Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Brazil: Governor jokes about raping male minister, minister questions governor's sexuality

André Puccinelli (right), governor of Mato Grosso du Sul, obviously felt among friends when he made some questionable comments at a business luncheon yesterday.

The Governor, who has fought back against government efforts to limit the expansion of profitable sugar cane plantations in his state, was riling against Environmental Minister Carlos Minc when he made the comments.

Midamax quoted Puccinelli as saying that the Minister was "a faggot and smokes pot" (Minc is described as a government advocate for the legalization of marihuana). According to the paper, Puccinelli went further, joking that if he caught Minc running at a local athletic event, he "would catch up to him and rape him in a public plaza".

The outrage was immediate and Pucinelli has since apologized. According to Portal MS, in a statement released yesterday, he called media reports a "misunderstanding" and said that his comments were "never meant to offend the minister". Even if the comments had been made "in jest", he said, they were inappropriate and worthy of an apology.

Minc, for his part, responded today in his own unique way by calling Puccinelli to accept that there might be a bit of gayness inside him. "He should do a deeper analysis of the statement he made about rape in a public plaza, examine it, and treat the homosexuality that exists within him with better care, and perhaps accept it more reasonably" ["Ele deve fazer uma análise mais profunda da declaração dele sobre o estupro em praça pública e examinar e tratar com mais carinho o homossexualismo que existe dentro dele próprio e talvez aceitar isso com mais razoabilidade"]. That, according to today's Correio.

The very least that can be said is that the Environmental Minister is no wilting flower.

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Amazing Race - Latin America

It's no secret that one of my favorite shows on television is "The Amazing Race". From production values, to the challenges that it sets up for the contestants, to the often stunning images of countries around the word, producers seem to want to truly entertain and not just to titillate. Sure, contestants are pushed into stressful situations and drama often arises from inter-personal relations, but that is not the one and only focus of the show. It was no big surprise that the show won it's 6th Emmy in a row last night for "Outstanding Reality-Competition Program".

The brand new US season begins a week from now on Sunday the 27th on CBS. And, as in past years, there will be a couple of gay contestants which happen to also be brothers: Meet Sam and Dan.

That's not a big surprise anymore. Nowadays every reality show seems to have a gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender contestant. MTV's pioneering "The Real World", for example, often uses a contestant's queer sexual identity to create maximum drama. Sometimes it's all good in that it promotes visibility but, most times, in shows like "Tila Tequila", it just becomes exploitation.

Not surprisingly other countries have copied the rule-book almost page by page. I can't begin to count the dozens, maybe hundreds. of gays that have gone through some season of "Big Brother - Mexico" or "Big Brother - Spain" (although I must say that it's interesting that in the current Spanish season, one of the contestants is a female to male transgender woman).

Which brings me to the first ever season of "The Amazing Race - Latin America". I was soooo looking forward to watch it. It would have been double the fun on Sunday nights: First, the US version followed by the Latin American version. I was so disappointed when I tuned in to Discovery in Spanish to find out that the show apparently will not be broadcast in the US. Boo! It would have been great to see contestants travel all over Central and Latin America as they completed each leg of the race.

And yes, having a gay contestant doesn't make or break a show, but what intrigued me the most was that one of the teams in the Latin American version is a gay couple from Bogotá, Colombia (Diego and Miguel Angel, pictured above).

AG Magazine, from Argentina, profiles them here, and discovered a promo for the show on YouTube. I hope the episodes run on Discovery in Spanish eventually.

UPDATE: Discovery Español is apparently streaming each week's show online at this link.

UPDATE 2: Seems that that's no longer the case. If you click on the link, a message appears saying that access to the video is not available for this region.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Mexico: "Hooking-up can be your murderer", men are warned at gay bars

"ATTENTION: In our community, there are more murders each day. Today's hook-up could be your murderer. Be careful of who you invite to your home"

So says a number of stark black and white posters and post-cards that began appearing at a number of gay bars in Mexico City with skulls placed in the middle of two interlocked masculinity symbols.

