Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)
September 13, 2005
By Bruce Vilanch
The first thing I saw on Logo was a commercial about genital herpes. But I get ahead of myself I came to Logo, which is Viacom's new channel programmed to the gay and lesbian market, a bit late. Well, who wouldn't? It was difficult to tear myself away from my summer reading--Harry Potter: The Prisoner of Neverland Ranch. Talk about riveting. But sooner or later, humidity being what it is, I was going to have to go indoors, where I knew Logo was waiting. I made the popcorn, poured the vodka into the Hawaiian Punch, arranged the animals so they would not be bestirred by my bursts of joy, and sat back to enjoy gay-per-view. And on came the genital herpes commercial.
Wait a minute, had I accidentally landed on Lifetime? Damn this universal remote. A straight couple--what? were hiking through the woods, kayaking, pitching a tent, all apparently while a savage itch raced through their loins. Poor straight people. The likelihood that anyone watching a gay channel would be suffering from this particular affliction or, if they were, wanted to be reminded of it, was slimmer than a runway model.
The commercial over, the next thing I saw was Varla Jean Merman, one of the most exceptional drag performers ever she can hit a high C with a mouth full of Cheez Whiz. She was anchoring a brief, MTV-like recounting of the Stonewall riots which had a lot more color and excitement than the nots themselves. It was full of graphics and quick cuts and jokes and almost as confusing as being in the middle of a riot, but it looked fabulous and so often that's all that really counts.
Then the feature program resumed, the bleeped version of Torch Song Trilogy, the movie of Harvey Fierstein's landmark play of the early '80s, a film all about what it was like in New York before AIDS. At this point, I decided I had landed on the Gay History Channel. I hit "search" on the TiVo to find out if Abe Lincoln would be making an appearance. But soon I got all caught up in the movie, in which you get to see Matthew Broderick as chicken, which will really make you feel ancient.
The next day, after more Varla Jean and that same poor straight couple with the herpes, I got The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert also bleeped and Personal Best, the early '80s lesbian long-distance runner story that, when it was originally released, we all called Chariots of Fur. There were also a fistful of promos for the upcoming broadcast of the GLAAD Media Awards, which were made to look like the Oscars of 'mo-dom, and why not? It was something new.
Then, without warning, a whole bunch of new things began showing up. A show about gay couples planning weddings. A tour of gay Amsterdam. Scott Thompson being Scott Thompson. Suzanne Westenhoefer's stand-up. At this point, I decided to stop judging and start enjoying. Every cable channel has 24/7 to fill, and a lot of the stuff it puts on is going to feel like retread. But the fact that a straight channel-surfer out there can land on a channel that looks and sounds totally legitimate and is totally gay is an incredible leap for gaykind. And he just might be able to clear up that herpes thing besides.