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Sherry Vine Launches Queer Network, gaySVTVworld

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We Want Our Drag TV
The Internet is getting a whole lot gayer!   International drag darling Sherry Vine and former Here-TV executive Josh Rosenzweig are combining their style, humor and sensibility into a one-stop, digital destination for all of the world’s LGBTQ entertainment needs.  gaySVTVworld premieres February 14 with original shows, specials, music videos, short films and more: all free at YouTube.com/MissSherryVine.

“The world needs gaySVTVworld because they are hungry for original programming from top queer talent,” says Vine, a comedian whose hilarious video parodies have made her a YouTube sensation.  “We got ‘em all: Haus Of Mimosa, Pickles, David Serrano, Chris Semers … and this is only the beginning.”

TBT Pickles logogaySVTVworld is created by and for LGBTQ audiences,” adds Josh Rosenzweig. A two-time Emmy Award nominee, Rosenzweig served as SVP of Here TV for ten years where he produced over two hundred hours of television including She’s Living For This, a show that starred Vine.  “Nobody is going to tell our stories like we will. While our visibility has increased enormously over the last decade with the launch of several LGBT television networks, it is essential that the community have an online space to call our own.  A destination where we can go to find like-minded artists and feel the power of the collective.”

While gaySVTVworld draws inspiration from a traditional television model, it also presents a modern digital age spin with all shows under-seven minutes long.  “We’re offering short content so people can view several episodes in the same amount of time as one traditional TV show,” explains Vine.  “Maybe you only have five free minutes on your way to work or during a lunch break.  That’s enough time to catch a hilarious episode of Fashion Puhleez on your smart phone!”

The network will kick off its first season with a slate of eight programs, releasing daily, beginning with Sunday’s Sherry and the Greek, an original talk series starring Vine and Chris Semers, discussing a variety of fun topics and performing skits, characters, and musical numbers.

On Monday, queer notables share their pop culture picks on EduGAYtion.   Then Tuesday, The Rachel Zoe Show meets Project Runway in Fashion Puhleez, with lead players in the beauty industry discussing fashion, club couture and styling.

House of Mimosa presents The Anita & Gina Marie Show, a comedic show that chronicles the daily antics of two women as they cause mayhem throughout Astoria, Queens (singing out – or rather, airing out – all their dirty laundry) gets viewers over hump day.   Then its Throwback Thursdays with Pickles, a look back at a public access show that offers a glimpse into the gay, downtown art and nightlife scene of New York in the nineties.

Celebrate the end of the workweek with The Flames of Hell’s Kitchen, a telanovela about the life of Sherry Vine, her manager Gloria, assistant Busted and sexy Latino boyfriend, Diego.  In the first season, Sherry wins big, loses everything, slips back into a life of drugs, and faces an intervention. The show stars David Serrano, Busted, Patty McKeever and Al McKeever.

Finally, on Saturday, it’s movie night as gaySVTVworld presents The SVTV Short Film Fest, an online festival dedicated to spotlighting the very best LGBTQ filmmakers from around the world.  Each week is a new short film along with interviews from the filmmakers and special bonus features.

In addition, What’s In Your Purse?, a hilarious two-minute segment featuring Vine cornering nightlife celebrities and forcing them to reveal the contents of their bags, will run throughout the week.

“We knew launching a network was an ambitious endeavor but there are so many things we didn’t think of,” admits Vine.  “Josh and I and our amazing team have literally been working every day on gaySVTVworld for almost a year now.”

“So much of that time has been spent on brainstorming ideas, reaching out to people we wanted to work with and deciding on a slate we felt confident about,” continues Rosenzweig.  “We have several shows that are in various stages of development. Our intention is to continue to keep rolling out new programs, music videos and comedy sketches.”

gaySVTVworld premieres February 14 at YouTube.com/MissSherryVine

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REVIEW: Mary Poppins Returns

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Mary Poppins Returns Emily Blunt Lin-Manuel Miranda Movie Review

Mary Poppins Returns — the sequel to the 1964 cult phenomenon  starring Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke — hit theaters the week before Christmas starring Emily Blunt and Lin-Manuel Miranda. Megan Prevost reviews it with 4/5 stars.

In 1964, the world was blessed with the magic of Mary Poppins, starring Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke. Fifty-four years later, we have been given a sequel: Mary Poppins Returns.. This time, however, the film stars Emily Blunt and Lin-Manuel Miranda in the roles of Mary Poppins and Jack, a duo who bring a magic to the characters that put a smile on my face for a straight two hours.

Mary Poppins Returns Emily Blunt Lin-Manuel Miranda Movie ReviewIn Mary Poppins Returns, Michael and Jane Banks (Ben Wishaw and Emily Mortimer), who appeared as the children the magical nanny first arrived to care for in the original film (at the time played by Karen Dotrice and Matthew Garber) are all grown up. When we meet them again in the sequel, Michael is dealing with the loss of his wife as two bank lawyers knock on his door. The lawyers arrive to share with him even more bad news: Michael is three months late on his mortgage and has five days to pay the remainder of his loan, otherwise the bank is going to take away the house. In a frantic rage, he goes in search of his father’s certificate of shares with his sister Jane’s help. In the meantime, Michael’s three children, Anabel, John, and Georgie (Pixie Davies, Nathanael Saleh, and Joel Dawson) head to the grocery store; along the way, Georgie stumbles upon a kite in the park. On the other end it is Mary Poppins, descending down to earth. Mary Poppins (Blunt) shows the kids her magic with the help Jack (Miranda), a former apprentice of Poppins’ old friend Bert from the original film. Throughout the remainder of the film, the family tries to find a way to save the house while Mary and Jack instill magic in the family’s life once more.

To start, Lin-Manuel Miranda was the reason I went to see this movie. I have been a fan of him ever since my first time listening to the cast recording of his Broadway blockbuster, Hamilton. Anything he’s been in, I’ve needed to see. Otherwise, I’m not so sure that I would have gone. Disney sequels are famously not the best. Aside from Incredibles 2, there have been quite a few pitfalls — see: Cars 2 or any non-Pixar, direct-to-video sequel of a princess story. That being said, I went in without hope or much expectation. I knew getting to hear Miranda sing would be the highlight of the movie; and in general, I was right. The music was by far the best part of the entire film. But as an aside from the music, every scene was so well laid out; from the costumes to the choreography, everything was just so magical.

Fifty-four years later, what might have seemed like a pipe dream of a sequel had the same feel as the first movie that maybe only a character like Mary Poppins could bring to the cinema. It made me want to curl up with a bowl of soup on a rainy day. It was the kind of movie that brought a smile to my face, the kind of movie that kept a smile on my face for just over two hours. The characters were fun to watch, especially with the concept of the aging of the younger characters from the original movie. I’ve always liked storylines like these, with adults who have forgotten about the magic from their younger years as real life has jaded their innocence. There’s something comforting about seeing them remember everything they had long since forgotten. And that’s what this movie was to me, a comfort, as that’s what the original was to a lot of people. It was sort of a rainy day, heartwarming movie. Mary Poppins Returns didn’t fail to capture that same heartwarming magic with each and every musical number.Mary Poppins Returns Emily Blunt Lin-Manuel Miranda Movie Review

Though, I must say, it is quite a long movie. It runs just over two hours long and there are definitely a few places where it feels like it’s dragging on unnecessarily. Some of the musical numbers, while incredibly fun to watch, do feel slightly too long. The story, for me, wasn’t the highlight of this movie, and therefore some parts of it didn’t feel that exciting to watch. But, the music, the spectacle, and the sheer joyful tone of the movie, made up for that exponentially.