On Monday, Milenio said that the campaign, meant to raise awareness about a raise in homophobic crimes in the city, was actually the idea of a group of friends who got together and decided to do something. They tell the paper that they knew of at least ten men who had been recently found dead after picking up someone at a gay bar the night before.

The founder of the group, 40-year old Alberto Shueke, said he knew at least three of those men and decided to take action following the gruesome murder of a friend's roommate back in August.

That man, 24-year old Victor Galán, was found stabbed 24 times. Neighbors saw him bring someone home the night before while his roommate was away on vacation.

Shueke said that the campaign was not meant to tell gay men how to behave or to curtail ways in which gay men socialize but that it was just a way to raise awareness about these crimes.

At the bottom, below the warning, the poster also suggests steps that should be taken in case a hook-up does occur. It includes making friends aware of where you will be and with whom, asking friends to take a photo of you and the hook-up, not leaving the bar with more than one person, and avoiding taking the hook-up to your place on the first day of meeting him.

In August, in response to the increasing rate of murders of gay men, Mexico City approved a hate crimes that protects specific social groups, including on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity (SEE: "Mexico City adopts inclusive hate crimes measure", Blabbeando, August 26, 2009).

Friday, September 18, 2009

Homophobia in soccer, Part. 74: When a kiss is not what it seems

A soccer team is down 2-1. A player scores a tying goal shot. Team members surround him to celebrate. Caught up in the emotion, one of them embraces him and plants a huge wet kiss on his mouth.

According to several papers and television sport shows in Latin America this week, that was the scene in a Honduran soccer stadium on Saturday when Vida team member Baryan Beckeles tied a game with Savio Sports and team-member Orlin Peralta gave him apretty stunning kiss (right).

"A passionate celebration" says Argentinian news agency Telam, "Days of love in the times of soccer" says Los Angeles' La Opinion (which should know better), "They hooked up in midfield" screams Diario Show, "Love, Love, Love" says Peruvian tabloid La Primera.

Except the the kiss never happened. Or so allege the two players with some video evidence to back them up.

Here is Beckeles speaking to the Honduran newspaper La Prensa on Monday, after the photo was published:

“I am a little upset with what has been published and much more about the photo, since it is damaging to our work and family environments. I know that at no moment did I do that, I didn't kiss my teammate, and I will never kiss a man like me. I think all of this is a misunderstanding."

He added: "My family, in that sense, is at peace because I have defined who I am and what my tastes are; but I am certain, that whatever it is, this is uncomfortable because I believe that a mother or my brothers never expect to see a son or a brother in something like this, kissing another man."

Peralta, in the same article, backs Beckeles and says that they never kissed.

On Thursday, the Honduran sports paper Crónometro reported that a newly released video seemed to corroborate the players' statements (see video here). The video shows the players embracing at the time the photo was allegedly shot but it never shows them kissing passionately.

In an interview, the two players express relief that the new video has surfaced and say that it proves that they had been right all along.

The media “acted with full malice," says Beckeles, who says nobody questioned the photo's veracity.

“If they doctored that photo, it's of no interest to me, the damage is already done to me," says Beckeles, "there were many photographers and television cameras in the stadium and the only one to show up with that weird photo was that guy."

The players indicated they might sue on the basis of defamation of character and have certainly indicated that they are uncomfortable being portrayed as gay. All in all it's yet another instance in which both media and soccer players get caught in a homophobic tempest in a teapot. And none come off looking pretty.


Advance word: Epitafios II on HBO

A ruthless serial killer. A series of increasingly gruesome murders. Jaded dectectives on the edge. Unrelenting darkness and dread.

David Fincher's "Seven"? "CSI: Miami"? Not quite.

When "Epitafios" debuted on HBO Latino in 2005 as a 13-episode series, it was promoted as the network's biggest push into developing original programming for is HBO Latino off-shoot.

Filmed in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in its entirety, I was drawn by it's lush cinematography, its stellar cast, and the promise of unrelenting suspense.

