On a misty Hollywood evening I make the winding drive up Pacific Coast Highway to Bel Air Bay Club, a lush retreat for SoCal’s coastal elite. Tonight, celebrities, wealthy locals, and global do-gooders are coming together to celebrate Go Go Gala, The Go Campaign’s sixth annual fundraising extravaganza. The Go Campaign is an international non-profit “dedicated to improving the lives of orphans and vulnerable children around the world by partnering with local heroes to deliver local solutions. 100% of the proceeds raised from this year’s GO GO Gala will be used to support high-impact grassroots projects aimed at changing lives and transforming communities, one child at a time.” By the end of the night, half a million (!) dollars was raised, 100% of which will be used to support high impact grassroots projects aimed at improving third-world conditions one needy kid at a time. A noble cause, to be sure, but obviously I’m more interested in waxing homosexual with celebs on the red carpet.
All photos from Getty Images for GO Campaign
Tonight’s headliner is Melissa Etheridge, the lesbianest of lesbian singers, who has lived out-and-proud since “out-and-proud” was a hip term to use. I also grabbed some insight about Hollywood and gays from insider Adam Shankman before falling medium in adoration with Melissa’s fiancee, Linda Wallem, a powerful producer who seemed genuinely thrilled to meet another member of the dyke coven out and about in Hollywood. After 15 or so events where I have to ask straight people about gay people in Hollywood, it’s enchanting to ask a gay woman about gay people in Hollywood. Finally, I meet 2 Broke Girls star Beth Behrs and learn the writers room is filled with lesbians because lesbians are funnier than everyone else, myself included.
After a month of covering red carpets and press junkets for AfterEllen, I’m finally oozing into familiarity with the routine. First one must track down one’s liaison, who will likely either be: a) inexplicably missing for 10 minutes or b) engrossed in conversation with people more important than you. After sullenly watching event minions scuttle around for an awkward length of time, the liaison appears, subtly strokes your ego, and places you in a swath of prime front of red carpet real estate. The spot will be approximately five inches wide and well within smacking range of film crew cameras. As the night progresses, you will weave, duck, and spring into your small section of celebrity access while politely negotiating turf/turn taking with other journalists. It’s a rare moment when my degree in International Relations is useful rather than ornamental.
First to saunter down the Red Carpet is Melissa, followed by fiancee Linda. After all these years in the spotlight, Melissa still exudes a youthful radiance that could be attributed to great talent or simply great skin care. I like to think it’s a little of both.
AE: How have things changed since you blazed the way for lesbians in the ’90s?
Melissa Etheridge: It’s changed so much! There’s finally a feeling of relaxation about being gay. Like, “Yes, we are having sex. It’s OK. It’s alright everybody!”
Melissa Etheridge and I croon “It’s OK!” in soothing and increasingly loud tones while onlookers make puzzled expressions. Melissa Etheridge and I are breaking down a lesbian chorus in the Bel Air Bay Club.
AE: I loved your latest album, Fourth Street Feeling. What were some of the inspirations for those songs?
Melissa Etheridge: A lot of inspiration for Fourth Street Feeling came from this one.
[Melissa grabs Linda and introduces us. We coo appreciatively at each other in lesbianese]
Melissa Etheridge: It’s always autobiographical, even in the past tense. So that is what’s going on right now with my music.
AE: Do you watch any TV shows?
Melissa Etheridge: Yes! I’m a huge Game Of Thrones fan.
AE: Me too!
Melissa Etheridge: I’m going out of my mind, it’s been way too long.
AE: Who do you think should be a lesbian on Game Of Thrones?
Melissa Etheridge: Cersei!
Linda Wallem: Aren’t they all kind of lesbians?
Melissa Etheridge: Well if you’d read the book, you’d know that Khaleesi has a lesbian thing but it’s more functional than really love.
AE: Yes, I’ve read the books, those lesbian sex scenes were painful. George R.R. Martin isn’t great with female sexuality, is he?
Melissa Etheridge: It was very one-sided.
Linda Wallem: He should maybe farm those out.
When Etheridge moves on to further red carpet commentary, Linda Wallem and I fall into comfortable conversation. AfterEllen has interviewed Linda before for her work on critically acclaimed series Showtime series Nurse Jackie, and the producer is a fan of our pop culture coverage.
AE: There’s a term floating around on AfterEllen/the Internet called “shipper” aka “relationshipper,”a fan who’s hopelessly devoted to the fate of a TV couple? Are you a shipper for anyone?
Linda Wallem: Oh yes! I get way too involved. I’m actually a sucker for reality TV.
AE: Me too! My favorite is Real Housewives. Except Miami.
Linda Wallem: OK, yes, definitely Real Housewives, but I couldn’t get into Miami or also Washington D.C. I felt sorry for a lot of those ladies.
AE: Basketball Wives is good though.
Linda Wallem: Oh God yes, love that. I’m also into cooking shows like Top Chef.
I tell Linda Wallem that I think watching cooking shows will teach me how to cook, but so far no one will eat my cooking. Including me. Linda Wallem laughs in the face of such plight. We voice appreciation for each other’s attractiveness. “Lesbians are so pretty now!” I exclaim and Linda, chucking, responds “We are! In the ’80s it used to be different.” “A lot of big shorts back then,” I observe knowingly, and with that striking observation Linda follows Melissa into the Bel Air Bay Club.