Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Venice - episode 1

This review is by our guest contributor, Kirsty Buchanan. For more from Kirsty follow her on Twitter by clicking here.


The much anticipated launch of the new web series, Venice, was released on Saturday at 3pm AEST. Venice stars Emmy Award winning actress Crystal Chappell, who also co-created and co-wrote the series with long time friend and writer Kim Turrisi. Venice promises to show a positive representation of the lesbian and gay community.

The series was created after Crystal Chappell received such an overwhelming response to her character on the long running US day-time soap opera Guiding Light. The now famously known ‘Otalia’ storyline followed the love story of two single mums who fell in love in a small town despite all the odds against them. Although these two women were clearly in love, the CBS network would not allow the drama series show a kiss scene. And thanks to that bad decision, we have Venice!

Turrisi and Chappell are hoping to bridge the gap between the gay and straight community, break the stereotypes of gays and lesbians and develop a series that they are not labeling as gay, (because they don’t like labels) but a soap opera full of characters from all walks of life and whose main characters just happen to be gay. There are straight people in the show too because they are part of our lives just as much as we are part of theirs. It’s full of the struggles that everyone goes through with family, friends, careers and lovers.

After months of teaser campaigns via Twitter and the Venice website, the crew of Venice, including director Hope Royaltey, promised fans a kiss within the first 30 seconds between Gina and Ani (played by former co-stars of the Otalia love story, Crystal Chappell and Jessica Leccia on the America’s CBS network soap opera Guiding Light) and they certainly didn’t disappoint with a morning after love scene for an opener, the first episode, although a little short, certainly did deliver fans (especially the Otalia fans who finally got to see these two kiss) an amazing first look at what is sure to be a very exciting and successful series.

Such is the enormity of the fan base and Venice’s popularity, the website was down and inaccessible for some fans until the last minute and even them some were diverted to Venice’s You Tube Channel .

Twitter has been the main source of promoting Venice and it is here that most Venice fans met to watch a comment on the first episode:

@MadMonza ‘Venice delivered what the fans have been asking for. A real demonstration of 2 grown women in love’

@sweetiehouston ‘Bloody Freakin Fantasic’

@PharmV ‘Holy Smokes’

@KimmyT22 ‘Amazing night. Loved meeting so many Venice peeps. Best night ever xo’ (This is Kim Turrisi, head writer of Venice)

@nycwriterchick ‘Woo Hoo there are thousands & thousands online’ (This is Hope Royaltey, Director of Venice)

@oliviagotjokes ‘Is anyone still alive??!” and ‘Crystal and Kimmy are SO happy’

@HotMessMandy ‘Venice was amazing. Crystal and Kimmy put into 6 minutes all their blood sweat and tears...and we all saw that real love... @meljaho ‘If the rest of the season is half as good as that & then put on DVD I could need to double my medication’!

After an awkward discussion about “what exactly last night” (so lesbian!) we soon learn that Gina and Ani are old lovers and that what just transpired clearly meant a lot more to Ani than Gina. Gina jumps out of bed to answer her phone, avoiding the conversation. She seems immediately distant as she moves to her laptop. Ani snuggles up behind her but it is clear that Gina doesn’t want to talk about it.

Later we see the Ani and Gina meet Gina’s brother Owen at the local cafĂ© for coffee. Owen is shocked to see Ani and asks Gina ‘what the hell’? Gina explains how she has never really been able to get her out of her head and it is here that we start to see the complexities of the dysfunctional Gina. After a frank brother and sister discussion and Owen warning her not to hurt Ani because ‘she never stopped loving you’, we are left with a longing to learn more about these characters and the other residents of Venice Beach.

With a talented cast and just a taste of the brilliant Crystal Chappell and Jessica Leccia, not to mention great writing from Kim Turrisi, this first taste of Venice has given us just a hint of what is to come from a clearly talented cast and crew. Episode 1 down and 11 more to go for season 1.

Whilst the first episode was free, Venice is available on subscription only via the website for $9.99US and it is here that you can keep in contact with other fans, buy merchandise, and read about the cast.

photos: venicetheseries.com

Thursday, 16 July 2009

From A Reader: How far is too far?

"How far is too far?" seems to be the question I have been asking myself a lot lately. I’ve never been one to get involved in rallying for gay rights, or anything at all really. This is not to say that I’m not passionate about my beliefs, believe me. I have no fear making my thoughts and feelings known if I feel someone is over stepping the mark or saying something that I do not agree with. At the same time I can accept that as individuals we all have our own opinions and these can often clash. I accept that not everyone thinks the same as me. Here is where I usually become more interested and inquisitive about their views rather than argumentative - it’s these attributes that are making me question my approach.

