Couples therapy: The Lavender Tube on Margaret Cho, 'Not Dead Yet,' 'Shark Tank' & more

  • by Victoria A. Brownworth
  • Tuesday April 18, 2023
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Josh Banday and Rory O'Malley in 'Not Dead Yet'
Josh Banday and Rory O'Malley in 'Not Dead Yet'

"April is the cruellest month." So said that famous closet case T.S. Eliot in "The Waste Land." Eliot was definitely on to something because, wow, is this a terrible month so far.

South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem  

Only in America can you have a mass shooting on Monday that killed six and wounded eight and by Friday a sitting governor, South Dakota's Kristi Noem and a 2024 GOP VP hopeful, telling an NRA convention that her two-year-old granddaughter "already has a shotgun and she already has a rifle and she's got a little pony named Sparkles too. So the girl is set up," and then sign an executive order making guns even more available in her state. (The Daily Beast)

Insert all the curse words we don't say in this family newspaper here. Fortunately, TV is here to keep me sane and calm when I'm trying to cut back on the Xanax.

Cho time
It was a pleasure to randomly catch bisexual comedian and San Francisco-raised Margaret Cho on "The View" April 12 and then have her turn up again that night playing a psychic on our fave new sit-com, "Not Dead Yet." That episode also broadened the gay subplot with Dennis (Josh Banday) and his husband Jeremy (Rory O'Malley) who are doing surrogacy to expand their family. It's quite charming the way this gay subplot is just part of the complexity-of- relationships thread that runs through the series.

On "The View," host Whoopi Goldberg asked Cho what she was livid about and Cho launched into a passionate defense of trans kids. Cho said, "We have to protect trans kids' lives. We have to protect trans children and the trans community, the nonbinary community, the gender nonconforming community."

Cho also said succinctly, "When you outlaw a bathroom for someone, you outlaw their humanity."

Take that in, embroider it on a pillow, silk-screen it on a T-shirt and have that be your answer to everyone who makes this their issue. (by the way, this also goes for homeless people.)

Cho then took on the new anti-drag bills, saying, "If it's Christians [standing against drag], Christ himself is wearing a long dress and a duster from Chico's."

Cho continued the joke. "In the Bible, him and the Apostles all went to Chico's and got the same Bea Arthur sets. It's a 'Golden Girls' special. They're all wearing the duster."

Watch to see Cho describe her mother commenting on her new "gay" hairstyle.

Here's the 'Beef'
Speaking of San Francisco comedians I love, Ali Wong is the star of "Beef," the new A24 series that's currently the most watched series on Netflix. "Beef" is fabulous. The ten-episode series is an Asian-American comedy/drama created by Lee Sung Jin. It stars Steven Yeun and Wong as Danny Cho and Amy Lau, two people whose involvement in a road rage incident pits them against each other in a wild series of events that peel away the layers of who they are, the lives they are leading and what they want and can't have. Hilarity — and pathos, a surprising amount of pathos — ensue.

Wong, a Pacific Heights native, was one of Time's 100 Most Influential People of 2020 and 2023 (they finally discovered Asian people!). I loved her in "American Housewife" as the tiger mom, Doris, and if you've seen her standup, you will love "Beef." It also stars Young Manzino, David Choe, Joseph Lee, Mia Serafino and lesbian actor Maria Bello playing Jordan, a villainous lesbian capitalist.

Eye Spy
"A Spy Among Friends" just dropped on MGM+, formerly known as Epix. It's good period drama, with gorgeous sets, superb acting and an incredible true crime/spy/traitor story — perfect for our current milieu. Based on the New York Times best-selling book of the same name by Ben Macintyre, this series dramatizes the true story of Nicholas Elliott (Damien Lewis) and Kim Philby (Guy Pearce), two British spies and lifelong friends. Philby was the most notorious defector and Soviet double agent in British history.

The series takes place in England in 1963. Nicholas Elliott is working for SIS as an intelligence officer and is left in turmoil when he learns his close friend and colleague Kim Philby has been secretly working as a double agent for the KGB and has defected to the Soviet Union.