If you’re a fan of the original Mary Poppins, I definitely suggest going to see this one. It captures the same magic, and you will definitely smile as you watch it. However, if you’re not a fan of musicals (why are you here?) you probably won’t enjoy it. There is, of course, a lot of song and dance. And if you’re a fan of that, you will really enjoy this movie. And if you’re a fan of Lin-Manuel Miranda, you will leave with a warm heart and a smile on your face. As for Emily Blunt, I didn’t expect her to do as good a job as she did. She perfectly embodied the spirit of Julie Andrews and Mary Poppins. I couldn’t have asked for anything better. This movie was a wonderful light in an otherwise upsetting world. It felt like, at the very least, a distraction. If that’s something you need — to be distracted for a few hours or an escape from reality, to smile at laugh at silly music — this movie was made for you.

 

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REVIEW: Fantastic Beasts 2 & Gay Dumbledore

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Fantastic Beasts The Crimes of Grindelwald Dumbledore Gay Harry Potter

This piece contains spoilers from the film Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, the newest installment in JK Rowling’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter franchise.


About Magazine was lucky enough to attend an advance screening of the highly-anticipated second installment of JK Rowling’s Harry Potter prequel series last night, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald; and boy-oh-boy do we have a lot of thoughts – 3/5 Stars.

Fantastic Beasts The Crimes of Grindelwald Dumbledore Gay Harry Potter

The film, which follows Rowling and director David Yates’ 2016 film, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, is set shortly after the end of the first film in the pre-war 1900s where we find the freshman film’s protagonist, Newt Scamander (played shyly by ginger biscuit Eddie Redmayne), back home in London after releasing his book (which shares a name with the film) and saving New York City from black magical peril. No big deal. Although captured by the MACUSA — that’s the Magical Congress of the United States of America, or the Ministry of Magic’s American equivalent — in the first film, antagonist Gellert Grindelwald (fan-least-favorite Johnny Depp) is on the loose in Paris where he is garnering a following he hopes to help him escalate the power held by pure-blood witches and wizards (magical folk that descend from only magical bloodlines) over non-magical people worldwide. Throughout the film, Scamander and his trio of hapless misfit comrades (portrayed by Katherine Waterston, Dan Fogler, and Alison Sudol) must come together (and split apart) again to learn what Grindelwald is up to and begin the process of thwarting his plans … sort of.

There were a lot of questions and controversies that preceded the release of this film — two of the most important of which (especially for the LGBTQ+ community) being:

  1. Why the actual fuck are we letting Johnny Depp be a key player in what will likely be one of the most successful film franchises of this century after he has proven to be — on video, nonetheless — a man who physically and mentally abused his ex-wife, Amber Heard? I mean … really, Jo? The story of your success is so much about overcoming abuse in your first marriage, and abuse is an integral part of Harry Potter’s own story of heroism. I know that you don’t retain sole control over what happens in these films, but for fuck’s sake, you are JK-fucking-Rowling. You can have anything you want with just the snap of your fingers. Kind of like … I don’t know … magic!
  2. Are we gonna see Dumbledore get reeeeaaaal gay in this movie? Prior to the film’s release, director David Yates’ announced that the young Albus Dumbledore (played by the very sexy in some well-fitted suits Jude Law) would not be “explicitly” gay, in spite of the fact that years before the concept of these movies was ever even drawn up, Jo Rowling had announced to fans that Dumbledore was a powerful old queen — a Supreme maybe. (Probs not). The answer to this question will likely surprise you and will come later in this review.

Fantastic Beasts The Crimes of Grindelwald Dumbledore Gay Harry Potter

I cannot answer the first question, as it does not make sense to me. That being said, after attending Leaky Con this past year — the official Harry Potter convention that was hosted in Dallas, TX in the late summer — and attending a panel about Rowling’s creative liberties she’s taken with the Harry Potter canon, it was very clear to me that I was not the only person who was dumbstruck by Depp’s involvement in the films going forward. Many of us were unaware of his involvement in the first film until the final scenes of it where we see the character who was before only referenced briefly in that film and in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. When news broke of Depp’s less-than-acceptable choices of words and actions used toward now-ex-wife Amber Heard, as well as video surfacing of him throwing wine glasses across a room at her, feminist and queer fans of the films were outraged — many of whom even called for Depp’s firing and replacement. After all, it wouldn’t be the first time a character — notably those with far more screen time passed than Depp — had been replaced in the Wizarding World Universe. And besides, in 2017/18, we’ve seen people lose a lot for equally deplorable behavior. Roseanne Barr was ousted from her own TV show after a racist tweet, and men all across the globe are slowly being fired, shamed, and charged for acts of sexual assault and rape (then again, many are not 😡). But nothing came of this uproar from faithful fans, really; unless you count a bullshit not-apology from JK Rowling.

Here’s the thing: we all love JK Rowling; she created a world that we all want to live in and that some of us obsess over, even having taken the time to get sorted into Hogwarts houses and to buy $40 wands off the shelves of Barnes and Noble. We’re kind of obsessive little weirdos that have followed these stories now into the tenth film, with many of us even having read or seen the highly-criticized stage play sequel, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. I still have Jewish guilt about how much I hated it. But, as pointed out to a friend and I during the last Leaky Con panel we attended, Rowling has begun to play a little fast-and-loose with the Harry Potter canon. She’s literally become the loose canon of canon, because we just never know what to expect next.

And the newest Fantastic Beasts was no exception to that rule. The film — while entertaining and with just as much world expansion as any Rowling tale — was often confusing. Mind you, we showed up fifteen minutes late due to me being stuck in traffic, but for a film that runs about 2 ¼ hours, we assumed we didn’t miss much. Where we found the film was oddly reminiscent of the later Harry Potter films, with Grindelwald — in true Voldemort form — meeting up with all his evil little buddies, telling them about the new world he wanted to create, and sending them off on cryptic, dark missions even though there was that one token follower — a la any Malfoy — who was kind of like, “Guys … should we really be doing this?” The only difference here was that Grindelwald maintained a fully-formed nose/soul, although he did have one ivory-colored eye, which I still don’t quite understand. But, I’m digressing from the point.

The film then jumped back to Newt, who is traipsing around London all willy-nilly — presumably because he’s now a published author and life is good — in spite of the fact that he’s kind of being watched by the Ministry of Magic after the shit that went down in NYC in the first film. Remember? Credence — AKA a very foine Ezra Miller — was possessed (so to speak) by some evil magic known as an Obscurus — which is basically what happens when children who have magical powers are forced to or choose to repress their magic, therein creating an evil monster within themselves. It seemed as though Credence died at the end of the first film, but apparently — and, again, confusingly enough — he did not. Then, like we all do at some point during the day, he traveled from New York City to Paris to join a circus in search of his birth mother, which also does not really pan out for him. *Sigh*

Back to the story: when we find Newt, he’s being somewhat-stalked by a young Albus  Dumbledore who, even in his younger years, is as glib and cryptic as ever. Dumbledore informs Scamander that he needs to go find Credence — still don’t know how he survived, but maybe that was explained in those first fifteen minutes 🤷🏼‍♀️ — and that he has to be the one to take down Grindelwald as Dumbledore apparently cannot.

*Shrugs* Makes sense, I guess. I mean, what do all Harry Potter fans know of Dumbledore and Grindelwald’s relationship? Let’s see … they were BFFs back in the day. Then Grindelwald started dabbling in some dark shit, and Dumbledore was kind of like, “Yo … das not good.” Then, of course, Grindelwald and Dumbledore fell in love–

Fantastic Beasts The Crimes of Grindelwald Dumbledore Gay Harry Potter— right as Grindelwald was ascending to power as the most powerful dark wizard ever, or at least at the time (sorry, Voldy). That being said, it doesn’t take much reaching for a fan to figure out why Dumbledore — who is repeatedly referred to throughout the film as Grindelwald’s only real equal — can’t take down this motherfucker.

