Can I start this entry off with a total, shameless, informative plug for DirecTV?

After suffering through cable for years, feeling like I was in a continuous battle to keep my rate low, I finally gave up and called DTV about a year ago. They were running some incredible promos for new customers and if I signed up underneath a friend of mine who already had the service, we’d both get $10/off a month extra for a year. I scheduled the tech to come out for the install and was up and running less than a few days later. Bada-bing, bada-boom.

Sure, there was some re-learning involved: Big differences in user interface, a more featured remote control, many more options for customizing your video/audio stream through the DirecTV receiver, etc. I opted to hook all of my receivers up to my in-home wireless network so that I could enjoy pay-per-view, firmware upgrades, on-demand movies and multi-room viewing, which allows you to record a program on one receiver, but watch it on any other receiver in the house. At the end of the day, this system gives me more HD channels, better picture/audio, a greater channel line-up and truly state of the art technology. What’s best: It’s more than $50 less than what I was paying with Time Warner Cable.

What I’m really psyched about is that in the next few months, DirecTV is adding over 200 new HD channels and will be the first programming provider to offer real time 3-D channels. It could be totally tank, but it’s interesting that they’re willing to take the risk on something so popular ‘in the now.’

If you’re on the fence about leaving cable (or the tech-bungled UVERSE), consider this your rally cry and take some time to look into either DirecTV or Dish Network.

Got in a week of sun, Speedos and singing (?) in Key West this past week. I kept friendly company with the one and only Randy Roberts, spending the days by the pool attempting to get some color into this Irish skin, while spending nights enjoying stellar voices at The Keys. In truth, it was a relaxed trip for such a busy part of the season (spring break) and I expected much more drunken stupidity from the college contingent. Luckily, they were pretty respectful and provided for some hot eye candy when I went for runs on Smathers Beach.

Seriously, what the hell are college guys taking now to get muscle like this?

College guys now, whether in sports or not, are lean, ripped and sometimes just plain stacked. Beautiful bodies. It appears as if the Abercombie-ization of America is complete. Yeah, a lot of us in college looked like this thanks to playing sports (for me, it was soccer), but what I saw in Key West was just shirtless guy-after-guy with perfect V-shaped torsos, stacked stomachs of abs and well-defined shoulders. Like a lot of straight guys I know, I saw some stick-legs paired with those great upper-bodies, but for the most part, it seemed that the 19-23 age group is really taking gym time serious now. It was my eye candy section come to life and walking down the street around me.

I toddled from my usual gym in Key West to Iron Bodies on Truman Ave, where it’s kosher to lift shirtless. The gym is old school in every way, with rusted out equipment, mismatched dumbells and no AC, but it’s THE place to hit if you’re wanting a no-nonsense workout. While I won’t jump ship totally, I do head there when my routine is getting stagnant and I’m in the mood for some competitive edge with the other young (often shirtless) guys who lift there.

… And when the gym bores the hell out of me, I head to Bikram yoga. Just walking around the island on a summer day can feel like a usual Bikram class, so they crank up the heat factor in the studio using quartz wall heaters. It’s blazing in there, but being able to burn 1500 calories plus a class is an amazing thing. Best of all, the guys all usually come to class in nothing but tiny running shorts or speedo-cut swim gear.

In getting back to Manhattan recently, I had the chance to see two new talked-about plays, getting away from the musical scene this trip, but thoroughly enjoying both of these productions: ‘A Behanding in Spokane’ and ‘Looped.’

Looped- starring Valerie Harper– at first seems like any of the other one-woman tribute shows to Tallulah Bankhead that have been written in the past 25 years: Harper slurs her way around the stage, drink-in-hand, smoking like a chimney and wise-cracking every other line. What makes Looped very different is the introduction of two other characters. The whole plot revolves around Bankhead having to go into a sound recording studio to capture one last ‘loop’ of audio that was missed during live shooting. Something that should be so simple ends up being incredibly difficult thanks to Bankhead getting progressively more drunk throughout the session, leaving both the sound engineer and the movie’s editor to, somehow, someway get the job done. It’s a one-note premise for a play, but thanks to three very capable actors, it’s brilliant.

