It was that time of year again—another Broadway Bares fleshfest to benefit Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS—and we were late. My buddy Jason and I walked up to the Roseland around 10:15PM ahead of the midnight show, and the line had already wrapped around onto Broadway. I figured everything would work out, and yet I also swore that 2013 would be my year to see both the 9:30PM and midnight shows to double up on photos and videos.
A sign posted before the show reminded us that photography was disrespectful to the participants, yet their excitement at being asked to pose told a different story. Why look amazing and wear an outlandish outfit if you're not going to let people document you for posterity?
Let's start with the best video: "Rotation"
In line we were joking with friends and came up with a parody that Jackie Beat needs to do—"Christian Fister" set to "Sister Christian", all about a holier-than-thou Bible-thumper who's secretly a pig bottom. These are the kinds of things that get said while waiting to see 200+ dudes and chicks in the almost-buff. That and the remark that Elena Roger is so hated in Evita thaf if she were to do Broadway Bares the crowd would root for HIV. Don't get made at me—I liked the production! (P.S. More seriously, why couldn't Ricky Martin have done Bares this year?)
My pal Greg exited the first show and promptly told us of seeing Christian Borle (formerly married to Sutton Foster, a piece of trivia that bears repeating at every opportunity), Steve Kazee and Will Chase (all pictured above) entering the midnight show together as VIPs, but mostly we were scoping out the rather hot crowd. We'd just done Folsom Street East earlier in the day (100s of photos coming soon) and it can be hard to turn off being turned on.
Inside, we dashed to the central of three stages and I glaciered my way from one body away to being right at the stage. It seemed to me to be an ideal spot, though there is an argument to be made against being too close—I wound up shooting straight up at some of the performers, which worked out well in cases where we're talking about a lead performer in a kilt.
Before the show, which was themed to fairy tales, two lovely ladies fluttered overhead like gigantic Tinkerbells as sexy boys made the rounds selling memorabilia but giving everything else away in their skimpy outfits. There was a childlike sense of wonder in the air as well as the rather more grown up scent of balls. One had to be careful not to slip in the pools of Pavlovian drool once the lights went down signaling the main event was about to unfold.
The opening, "Happy Endings", was one of the most spectacular I can remember, a light-hearted romp starring superfit Kyle Dean Massey (those jean shorts were so lucky) as The (Gay) Boy and GCB's Miriam Shor as his Fairy Godmother. "Well, I used to be a good Christian bitch," she announced. "Now—I'm just a bitch."
But a well-intentioned bitch, and one who promised to help him find his own happy ending via a magical song she performed with backing by her Goddamnettes (Holly Davis, Chelsea Morgan Stock and Dan'Yelle Williamson)—it was consistently hysterical and bawdy.
How can you not like a song that seamlessly segues into a limerick containing the word "cunty"?
Next up was "Mirror Mirror", an inventive piece featuring Grasan Kingsberry as an Evil Queen (the kind that lives in Hell's Kitchen and eats a lot of whey) scrutinizing his image in the mirror to the point of obsession.
The dancers (including favorites of mine Adam Fleming and Guto Bittencourt) mirrored each other's movements to perfection and helped get the dancetastic show off to a running (man) start.
"Puss in Boots" began as a female-dominated number as a dozen or so women in catsuits purr-formed to Nancy Sinatra's "These Boots Are Made for Walkin'", but it soon became a male vs. female West Side Story, complete with a duel in place of a knife fight.
The leads definitely showed their claws and sank their teeth into this one. They left us all with our tails in the air for more.
The sexiest number I've ever seen at a Bares arrived next in the form of "Goldilocks and the Bears". In this retelling, Goldilocks (played by Andy Mills, who seems to have taken the mantle of Bares MVP from absent veteran Joshua Buscher) played a frightened twink and the bears, headed up by beefy Justin Smith and including my pal Armando Farfan Jr., were, well, bears.
Watching them paw at and easily disrobe Mills was simultaneously funny and boner-producing (any fairy tale can benefit from a magic wand, right?), but seeing Smith spread Mills and lap at his honey pot made one squint to see if a dental dam might be in use.
Even crazier, Mills was then dumped into a net and hoisted into the air with Farfan, being swatted and straddled all the way—I wonder which of the violations he received in this number was "just right"? Truly a daring and perfectly choreographed/executed number, one that ended with plenty of fairy tail.
Jennifer Tilly poured on the Elizabeth Ashley as an Evil Stepmother. "Just think of me as a sort of a Patti LuPone, only without the stepmother part," she cracked.
Her other zinger included the suggestion that watching reruns of Smash is a form of torture, which everyone howled at because I have no doubt everyone in the room has seen every episode against better judgment. Wonder how Borle and Chase took that one?
"Snow White" tossed in some adwarfable dancers and starred a pleasingly vampy Nikka Graff Lanzarone. Truthfully, I found it to be one of the least satisfying conceptually of the lot, but she and her boys were flawless and it definitely had a wonderful, old-school burlesque quality as it wound down.
"Snow White" also had the misfortune of being the only number during which the track cut out—and I must say the performers handled it very well (no rose-red faces) until the sound returned just in time for it to wrap. Pure professionalism.
"Pinocchio" was another of the show's highlights, a raunchy routine featuring another Bares regular—sex imp Matthew Skrincosky—as the boy made of wood who really sticks it to his daddy (Kevin Loomis). As the inventive choreography demonstrated in a variety of ways, being wooden isn't all bad.
Nothing wooden about Skrincosky, who's firm in some spots and plush in others, and who always has the best facial expressions for this kind of show; the boy really throws himself into the camp aspect of every number I've seen him do.