Now, here is the thing, y’all:

I have to take up for our friend Jo Rowling on this one. Because er’rybody was getting reeeaaal upset about the whole gay situation for a while there. And I have to say, I think Rowling and Yates handled it very well. They did exactly what Yates said — they didn’t make Dumbledore explicitly gay. How’s that? Well, in Rowling’s words, “[…] gay people just look like … people […]”. And that’s true here — although one could argue (one being me) that Dumbledore is much better dressed than the other men in this movie and henny do those pants hug all the right places on Jude Law’s beautiful daddy body. ¡Oye, papito ingles! We don’t see Dumbledore getting the ‘D’ in Grindelwald or vice versa, and we don’t see them exchanging Shakespearean sonnets of love. But the foundations of Dumbledore’s big gay secret are all there. From the hesitancy Dumbledore has to explaining why he cannot face Grindelwald in combat to the moment he takes a look in the Mirror of Erised — the mirror featured first in Harry Potter in the Sorcerer’s Stone which shows the onlooker the thing he or she most desires. In the mirror, Dumbledore sees Grindelwald staring back at him, as well as a flashback of their youth when they made an unbreakable vow to never stand-off against one another. The subtleties here are anything but, and the groundwork for what is likely going to be expounded upon later in the series is laid. Remember … we still have three films for them to totally bone out, guys. Chill.

This may be the least confusing part of the film, but certainly it isn’t the most expository. In fact, most of the film is exposition. Watching the events unfold plays out like reading a novel. It’s a surprise that Rowling didn’t replace sluglines in her script with chapter headers. However, that is what Rowling does best. Rather than beginning the film — and surely with five films in total there was time to do this — with a visual of how Credence came to survive, why the spell to erase Jacob’s memory (played by Dan Fogler) didn’t stick, and why Tina Goldstein (Waterston) isn’t with Scamander after their shared public display of affection at the end of the first film, we’re instead told throughout the first 45 minutes the ins-and-outs of how magic works and why things are they way they are. 🤦🏼‍♀️ And that’s where Rowling’s writing legacy fails itself. In an effort to fit so many Harry Potter tie-ins into this film — including the history of how Voldemort’s prized snake/horcrux Nagini came to life — Rowling does too much telling and, in turn, some serious retcon.

What always made the Harry Potter series such a great tale — save for the final book/movie installments, in which she got a bit carried away with squeezing in the story of the Deathly Hallows and Dumbledore’s backstory before she ran out of space to write them — was that we got to watch everything play out. Jo set mysteries in place that were always a bit expository when it came down to the explanation, but the fun laid in watching the story get to that exposition. Whether it be the origins of the Sorcerer’s Stone — btdubbs, old-ass Nicholas Flamel plays an important if not hilarious and unnecessary part in this film — Sirius Black’s relationship with his family and the Potters, or each and every big reveal that came along with Snape’s character, there was something that kept readers and viewers coming back for more. In spite of the fact that Rowling has created a number of cliffhangers that will certainly leave curious fans waiting until the 2020 release of the currently untitled third film, she’s kind of taken the fun out of them.

Fantastic Beasts The Crimes of Grindelwald Dumbledore Gay Harry Potter

The largest and probably most aggravating example comes again from Credence’s character, whom we discover at the end of the film — once again through some heavy exposition — to be a lost sibling of the Dumbledore family (or is he? Grindelwald lies, y’all!). In doing so — as per the aforementioned retcon — it seems as though Rowling has tried to create some shocking air of mystique that ties back to the original tale we all know and love. Unfortunately, what she’s doing instead is rewriting a history and robbing the new series of the ability to stand on its own two feet.

All of that said, there are some great parts to this movie — though my friend Kirby would disagree about the one I’ll mention first.

  1. Queenie (played by Sudol) turns out to be going through some internalized issues because she’s in love with Jacob, a muggle (or no-maj, or whatthefuckever we’re supposed to be calling them now), who wants to be with her but doesn’t want to wed in order to keep her out of Azkaban (or the American equivalent). This struggle brings out — quite curiously, if nothing else — a desire to try to better understand those of Grindelwald’s and leads her right into his ranks as his newest follower.
  2. We get to see more people of color cast in important roles in this film. From Claudia Kim — who plays the human personification of Nagini — to the incomparably talented daughter of Lenny Kravitz, Zoe Kravitz (who BY THE WAY did not have to fucking die), to a handful of others who not only play key-roles but actually play important lineage ties to families of the original film series.
  3. HOGWARTS! We get to go back to Hogwarts! The time spent there is brief — and rightfully so — but in seeing a young Dumbledore (as well as a young Minerva McGonagall, played by Fiona Glascott), true Potterheads have a nice respite from the often overwhelming confusion of the newest installment.
  4. The action is pretty incredible. The movie offers more action scenes than the first, and the visual displays of each one are nothing short of breathtaking. The new creatures we’re introduced to — as well as the old (gotta love those Nifflers) — play an integral part in Newt + Co’s successes, and the magical feats that are excellently — if not a bit gaudily — CGI’d are nothing short of gorgeous. In the final battle of the film, we see a stunning showdown between Grindelwald and the Aurors, which quickly escalates into the a literal manifestation of fighting fire-with-fire.

Overall, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald is kind of a mess; it’s true. But the lovely thing about it is the knowledge that — given a little time and direction — Rowling, Yates, and the rest of the creative team at Warner Bros. will have the time to sort through the bedlam and bring something wonderful — and hopefully simpler — for the final three films in the series. I mean … we’ve got at least six years until we know exactly how everything will end. And one thing is for certain: this is an entirely different arena than the Harry Potter films. The reason we’re so easily disappointed or excited is because we have no idea what to expect. We don’t have seven books in our laps to reference leading up to the films’ releases. And that is a big blind spot not only for us, but for JK Rowling and everyone involved in the creation of this series. Like with all things, it is certain to be hit-or-miss. But what the entire crew has on its side is a loyal fanbase — albeit one that questions pretty much everything nowadays (and rightfully so) — incredibly talented actors, and a wonderful crew to bring something to life that is both aesthetically pleasing and — if nothing else — just enough to fill the space in our hearts that starts to open up when we don’t have anything new to rely on.

And isn’t that kind of magical in and of itself?

Brotherly Love Film LGBTQ Austin Anthony Caruso

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Bewitching Minds: How Witches in Pop Culture Inspire Us

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Witchcraft Witches Magic Women History

A brief overview of how historical Witchcraft from countless cultures have inspired media icon witches with their magic and strength.

Throughout time, witches have been a prevalent part of history and pop culture. Women depicted with supernatural powers and knowledge have been integral to inspiring generations to be strong, mystical, and dynamic.

Witchcraft Witches Magic Women History

What kind of gay would I be if I didn’t include Stevie Nicks? Stevie has never confirmed whether she is a witch, but her lyricism, imagery, and portrayal of the White Witch on American Horror Story: Coven and Apocalypse are very telling.

Here’s the cold, hard truth, sweetie: witches in one form or another have existed in every culture on every continent for thousands of years. Any culture you could possibly name has a deep rooted history of Shamanism, Paganism, Druidism, and, if you didn’t hear me the first time, I’ll say it again: Witchcraft. But before witchcraft was collectively banned by most major religions, it was an earth-based practice that involved relying on energy, intention, and the resources available on the planet to create magic for medicinal, healing, and personal affairs. What was once considered evil has now become more of a positive and inspiring message in many different facets of pop culture. ‘Witchcraft’ is such a broad, umbrella term that many different practices fall beneath; but for the sake of keeping your attention, I’ll skip a lot of the historical details.

Witchcraft Witches Magic Women History

Hypatia depicted viewing the night sky. Renowned astronomer, philosopher, mathematician, scholar, teacher, pagan and neoplatonist.

One famous witch who is considered to be a feminist hero is Hypatia. Hypatia was an Ancient Greek philosopher, teacher, mathematician, astronomer, and one of the last librarians at the Library of Alexandria (what a QUEEN! Slay me). Hypatia was also a Pagan and a huge opponent of Christianity. Well, pull up a chair and just guess what the Christians did when they found out there was a powerful female witch who was not only a genius, but also woke? You guessed it! Some monks flipped her chariot, dragged her to the Cathedral in Alexandria where they flayed her alive with broken pottery, then burned her at the stake. She is now revered as a martyr and a patron saint.

