Toronto
3 min

Best of the rest

A guru in Elizabeth Gilbert’s charming tale of spiritual renewal, Eat, Pray, Love, recommends cultivating an “attitude of gratitude.” This doesn’t come naturally for me — more like an attitude of grumpiness — but I’m working on it because, really, what’s there to lose?

With that in mind here are a few things that may or may not be important in themselves but which have certainly provoked a smile or two — and my gratitude — this past year.

The Paco Rabanne ad for Black XS where model Will Chalker shows the tops of his pubes. The campaign is at least two years old but I’m still bumping into Mr Chalker in washrooms across the city and I have to say that it’s always a pleasant experience.

André Aciman’s Call Me by Your Name. Enthusiastically reviewed by the mainstream press, this deeply sensual love story struck me as improbable, mildly homophobic and structurally straight. The two hot young heros, ages 17 and 24, take forever to get it on and the affair is over almost before it’s begun. Doomed and delayed in equal measure, it’s like something out of a 1950s pulp novel. On the other hand it’s also hard to resist. The ending is devastating, the writing exquisite and the book itself almost certain to earn cult status. So read it now and make up your own mind. Whether you like it or not it’s going to pop up on best-of lists for years to come.

Smirnoff’s Czarina pageant at Woody’s. Local drag can be numbingly formulaic (“C’mon guys, make some noise!”), but sometimes it really hits the heights and this was one of those occasions. The eight queens who made it to the finals of this three-week contest went to amazing lengths to impress the judges and the result was more entertaining than most of the $80 musicals in town. At least half the queens brought their own backup dancers and the costumes were works of art. An amazing display of talent.

Good news for couch potatoes. Paul Lynde’s legendary 1976 Halloween special is out on DVD. So, too, is the sexiest movie of the past 10 years, Y tu Mamá También, starring a young Gael García Bernal as a raunchy little fucker with an eye for older women and maybe even, temporarily at least, his own best friend.

William Haefeli’s cartoons in the New Yorker. A gay man, Haefeli sometimes portrays straights but it’s his pinch-lipped portraits of gay couples that make me giggle.

Word Play on PBS. The story of a group of super-competitive crossword freaks, this doc in the Independent Lens series was both surprisingly entertaining (crosswords?) and surprisingly homo-positive. One of the heros was gay and he introduced his boyfriend to the camera and the boyfriend chatted about his lover and his big, big brain and nobody batted an eye.

New reasons to have sex. Psychologists at the University of Texas identified 237 different reasons why people have sex and while I didn’t need a professional to tell me that people have sex for reasons other than big-L love, it’s always nice to see science sticking it to morality.

Colin and Justin’s Home Heist. Jolly gay Scots, boring show. I’ll start to get interested when they reno a downtown bachelor with limited closet space. Telling a hapless suburban couple that their baby really shouldn’t be sleeping in the laundry room is too easy.

Hotties on TV. I can’t usually watch award shows. Too slow. But I perked up when Maroon 5 singer Adam Levine showed up on Fashion Rocks. Yeah, I know, I’m about five years behind the times but what a lovely little swagger. Who knew pop groups still had cute lead singers? I thought that went out with the ’60s.

Lorrie Moore’s short stories. If Moore’s characters were gay (which mostly they’re not), they’d be Fran Leibowitz. One of the characters in her Self-Help collection launches a series of zingers, including: “Shopping for clothes is like masturbation — everyone does it, but it isn’t very interesting and therefore should be done alone, in an embarrassed fashion, and never be the topic of party conversation.”

Volo. I’ve walked past this Yonge St café (at the corner of Dundonald) about a gazillion times over the years and never gone in. My mistake. Turns out they have a fab selection of Canadian craft beers and an atmosphere conducive to chat. Despite the main drag location it’s actually quiet enough to talk and there’s absolutely no fashion angst. With few exceptions the crowd is frumpily straight.

Georgie Girl. There are a lot of talented drag queens out there but Georgie is the only one who really makes me laugh. Probably the only queen ever to mention the Beothuks in her routine, she’s both smutty and smart. Once she put me in such a good mood that I even got laid. But that’s another story for another time.