Depression. This was a delusion
of grandeur — Ford was hoping to create a rubberproducing community, solely focused on work — that
may have flopped royally, but it did succeed in encouraging other wealthy tycoons as well as poor local golddiggers to plunder the rainforest to try other ways of
making a profit. Dubowitz toured and photographed
the deserted Fordlandia a few years ago, and the new
photos are contrasted by those from Ford’s minions
taken in the 1930s. To May 1. Art Museum of the
Americas, Organization of American States, 1889 F St.
NW. Call 202-370-0149 or visit AMAmuseum.org to
schedule an appointment.

Making Waves

Andrea Miller’s Gallim Dance aims to push the genre forward

I

T’S LIKE A 60-MINUTE PUSH-UP WITH A LOT OF REWARD AT THE
end,” choreographer Andrea Miller says with a chuckle.
Her New York company Gallim Dance is gearing up for its Washington
debut, performing the award-winning Blush — an ambitious work that aims to
convey one of the most elusive human expressions. “It’s an experience, going
through a very emotional arc with the dancers.” In the piece, all six dancers are
expressly told to be and act as themselves, not as characters or performers, “to get
as close to their true selves, or these universal ideas of human experience.”
Washington Performing Arts co-presents the performance in a partnership
with CityDance, whose students will also open the show performing another work
by the company, which Miller founded in 2007.
She was inspired by the surfers she would see as she walked to her dance studio
while living in Tel Aviv. “The name means ‘wave’ in Hebrew,” she explains. “I felt
like they really understood the earth, in this way that was very surprising to me
— which is that there is always this momentum, this thing that’s pushing forward
in the waves. And basically all you can do is carve your path within that place.”
Miller, honored as a 2014 Guggenheim Fellow for “demonstrating exceptional
creative ability,” is certainly making waves with her company. She regularly partners with organizations and events outside the world of dance — most recently
with “a site-specific live dance and projection installation” in the atrium at New
York’s Lincoln Center last fall that, through video work and viewings from different angles, offered spectators different perspectives on the same moves.
“I’m not inspired by dance in general,” Miller says. “I find it a very limiting
thing. I try actually to use everything other than dance to create my work…to make
it relevant to people beyond the dance world.” —Doug Rule
Thursday, April 16, and Friday, April 17, at 8 p.m. Lansburgh Theatre, 450 7th St.
NW. Tickets are $30. Call 202-785-9727 or visit washingtonperformingarts.org.

IF THE SHOE FITS

The art and sole of the shoe is the focus of this
multi-artist exhibition at Strathmore, exploring the
history and culture of footwear. In addition to a
miniature shoe collection and pieces from Saks Fifth
Avenue Chevy Chase, the exhibition boasts designs
by Marika Verploegh Chasse, Petros Chrisostomou,
Suzanne Firstenberg, Joyce Zipperer and students
at the Rhode Island School of Design. Through May
31. The Mansion at Strathmore, 10701 Rockville
Pike, North Bethesda. Call 301-581-5100 or visit
strathmore.org.

SPLENDOR & SURPRISE:
ELEGANT CONTAINERS, ANTIQUE TO MODERN

The Hillwood Museum presents a special exhibition
featuring more than 80 remarkable boxes, coffers,
chests and other containers that reveal the ways in
which cultures have contained their most treasured
items and everyday objects over the past four centuries. Through June 7. Hillwood Estate, 4155 Linnean
Ave. NW. Suggested donation is $12. Call 202-6865807 or visit HillwoodMuseum.org.

THE CIVIL RIGHTS ACT OF 1964:
A LONG STRUGGLE FOR FREEDOM

The Library of Congress commemorates the 50th
anniversary of the Civil Rights Act with a yearlong
exhibition highlighting legal and legislative victories
and shedding light on the individuals who shaped
the civil rights movement. Through Sept. 12. The
Library of Congress’s Thomas Jefferson Building,
10 First St. SE. Call 202-707-8000 or visit loc.gov/
exhibits.

THE VISIONARY EXPERIENCE:
SAINT FRANCIS TO FINSTER

Baltimore’s quirky Visionary Art Museum offers
its 20th annual exhibition, this one championing
life’s grand “Eureka!” moments, held in common
by Earth’s most dynamic and intuitive “evolutionaries,” from inventors, scientists, America’s founding fathers, dreamers and saints. The show was
co-curated by filmmaker and publisher Jodi Wille
and AVAM founder and director Rebecca Alban
Hoffberger. Through Aug. 30. American Visionary
Art Museum, 800 Key Highway. Baltimore. Tickets
are $15.95. Call 410-244-1900 or visit avam.org.