Witchcraft Witches Magic Women History

Piper, Paige, Prue, and Phoebe from the original 1998 television show, Charmed, portrayed by Holly Marie Combs, Rose McGowan, Shannen Doherty, and Alyssa Milano. Charmed focused on the importance of sisterhood and vanquishing your inner demons, as well as vanquishing actual demons.

For centuries, men leading many different religious faiths have been terrified of smart, powerful, ambitious women and will do anything to silence them. Luckily, our modern era has almost reached a point of putting women on the pedestals that they deserve to be seated upon (emphasis on almost). We exist in a time where we celebrate and embrace witches in pop culture. From television, to music, to film, there are several prominent figures that people look up to as beacons of empowerment. The very concept of a witch has become synonymous with “a badass who has no time for your bullshit.”

Witchcraft Witches Magic Women History

Marie Laveau depicted by Angela Bassett on American Horror Story: Coven. The Voodoo Queen was a 19th Century Louisiana Priestess who may or may not have been evil. Her role in AHS displayed her ruthlessness and commitment to her tribe. Her character developed from being vengeful and heartless into a forgiving and sympathetic woman.

People look up to famous witches because the very image and idea of a witch represents strength, individualism, anarchy, and intelligence. Witches are a personification of inspiration, they give people hope that they can be seen as powerful as the witches they admire.

Witchcraft Witches Magic Women History

Bonnie, Sarah, Nancy, and Rochelle in The Craft played by Neve Campbell, Robin Tunney, Fairuza Balk, and Rachel True. Unified, albeit selfish and spiteful, the four witches learn the repercussions of using their powers for personal gain. A timeless, iconic film that you need to watch ASAP (ignore Rotten Tomatoes homophobic score).

Many Pagans, Shamans, Wiccans, etc. still exist today, however not all people who are inspired by the strength of witches are looking to join these faiths. Witches are no longer seen as propaganda to peel people from their current sect of religion, but they help people become the best versions of themselves by instilling the lessons of intention, healing, honesty, and power into their lives.

Witchcraft Witches Magic Women History

Sally and Gillian Owens played by Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman in Practical Magic, adapted from the novel of the same name by Alice Hoffman. The film tells the story of two sisters who learn how to turn their trauma and pain into strength and positivity through unity, honesty, acceptance, and love.

The power of magic on the screen and in music heals people and brings us together. Famous witches are staples for women, for the queer community, and for anyone who is disenfranchised looking to take back their power and lift themselves up. Seeing both the strengths and weaknesses of witches in pop culture humanizes them and we are able to see parts of ourselves in them. Even if you don’t practice the Craft in real life, you can still embrace the inner witch within you (I might call you a poser though [I’m totally JK. I swear]). What I mean to say is, you can see the powerful being within you, bring that being to the forefront of your person, and show the world that you are a badass who has no time for anyone’s bullshit.

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About That Movie: The Miseducation of Cameron Post

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Lesbian LGBTQ Miseducation of Cameron Post Film Chloe Grace Moretz

A film review of the new LGBTQ film The Miseducation of Cameron Post, which stars Chloe Grace Moretz as a young lesbian at a conversion camp.

Though it’s had a limited release, even by indie film standards, The Miseducation of Cameron Post is mandatory watching material for any queer person raised in a conservative state.

Lesbian LGBTQ Miseducation of Cameron Post Film Chloe Grace Moretz

The film, starring Chloe Grace Moretz and directed by Desiree Akhavan, is a movie adaptation of a book of the same name by Emily M. Danforth. The award-winning YA novel follows the life of teenager Cameron Post, from her parents’ death through high school and to her stay at God’s Promise, an LGBTQ+ conversion therapy camp in Montana. While the book explores Cameron’s life at a leisurely pace, the film focuses primarily on her time at conversion camp, where she meets fellow rebels Jane Fonda (Sasha Lane) and Adam Red Eagle (Forrest Goodluck). The scope of the movie is limited in comparison to the book, but that scope allows the reader fully to absorb the lives of the dozen-or-so teens at God’s Promise.

 

The movie and book are both set in the early 90s, and director Akhavan captures the period with earthy colors, grunge-y costuming, and a killer soundtrack. Stars Moretz, Lane, and Goodluck all put in compelling performances as a misfit band of queer teens trapped at the camp and struggling to hold their true identities dear. On the opposite end of the film, conversion center leaders Reverend Rick (John Gallagher Jr.) and Dr. Lydia Marsh (Jennifer Ehle) delivered performances that landed somewhere between chilling and heartwrenching; their words will ring as uncomfortably familiar for LGBTQ+ people raised in the conservative South. Though the film shares themes with cult classic But I’m a Cheerleader, this new movie explores the trauma of a conversion center in a way that is more earnest and less tongue-in-cheek. There are plenty of lighthearted moments of rebellion, angst, and teen longing; but the overall effect is far more serious.

Lesbian LGBTQ Miseducation of Cameron Post Film Chloe Grace MoretzAlthough the story takes place over two decades ago, the core message still feels timely and important. The continued existence of conversion therapy camps is a worst case scenario for LGBTQ youth; but you don’t have to be at a conversion therapy camp to suffer from the effects of homophobia. I was raised in the church, as were all of my friends growing up. We heard it all — that being gay is a choice, that it’s best to ignore those impulses, that a true Christian would abstain from romance and attraction by any means necessary. It is no wonder that so many of us weren’t able to come out until our 20s, when we had the independence and safety of adulthood. Many teens aren’t lucky enough to come out when the time is right. To see that experience honored on the big screen was validating and necessary.

The greatest disappointment about The Miseducation of Cameron Post had nothing to do with the quality of the film itself but rather with its release. Though the movie played to Sundance and won the Grand Jury Prize, its theater release has been incredibly limited. At the time I am writing this, the movie is not available at any theater in Texas, despite the fact that it is gay young adults trapped in the South that need this movie the most. Additionally, its limited release began rolling through theaters in August and September — hardly primetime for a movie to gain traction when most major releases are scheduled for the beginning of summer and winter. Perhaps because of the poor release timing, the film still hasn’t grossed it’s first $1M in profit. There is no word yet on when this movie will be available to rent or buy.

Lesbian LGBTQ Miseducation of Cameron Post Film Chloe Grace MoretzI wish that movies like this could break through from indie to mainstream. Perhaps I am still waiting for the lesbian equivalent to Love, Simon, although this movie’s decidedly more somber setting doesn’t have the same romantic dramedy appeal. I’m still waiting for a lesbian movie to garner the accolades and fans that Call Me By Your Name found easily. Again, this is no fault of The Miseducation of Cameron Post, nor do I say this to bemoan the success of other LGBTQ films. I just want to see a lesbian-centered film succeed in a big way, dammit.

I’ll keep waiting for the lesbian box-office hit of my queer dreams, but The Miseducation of Cameron Post provides a great step in the right direction. I look forward to more WLW representation in movies and literature in the future.

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Austin | San Antonio

FILM REVIEW: LGBTQ Movie ‘Brotherly Love’

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Brotherly Love Film LGBTQ Austin Anthony Caruso

A review of Anthony J. Caruso’s LGBTQ film shot in Austin, TX, Brotherly Love. 

(AUSTIN) – At nearly two hours, Anthony J. Caruso’s slow-paced film, Brotherly Love, feels a bit long; some of the characters might be seen as negative stereotypes; and yet there’s something oddly likable about this low budget indie, shot on location in Austin with a local cast.

Brotherly Love Film LGBTQ Austin Anthony CarusoAuteur Caruso stars as Brother Vito, a young gay man torn between his life with his gay friends and the vows of poverty and celibacy he’s about to take as a brother with the Catholic church. As the story opens, Vito, who lives in a monastery, still goes out cruising with his gay best friend Tim (Chance McKee). Vito desperately wants to jump into the car of the hot man who’s checking him out, but he stops himself, thinking of his upcoming vows. He goes to the White Party with Tim, where he feels out of place.