Ultimately, when I wrote about it, I remarked that, while I thought the series was OK, I was disappointed by glaring continuity lapses, a laughable subplot in which a lead character willingly participates in an underground Russian-roulette betting group, and, worst of all, that the serial killer turned out to be a gay man who cross-dressed at night and posed as a street walker to befriend one of the lead detectives. In other words, as stereotypical and homophobic a character as I had seen in quite a while.

The series was apparently a hit and can be found on DVD. It certainly gets better reviews than mine by people who have left comments left at

Now comes "Epitafios: The End Now Has Two Faces" beginning tonight at 10pm on HBO Latino and Tuesdays at 11pm - with English subtitles - on HBO2.

I have received a promotional DVD with the first two episodes of the season. Here are my first reactions.

The first series was shot in 2003 and the intervening years certainly seem to show on actor Julio Chávez' face. Chávez, one of the best thing about the series, continues to play Detective Renzo Marquez as an eternally dour and short-tempered man who seems to trust no one but Detective Marina Segal, his partner. Segal, played by renown actress Cecilia Roth, is just as dour and haunted a detective and, on her off time, sometimes participates in clandestine meetings where two or more people sit around a table placing bets on their lives. Each takes a turn at putting a gun in their mouth, hoping that there is no bullet in the chamber when they pull the trigger.

"Epitaphs", in the first series, referred to cryptic messages left on make-shift grave stones next to the serial killer's victims. In the new series, they refer to the names of future victims as written on pieces of paper by a man who scratches and digs his way out of a makeshift grave in the first episode. The man, known as XL for the size of the clothes he is wearing when he is found wondering the streets, is the victim of a serial killer who has a thing for recreating gruesome murders from the past and keeping photographic records of each gruesome detail.

Some problems remain with the writing. In episode two, for example, with XL providing key leads to the detectives, Renzo blows his secret weapon by asking media to run images of the man to see if anyone can identify him. This, of course, alerts the serial killer to the fact that his first victim did not die and might potentially be able to identify him to police. Renzo's frequent blow-ups at superiors and his flash-anger, as in the first series, strains the credibility that any police department would hire him as a detective. And then there's the Russian-roulette storyline, which I mention once again because, it's stupid (an in the new series, implausibly, features Detective Segal going against a teenager boy at the betting table).

But, all in all, the pacing of the show seems to be much better than in the original and the main story grabs you from the start. It's as if the producers were able to relax now that the series was picked up for a second season and decided to focus on improving the show.

There are new interesting characters, including Detective Mariano Lagos*, played by Juan Minujín, who uses his developed sense of smell to identify substances others might miss. He ads a welcome touch of levity to the dire proceedings.

And for those of you for whom it may matter, a major gay storyline is revealed at the end of episode 2. It might be that the writers wanted to address charges that the first series was homophobic. Then again, I have a feeling that the storyline will meet a gruesome end sooner than later, if I'm right about some big clues that have been given so far.

The star of the show, though, remains the city of Buenos Aires, lovingly shot from above and on the ground by Directors of Photography Guillermo Zapinno and Miguel Abal. The city looks gorgeous, even as it sometimes is shot to look dark and menacing. If you have some time on your hands, it's definitely worth a look.

*An in-joke? One of the funniest things about the series is that one of the new characters is named Mariano Lagos. I am sure that my friend Mariano Lago, who is a well-known entertainment reporter in Buenos Aires and has a great personal blog at Lake Blog, is having a big laugh over this. Is it a coincidence? Or...

What others are saying:

"As I watched this gruesome, tense and beautifully filmed (in Buenos Aries) series, the same sick feeling of foreboding crept into my stomach that I felt while watching the film "Seven" for the first time. Thankfully, the graphic images did not make me pass out this time" - Show Patrol who gives it 4 out of 4 stars.

"Epitafios: El Final Ahora Tiene Dos Caras" Trailer...

Friday, September 04, 2009

Just as long as you break his heart and not mine: Pet Shop Boys live

Been taking a breather from blogging but I wanted to stop by and share some of the groovyness from Wednesday's Pet Shop Boys concert at the Hammerstein Ballroom in Manhattan.