ABOVE AND BEYOND
COLUMBIA FESTIVAL OF THE ARTS:
AMERICAN ROUTES

Build it and they will come, even in Columbia: What
started as an annual multidisciplinary arts festival
has now expanded to become a four-times-a-year
kind of event, kicking off this weekend. The lineup
for this Spring edition, “American Routes” includes
performances of the one-woman play The Amish
Project and the Civil War drama The Whipping Man,
and an Opera Delaware event “Wine, Women and
Food!” The festival kicks off Thursday, April 16, at
an evening party featuring live visual and performing
artists hosted by the 18th Century Belmont Manor
and Historic Park. To April 19. Various locations.
Ticket prices vary, but an all-inclusive Access Pass is
$125. Call 410-715-3044 or visit columbiafestival.org
for more information.

SHAKESPEARE’S BIRTHDAY OPEN HOUSE
FRANZISKA STRAUSS

Jugglers and jesters join other theatrical performers and musicians in celebrating what would be the
bard’s big day, complete with cake. Celebrants can
also stroll around the building and the Elizabethan
garden. Sunday, April 19, from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Folger Shakespeare Library, 201 East Capitol St. SE.
Free. Call 202-544-7077 or visit folger.edu. l

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scene
2015 Helen Hayes
Awards After Party at
The Howard Theatre
Monday, April 6
scan this tag
with your
smartphone
for bonus scene
pics online!

PHOTOGRAPHY BY
WARD MORRISON

SEE MORE PHOTOS FROM THIS EVENT AT WWW.METROWEEKLY.COM/SCENE

37

stage

Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
is an evening of easy entertainment
with reliable life lessons
by KATE WINGFIELD

L

ET’S CALL IT WHAT IT IS: GENERATIONal. Whether you will like Christopher Durang’s
Chekhovian riff Vanya and Sonia and Masha and
Spike probably depends largely on whether you liked
Aaron Posner’s Chekhovian riff Stupid Fucking Bird. If you liked
Bird, you may not be that enthralled with Vanya, and vice versa.
Put another way, Bird captures a Gen X sensibility, whereas
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Vanya is more for your Boomer mother-in-law.
Now consider the fact that it is Posner directing Arena’s production of Durang’s Vanya. Does oil mix with water?
Well, on the one hand, there is the logic of asking Posner,
based on his obvious passion for pulling Chekov into a 21st
century mindset. On the other, one can’t help but wonder how
Posner’s sensibility — the irreverent energy, ruthless angst, and
scorching sense of humor –- would ever sit comfortably behind
Durang’s very different style, a style that is unabashedly sitcommy when it’s not feeling like the director’s cut of an especially
gloomy Prairie Home Companion?
But mostly it does, and this is due to Posner’s obvious skill as
a director. If there is the teeniest, tiniest of unevenness evidencing a few Posner bubbles in the Durang oil, it’s likely only a Bird
lover will notice.
For most, this will be an evening of easy entertainment. If you
like reliable jokes, reliable life lessons, tisking along with your

C. STANLEY PHOTOGRAPHY

Sibling Rivalry

METROWEEKLY.COM

APRIL 16, 2015

39

neighbors to bad character behavior, and joining approving claps
for middle-aged girl-power, you’ll be in your element. For those
who like a wistful moment or two, there are times when Durang
approaches, albeit briefly and lightly, some genuine grief at life’s
unforgiving passage.
Whether funny or sad, most of these moments center around
Vanya and Sonia, a middle-aged brother and (adopted) sister
who have devoted much of their later adult lives to caring for
recently-departed parents. Now their time is their own and
they are reluctantly faced with uncertain futures as well as the
tail-ends of questionable life choices. When their film-star sister Masha swoops in for an unscheduled visit to the ancestral
home, it is clear that she, too, is in the throes of an angst, some
of which accompanies her in the form of a much younger boyfriend, Spike. As the siblings begin to take refuge in old battles
and teeter on the verge of new ones, the irreverent housekeeper
Cassandra interjects with warnings of impending doom and a
young visitor further stirs the pot.
Though Sonia, who presents as naïve, is a compelling instigator, it is Vanya who emerges as Durang’s spiritual touchstone.
Eric Hissom inhabits this quietly sardonic and rather longsuffering individual with the ideal blend of self-possession and
self-repression. He is one of the long-term unfulfilled, having
remained single (and apparently celibate) for years. But unlike
Sonia, this is not what bothers his soul.
What does leads to Vanya’s climactic cri de coeur is Durang’s
most interesting contemplation. Without ruining Vanya’s
moment, he suggests that we have all lost something of our place
in the world in having gained access to every corner of it, instantly and without limit. Hissom captures this idea with an outrage
and grief worthy of a Posner play –- which is saying something.