Vito doesn’t know what to do. He genuinely loves God and the church, but also loves his former life. He seeks counselling from Sister Peggy (June Griffin Garcia), a friendly, understanding nun, who thinks that Vito needs to get away for awhile so he can think things over. Vito is driven halfway across the country to spend the summer living and working in a halfway house for people with AIDS. There he meets Gabe (Derek Babb), a friendly, lonely landscaper who immediately takes a liking to Vito. The attraction is quite mutual, with Vito once again feeling torn between his love for the church and his natural desires. Will Vito remain true to his vows, or will he give in to Gabe’s not-to-subtle come-ons? The two are obviously falling in love, despite Vito’s pretending otherwise.

Vito and Gabe make for a hot, sweet couple. Actors Caruso and Babb have great onscreen chemistry, with Babb giving a particularly fine performance as a man who cannot live without love in his life. We learn that Gabe was once married.

“Now I have an ex-wife who hates me, a mother who cries whenever she talks to me and a father who fired me from the family business,” Gabe says sadly. Babb expertly conveys the emotions of the sweet, loving Gabe, who knows that he and Vito would be perfect for each other, if only Vito would open his eyes. Caruso is also quite good as he battles his mixed emotions.

Brotherly Love Film LGBTQ Austin Anthony Caruso

Derek Babb, Anthony J. Caruso

 

Other aspects of the film don’t work quite as well. Chance McKee, as gay best friend Tim, appears to be a good actor, but his role is written as a stereotype. Tim is an over-the-top queen–he’s too over-the-top to be believable. He’s loud and brash, and talks endlessly about parties, clothes, and hot guys. We never learn who Tim is, all we’re told is that he likes to party a lot.

At one point Vito and Gabe meet a friendly lesbian couple, one of whom is an ex-nun who left the church to be with the woman she loves. That woman turns out to be a character who makes Tim seem tame in comparison. She’ll do anything for attention–after Sunday church services she smears chocolate cake on her face and laughs hysterically. It’s embarrassing to see a middle-aged woman carrying on like that. This character is a victim of bad writing–less would have been more.

Another flaw in the film is that the AIDS house where Vito is supposed to be working is presented as an afterthought. Vito shows up and meets the residents, who talk about Barbra Streisand a lot. With one exception, the house residents are not seen again until the end of the film. At no time during the film is Vito shown doing the work he was sent to the house to do–he spends the entire film with Gabe. How did the church elders and the house residents feel about that?

While far from a perfect film, Brotherly Love still entertains due to the terrific chemistry between Caruso and Babb. The burgeoning love story between these characters is sweet and romantic, and their scenes together are well written. They make Brotherly Love worth checking out. The fact that both men are nice to look at is an added plus.

Breaking Glass Picture’s DVD of Brotherly Love includes the film’s theatrical trailer and a lively commentary track from Caruso. You can purchase the film on iTunes, Google Play, and Amazon.  Visit its official Facebook page and Breaking Glass’s Picture’s website.

Brotherly Love Film LGBTQ Austin Anthony Caruso

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GIVEAWAY: Book Club Movie, Diane Keaton & Jane Fonda

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Book Club Movie Jane Fonda Diane Keaton Giveaway

Join the club and see Diane Keaton, Jane Fonda, Candice Bergen, and Mary Steenburgen in Book Club

(GIVEAWAY) – Enter for a chance to win a Book Club Blu-ray Combo Pack. To enter for a chance to win a copy of the movie Book Club starring Jane Fonda, Candice Bergen, Diane Keaton, and Mary Steenburgen from About Magazine and the Karpel Group, tell us the title of your favorite book in the comments below and share this article on social media!
Book Club Movie Jane Fonda Diane Keaton Giveaway
Book Club is available on digital now; available August 28 on Blu-ray Combo Pack. 
Starring legendary actresses Diane Keaton, Jane Fonda, Candice Bergen and Mary Steenburgen, Book Club follows four lifelong friends whose lives are turned upside down to hilarious ends when their book club attempts to shake things up by tackling the infamous “Fifty Shades of Grey.” From discovering new romance to rekindling old flames, they inspire each other to make their next chapter the best chapter.
Winners of the giveaway will be contacted on September the 5th, 2018. Winners will be contacted via their social media profiles. Please ensure that profile settings are set to accept message requests from the About Magazine page. To win, About Magazine must obtain the best mailing address of all contestants. Contestants must live inside the United States of America or its territories. Winners will be selected at random the morning of September 5th. Make sure to leave your comment on our Instagram, as well, as the contest will also run there.  

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Coming Out

Scenes from the Queer Side: Shame, Desire, and the Imaginary

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Blue is the Warmest Color Pariah Queer Black Woman Film

Perspectives on Blue Is the Warmest Color and Pariah and how it molded my stages of queerness from a queer, Black woman.

Have you ever sat in a room with Shame? Listened to her suck her teeth and watch her shake her head? Felt the growing fear that she’ll whisper your deepest secrets and fears into the ears of those around you?

I often sat with Shame, coming from a Black Southern Baptist background; but it was one particular night that she felt strongest. She slammed my laptop shut as the loud moans, heavy breathing, and slapping blasted through my headphones. She giggled as I glanced around the pitch black room for something or someone. She convinced me to open my door, creep into my living room, and hold my breath, listening for the voices or breathing of someone in the suite, although I knew that my suitemate had gone for the night and that I was totally alone. She convinced me someone could hear the sounds from my headphones–that they would point and yell, “She looking at that gay shit, y’all!” But I didn’t let Shame have her way. Once I was confident that the suite was empty, I quieted her down, opened my screen, and continued watching with her looking over my shoulder.

Blue is the Warmest Color Pariah Queer Black Woman FilmI had been watching the film Blue Is the Warmest Color, which stars Lea Seydoux and Adele Exarchopoulos and is directed by Abdellatif Kechiche. Three hours of an intense love between two young french girls, Adele and Emma, unfolding. Blue Is the Warmest Color–originally a graphic novel I read and loved while working at a bookstore–was adapted into a film by a problematic director. Think-pieces and critiques journaled the violence,inappropriate behaviors, and methods that Kechiche employed throughout the film, specifically the sex scenes. Viewers watch as Adéle, characterized by her messiness and insatiable hunger, struggles to find fulfillment in her desires until the moment she meets Emma, a blue-haired artist. The two fall in love, live together, and ultimately break up after Adéle cheats on Emma. The film ends with the two reconnecting and parting at Emma’s art show as adults.

The film is filled with scenes where viewers are forced to come face to face with Kechiche’s misguided image of womanhood and women’s sexuality in Blue Is the Warmest Color. One moment, in particular, is a scene where a queer male character talks over lesbian characters about female sexuality and expressions of desire. This character speculates about women’s desires and bodies while simultaneously assuming authority over the subject. This moment, not included in the graphic novel and constructed by Kechiche, could have been a space where the women’s politics of desire were addressed, especially in a lesbian space, instead their voices are hidden. It is not until I watch again that I am able to listen to the words of the women, enjoy and understand the looks they share, and the intimate ways desire manifests as they “listen” to the words of the queer male character. This scene, although problematic, proves to be important because it attempts to use desire in dialogue. How is desire constructed and manifested in the lives of these characters. Adéle, who struggles and explores her politics of desire throughout the film also happens to be absent from the conversation. Nevertheless, this scene manages to connect, for me, a construction of desire and experiences of shame.  

Blue is the Warmest Color Pariah Queer Black Woman Film

Moments that I find myself drawn to, both the first time I watched and during my most recent experience watching the film, include scenes such as a queer male character talking over some of the lesbian characters about female orgasms. Here we can get a glimpse of the thoughts and opinions of Kechiche. The scene, at first confusing and intriguing, becomes annoying and unnecessary. Why? Because it presents a male character speculating women’s desires and bodies while simultaneously assuming authority over the subject. It’s easy for me to skip the scene altogether.