I'm an avowed ass man, but even if I weren't, my nose would grow if I didn't admit the eye-popping perfection of his—framed in a red jockstrap, it was all but presented to us on a platter (a deep squat, even a quick one, is something to cherish in your mind or on Vimeo forever, even if I regret I wasn't able to capture it at 100%). If you were going to create yourself an ideal boy, you could do a lot worse than whittling yourself Mr. Skrincosky.
Hot on the heels of "Pinocchio" was "Aladdin", which was probably the show's best overall. It wasn't the most daring (though it had plenty of skin), but it was a Broadway-ready production number featuring the prodigious talents of Reed Kelly.
Kelly's dancing and that of the entire troupe was just spectacular—to get this for $50 would have been enough, but to get an entire show plus this was charity in reverse. The costumes were also stunning, in particular the menacing yet erotic Middle Eastern masks on the dancing boys.
It wouldn't have worked thematically, but "Aladdin" could easily have been a show-closer. As it was, it was a real show-stopper.
I enjoyed "Rapunzel" for its clever appropriation of Lady Gaga's "Hair".
The girls really worked this one out, then things went to the next level when Lady Bunny emerged with some gigantic scissors (very slimming it is to hold huge instruments) and began hacking at everything in sight to the tune of "Turn Me On". I wouldn't hire Bunny for any intimate hair removal you may need around your carrot, however.
"The Pied Piper" (with my new crush Nick McGough and with another on my list of all-time crushes, Sidney Erik Wright), called to mind Madonna's Drowned World Tour. It was another out-of-the-balls-park piece of choreography, starring a gang of guys in kilts who of course stripped off and discarded their underwear mid-song.
I didn't catch any underwear, but I sure caught it when the guys did flips and/or spun around, flashing the kinds of rumps that just about anyone would have a hard time resisting pursuing. It's not always about the pipe.
A big wow came in the form of the gorgeous "Sleeping Beauty", enacting a truly romantic and convincingly sensual tale of boy-on-boy love that made judicious use of the leads' (Brandon Pereyda and Barry Lowin) aerial skills.
Seeing them dangling above us nearly nude, entwined and "in love" was one of the night's many tender moments. As dirty as the show as—and it was...so many agents are probably having heart attacks still—it was also quite romantic. This number was no mere "Sleeping" booty-call.
"Ugly Duckling", starring Brandon Rubendall and stunning, Rihanna-esque female lead Adar Wellington, had a lot of nice anti-bullying messaging and some of the evening's most tightly choreographed and hippest moves.
It felt modern in spite of the somewhat obvious choice of using Lady Gaga's "Born This Way".
The finale's highlight, "Happily Ever After", was a spine-tingling, heartfelt cover of "We Found Love" by Evita's Rachel Potter with beautiful John Carroll arriving in the form of Prince Charming to take the hand of Massey's Boy in marriage. (A joke about enjoying marriage equality for five more months until Mitt Romney becomes president made me squirm...let's try to avoid that scenario.)
It was giddily positive, a perfect Gay Pride Month confection.
The show ended with Judith Light being called to the stage to thank the company and to introduce a "very special guy"—even though she recently won a Tony, a hilarious heckler was thinking of another when he shouted out, "Tony Danza!" Light took it with a grin but instead wound up introducing Jerry Mitchell, whose adult baby Broadway Bares is.
The top money-earners were introduced, including my good friend Andrew Glaszek as first runner-up among guys—congrats to him on that. Reed Kelly was the overall winner again, raising over $30,000 on his own. He is truly the silly goose who laid the golden egg. (And who definitely got laid after the show if that was on his to-do list.)
It was finally time for the best part of Bares, "Rotation".
Even if you go through life feeling like a hemorrhoid at an orgy—unwelcome and purposefully worked around—"Rotation" is for you. The guys 'n' gals go out of their way to be warm and welcoming, opening their arms (and in many cases their legs) to anyone with paper money and a charitable paw.
During this frantic 15-minute sea of limbs, buns and Benjamins (or at least Georges), all of the performers gyrate around the three stages, rotating positions when told to by the announcer, as all of us mere mortals jockey for position so we may stuff unwanted cash into their Jockeys. The joy this brings can not be overstressed, even if this year some of my favorites were a tad overdressed—I prefer g-strings or (in rare cases) jockstraps, but granny-panty Speedos seem to be taking over. It's smarter to bundle up in case you rake in a bundle (where to hold cash if your asshole is winking at the world, eh?)...but then again, you might make less if you wear more.
Short of stumbling across one of these dudes on Rentboy.com, this could be your only chance to touch 'em up, though any dancer I've ever donated to will tell you I personally take the ginger and gentlemanly route, fingering them only with my eyes.
I was thrilled to get to see a triumphant Andrew, who introduced me to Reed Kelly. I also found love from Sidney, from a wary Skrincosky, from Andy Mills (so sweet—he always looks like he doesn't really get that everyone in the room is in love with him) and countless others. The more times I attend this function, the more I am remembered by the memorable-themselves dancers, so I'm happy to get willing poses and even a few friendly kisses.
I actually ran into one well known dancer in the crowd who was just about to kiss an ass onstage, but you know I'm far too discreet to say who it was or to post any pictures.
The stage emptied quickly this time around—I think we wasted a few minutes just kind of stunned and then a few more duking it out to get to Andy, whose area was clotted with desperation—but the final moments were unforgettable, including a couple of guys doing a scissor sisters pose (not the band, the original meaning) and then passionately making out.
Sure, I take pictures and videos of all this, but I'm also sure to stuff twenties, not ones and certainly not coins, into everyone's coffers. I figure it's the least I can do when they're so charitably donating their time, talent and tender parts.
Finally, here are some highlights from the program...