40

APRIL 16, 2015

METROWEEKLY.COM

If Vanya is the play’s conscience, Sonia is its heart –- even if
it’s rather a corny one. Though she has something of a comingof-middle-age that will get the Red Hat Society inductees and
emeriti alternately seat-dancing and getting misty-eyed, there is
nevertheless just a bit more to Sonia than her crowd-pleasing.
She may be flaky but Durang gives her an occasionally canny and
sardonic eye and voice. This balance between the artless and the
activated is not an easy one and Sherri L. Edelen gets it right,
with a kind of defiant charisma that goes a long way in mitigating
the hokier moments.
Stuck with Masha, the least-dimensional sibling, Grace
Gonglewski delivers the strutting goods of this once self-assured
woman, but can make little else of Masha’s uninspired revelations. Durang offers virtually nothing of what has made this
woman who she is — she’s more the issuer of pronouncements
than a real woman with credible strengths and vulnerabilities.
Thus, the hard edge Gonglewski gives her never convincingly
thaws.
Always a stand out, Jessica Frances Dukes knocks it out of the
park with her Cassandra, inflating the flatter humor and defying
the corn to keep her as compelling as she is funny as she is memorable. As for the two youngsters of the piece, Rachel Esther
Tate keeps Nina, the young visitor who pleases and annoys the
siblings in equal measure, convincingly guileless though she
presents as too young to be a genuine sexual threat. Jefferson
Farber plays his comedic foil Spike to Durang’s specs, which
could have been a lot funnier, sadder and subversive.
Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike (HHHHH) runs to May
3rd at Arena Stage — Mead Center for American Theater, 1101 6th
St. SW. Call 202-488-3300 or visit arenastage.org. l

scene
Phase 1 Re-Opening
Friday, March 27
scan this tag
with your
smartphone
for bonus scene
pics online!

PHOTOGRAPHY BY
WARD MORRISON

SEE MORE PHOTOS FROM THIS EVENT AT WWW.METROWEEKLY.COM/SCENE

41

42

APRIL 16, 2015

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APRIL 16, 2015

43

44

APRIL 16, 2015

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NIGHT

LIFE
LISTINGS
THURS., 04.16.15

9 1/2
Happy Hour: 2 for 1 on any
drink, 5-9pm • Multiple
TVs showing movies,
shows, sports • Expanded
craft beer selection • No
Cover • Music videos featuring DJ Wess
ANNIE’S/ANNIE’S
UPSTAIRS
4@4 Happy Hour, 4pm-7pm
• $4 Small Plates, $4 Stella
Artois, $4 House Wines,
$4 Stolichnaya Cocktails,
$4 Manhattans and Vodka
Martinis
COBALT/30 DEGREES
Happy Hour: $6 Call
Martini, $3 Miller Lite, $4
Rail, $5 Call, 4-9pm • $3
Rail Drinks, 10pm-midnight,
$5 Red Bull, Gatorade and
Frozen Virgin Drinks •
Cherry Nova, 10pm-2am •
DJ Ovahness on the main
dance floor, DJ Kostas
on the second floor • $5
suggested donation •
Featuring Dancers Seth
Fornea and Jared Bradford
• Cherry event tickets at
www.cherryfund.org •
VIp ticketholders get open
bar serving only Absolut,
Jameson and Avion
Tequila, 10-11pm • $10
for extra hour of open bar,
11pm-midnight • 21+
DC EAGLE
Throwback Thursday •
Ted on the Bar, Peter on
the Boot Black Chair •
Men in DC Eagle T-shirts
drink $1 rail and domestic,
5pm-close

GREEN LANTERN
Happy Hour, 4-9pm •
Ladies Drink Free Power
Hour, 4-5 pm • Shirtless
Thursday, 10-11pm • DJs
BacK2bACk

FREDDIE’S BEACH BAR
Crazy Hour, 4-7pm •
Karaoke, 8pm

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45

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APRIL 16, 2015

METROWEEKLY.COM

scene
Madonnarama at Town
Saturday, April 11
scan this tag
with your
smartphone
for bonus scene
pics online!