Later in the film, there’s a pivotal moment when Adéle’s friends confront her about her sexuality when they watch as she walks off with Emma, who they believe to be queer. There is a violent desire and demand for Adéle to explain herself and her relationship with the mysterious woman. We see Adéle react aggressively to the accusations of her lesbian identity. I was, once again, forced to come to face-to-face with shame in all of its manifestations. What during my first viewing seemed to be a shame solely resting on my shoulders as the viewer, erased the shame that manifested for the characters in the film, specifically Adele. The shame Adele feels having her friends confront aggressively and publicly shaming her, as well as the shame she feels for having these feelings of desire and curiosity that Emma brings to life in her.

Nevertheless, Blue Is the Warmest Color offers viewers a chance to watch young lesbian love in seemingly pure and honest ways. There are moments of tenderness and warmth, such as when the two share their first kiss in a park and Adéle leans back to smile. Then there’s a scene when they are at a Pride event, dancing and kissing and loving one another. The most notable is when the two are seated on a bench in the park kissing, touching, and giggling with each other. These are the moments where they just exist in young love. There is no shame.

After my first time watching it, I was eager to share it with my friends. I watched Blue twice more with my straight friends who had read the articles and think-pieces about the film. Our feminist studies background urged us to dissect the male gaze and the violent need for men to insert themselves in queer relationships. But I didn’t really want that to dissect the film or approach it academically. I would have rather spoken about how it sat in and on my body; how it followed me for weeks and tugged at the politics of desire I had long ago buried — or so I had thought. So the conversation, for me, felt unfulfilling. Only one of my friends, my closest friend since high school, allowed me the space to talk about how important the moment of watching the film was for me. No critiques, no dissections, just my reflections and emotions as I finally had access to something else: for me to share my feelings of curiosity and discomfort. This friend was the only person who also managed to see a small moment of freedom for me–a freedom she commended while she sat with it with me. . That moment managed to disrupt the shame that had haunted me.

Blue is the Warmest Color Pariah Queer Black Woman FilmFor months afterwards I poured into lesbian films and television shows on Netflix, albeit annoyed by all of the white women.There is undoubtedly an erasure of queer and lesbian black women and women of color in television and film. However, I was pleasantly surprised to see Pariah as a recommendation. Pariah follows a young, black, “closeted” lesbian, Alike, who lives in the Bronx with her parents and her younger sister. We watch Alike attend school, write poetry, and attend church with her family during the day. During her off time–those moments when she is not forced to present as straight and can explore her lesbian identity–she travels and explores the city’s lesbian scene with her best friend who dresses her up in masculine clothing and pushes her to talk with other girls. Pariah looks and feels different. There are friendships, homophobic parents, creativity, and heartbreak. There is blackness and confusion.

Notable moments and scenes from this film include a moment where Alike’s best friend, a masculine lesbian, purchases her a strap-on for her “image”. Alike is uncomfortable and angry at the small white dildo attached to her body and begs her friend to return it.  Her friend urges her to wear it out that night and we see Alike awkwardly move in it and fumble with it moments before ignoring the girl her friend attempts to set her up with. I love the scenes where Alike seems her most vulnerable — standing in the mirror with her closest friend, tugging and shifting a symbol of masculinity, highlighting how foreign it is to her. It also highlighted the intimacy between the two friends. Other scenes include an unnamed masculine lesbian buying beer only to be harassed by a black man who seems to be disgusted, but also threatened, by the woman’s masculinity and sexuality. Pariah felt like a different film because it did not follow the love and relationship of two lesbian women, but rather chronicled the experiences of a black teenager exploring her lesbian identity and masculinity alongside the relationships around her. Balancing life where her sexuality is hidden or suppressed alongside a life full of moments where she feels celebrated and nurtured, which seem rare throughout the film. There is shame and discomfort. Unlike Blue, I did not share this film with others. Pariah was a film just for me.

Blue is the Warmest Color Pariah Queer Black Woman FilmYears later, I rewatch it and realize there are moments and habits from Alike–early moments of queerness–that I understand and to which I can relate. Her excitement for the possibility of love and intimacy alongside the fear of actually having love and intimacy. Her feelings of not being masculine enough or queer enough are made visible throughout the film’s entirety. Shame stalks Alike in similar fashion to the ways Shame stalked me. Pulling away from the kiss her friend shares with her and the feeling of being rejected. I understand why, years ago, the film sat with me and why–unlike Blue–it still sits with me to this day. I can still identify the shame, although now it does not haunt me. Because for me, queerness felt like something I was near but could not quite touch. It was with me but it was not in me. Today, I recognize that feeling as a part of the shame I felt and its many faces. Out and at another phase in my life and queerness, the films look and feel different to me. Blue is no longer important to me.; instead, watching it feels exhausting and drawn out, but I see moments, such as Emma’s fight with her friends, as a moment of gasping for breath and holding on to “normalcy”. While watching I can make phone calls, send e-mails, and watch videos as it plays in the background; but that fight brings me back. The moans, and breathing and slapping mean nothing anymore, and I don’t turn it down or search nervously around the room.

I watch both Blue Is the Warmest Color and Pariah as though I’m watching through new eyes. I’m also noticing the difference between watching something in shame and watching something with shame in it. Watching something in shame feels alienating and lonely. Watching something with shame in it feels like looking in a mirror. I am not isolated, rather I am forced to contend with a familiar feeling. I notice that watching something with shame in it (Pariah) sits with me because it feels so close to home.

I imagine my life consists of several phases in queerness; and queer films influenced these phases. There are the early days, your Before Queer (BQ) days. These were the days before I recognized my queerness, much less claimed that queerness. It was hard to imagine queerness or feel what it was like. But queer films provided the space for freedom and creativity that weren’t allowed in the BQ days, and allow you to imagine a queer future. Queerness was there and it was in me, but I did not see it nor did I live it. Then there were my Lost Queer (LQ) days–those days where I saw the queerness and recognized it, but was unable to claim it. It was where I could slowly imagine a queer future and a queer sense of being. Lastly came the Hella Queer (HQ) phase. It is where I am now. Where I have claimed queerness, where I can only imagine queerness, feel that queerness, and share it with those around me.  

That happened because, before watching those films, I had worked hard to suppress my queer imaginary as an act of protection. But watching those films allowed me to give my suppression a rest and exist in a queer world. As a young queer woman coming into queerness and coming out to those around me–as well as to myself–these films were monumental. I watched both films for the first time in my earliest days as a young queer, Black woman, attending my college campus queer organization as an “ally”. These films allowed me to step from behind the façade and sit in the in-between–the in between of my identity, and the in-between of fear and freedom, a vast space where confusion rests. My own in-between.

This is a hello to the queer imaginary as it forms, grows, and struggles to manifest in my day-to-day life and experiences of fighting it, loving it, hiding it, and letting it in. I jokingly refer to both of the films as The Films That Made Me Gay. What they really are, however, are the films that helped me come into queerness on my own terms. This is my first written piece as an out queer writer, creating content that brings to life those worlds and spaces that manifest in my queer imaginary. 

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PODCAST: A Conversation with Harry Potter’s Chris Rankin

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Chris Rankin Harry Potter LeakyCon Anthony Ramirez Dallas

About Magazine took off to Dallas this past weekend to attend LeakyCon, the largest Harry Potter convention in the world, where editor-in-chief Anthony Ramirez caught up with Chris Rankin, who played Percy Weasley in the films to chat about the movies, their impact on LGBTQ people, and what he’s been up to since.