Harper, drunk and loving it.

Many reviews of this show have mentioned enjoying the first act much more than the second, but I totally disagree: I found the first act funny, but entirely too cliche. Harper does an incredible job of stepping into some horribly large character shoes with Bankhead, but her moment to truly shine as an actress comes in the second act- There are some beautifully transcendent moments between the editor and Bankhead. Harper shows a wide range of emotion in this play and I’d be shocked if she didn’t take the Tony award. She certainly deserves it.

A Behanding in Spokane is a totally different animal- Written by acclaimed playwright Martin McDonagh, who also wrote The Pillowman (on Broadway a few seasons ago), this is a story that can’t quite decide whether it’s a slapstick comedy, a humanistic drama or a thriller. It’s about a man who’s spent the last 40 year
s of his life searching for his severed hand from a childhood accident. Did I also mention that that man is played by Christopher ‘More Cow-Bell’ Walken?

Walken, only has to use half-as-much Purell as a normal person

Yeah, it’s a strange play that just keeps getting stranger. It verges on absurdest at times, but there’s always that hint of danger than keeps Behanding squarely reality based.

The script seems to have been written especially for Walken, who’s vocal mannerisms fit the character perfectly- So much so, that by the end of the play, you simply can’t imagine anyone else right for that role. His supporting cast is serviceable, with the real acting standout being Sam Rockwell (as a hotel front desk employee). The play itself felt a little half-baked, almost as if the playwright was racing to finish it for opening previews, and could stand some additional tweaking through the process.

What struck me as most strange was how ‘ready’ some audience members were to laugh at this show, seemingly beginning the drawn-out chuckle long before the punch-line landed. To me, that reeks of the producers papering an audience. ‘Papering’ a crowd ensures a visual sell-out, even if the theatre has only sold to 50% capacity. Several papering services around the city provide plays and musicals with enthusiastic audience members at cut-rate ticket prices ($20 or so). If you’ve got the flexibility and time, I highly recommend applying for one of these spots, as it’s a better deal than joining TDF (the Theatre Development Fund) and you often times get to see some great, albeit not popular, shows.

No trip to the city is complete without a few bowls of braised-beef noodle soup at Ollies on Broadway/70th: Highly recommended and open late. I’m bummed that Apple just opened a monstrous new store next to them, lighting up the whole neighborhood to daytime-like levels at night and generally just being the capitalist-scum we all know they are. If you do go for soup, please resist the urge to go into that blasted place. It’s just so tacky.

Totally craptastic experience for breakfast one day and it was my own damned fault for trying something unknown, but more importantly, something near Times Square. Anyone ever felt the wrath of Ellen’s Stardust Diner? I have now and I’ve never before eaten a full breakfast so quickly in my life: 12 minutes flat, including coffee. Here’s why…

Show tunes sung this loudly at 10am should be banned in the same way that San Franciscans get a foam in their panties over the legality of foie gras and plastic grocery bags. This diner was created so that tourists from Nebraska could go back home with pictures of their ‘wild times’ while visiting ‘The Big Apple.’ What’s ultimately sad is that Ellen’s Stardust Diner is so much more worse than just simple campy vocal vamping… It was an out-and-out gay pride parade of never-will-work-on-Broadway ‘singers’ who blasted cheap-sounding MIDI tracks that were way, way out of their voice range. The one thing that I can now say with absolution is that I would never wish my greatest enemy the same home-fry eating experience there that I did: Having to endure a flamingly bad homosexual version of ‘No Good Deed’ from Wicked (performed in its original female key). If I were someone famous, I would have thought I was being Punk’d.

Bell, ridiculously talented.

The true highlight though of this trip to New York was getting a chance to see Josh Bell play Carnegie Hall from a perfect, back-orchestra, center seat. Even if you aren’t a fan of classical music, the experience of seeing and hearing one of the most talented violin virtuosos alive today is unmatched- Add in being at Carnegie, and you’re in for a thrilling program. Bell’s ability to make even the most difficult pieces look effortless is stunning. While being a relative newbie to watching Bell perform, it’s clear that he’s one of the more athletic musicians while on-stage, changing directions frequently, working various levels with his Strad and sweating like a whore in church.