PHOTOGRAPHY BY
WARD MORRISON

JR.’S
$3 Rail Vodka Highballs, $2
JR.’s drafts, 8pm to close •
Throwback Thursday featuring rock/pop retro hits
NELLIE’S SPORTS BAR
Beat The Clock Happy Hour
— $2 (5-6pm), $3 (6-7pm),
$4 (7-8pm) • Buckets of
Beer $15 • Drag Bingo
NUMBER NINE
Happy Hour: 2 for 1 on any
drink, 5-9pm • No Cover
TOWN PATIO
Open 5pm • No Cover
ZIEGFELD’S/SECRETS
All male, nude dancers •
Shirtless Thursday • DJ
Tim-e in Secrets • 9pm •
Cover 21+
FRI., 04.17.15

9 1/2
Open at 5pm • Happy Hour:
2 for 1 on any drink, 5-9pm
• Friday Night Videos with
resident DJ Shea Van Horn
• VJ • Expanded craft beer
selection • No cover

ANNIE’S
4@4 Happy Hour, 4-7pm •
$4 Small Plates, $4 Stella
Artois, $4 House Wines,
$4 Stolichnaya Cocktails,
$4 Manhattans and Vodka
Martinis • Upstairs open
5-11pm
COBALT/30 DEGREES
All You Can Drink Happy
Hour • $15 Rail &
Domestic, $21 Call &
Imports, 6-9pm • Guys
Night Out • Free Rail
Vodka, 11pm-Midnight, $6
Belvedere Vodka Drinks
all night • Watch your
favorite music videos with
DJ MadScience in the
lounge • DJ Keenan Orr
on the dancefloor • $10
cover 10pm-1am, $5 after
1am • 21+
DC BEAR CRUE
@Town • Bear Happy
Hour, 6-11pm • $3 Rail,
$3 Draft, $3 Bud Bottles •
Free Pizza, 7pm • Hosted
by Charger Stone • No
cover before 9:30pm • 21+

DC EAGLE
Bear Happy Hour, 6-10pm
• Extended Happy Hour
prices until 10pm • Coat
check open • Join Mr. DC
Eagle 2015 on Club Bar,
celebrating his birthday
FREDDIE’S BEACH BAR
Crazy Hour, 4-7pm •
Karaoke, 8pm
GREEN LANTERN
Happy Hour, 4-9pm • DJ
MAJR presents SIREN:
The 5th Annual Robyn Riot
• $5 Cover after 10pm •
$5 Stoli, $4 Fireball shots,
$3 Bud • $5 Smirnoff, all
flavors, all night long
JR.’S
Buy 1, Get 1, 11pm-midnight • Happy Hour: 2-for1, 4-9pm • $5 Coronas, $8
Vodka Red Bulls, 9pm-close
NELLIE’S SPORTS BAR
DJ Matt Bailer • Videos,
Dancing • Beat The Clock
Happy Hour — $2 (5-6pm),
$3 (6-7pm), $4 (7-8pm) •
Buckets of Beer $15

NUMBER NINE
Open 5pm • Happy Hour: 2
for 1 on any drink, 5-9pm •
No Cover
TOWN
Drag Show starts at
10:30pm • Hosted by Lena
Lett and featuring Miss
Tatianna, Shi-QueetaLee, Epiphany B. Lee
and Ba’Naka • DJ Wess
upstairs, BacK2bACk
downstairs • Doors open
at 10pm • For those 21 and
over, $5 from 10-11pm and
$10 after 11pm • For those
18-20, $12 all night • 18+
TOWN PATIO
Open 5pm • No Cover,
5-10pm, $5 from 10-11pm
and $10 after 11pm (enter
through Town)
ZIEGFELD’S/SECRETS
All male, nude dancers,
hosted by LaTroya Nicole •
Ladies of Illusion with host
Kristina Kelly, 9pm • DJ
Steve Henderson in Secrets
• VJ Tre in Ziegfeld’s •
Cover 21+

SAT., 04.18.15

9 1/2
Open at 5pm • Happy
Hour: 2 for 1 on any drink,
3-9pm • $5 Absolut &
Tito’s, $3 Miller Lite after
9pm • Expanded craft
beer selection • No Cover
• Music videos featuring
various DJs
COBALT/30 DEGREES
Drag Yourself to Brunch at
Level One, 11am-2pm and
2-4pm • Featuring Kristina
Kelly and the Ladies of
Illusion • Bottomless
Mimosas and Bloody
Marys • Happy Hour: $3
Miller Lite, $4 Rail, $5
Call, 4-9pm • The Ladies
of LURe present BARE:
Annual Spring Fling, 10pm3am • Featuring DJ Rosie
and DJ Kennan Orr, plus
DystRucXion Dancers •
Flip-Cup and Beer Pong •
Ticket raffle for Aqua Girl
in Miami (May 13-17) • $7
before midnight, $10 after
midnight • 21+