Chris Rankin Harry Potter LeakyCon LGBTQ Dallas

Ramirez, Rankin, and Mitchell at LeakyCon 2018 in Dallas

(DALLAS) – LeakyCon is the largest Harry Potter convention in the entire world, which began nine years ago in Boston. Now, getting ready to head into its tenth anniversary year in 2019 with two celebrations (one in Dallas and one in Boston) after celebrating its ninth in Dallas, it’s clear to About Magazine staffers why the convention is so popular for fans of the Harry Potter series — it’s friggin awesome. From booths selling hand-carved wands, to pints of butterbeer, to actors and creators of the Harry Potter universe meeting with fans and speaking about their experiences. From Sorcerer’s Stone all the way up to Fantastic Beasts and Cursed Child, the convention celebrates it all — and proved to be especially accommodating to the LGBTQ community (see photo of bathroom signs below). There’s not shortage of things to do, balls to attend, panels discussing everything from rape culture in the series to JK Rowling’s Twitter presence. Attendees parade about in cosplay — one man in particular even striking an eerie resemblance to the late Alan Rickman — and rest in common rooms appropriately decorated for each of the four houses of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry (Ramirez claims to be a studious Ravenclaw, while his friend/pretend employee if anyone at LeakyCon asked, Kirby Mitchell, asserts he is a courageous Gryffindor, but is more likely an undercover Hufflepuff).

 

Chris Rankin Harry Potter LeakyCon LGBTQ Dallas

Signs posted outside all the restrooms at LeakyCon 2018 in Dallas.

And while there, About Magazine editor-in-chief, both Ramirez and Mitchell were given the opportunity to meet one of the film’s stars, Mr. Chris Rankin. Rankin appeared as Ron Weasley’s elder brother Percy — the perfect prefect that had a knack for being a bit of kiss-ass but that turned out to be a hot, ass-kicking wizard nonetheless — in all but two of the franchise’s original eight films (adaptations of Goblet of Fire Half-Blood Prince didn’t include Percy’s character). But eighteen years after his first audition, Rankin is a lot more than just the goodie-two-shoes of the ginger-headed Weasley family. He’s hard at work back on the stage in a forthcoming production of The Wizard of Oz at the Bradford Playhouse in metropolitan West Yorkshire, England; and just recently, Rankin wrapped editing on his directorial debut — a short-film entitled Dad, which will air on the BBC sometime this winter. Between his film and stage work, Rankin takes kindly to meeting up with fans of Harry Potter across the world at conventions, conferences, and other public appearances. At LeakyCon, Ramirez and Mitchell were given the chance to talk to Rankin about how he got into the Potter-verse, his feelings on Wizarding World’s representation and diversity, and what it’s like to know that the LGBTQ community relates so much to a world he helped bring to life on the screen.


Transcript:

Anthony Ramirez: I really feel like … in doing these interviews — and I want to preface with this —

Chris Rankin: [Laughs] I love when an interview starts with, “I’m just gonna say this first …”

AR: [Laughs] I know. Right? It’s just — I mean, I talk more in interviews than I listen. But it’s fine.

CR: [Laughs]

AR: No, but I feel like y’all probably get the same questions over-and-over about Harry Potter. 

CR: [Thinking] Yeah.

AR: So we’re going to try and be a little bit outside of the box. But I bet you that everyone thinks that they are.

CR: [Laughs]

AR: [Laughs] So first off, um, I guess to sort of get the general questions out of the way, did you ever think that when you got into this franchise that it was going to be continuing onto this level today?

CR: Umm … no. I think it’s fair to say that none of us really knew what we signed up for at all. I mean … we were kids. But having said that, I don’t even think the grown ups would have particularly realized that it was going to be like this. And I don’t think — yeah. Even when we kind of realized like, This is a big deal — which I think for most of us was around the time of the premiere of Sorcerer’s Stone — we kind of went, “Oh, God. There’s real people out there and they want to see this film.” I think even then, and probably even most of the way through — probably way through to like 2011 when the last film came out — I don’t think that any of us anticipated that we’d still be here … now. And I know there’s Fantastic Beasts, and that’s sort of keeping the thing alive.

AR: Yeah.

CR: But I don’t know. It’s been eighteen years since we started filming. But it was kind of unprecedented.

AR: Well, we [Anthony and his friend, Kirby] were talking about that last night, too. Trying to figure out how long it had been. And we were both kind of like, “Omigod.”

CR: It’s eighteen years next — no … eighteen years in about ten days time since I had my first audition. And then I started shooting about September 2000.

AR: Wow. That’s crazy.

CR: It’s terrifying.

AR: [Laughs] .

CR: I’m 35 this year. It’s … weird.

AR: I bet. And you said not even the adults were expecting it. And you were working with people like Alan Rickman and Maggie Smith who had been in film their entire lives.

CR: Yeah!

AR: And it just blew out of the water so quickly.

CR: Yeah.

AR: When it comes to the Harry Potter universe — and it keeps going with Fantastic Beasts and Cursed Child — do you see that at any point there might be some sort of end to that? Or do you think this is going to be something that carries with generations and generations to come like it has so far?

CR: I think — I don’t know. At some point there kind of has to become a point where Jo [Rowling] stops giving us new original creative material to work from.

AR: Well, and she won’t live forever either. So …

CR: No. Well, and that’s true. Unless … you know … well, you just never know with Jo. You don’t know.

AR: [Laughs] She’s got the Philosopher’s Stone.

CR: It’s entirely possible that Jo knows how to do that.

Kirby Mitchell: [Laughs].

CR: But we’ve been promised five total Fantastic Beasts [films]. There has to come a point where enough is enough in terms of milking it. You know there’s only so much you can get ‘blood out of a stone’ wise. But, having said that, even without Fantastic Beasts, because again I’m 35 this year, I started reading Potter when the second book came out, so in ’98. So when I was 14. So I’m kind of first gen, original Harry Potter group of people. I’ve got friends who I went to school with who’ve got fourteen or fifteen-year-old kids who have obviously started reading Harry Potter five or six years ago who are second gen. And it’s not that they’re only reading it because Fantastic Beasts exists or because Cursed Child exists. They’re reading it because their parents are going, “These books are amazing.” And they’re going, “Oh, yeah. These books are amazing.” And that will carry on and carry on. So, yeah, feasibly, we could still be doing this in forty years’ time on like fourth generation Potter fans. It’s entirely possible. How well the films stack up against age, we can only say.

AR: Well, it’s certainly one of those things like with with The Chronicles of Narnia or The Lord of the Rings — those books span generationally.

CR: Yeah. Even Star Wars, which is like thirty or forty years old. You can still watch the original Star Wars and go, “Yeah. The graphics are a bit pokey. […] The storylines are terrible and it’s cheesy as hell. But … it’s great.” Maybe people will be saying that about Sorcerer’s Stone and Chamber of Secrets in about thirty years’ time. But, yeah they could be better. But you know what? They’re classics.

AR: At that point all movies will just be in 3D.

CR: Yeah–

KM: We’ll just have VR [virtual reality] movies in forty years.

CR: AR [augmented reality] movies probably by then.

AR: Exactly how did you get to — because obviously you were very young at the time — but how did the audition come about?

CR: It was — basically there was a TV show on the BBC, it was called Newsround, it was a kids news bulletin and young adults, I guess. And they put the last article on the program [which] was, “And finally, Warner Bros. is making a film of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and they want normal kids — just every day kids — to audition to play the parts in the film. So, if you want to be in film or you like Harry Potter and you want to do that, write to this address, send them a photo and a letter and say I wanna play whoever because of whatever. And if you don’t hear from them in two weeks, forget it ever happened.

AR: [Laughs]

CR: And a mate of mine I was at youth theatre with — I was sixteen at the time and he would’ve been 14 or so — he was ginger, as well, which is key. He rang me up on the landline, because this was before mobile phones — that’s how long ago this is.

AR: [Laughs]

CR: And he said, “Did you see that thing on Newsround? I think I’m gonna write in and say I wanna play Ron Weasley.” And I was like, “Yeah. I saw it. But I didn’t think anything of it.” And he was like, “Well, you should do it, as well.” So I did. I was like, “Yeah. Okay. Why not?” And my brain process was like, “Okay, well who should I play for?” Because I was sixteen and was sort of like, “Okay, well I’m sixteen. I’m  too old for Ron. Harry’s not likely — besides everyone wants to do that. Hermione? Probably … unlikely.” And then I sort of thought, “Well, I’m ginger.” And Will, my mate, is ginger, as well. So I was kind of like, “Well, we’re both gingers. So Weasley is an obvious option. I’m not a twin. But I am sixteen. Percy’s sixteen. And I am a prefect. Percy’s a prefect. I’ve got ginger hair. Percy’s got ginger hair.”

