Saturday, October 17, 2015

Not Ready to Make Nice

It's not Rehab's first time at the rodeo, and on Jim Weckmann's final night many jokes were made about his well-known inability to keep his thoughts to himself. But if you thought the drama of the past week--which included a lot of caterwauling, pearl clutching, emotional drunk posts, and even threats of violence over his explosive exit interview-- would lead Victoria Rose and Akasha Royale to timidly walk on eggshells, you'd be mistaken. Last night was a show by and for grown folks with thick skin.
Photo courtesy of Anthony Oliver 

Akasha set the tone with her opening monologue, which included a not so veiled swipe at the chief instigator of the past week's angry mob, and followed that up by having some fun at my expense.

"We have an author with us tonight...and I hear he doesn't write for Vital Voice anymore."

Just John owner John Oberkramer --who'd posted his disapproval of the interview one evening and replaced it with a status reaffirming his fondness for Weckmann the following morning-- was in the house and in good spirits.

"Just John is our sister bar" Rose said. "Whenever Jim would fire Kyle, which he did a dozen or so times, I'd tell him to just go down to Just John for a while until he cools off. He won't find you there!"

The legendary Kitty Litter was a big hit, but the highlight of the evening was when an unbowed Victoria Rose brought down the house with "Not Ready to Make Nice," which she dedicated to Weckmann.

Many notables were in attendance, including St. Louis Post-Dispatch music critic Kevin C. Johnson.

During the height of the controversy there was talk of canceling the event altogether --which left me scrambling to try to mitigate some of the blowback-- but by midweek it seemed cooler heads in the community had prevailed. Angry, hyperbolic comments began to be outnumbered by thoughtful opinions like that of Mark Moore, owner of Takemorepics Photography:

"Everyone and I mean everyone in that article is damn near a gay household name now. Good, bad or indifferent, it's art. Art is meant to evoke feelings and discussions, If it doesn't, it's not a good piece."

There were also humorous rebuttals to angry commenters, including this response by Nicholas Edward:

"Oh honey no. It looks like what you need is a hug and a community college pamphlet."

Both the turbulent week and Jim's eventful years at Rehab drew to a close last night, and did so on Weckmann's terms.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Florida Court Turns Tables on Dustin Mitchell

Andoetainment's own (yeah, I claim him) Dustin Mitchell made headlines last year when a St. Louis court granted him an injunction against Boca Raton-based Michael Hansen, CEO of a multilevel marketing company called DubLi. 

Mitchell claimed to have been the former vice president of North American Sales Development of DubLi (during a year in which he also worked at at St. Louis TGIFriday's and claimed to run for political office in Arizona), and argued in court that Hanson owed him $12,000 and had threatened him, causing him to fear for his safety. Inexplicably, the St. Louis court ordered Hansen to remain at least 1,500 meters from Mitchell (not difficult, since Hansen lived 1,173 miles away) and ordered Hansen to not make any contact by phone, internet or e-mail. Mitchell also requested the reimbursement of legal and medical expenses. 

DubLi's Eric Nelson responded: 

“Mr. Mitchell claims to have served as a senior member of DubLi’s leadership team. He has filed a restraining order against DubLi CEO Michael Hansen, claiming that Mr. Hansen is ‘stalking’ him. He has, on several occasions, attempted to contact several DubLi employees with stories about our position as a public company. He has claimed that the company owes him $12,000. These claims are utterly and demonstrably false.

“Contrary to his public posts, Mr. Mitchell has never been a member of DubLi’s corporate staff, much less a member of its management team. Mr. Hansen has never met Mr. Mitchell and has never made any threats against him. While Mr. Mitchell did register to join DubLi, he never made his required payment and has yet to provide documentation or verification of such payment. His online representation of holding a DubLi corporate title as well as his hosting of a variety of social media pages using the company’s corporate names are all in violation of DubLi’s terms and conditions, and constitute a misuse of our corporate trademarks.

“DubLi will not tolerate Mr. Mitchell’s false statements and attempts at extortion, and intends to vigorously pursue all available legal avenues in order to restrain Mr. Mitchell from further damaging our company and credibility.

“There is no shortage of publicly available information about Mr. Mitchell’s behavior and activity concerning other companies. We are taking legal action to protect ourselves and the network marketing industry at large from this individual.”

Mitchell's response to their claims he'd never worked for DubLi and had never even met Hansen: "They're just trying to get leverage."

This summer a Florida court ruled in favor of Hansen, finding that the company had no affiliation with Mitchell, didn't defraud him, and owed him nothing. The court also ordered him to remove any posts to the contrary. 

DubLi and the court may not have been amused, but I always enjoy Mitchell's antics. 


Yesterday was lively. Many in the St. Louis bar scene are still livid about my exit interview with former Rehab owner Jim Weckmann-- particularly the part where he said he didn't like a certain drag queen because she always has something hateful to say (her name is no secret, nor is her proclivity for negative posts. I'm just tired of seeing and hearing the name right now).