While it’s rare to hear him play it live, I do like Bell’s interpretation on West Side Story (on CD) and listening to him ‘slum it’ a little on his Gershwin album. A friend of mine who’s also a fan of his, let me know how incredible Bell can be when he fiddles as well. That’s something I’ve never seen him do live, but I imagine it’s quite a treat.

So, it’s now come down to Chriss Angel directly poking fun at the gay community in his Las Vegas show not once, but twice now. Why is it that all firmly closeted, tranny-hiring, botox conscious guys with short man-syndrome seem to think that the ‘doth protest too much’ approach is the way to look straight? Las Vegas can be incredibly inclusive within the entertainment industry and I’ve spent my fair share of time with enough headliners to know some of the very best gossip- I’d think it would be in Angel’s best interest to stick to the script and keep his barely believable sideshow antics to a minimum. He’s already lost his gay following… How long before Cirque goes too?

Tony Trapp and The Male Nude have just unveiled a rather ambitious new web design and a fantastic new flash-based real time chat room. I’ve had a chance to sneak a peek at it and the software is solid, easy to use and likely to bridge the gap that a traditional message center cannot. Check out the fruits of his labor now by clicking here. Also, if you’ve got a vouyer streak in you, there’s free video chat as well.

Speedos are once again back in the limelight thanks to a UH-Manoa student who was caught jerkin’ the gherkin after-hours in University classrooms from videos he posted on Xtube. While I’m all for extreme exhibitionism, I think this kid
went a little too far and is now backtracking anyway possible to justify his bad choices. He now says they were ‘audition’ films for getting into gay porn. To me, that doesn’t excuse the rather nasty things he left behind for other students and professors to deal with… If memory serves me correct, first-amendment rights don’t extend to creating a bio-hazard.

As for his budding porn career: I hope he jumps on his 15 minutes quickly, as aside from a decent-sized cock, his face and body aren’t anything that marketable. Methinks it’s all a downhill ride from here for this Speedo kid.

So, The Hookies happened without much fanfare and it seems another year goes by in the Rentboy-sponsored ‘contest’ that’s only open for FOR (Friends of Rentboy) or porn-folks who have absolutely no solid reviews or reputations as anything but hustlers. I suppose that’s what one expects from an award called ‘The Hookie.’ I’m also at odds with who they chose to host the event, as Raven was a replacement in the Las Vegas company of Zumanity and never matched the talent or energy of Joey Arias (the original cast’s host). It just all feels so… Second class.

Just a heads up to those participating in this year’s AIDS cycle: If you’re going to whore around at night, all the while under the guise of ‘finding a cure,’ you might want to choose sex partners with tighter lips. It’s beyond me how someone can participate in something amazing like this while on the flip-side offering video of themselves fucking and having other guys swallow cum on their website. It’s more than hypocritical, it’s just tacky. If you choose to donate to a cause, that’s fine and commendable, but do it with pure heart- not just as a PR tool.

This image about sums up my fear regarding gay cruises

Later this month I’m spending a couple of weeks going from Hong Kong to Singapore on one of Atlantis’s cruises and am wondering if anyone else out there is booked to go? I’m a little frightened at the announcement of the entertainment on the ship (two drag queens, no headliner). Does anyone happen to have any words of advice for this particular cruise or/or what to expect. Atlantis did this same iten last year and from the chatter on various message boards, it seemed split down the middle on those who liked it and those who hated it. Shoot me an email.

Let’s close down this edition with a plethora of EYE CANDY. I’m backlogged on getting this stuff out there and will work on EC updates more frequently now. Literally, I’ve got over 1000 images just waiting to go. It sometimes takes my servers a while to process all of the images, but click the link below and it should get the party started pretty quickly. Just remember to hit the BACK button when you’re done and you’ll head right back here to 15mm…




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