AR: Wow. That aligned really well.

CR: It was like, “If I’m gonna get a part, it’s most likely to be Percy.” And that’s kind of just what I wrote. And then I didn’t hear anything for like five months. And then they just rung up out of the blue one day like, “Yeah. Can you come in tomorrow for an audition?” And I was sort of like, “Yeah. Sure.” And I did. And then like four days later I met Chris Columbus and David Heyman and reauditioned. And I started about a week and a half after that.

AR: Wow.

CR: When it happened it was just like poof! There you go! And then we were like on the Hogwarts Express chugging into Hogsmeade to do our first days’ filming.

AR: That’s insane. You were a very realistic sixteen-year-old knowing all of that, too.

KM: [Laughs].

CR: [Laughs]. I hedged my bets. I was like, “What part am I most likely to get? Let’s go with that.” Nobody likes Percy. He’s probably like the least popular choice.

AR: Oh, gosh. I don’t know. I always related to Percy because … I was a snitch.

KM: [Laughs]

CR: [Laughs]

AR: So we are an LGBTQ publication.

CR: Yes!

AR: And that obviously has a huge fandom just within the Harry Potter fans, too. And a lot of comes just from within the fact that LGBTQ people identify with Harry Potter’s story. As somebody who was a part of creating that story and bringing it to life, what does it make you feel like when people who are not just queer people, but people of color, and people with disabilities find that correlation — when they’re able to see themselves in those characters?

CR: Yeah. I think it says an awful lot about the world that Jo’s created. Interestingly, in my panel yesterday, somebody asked me about the lack of diversity in Harry Potter, which really kind of threw me, for a start. Literally the entire room went deathly silent.

AR: That’ll happen.

CR: Yeah. And I was like, Shiiiit. How am I gonna answer this without digging myself into an enormous hole?

AR: [Laughs]

CR: But what I was trying to say, although what i couldn’t quite work out how to say, is that there is a lack of diversity in Harry Potter. We can’t get away from that fact. However, the diverse masses have sort of focused on it and said, “This is the book for me! This is the book that makes sense and that I identify with.”

AR: Yeah.

CR: And that’s regardless of the fact that it’s mostly white, straight, middle-class people. It fascinates me. However, it is a story about a selection of people who, for various reasons, don’t fit in with the “normal” population. Like … it might be because Harry’s an orphan who lived in a cupboard half his life and therefore doesn’t understand friends, doesn’t really know what love is, and doesn’t really know who he is because he’s lived this life of being a muggle when he’s really not — he’s actually a wizard. And suddenly he’s a wizard and he goes, “Oh. Hello. That makes sense.” One could liken that to sort of living your life as a straight person and then going, “Oh. I see! This makes sense. I’m not that person. Now this all clears up.”

AR: Right.

[Read Ramirez’s article about this likeness drawing comparisons from Charmed here]

CR: And you look at the Weasleys. There sort of just a whole family of people who don’t really fit the norm — who don’t really fit into this pureblood society that they’re supposed to be a part of. And I think that it’s really special. I think somehow Jo has created this perfect little mathematical equation that can answer so many questions and that provides so many different answers that — even if you don’t know you’re looking for them — you can find them. And even — and I’ve been talking about Harry Potter for the last eighteen years of my life pretty much on a weekly, if not daily, basis.

AR: [Laughs]

CR: And I do ramble — and I know I ramble when I’m answering questions.

AR: No, it’s okay.

CR: Especially when I’m not entirely sure what point I’m trying to make. But sometimes in the middle of all of that, I realize that another penny has dropped. And I’m just like, “Oh, shit!” [Snaps] “That makes so much sense!” All of the sudden this like rambling nonsense is suddenly, “AH! Got it!”

KM: [Laughs]

AR: [Laughs] I do the same thing. I get it. It’s revelation after revelation.

CR: Yeah. And Harry Potter — you could liken Hogwarts to Professor Xavier’s Academy for Gifted Youngters — you know? It’s a place where you don’t fit into the normal world. And that fits with a million different ethnicities, religions, races, genders, sexualities — everyone can go, “I don’t fit into this category.” Everybody. Even straight, cis, male, white, middle-class people can say, “I don’t fit into this community,” and therefore I can find something that I identify with in Harry Potter. It may be that, “Oh. God. I’m really like Draco Malfoy.” … which … is not necessarily a good thing. But if you can identify with him, then it’s a great thing.

AR: No, yeah. Absolutely. So I did want to ask you one last thing, because I know you’ve started working more in TV production, and you’ve started to move from in front of the camera. So what else do you have going on? Anything exciting happening?

CR: God. So much. I literally last week finished editing a short film I’ve just directed for the BBC–

AR: Oh, wow.

CR: … which will air in the UK in like November or December time. It’s a short film. It’s only ten minutes. It’s the first thing I’ve ever directed.

AR: Congratulations. That’s awesome.

CR: Thank you. I’m really excited about it.

AR: And what’s the title?

CR: It’s called Dad. And it’s written by a guy called Joshua McCord. It’s based on — it’s not loosely based, but sort of semi-based on something that happened in his childhood. And it’s interesting because it’s a piece sort of about accepting differences in people, interestingly. Yeah. And it’s really, really sweet. And I’m really happy with where it’s going.

AR: That’s amazing.

CR: Yeah. And I’m back on the professional stage this Christmas. I’m giving my Scarecrow in a sort of pantomime version of The Wizard of Oz. I have done proper stage work in ten years now, so that’s going to be fun. So, yeah. Life’s exciting. I’m having a go at everything.

AR: Yeah. You’re doing a little bit of everything. That’s amazing.

CR: I’m loving it.

AR: Well, congratulations, and thank you so much for sitting down with us.

CR: It was my pleasure. We should do it again sometime.

AR: This has been Chris Rankin — [gayer voice] Percy Weasley from Harry Potter.

CR: [Laughs]

AR: Can we get a selfie?


Follow Chris online: Twitter | Instagram | Facebook

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Cher to Release New Album: Dancing Queen

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cher mamma mia dancing queen lgbtq music

Music legend and LGBTQ icon Cher pays tribute to the music of ABBA following global mega-success of Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again.

The one and only LGBTQ goddess Cher will be releasing Dancing Queen, a new album of all ABBA hits on September 28, 2018, which was officially announced August 9 by Warner Bros. Records. Those who pre-order the new album will immediately receive Cher’s rendition of the song “Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight).” You can listen to the official audio below.

The Oscar, Emmy, and Grammy Award-winning icon was inspired to record the album following her stunning performance in the recently-released mega-hit film, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again.

Commented Cher: “I’ve always liked Abba and saw the original Mamma Mia musical on Broadway three times. After filming Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, I was reminded again of what great and timeless songs they wrote and started thinking ‘why not do an album of their music?’ The songs were harder to sing than I imagined but I’m so happy with how the music came out. I’m really excited for people to hear it. It’s a perfect time.”

Dancing Queen was recorded and produced in London and Los Angeles with Cher’s longtime collaborator Mark Taylor, who previously produced Cher’s global smash “Believe” which was number one in over 50 countries.

cher mamma mia dancing queen lgbtq music

The track listing for Dancing Queen previously announced on Cher’s twitter is listed below.

Cher is scheduled to be awarded a Kennedy Center Honor on December 2nd in Washington DC. She is a co-producer of The Cher Show, the upcoming Broadway musical opening on December 3rd and will be touring Australia and New Zealand in September.  She is currently performing a residency at MGM Resorts. Get tickets HERE!

Dancing Queen Tracklisting:

1. Dancing Queen
2. Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)
3. The Name Of The Game
4. SOS
5. Waterloo
6. Mamma Mia
7. Chiquitita
8. Fernando
9. The Winner Takes It All
10. One Of Us


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