I've noticed the people most upset tend to be under thirty, while those who don't understand what the fuss is about skew older. I'll give more thought to that in the coming days, but my initial theory is older gays are simply more thick-skinned and used to sparring. Back when there was no place to be yourself other than a gay bar, people often found themselves in the same stagnant ponds week in and week out, and those ponds were filled with cutting wit and cattiness. It took a lot to rattle people.

As someone who's so taken by the drama and theatre of St. Louis that I wrote a book about it, the current turmoil is certainly interesting, and despite my low opinion of the negative queen, I can't help but be somewhat impressed with how she managed to make a sprawling piece critical of so many -- even the magazine that published it, all about her.  I'm not being facetious. She's an entertainer, and as such it's entirely appropriate to take command of the stage. Kudos.

Back to Jim Weckmann. What's been missing in all the hysteria around the interview is context. Jim is someone who is well-known for always expressing an opinion about something (and sometimes walking it back a bit), and is also known for being completely okay with friends disagreeing with him. The fact such an outspoken man was so full of pent-up thoughts was something I found surprising and amusing. The fact that he had strong opinions, however, should have come as a surprise to nobody in St. Louis.

Another bit of context is that the queen in question has also been on the roster of a local media organization and has always felt free to express her opinions, particularly when heckling Vital Voice over Facebook, or giving static to people she doesn't like while working the door at the bar.

Mikey, the city's serial domestic abuser whose own mother has a protective order against him, has championed the cause of keeping the controversy going, which is the saddest part of all this. Despite the fact Mikey stole from Weckmann while an employee, Jim seemed to feel like a father-figure to him and was often angered at me for writing about the abuse of his mother and boyfriends.

In time we all learn that not all of our investments bear fruit, sometimes our loyalty doesn't pay off, and you also learn the hard way that people will kick you when you're down (or when they perceive you're down).

Surprisingly Colin Murphy, who I've had a strained relationship with for several years, called people out for their duplicity in promoting my book one minute and calling for my head the next.

In addition to Murphy's comment, many friends came to my defense including Desmond Johnson, the man the city believed was dead for three years.

Thanks to all who've checked in on me, I'm completely fine other than feeling sincere regret for not either editing Weckmann's interview way back, holding it until after he was safely in the country, or both. I knew it would be explosive, but didn't realize it would drive people to the point of threatening to hurt him. Jim is a good man and a loyal friend -- qualities hard to find.

But for me personally, I've weathered storms so much bigger than this in San Francisco, and for me this was nothing more than making sure I wasn't a liability for my friends at Vital Voice. I've got a book to promote, an audible to record, and other goals to pursue.

Thanks for reading.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Gassy Creates Facebook Group, Reads Everyone

Well, Ol' Gassy, our exiled hothead, is at it again.

He started a Facebook group claiming to support law enforcement and is now going off on everyone for not sending him money-- money desperately needed to buy more blue ribbons.

Some didn't even know how they became members to begin with, and Sean Patrick was not having any of it. 

I requested to be added and weighed in as well. 

I'll update you if he or anyone else responds. 


WMCTV posted a blurb about "Jack Pristen" placing ribbons all over his neighborhood. There was no mention of raising funds.

It seems he abandoned his legal name after following Price to Memphis. 


After about four hours I was expelled from the group. Fun while it lasted.


He has a gofundme, and I decided to be a good sport and donate. 

Thursday, October 1, 2015

The Pope's Side Ho

I don't know why the Vatican went to such great lengths to bypass the culture wars only to muddy their message by diving right into them, but I'm not upset about it. I lived through the Bush years, when Monica Goodling worked to purge the government of LGBT employees, GOP mastermind Karl Rove won elections by demonizing our community, having sex with someone of the same gender in your own home could get you arrested in many states, and Paramount gave "Dr" Laura a television show despite her claim that most gay men were pedophiles. This is nothing.

There's still a religion & politics issue that sticks in my craw, though, even though it's been eleven years.

In 2004, after the GOP pushed anti-LGBT constitutional amendments all over the country, the United Church of Christ produced a commercial telling queer people that we were welcome at their church, and no major network would agree to run it out of fear of offending the Bush Administration. 

To this day that infuriates me, and to this day I believe heads should roll for that decision. It’s during times of hardship that you know who your friends are, and at the end of 2004 not even the network that brought us Will & Grace was standing with us.

We've come such a long way in only a decade (Thanks Obama!). And on the religion issue, America's gone from banning gay friendly church ads to thinking it's scandalous that the pope had a secret meeting with an anti-gay clerk.

Attention-hungry Davis boasts about being validated, but the pope was willing to meet publicly with thieves and murderers, but felt he had to hide his meeting with her. She's as validated as a side hoe.