Windy City Media Group Frontpage News

THE VOICE OF CHICAGO'S GAY, LESBIAN, BI, TRANS AND QUEER COMMUNITY SINCE 1985

home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2023-12-13
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
Donate

Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

MUSIC Billy Porter talks 'Mona Lisa,' authenticity and activism
by Andrew Davis
2023-05-15

This article shared 3029 times since Mon May 15, 2023
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


Billy Porter certainly seems to have it all.

The actor/singer/director received numerous awards—including two Tonys (for his role in Kinky Boots and as a producer of A Strange Loop), a Grammy (for Kinky Boots as well) and an Emmy (for Pose, becoming the first gay Black man to be nominated and win in any lead acting category at the Primetime Emmys), not to mention his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In addition, he's released his own albums, helmed a film (Anything's Possible), become quite the outspoken LGBTQ+-rights activist, and has even established himself as a fashion icon.

Now, Porter has embarked on his first career-spanning pop music concert tour: The Black Mona Lisa Tour: Volume 1. Attendees should expect a full band, backed by a video installation, as Porter tells his compelling life story through song.

Windy City Times: With the awards you've gotten and everything you've achieved—including the James Baldwin biopic you just acquired—do you feel like you're living your best life?

Billy Porter: Of course! How can it get any better than this? Every dream I've ever had is in the middle of coming true—[including] dreams that I never knew existed. The star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame? That wasn't on the bucket list. I didn't even think about that.

So I feel really blessed to have this kind of success because of my authenticity. I told myself, "Be positive." I was told my queerness would be a liability.

WCT: You were the reason I saw the film The Broken Hearts Club: A Romantic Comedy. What do you remember about filming that, by the way?

BP: Wow—that was 23 years ago!

[The filming] was very fast; it was a 21-day guerrilla shoot. We had a blast.

I probably had to drive an hour-and-a-half to two hours every day to shoot outside of L.A. because we didn't have the money to shoot in L.A. A lot of the locations are not West Hollywood, except for when we were actually walking down the street. We became very close very fast. And it was my first [feature film]; I was very nervous.

WCT: And now you have The Black Mona Lisa Tour: Volume 1 happening. What can people expect?

BP: It's redemption. My first album came out in '97; the industry was really homophobic and things didn't work out so well for me then. Now, [26] years later, there are all these things I've been able to accomplish—and now I'm back on my own terms in the mainstream music industry. I'm able to stand in the fullness of my authenticity. This is a story of redemption.

The album, [Black Mona Lisa] [which] is coming out in late summer/early fall, and the tour are celebrations of life, love, joy and peace. My intention is to give the world a big bear hug and remind ourselves that we're better together. Love always wins—even in the face of the darkest, darkest evil. We've been dealing with a collective trauma for years, and my music is my ministry. My intention is to, hopefully, be a healing salve.

Also, the concert is going to be a retrospective of my life and career. So there'll be songs from the new project, songs from my '90s R&B album—which I haven't sung live for 25 years—Kinky Boots and some of my political stuff. Then, the last 30 minutes or so will be a celebratory dance party. That's what I'm trying to do because we need some hope.

WCT: I have to say that you have one of the most moving songs I've ever downloaded. It's from the album At the Corner of Broadway + Soul, and it's called…

BP: "Time." Ah—I love that song. Thank you. I love performing that in concert.

WCT: You've talked about this a bit but, for you, what is it like being Black and part of the LGBTQ+ community in today's America?

BP: Well … I have hope—a lot of hope—and I have a lot of rage.

The hope [lies] in the fact that I'm 53 years old and I've been through this before. I've been through the AIDS crisis, and I'm first-generation post-civil rights movement. When I came out in 1985, we went straight to the front lines to fight for our lives. And being in the theater/Broadway community, with Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS and The Actors Fund [now known as The Entertainment Community Fund], that taught us how to be activists. So that part was the only life I had ever known.

So I look at what's going on now [and] it doesn't scare me; it doesn't terrify me. Those words need to be stricken from the lexicon because this shit… The thing is those who don't know their history are doomed to repeat it. Love always wins and life is cyclical. We've lived in a progressive state for decades and now we're not—so what are we going to do about it? Instead of being scared and terrified, it's time to get back out in the streets. Look at [late Congressman] John Lewis: There wasn't a day in his life that he wasn't fighting for justice and equality.

That's what it's always been. The LGBTQ+ community was treated just like this during the AIDS crisis. It ain't new. All I have to say is "Fuck y'all. The answer is 'no.'"

Billy Porter's "The Black Mona Lisa Tour: Volume 1" will stop at The Chicago Theatre, 175 N. State St., on Friday, May 26. Visit https://www.msg.com/calendar/the-chicago-theatre-may-2023-billy-porter.