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DC EAGLE
DILF Party 10pm-1am •
Atlantic States Gay Rodeo
Association on Club Bar
FREDDIE’S BEACH BAR
Diner-style Breakfast
Buffet, 10am-3pm • Crazy
Hour, 4-7pm • Freddie’s
Follies Drag Show, hosted
by Ms. Destiny B. Childs,
8-10pm • Karaoke, 10pmclose
GREEN LANTERN
Happy Hour, 4-9pm • Bears
Can Dance, 9pm-close •
No Cover • $5 Bacardi, all
flavors, all night long
JR.’S
$4 Coors, $5 Vodka highballs, $7 Vodka Red Bulls
NELLIE’S
Guest DJs • Zing Zang
Bloody Marys, Nellie Beer,
House Rail Drinks and
Mimosas, $4, 11am-5pm •
Buckets of Beer, $15
NUMBER NINE
Happy Hour: 2 for 1 on any
drink, 3-9pm • No Cover

APRIL 16, 2015

47

TOWN
DC Rawhides host Town
& Country: Two-Step, Line
Dancing, Waltz and West
Coast Swing, $5 Cover to
stay all night • Doors open
6:45pm, Lessons 7-8pm,
Open dance 8-10:30pm •
Cherry Main Event: RED
PLANET with DJ Tom
Stephan, 11pm-close • $15
tickets at the door, $20 tickets in advance via www.
cherryfund.org • Music and
videos downstairs with DJ
Wess • Drag Show starts
at 10:30pm • Hosted by
Lena Lett and featuring
Miss Tatianna, Shi-QueetaLee, Epiphany B. Lee and
Ba’Naka • Doors open
10pm • Cover $10 from
10-11pm, $12 after 11pm
• 21+
TOWN PATIO
Open 2pm • No Cover,
2-10pm, Cover $10 from
10-11pm, $12 after 11pm
(enter through Town)

48

APRIL 16, 2015

METROWEEKLY.COM

ZIEGFELD’S/SECRETS
Men of Secrets, 9pm •
Guest dancers • Ladies
of Illusion with host Ella
Fitzgerald, 9pm • DJ Steve
Henderson in Secrets •
DJ Don T. in Ziegfeld’s •
Doors 8pm • Cover 21+

FREDDIE’S BEACH BAR
Champagne Brunch Buffet,
10am-3pm • Crazy Hour,
4-7pm • DC Gurly Show
presents Cherry Bomb:
Women that Rock, 9pm •
No Cover • Food specials,
8-10pm • Karaoke, 11pm1am

SUN., 04.19.15

GREEN LANTERN
Happy Hour, 4-9pm • $3
Smirnoff, all flavors, all
night • #SundayFunday
upstairs • Wear your favorite sports jersey upstairs
and get free Smirnoff,
6-7pm • Mama’s Trailer
Park Karaoke, 9:30pm-close

9 1/2
Happy Hour: 2 for 1 on any
drink, 3-9pm • Multiple
TVs showing movies,
shows, sports • Expanded
craft beer selection • No
Cover
COBALT/30 DEGREES
$4 Stoli, Stoli flavors
and Miller Lite all day •
Homowood Karaoke, 10pmclose • No Cover, 21+
DC EAGLE
Barbecue and Beer Blast
• $2 off pitchers of beer
all day, including Shock
Top, Devil’s Backbone and
Goose Island IPA

JR.’S
Sunday Funday • Liquid
Brunch • Doors open at
1pm • $2 Coors Lights &
$3 Skyy (all flavors), all day
and night
NELLIE’S
Drag Brunch, hosted by
Shi-Queeta-Lee, 11am-3pm
• $20 Brunch Buffet •
House Rail Drinks, Zing
Zang Bloody Marys, Nellie
Beer and Mimosas, $4,
11am-close • Buckets of
Beer, $15

NUMBER NINE
Pop Goes the World with
Wes Della Volla at 9:30
pm • Happy Hour: 2 for
1 on any drink, 3-9pm •
No Cover
TOWN PATIO
Open 2pm • No Cover
ZIEGFELD’S/SECRETS
All male, nude dancers •
Decades of Dance • DJ
Tim-e in Secrets • Doors
8pm • Cover 21+
MON., 04.20.15

9 1/2
Open at 5pm • Happy Hour:
2 for 1 on any drink, 5-9pm
• Multiple TVs showing
movies, shows, sports •
Expanded craft beer selection • No Cover
ANNIE’S
4@4 Happy Hour, 4-7pm •
$4 Small Plates, $4 Stella
Artois, $4 House Wines,
$4 Stolichnaya Cocktails,
$4 Manhattans and Vodka
Martinis

COBALT/30 DEGREES
Happy Hour: $2 Rail, $3
Miller Lite, $5 Call, 4-9pm
• RuPaul’s Drag Race
Viewing and Drag Show
hosted by Kristina Kelly •
Doors open at 10pm, show
starts at 11pm • $3 Skyy
Cocktails, $8 Skyy and Red
Bull • No Cover, 18+

