Scene: New York

 
 

Scene 4: Stonewall Democrats of New York City Women’s Awards
Henrietta Hudson, Sept. 25

"The postmodernist would look at the ceiling here and call it the floor for the people above," said Kate Bornstein in the renowned West Village bar, Henrietta Hudson. The transgender author, playwright and performance artist was not drunk. No matter what the inflatable beer mug and pretzel hanging in the front room suggested, this was a dignified public occasion.

Bornstein addressed the crowd as part of her acceptance speech during the 2nd Annual Women’s Awards presented by the Stonewall Democrats of New York City. The formidable group advocates for legislation that promotes equality for the local LGBT community, and it supports openly LGBT candidates and allies for elected office.

Bornstein (left) and attorney Yetta Kurland

The LGBT community flexes considerable muscle in New York City government. Here, the Stonewall Rebellion helped birth the modern gay civil rights movement in 1969, and today, openly lesbian City Council Speaker Christine Quinn eyes a run for the mayor’s office in 2009.

According to Bornstein, politicians should revolutionize their rhetoric to reach out to people under 25 who embrace pansexuality and identify as "queer," not LGBT. "The Democratic party needs to talk about sex," she continued, addressing an audience that included activists, elected officials such as out City Council member Rosie Mendez, and a staffer for Deborah Glick, the first — and still the only — out lesbian elected to the New York State Assembly.

Other honorees that evening were the Latina lesbian organization Las Buenas Amigas and Liz Abzug, a consultant whose mother, Bella, was the legendary women’s movement leader. Stonewall Democrats Vice President Yetta Kurland organized the event. Right now, she is the attorney for Josie Smith-Malave, the former Top Chef contestant who allegedly was a victim of anti-gay violence on Long Island over the Labor Day weekend.

While Bornstein may have argued for different interpretations of the architecture, her speech left little doubt about the meaning of the obelisk-shaped awards that were presented to honorees. "I’ll put this to good use," exclaimed the author upon touching the object.

Scene 5: The Sensuous Woman
Zipper Factory Theater, Sept. 26

Here’s a tip to anyone seeking information about the New York lesbian scene: Don’t ask Margaret Cho for advice. Those already in the know, however, might offer to show this uproarious performer around the town.

"I haven’t been here for so long that I need to get back into it," admitted Cho when asked her thoughts about the city’s offerings for women. The bisexual comedian happens to be in town through Oct. 20 for her new off-Broadway production, The Sensuous Woman.

Seated 90 minutes before the start of her first preview performance in a Hell’s Kitchen theater, Cho confessed: "I don’t know anywhere to go, and I don’t know anything to do, and I’ve got to be sort of reintroduced. The last time I was here it was all about Meow Mix, and that was a long time ago."

Sure enough, that was the Lower East Side joint known for its Xena: Warrior Princess nights in the ’90s. Then, the Notorious B.I.G. still lived and the Notorious C.H.O. had not yet hit DVD.

One decade later, Cho is here to star in The Sensuous Woman, a variety show of dancing, music and comedy inspired by burlesque. She said her acquaintance with the resurgent art form motivated her to deliver a production that displays all kinds of female body types.

"My eye is so unused to seeing real women’s bodies, women who are not super thin, or with crazy giant breasts and like air-brushed to death, you know, or supermodels," Cho explained. "I’m not used to that, and so my eyes are in shock when I see something different."

Refreshing differences permeate this latest work, which includes appearances by many of Cho’s associates based in Los Angeles. Transgender comedian Ian Harvie charms, and so does the versatile talent of Diana Yanez. The latter performed the rap song "My Puss" with Cho during the True Colors Tour last summer.

Now, Cho and Yanez have reprised their roles as wronged lesbian couple Maureen and Angela. Once again, the duo embraces superlative rhymes to insult the genitalia of a neighbor who had their RV towed.

Yo! Revenge still sounds hilarious.

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