The two men were incredibly close throughout their lives, since school days, and Philby's betrayal of Elliott is astonishing for its breadth and longevity.

Another of Philby's comrades was Guy Burgess, Philby's outrageous, scandalous, blatantly queer, often drunken friend from Cambridge. Philby recruited Burgess to join him as a double agent. Their relationship is detailed in part of the BBC series "The Hour."

A lost 1959 interview with Guy Burgess was found in the CBC archives and broadcast in 2015.

"A Spy Among Friends" is so good. Guy Pearce is just extraordinary as Philby. The series was adapted by Alex Cary and directed by Nick Murphy. It's also available on Amazon Prime.

Light touch
"A Small Light" premieres May 1 on National Geographic and streams on Disney+ and Hulu the following day. It tells the story of Miep Gies, who is asked by her employer Otto Frank to shelter his family, including daughters Anne and Margot, from the Nazis during World War II. A true story of almost incomprehensible courage. The cast includes Bel Powley as Miep Gies, Liev Schreiber as Otto Frank, Billie Boullet as Anne Frank and more. Anne Frank's diary is among books being banned by the GOP, so—watch.

Potter dodge
J.K. Rowling is still working to make her long and illustrious career devolve into one horrible repetitive note of non-stop transphobia while still making a boatload of cash. HBO just announced its new "Harry Potter" series. They think they can avoid the controversy, but they can't.

J.K. Rowling  

The Variety headline screamed, "HBO Boss Dodges J.K. Rowling Anti-Trans Controversy After Announcing 'Harry Potter' Series: 'Our Priority Is What's on Screen.'"

Good luck with that.

Rowling will be an executive producer on the series. She has aligned herself with some of the worst right-wing extremists, like Matt Walsh and Michael Knowles of the Daily Wire, who have called for the "eradication of transgenderism," as I wrote about for Philadelphia Gay News.

Casey Bloys, chairman and CEO of HBO and Max content, declined to comment on Rowling's views, saying, "That's a very online conversation, very nuanced and complicated and not something we're going to get into."

Bloys said, "Obviously, the 'Harry Potter' story is incredibly affirmative and positive and about love and self-acceptance. That's our priority, what's on screen." (Variety)

Sure, Jan.

Charisse and Vicky Pasche on 'Shark Tank'  

Shark shop
A San Diego lesbian couple, Vicky and Charisse Pasche, the co-founders of a gender-neutral clothing line, Dapper Boi, appeared on the April 14 episode of ABC's "Shark Tank."

The out proud couple were coolly in full butch-femme representation and they were fabulous. Vicky explained it was "my own personal struggle" that led her to co-found the company.

"Shopping in the men's department — not made to fit the curves of a woman's body or really anybody you know for that reason — it was also just a super awkward experience socially, going over to the men's department. What fitting room would I go into?" said Pasche.

Sadly, Dapper Boi didn't get a deal, but they got to talk their talk, highlight their clothing for all genders and represent real life queerness on network TV in prime time.

But the couple didn't leave empty-handed. Shark and clothing mogul Daymond John gave the women his number and an offer of mentorship. "This is not the end of Dapper Boi, and we walked out of here with a mentorship," Charisse said. Brava!

"Shark Tank" has previously highlighted other LGBTQ businesses and you love to see it.

Elliot Page's memoir, 'Pageboy'  

Page's turn
"Umbrella Academy" star Elliot Page will tour for his hotly anticipated memoir "Pageboy," about his transition and more nationwide during Pride Month. Page will be touring in San Francisco and Los Angeles, among other cities. (

"Pageboy" will be published on June 6. Page told People magazine, "I'm thrilled for people to finally read 'Pageboy.' I am grateful for the opportunity to engage with readers and listeners across the country about it, and to celebrate other queer and trans stories along the way as well."

So, for the Sturm and the Drang, you know you really must stay tuned.

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