NUMBER NINE
Open 5pm • Happy Hour: 2
for 1 on any drink, 5-9pm •
No Cover

FREDDIE’S
Crazy Hour, 4-7pm •
Karaoke, 8pm

9 1/2
Open at 5pm • Happy Hour:
2 for 1 on any drink, 5-9pm
• Multiple TVs showing
movies, shows, sports •
Expanded craft beer selection • No Cover

GREEN LANTERN
Happy Hour All Night Long,
4pm-close • Michael’s
Open Mic Night Karaoke,
9:30pm-close
JR.’S
Happy Hour: 2-for-1, 4-9pm
• Showtunes Songs &
Singalongs, 9pm-close •
DJ Jamez • $3 Drafts
NELLIE’S SPORTS BAR
Beat The Clock Happy Hour
— $2 (5-6pm), $3 (6-7pm),
$4 (7-8pm) • Buckets of
Beer $15 • Poker Texas
Hold’em, 8pm • Dart
Boards

TOWN PATIO
Open 5pm • No Cover
TUES., 04.21.15

ANNIE’S
Happy Hour, 4-7pm • $4
Stella Artois, $4 House
Wines, $4 Stolichnaya
Cocktails, $4 Manhattans
and Vodka Martinis
COBALT/30 DEGREES
Happy Hour: $2 Rail, $3
Miller Lite, $5 Call, 4-9pm
• SIN Industry Night •
Half-price Cocktails, 10pmclose

FREDDIE’S BEACH BAR
Crazy Hour, 4-7pm •
Karaoke, 8pm
GREEN LANTERN
Happy Hour All Night Long,
4pm-close
JR.’S
Underground (Indie Pop/Alt/
Brit Rock), 9pm-close • DJ
Wes Della Volla • 2-for-1,
all day and night
NELLIE’S SPORTS BAR
Beat The Clock Happy Hour
— $2 (5-6pm), $3 (6-7pm),
$4 (7-8pm) • Buckets of
Beer $15 • Karaoke and
Drag Bingo
NUMBER NINE
Open 5pm • Happy Hour: 2
for 1 on any drink, 5-9pm •
No Cover • Safe Word: A
Gay Spelling Bee, 8-11pm
• Prizes to top three
spellers • After 9pm, $3
Absolut, Bulleit & Stella
TOWN PATIO
Open 5pm • No Cover

WED., 04.22.15

9 1/2
Happy Hour: 2 for 1 on any
drink, 5-9pm • Multiple
TVs showing movies,
shows, sports • Expanded
craft beer selection • No
Cover
ANNIE’S
Happy Hour, 4-7pm • $4
Stella Artois, $4 House
Wines, $4 Stolichnaya
Cocktails, $4 Manhattans
and Vodka Martinis
COBALT/30 DEGREES
Happy Hour: $2 Rail, $3
Miller Lite, $5 Call, 4-9pm
• Wednesday Night
Karaoke downstairs, 10pm
• Hosted by Miss Sasha
Adams • $4 Stoli and Stoli
Flavors and Miller Lite •
No Cover • 21+
FREDDIE’S BEACH BAR
Crazy Hour, 4-7pm • $6
Burgers • Drag Bingo
Night, hosted by Ms.
Regina Jozet Adams •
Bingo prizes • Karaoke,
10pm-1am

METROWEEKLY.COM

GREEN LANTERN
Happy Hour, 4-9pm • $4
Drafts all night long • Boys
of HUMP upstairs, 9pm
JR.’S
Trivia with MC Jay Ray,
8pm • The Queen, 10-11pm
• $2 JR’s Drafts & $4
Vodka ($2 with College I.D./
JR’s Team Shirt)
NELLIE’S SPORTS BAR
SmartAss Trivia Night, 8pm
and 9pm • Prizes include
bar tabs and tickets to
shows at the 9:30 Club •
$15 Buckets of Beer for
SmartAss Teams only •
Bring a new team member
and each get a free $10
Dinner
NUMBER NINE
Happy Hour: 2 for 1 on any
drink, 5-9pm • No Cover
TOWN PATIO
Open 5pm • No Cover

APRIL 16, 2015

49

ZIEGFELD’S/SECRETS
All male, nude dancers •
Shirtless Night, 10-11pm,
12-12:30am • Military
Night, no cover with
military ID • DJ Don T. in
Secrets • 9pm • Cover 21+
THURS., 04.23.15

9 1/2
Happy Hour: 2 for 1 on any
drink, 5-9pm • Multiple
TVs showing movies,
shows, sports • Expanded
craft beer selection • No
Cover • Music videos featuring DJ Wess
ANNIE’S/ANNIE’S
UPSTAIRS
4@4 Happy Hour, 4pm-7pm
• $4 Small Plates, $4 Stella
Artois, $4 House Wines,
$4 Stolichnaya Cocktails,
$4 Manhattans and Vodka
Martinis

