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News Briefs 1.8.03 

Ain't it a drag

Leave it to the queens to drag Rochester into the national spotlight.

            VH-1 film crews will hit the town January 9 and 10 to film mucho fabuloso female impersonators Pandora Boxx and Darienne Lake.

            "It's going to be kind of a 'day in the life' thing," says drag sensation Pandora Boxx (Michael Steck). "They want to cover all the events that lead up to the show." Queens have been getting their groove on for years, honey, but not always beneath the glow of the acceptability spotlight. Now, thanks to media outlets like VH-1, drag's become mainstream. Boxx has been doing this for 10 years, regardless.

            "I'd always been in theater in high school and college," she says. "I thought of drag shows as pulling off the ultimate character. I liked the theatricality of it all."

            "When I first started doing it, it wasn't mainstream at all," she says. "When movies like The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen Of The Desert and To Wong Foo... came out we saw a boost in the shows. We saw a more diverse crowd. Straight and gay would come. They realized we were professional and that it was a show, not a joke or the butt of gay society." Most of the audience at Muther's, where Boxx performs, is straight, she says. Most of the performers are gay, though it's not a prerequisite; it isn't in the proverbial handbook.

            "It doesn't say 'You're gay. You must put on a dress,'" she laughs.

            VH-1 is focusing on five drag queens throughout the Northeast who do "diva" characters frequently featured on the channel. Boxx will be doing Madonna and Pink. Lake has been doing Anna Nicole Smith, but there may be some legal mumbo jumbo to drag through first.

            Boxx credits his drag personae and performances for bringing her out of her shell.

            "You get to be a rock star without having to sing," she says. "Because I really sound like a dying cow."

            VH-1 films the drag show at Muther's, 40 South Union Street, on Friday, January 10, starting at 11 p.m. $4, $6 under. 325-6216 or

--- Frank De Blase

The 'liberal media'?

In the name of offering "a strong mix of opinions," the Democrat & Chronicle has added new names to its stable of syndicated columnists. And as usual, the paper is under full sail with the prevailing wind: The additions are overwhelmingly conservative, by the paper's own admission.

            On New Year's Day, editorial page editor James Lawrence gave the list of newbies: conservatives Suzanne Fields from the Moonie-owned Washington Times; Michael Kelly of the WashPost; Bill O'Reilly from the Fox network (a "hard-hitting" guy, says the D&C; we'd say brutish and puerile); Thomas Sowell, a black opponent of affirmative action; and Linda Chavez, onetime Reagan lackey. The exception is Mark Shields, a liberal who appears on PBS's NewsHour With Jim Lehrer, CNN, etc.

            The D&C, whose specialty is limp centrism, does carry liberals like Molly Ivins, Maureen Dowd, and Paul Krugman. But with the additions, the editorial page will definitely tilt more to the hard right. Meanwhile, continuing a long tradition, the paper excludes the radical left while welcoming right extremists like Cal Thomas and the up-and-coming Michelle Malkin, another WashTimes product.

            Meanwhile, over at Fox Rochester Channel 31, Sinclair Broadcast Group executive Mark Hyman is launching short, simplistic broadsides at some of the right's fave targets. For example, he recently went after US Senator Patty Murray (D-Washington) for remarks she made to students. His lead: "Perhaps Americans should follow the example of Osama bin Laden, said... Patty Murray to a Vancouver, Washington, high school." Quite a provocative opener. But as it turns out, Murray only told the students that bin Laden's infrastructure projects had won him popular support in poor countries. She also condemned bin Laden and al Qaeda for terrorism, as you'd expect. Not much there to criticize --- but Murray is being pilloried by the cabin-and-website crowd nonetheless.

            The attacks on Murray are obviously payback for Trent Lott's getting his due --- and an attempt to throw yet more power to the Republicans in a still closely divided Senate. (Hyman's webpage, accessible via, has a link to the archived editorial, "Murray's Muddled Thinking." As of January 7, the link didn't work. But Hyman himself says technicians will look into it.)

Medicaid redux

A footnote to our article on Medicaid and the dilemmas of nursing-home funding (December 18):

            There's a relevant program called the New York State Partnership for Long-Term Care, which helps people, especially the more affluent, get on top of things.

            Specifically, the program, under the auspices of the state health department, can help you and your family make plans, acquire private long-term care insurance, retain their wealth, and remain eligible for Medicaid Extended Coverage. "The Partnership makes sense for people in the middle class that want to protect their assets," says local insurance professional Michael Argaman of the M3 ["M cubed"] Financial Group.

            You can learn more about the partnership by calling toll free, 1-888-NYSPLTC; or on the web,

National resolve

Led by Metro Justice and the Rochester Labor-Religion Coalition, some local groups want the Rochester city council to adopt a resolution against George W. Bush's planned war on Iraq. The draft resolution, being readied for presentation at an upcoming city council meeting, opposes a US invasion and supports "a genuinely multilateral diplomatic approach."

            Some people feel local governments shouldn't become involved this way in foreign affairs. But Rochester has a rich history of "meddling" --- witness the abolitionist movement and the Underground Railroad, as well as the Sanctuary Movement of the 1980s that countered US depredations in Latin America.

            By the way, the Syracuse Common Council recently passed a resolution opposing a unilateral US war against Iraq and calling for attention to the depressed Upstate economy. Many other city councils have passed resolutions, too. The Cities for Peace project --- sponsored by the Institute for Policy Studies, the American Friends Service Committee, and allied groups --- lists Detroit, Ithaca, Burlington, Philadelphia, Washington, DC, and others.

            For information on the anti-war resolution and related efforts, contact Metro Justice, 325-2560.

Correcting ourselves

In City Newspaper's last Home Design issue (October 9, 2002), we erroneously refer to Mary Golden's Gaiatecture Design as an architectural company. Gaiatecture Design specializes in alternative and sustainable technologies.


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