Initially, I had resisted buying tickets to the show because I'd feared it would be nearly sold out and that I'd only find seats in the nosebleed section. But then I realized that it was at the Hammerstein and that the site had a general admission policy. So I got tickets.

I am so glad I did! The boyfriend and I found ourselves about eight feet from the stage and got a very intimate look at the show. Even better, I got to share the experience with one of my favorite bloggers out there, Joe Jervis who we bumped into (he blogs at Joe.My.God).

That's me looking up in the black t-shirt and Joe behind me with the grey an yellow 'Brooklyn' t-shirt (don't mind me. I was watching some stage technician butt).

It was the first time I saw the Pet Shop Boys live and I was thrilled. It's incredible to think of all the material they have out there and easy to appreciate how hard it must be to select which songs to play - and how to please the fans who want to hear a specific song or another.

I, for one, loved the show. I had already read some preliminary reviews of this year's tour from fans in Europe panning the staging of the show. I, on the other hand, rather enjoyed the basic lego block look to the dozens of bricks that were used as background and I didn't mind that you could see all the strings attached to them. Or the stage technicians pulling those strings.

Instead, as I have done in recent concerts, I found myself feeling a bit detached from the experience and feeling as if I was observing it from afar. Part of the disconnect was due, perhaps, to the fact I was trying to film some songs on my digital camera to share on YouTube.

Even as I filmed, I found myself trying not to look too much through the viewfinder and trying to look directly at the stage and the performers. On the other hand, I am glad I captured some of the songs on camera, as I've found increased appreciation for some of the songs on repeat view, even if the sound is shoddy and the framing jittery.

Take for example the show closer, West End Girls (link here). It sent the crowd out on a high but it was only after I got home that it dawned on me that it was FUCKIN.WEST.END.GIRLS, if you know what I mean. The song that launched a million gay boy's appreciation for dance music, as well as part of the soundtrack to our childhood.

The highlight of the show for me, unexpectedly, came half-way through the set in the form of a couple of songs that I hadn't necessarily paid much attention in the past. "Do I Have To?" paired with "King's Cross", which I've posted above. And that's what happens to me with the Pet Shop Boys: Even though I probably have all their albums, you sometimes discover gems that were probably disregarded in the past ("E-Mail" anyone?).

For others, the highlight was Being Boring, an ode to all those gay men lost to HIV/AIDS (link available here).

If you wanna see more you can check out my videos of the show here or my photos here. We also ran into our friends Edmundo and Rodrigo (that's his photo of Joe and me above). Rodrigo has his own set of videos from the show here.

And I leave you with Love, Inc.

...and "Left to My Own Devices" (apologies about the sound)...

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Sept 13, 2009: 16th Annual Clubhouse Jamboree

It's already September and that only means one thing: This year's installment of the annual Clubhouse Jamboree is just around the corner. Sunday, September 13th, 2009, from noon to 6pm, at Brooklyn's Prostpect Park, to be more exact.

I rarely promote events on this blog but always make an exception for the Jamboree because it's always such an amazing outdoor party. It also remains a bit of an undiscovered gem, even on this, it's 16th incarnation.

This year's guests include a couple of folk who have performed at past Jamboree events.

There's Spinna, for one, spinning Li'l Louis & The World's "Club Lonely" (feat. Joi Cardwell) above, at the 13th Jamboree. He'll be back this year.

There's Karizma, spinning an unreleased mash-up of Frankie Knuckles/Satoshii Tomiie classic "Tears" with the vocal from Jazmina's "Rain". He'll be back this year.

The vibe? The sound might not be pretty, but catch a wiff above as Brian Coxx from Soulgasm spins a remix of Jill Scott's "Hate on Me" (unfortunately, Brian will not make an appearance this year).

Lastly, the event is free and put together by the great Li'l Ray who, year after year, pulls this thing together with the help of dozens of househeads and volunteers. Last year I lost my cell phone at the event and the man drove all the way to Manhattan to return it to me when someone found it and left it with him. Amazing, no? So, if you are up for it in a couple of weeks, please try to make it. I promise it will be unforgettable.