Oral
Fixation
you can listen
to any story at
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“speak” button
50

APRIL 16, 2015

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COBALT/30 DEGREES
Happy Hour: $6 Call
Martini, $3 Miller Lite, $4
Rail, $5 Call, 4-9pm • $3
Rail Drinks, 10pm-midnight,
$5 Red Bull, Gatorade
and Frozen Virgin Drinks
• Locker Room Thursday
Nights • DJs Sean Morris
and MadScience • Ripped
Hot Body Contest at midnight, hosted by Sasha
J. Adams and Ba’Naka •
$200 Cash Prize • Doors
open 10pm, 18+ • $5 Cover
under 21 and free with
college ID
DC EAGLE
Throwback Thursday •
Ted on the Bar, Peter on
the Boot Black Chair •
Men in DC Eagle T-shirts
drink $1 rail and domestic,
5pm-close
FREDDIE’S BEACH BAR
Crazy Hour, 4-7pm •
Karaoke, 8pm • Dining Out
for Life, 6-10pm • $35 per
person

GREEN LANTERN
Happy Hour, 4-9pm •
Ladies Drink Free Power
Hour, 4-5 pm • Shirtless
Thursday, 10-11pm •
Featuring music by DJs
BacK2bACk
JR.’S
$3 Rail Vodka Highballs, $2
JR.’s drafts, 8pm to close •
Throwback Thursday featuring rock/pop retro hits
NELLIE’S SPORTS BAR
Beat The Clock Happy Hour
— $2 (5-6pm), $3 (6-7pm),
$4 (7-8pm) • Buckets of
Beer $15
NUMBER NINE
Happy Hour: 2 for 1 on any
drink, 5-9pm • No Cover
TOWN PATIO
Open 5pm • No Cover
ZIEGFELD’S/SECRETS
All male, nude dancers •
Shirtless Thursday • DJ
Tim-e in Secrets • 9pm •
Cover 21+ l

SEE MORE PHOTOS FROM THIS EVENT AT WWW.METROWEEKLY.COM/SCENE

51

BY JOHN RILEY

CLUBLIFE

S Two-Step

Therapy

“Town & Country” offers a chance to relax, socialize and learn some fancy footwork

D

ANCING IS MY THERapy,” says Patrick
DiBattista of the DC
Rawhides. “It’s how I stay
adjusted. Some people go to
the gym and pump iron. I go
dancing.”
For DiBattista, a veteran
line dancer, there’s also a
sense of camaraderie, especially when he and his fellow
Rawhides take over Town
Danceboutique for a biweekly
event on early Saturday evenings known as “Town &
Country.” The event seeks
to expose a new audience
to structured dances like the
waltz, the two-step, and west
coast swing by teaching novices the basic steps and then
letting them experiment.
“It’s a chance to socialize, interact, and have a fun
time,” DiBattista says. “We
aim to make people comfortable, even if they don’t know

52

APRIL 16, 2015

how to do anything.”
Each Town & Country
event starts with a halfhour practice session,
followed by an hour-long
lesson. Following the lesson, patrons are expected
to try out their new moves.
Novices to the event can
rely on a roving team of
“Dance Angels,” who offer
quick tutorials and encourage people to abandon the
bar’s outer perimeter for
the hardwood dance floor.
“We’re trying to keep
the dances alive,” says
DiBattista. “It’s very rare to
see gay men holding each
other while they dance.
My parents grew up dancing that way.... I’m 55, but
when I see two 23-year-olds
dancing and holding hands,
that means a lot to me.”
The central group that

METROWEEKLY.COM

formed the Rawhides was
essentially a collection of
refugees from Remington’s,
the former Capitol Hill
country-western gay bar.
The group approached Ed
Bailey, co-owner of Town,
who agreed to let them
use his club as their new
stomping grounds.
“Town & Country has
been one of the most
remarkable additions to
what we do at Town,”
Bailey says. “It has not only
opened up the club to a
whole new group of people,
but has also opened up a
whole new world for some
of our customers who had
no idea what line dancing
was all about. It’s really
a fun time that everyone
should try at least once.
“When I tell people to
try it, they look at me like
I’m crazy because it’s ‘not

their thing,’” Bailey continues.
“But after they stop by, they
always say how much fun it
is, what a great time they had,
and that they had no idea.”
It’s that fun, welcoming
atmosphere that DiBattista
thinks is one of the selling
points of the event.
“We have all types of people from across the spectrum,
but no attitude,” he says. “It’s
the one event where I look at
the pictures that have been
taken, and everyone is happy,
everyone is smiling.”
The next Town & Country
event takes place on
Saturday, April 18 at Town
Danceboutique. Doors open
at 6:30 p.m., with lessons
starting at 6:45 p.m. and open
dance from 8-10:30 p.m. For
more information, visit facebook.com/DcRawhides. l