This article shared 3029 times since Mon May 15, 2023
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Out and Aging
Presented By

  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

LGBTQ+ film fest Queer Expression to feature Alexandra Billings in 'Queen Tut'
2024-04-12
--From a press release - CHICAGO — Pride Film Fest celebrates its second decade with a new name—QUEER EXPRESSION—and has announced its slate of LGBTQ+-themed feature, mid-length and short films for in-person and virtual events in April and May. QUEER EXPRESSI ...


Gay News

SHOWBIZ Jerrod Carmichael, '9-1-1' actor, Kayne the Lovechild, STARZ shows, Cynthia Erivo
2024-04-12
Gay comedian/filmmaker Jerrod Carmichael criticized Dave Chappelle, opening up about the pair's ongoing feud and calling out Chappelle's opinions on the LGBTQ+ community, PinkNews noted, citing an Esquire article. Carmichael ...


Gay News

Judith Butler focuses on perceptions of gender at Chicago Humanities Festival talk
2024-04-10
In an hour-long program filled with dry humor—not to mention lots of audience laughter—philosopher, scholar and activist Judith Butler (they/them) spoke in depth on their new book at Music Box Theatre, 3733 N. Southport Ave., on ...


Gay News

Andersonville Chamber announces Andersonville Midsommarfest entertainment lineup
2024-04-09
--From a press release - CHICAGO (April 8, 2024) — The Andersonville Chamber of Commerce (ACC) is pleased to announce the full entertainment line-up for Andersonville Midsommarfest, one of Chicago's oldest and most beloved summer ...


Gay News

Open Space Arts's COCK offers a complex but compelling take on relationships
2024-04-08
By Brian Kirst - Premiering in 2009, Mike Bartlett's COCK was a comic revelation, exploring notions about fluidity and sexual labelling long before they became commonplace discussions. Granted, conversations about these issues will always ...


Gay News

Jeff Awards launches submission period for Impact Awards
2024-04-06
The Jeff Awards announced the opening period for applications submissions for its 2024 honors to help inspire early career artists of color in the Greater Chicagoland area. Two recipients will be selected for awards of $10,000 ...


Gay News

SHOWBIZ Outfest, Chita Rivera, figure skaters, letter, playwright dies
2024-04-05
For more than four decades, Outfest has been telling LGBTQ+ stories through the thousands of films screened during its annual Outfest Los Angeles LGBTQ+ Film Festival—but that event may have a different look this year because ...


Gay News

SHOWBIZ Dionne Warwick, OUTshine, Ariana DeBose, 'Showgirls,' 'Harlem'
2024-03-29
Video below - Iconic singer Dionne Warwick was honored for her decades-long advocacy work for people living with HIV/AIDS at a star-studded amfAR fundraising gala in Palm Beach, per the Palm Beach Daily News. Warwick received the "Award of ...


Gay News

WORLD Israel court, conversion therapy, death sentences, Georgia bill, fashion items
2024-03-29
Israel's Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the Population Authority must register female couples as mothers on the birth certificates of their children they have together, The Washington Blade reported. The decision was made following a petition ...


Gay News

City Lit Executive Artistic Director Brian Pastor talks theater, comics, queerness
2024-03-26
City Lit Theater has announced its programming for the 2024-25 season—which will be the company's 44th. It will also be the first season to be programmed under the leadership of Brian Pastor (they/them), who will assume ...


Gay News

The Jeff Awards announces the 50th anniversary awards for non-equity theater
2024-03-26
--From a press release - A complete list of recipients can also be found online in the Non-Equity and News and Events sections at www.jeffawards.org. (March 25, 2024 - Chicago) — Celebrating its 50th anniversary awarding recognition for Non-Equity theater, the ...


Gay News

'Rumors' performers create alternative drag playground
2024-03-24
At first glance, Dorian's Through The Record Shop (1939 W. North Ave.) looks like a brightly-lit shop with a handful of records on the wall, but there's a secret world behind those unassuming shelves. Visitors are ...


Gay News

SHOWBIZ Queer musicians, Marvel situation, Elliot Page, Nicole Kidman
2024-03-21
Queer musician Joy Oladokun released the single "I Wished on the Moon," from Jack Antonoff's official soundtrack for the new Apple TV+ series The New Look, per a press release. The soundtrack, ...


Gay News

THEATER Chicago's City Lit has anxiety on tap with 'Two Hours in a Bar'
2024-03-21
Two Hours in a Bar Waiting for Tina Meyer by Kristine Thatcher with material by Larry Shue Text Me by Kingsley Day (Book, Music and Lyrics). At: City Lit Theater, 1020 W. Bryn Mawr Ave.. Tickets: ...


Gay News

Lollapalooza announces lineup; SZA, Skrillex among headliners
2024-03-19
Lollapalooza has released its line-up for the event that's taking place Aug. 1-4 at Grant Park. Headliners include SZA, Blink-182, Skrillex, The Killers, Hozier, Melanie Martinez and Stray Kids, among others. Some of the other acts ...


 


Copyright © 2024 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.

All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 
 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS







Sponsor
Sponsor


 



Donate


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam     
Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.