S

J

wanted to do something
different. And I did want to
make some money, and I
also wanted to have some
fun.”
Graham emphasizes the
entertainment angle and
performance aspects of the
nights. “The dancers are
not just going to be standing, gyrating,” he says.
“They’re going to be giving
a performance. They’re
going to start with their
clothes on and take them
off. There will be an opportunity for them to speak.
It’s just a very different
atmosphere.”
Graham foresees the
club eventually serving food
and even offering valet
parking. And at least one
evening a month will support local nonprofits. On
Sunday, April 19, which

will serve as the night’s
kickoff party, $5 of the $15
cover charge will benefit
Whitman-Walker Health.
“It’s closing a circle for
me,” he says. “I was head
of Whitman-Walker from
1984 to 1999, during the
height of the AIDS crisis,
and some of the strip clubs
would host benefits for us.”
As for the possibility
he will be criticised for his
latest venture, Graham is
nonplussed.
“People are a little bit
surprised about the career
choice,” he says. “I’ve
been through a lot of public
controversy. I don’t know

why there would be that
much more associated with
this, because it’s a business
venture, I’m a private citizen,
and it’s fully legal. I know it’s
considered an unusual path
for a former D.C. councilmember, but it’s preferable to peddling influence, which is what
some councilmembers do. I’m
peddling entertainment.”
The House is located at 3530
Georgia Ave. NW. The male
dancer launch party benefitting Whitman-Walker Health
will be held on Sunday, April
19 from 7 p.m. to 2 a.m.
For more information, visit
thehouse3530.com. l

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APRIL 16, 2015

53

BY JOHN RILEY

IM GRAHAM IS PREparing for his third act.
The former Ward 1
Councilmember is taking the
path less chosen for his postpolitical career by launching a
new nightlife venture.
Graham has contracted
with The House, a gentlemen’s club featuring female
dancers on Georgia Ave. NW,
to offer two nights of male
entertainment. On Sundays,
the club will feature male
dancers for a mostly gay
audience, and on Thursdays,
male dancers geared toward
a female audience.
“I wasn’t sure what I
wanted to do after leaving
the Council,” Graham says.
“I knew I didn’t want to work
full time. I’ve had two jobs
in 31 years. Fifteen years at
Whitman-Walker, 16 years
on the Council, and I really

PHOTO COURTESY OF JIM GRAHAM

Former D.C. Councilmember launches
nude career

CLUBLIFE

Stripped Down

“When [Navy sniper] Chris Kyle was murdered, his widow didn’t get a phone call,
but a gay football player who came out did.”
— Former Arkansas Governor MIKE HUCKABEE, speaking at the Family Leadership Regional Summit in Iowa, Right Wing Watch
reports. Huckabee took umbrage to President Obama using “his precious time in the Oval Office to call people up
simply to congratulate them for being gay,” after the President phoned out NFL player Michael Sam.

“This is your punishment for sinning against God, and
hopefully you’ll die from the anthrax
on this letter!

— ERIC REECE WIETHORN, in a letter sent to the gay bar Blazing Saddle in Iowa, The Des Moines Register reports. Wiethorn filled
the letter with a white powder, which police determined to be talcum powder, rather than the anthrax Wiethorn threatened.
“Your secret enemies are going to blow up your destination...tonight, and were [sic] going to eat roast faggot the
following morning,” Wiethorn ranted. He is now in police custody.

“On that issue, same-sex marriage, senator,
you’re the candidate of yesterday.”
— CNN’s JAKE TAPPER, in an interview with Senator Marc Rubio (R., FL). Tapper turned Rubio’s comment (made as he
announced his intention to run for President) about Hillary Clinton as the “leader of yesterday” against him, referencing Rubio’s
opposition to same-sex marriage despite a majority of young Republicans being in favor of marriage equality.

“[Pokémon] aims to guide young people towards
the choice of homosexuality.”
— PASTOR CREFIO DOLLAR’s Ministry, as reported by Christ News. The bizarre statement comes from a nonsensical report
regarding the names of each Pokémon, their depictions and the “many messages from the animated series [that] are directly
oriented to pervert adolescents.”

“It’s rather backward, I mean
you don’t have marriage equality.”
— GEORGE TAKEI, speaking with Australia’s Daily Telegraph. “[In the United States] it’s a patchwork but
we are a few steps ahead of you,” he continued.
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APRIL 16, 2015

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