I’m down with people calling me a “big lez” or saying things about “my clan” as someone recently put it. I’m even fine when straight friends or people around me use the phrase “oh that’s so gay”. At least I was. Is that ok? I’m not sure I think it is. If I said “oh that’s so black” I very much doubt it would be allowed to continue! This is where we get to the crux of the matter. Should I be laughing along when people say something is “so gay” or should I be expressing my disdain? Or is that going too far by not allowing people to use that in jest, especially when I know the person isn’t using it as a negative connotation? I somehow sense that it’s giving an unhelpful hand when it comes to school children using the phrase to talk about something they feel is un-cool. If we allow this what else are we allowing? At the same time I sometimes get very annoyed at being bound by being politically correct. Not being able to say “blackboard” in schools is surely going WAY too far.

I’ve also noticed something else significant happening recently that I feel mixed about; gay people being the butt of many jokes on television, in the media as well as on the big screen. While some of it will hopefully bring homophobia into the limelight for us to see how ridiculous some people’s views are, I just also wonder if we are accepting this all too graciously. Are we creating an environment where it’s ok to laugh at someone because they are gay or are we laughing at people’s small minded prejudice? Will everyone see the point or miss it altogether?

I recently watched Milk and have been following the activities surrounding gay marriage in the USA. Not sure if it’s my age or the points I mentioned above but I can’t help but feel like its time I started making my own waves to help the cause. I just need to decide what will help and what will take things too far!

Sunday, 5 April 2009

The Tila Tequila Book Review

Tila Tequila wants you to fuck off. It’s the first line of her book, Hooking up with Tila Tequila, and she’s saying it in big, fat red letters. She’s telling you to fuck off because you may be a “hater” who thinks she’s an “obnoxious, slutty bimbo.” Only she’s not. This is her book, which makes her a published author, and “doesn’t that sound smart?”

My previous knowledge of Ms. Tequila was confined to her reality TV show, MTV’s A Shot at Love, where a handful of not-so-straight girls and a handful of so-very-straight guys vied for her love. I wrote her off as an aforementioned obnoxious, slutty bimbo who was using her bi-sexuality (be it genuine or not) as currency in her quest for fame. Turns out I’m not the only lesbian who thinks so, and she mentions the negative perception of her in queer circles.

Maybe lesbians aren’t flocking to her because she reasons that women go with women because “sometimes girls get tired of dealing with guys being all tough and macho, and all of a sudden they find themselves being into other chicks.” I don’t know about you, but I know plenty of tough and macho dykes. Even Tila can be quite the tough and macho lady, telling those haters to suck her dick. She also suggests you peruse the many pictures of her throughout her book and get your box off.

Looking to put those “You’re a fake bisexual” haters to shame, she delves into how her relationships with both men and women work. When Tequila is with a girl she plays the guy role, and says, “When I do want to feel like a woman, and I don’t want to have so much power all the time, then it’s nice to go back to a guy.” It is with disappointment I read that Tequila, a woman with formidable force and a healthy amount of ambition, breaks down relationships with women to a mere power struggle. Are women there to have power over, or to take power from?

This “Madonna of MySpace” (Time) has certainly learned to successfully market herself by whatever means possible, and that deserves a nod of respect. However, as a lesbian who likes both her power and those tough and macho dykes, I’m going to have to return my Tila Tequila Fan Club membership card. But maybe I’m a hater. Maybe I should just fuck off.

Comments? Comment below or email online@lotl.com

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Does this Movie Suck?

According to the Sunday Mirror, posters for new film Lesbian Vampire Killers have been banned from public transport because the title is "sexually offensive". Movie bosses have been told the posters are unsuitable for children and might offend lesbians.

The Lesbian Vampire Killers plot revolves around two down-on-their-luck slackers, Fletch and Jimmy, who decide to temporarily escape their woes and go on holiday to a remote village, only to find that all of its women have been enslaved by lesbian vampires due to an ancient curse.

Are you one of those offended lesbians? Or does a bunch of lesbian vampires in one village sound good to you?

Sunday, 8 March 2009

Monday, 9 February 2009

Thursday, 11 December 2008

From a Reader: Our Tender Feelings

A blog received from LOTL reader, Mary Ann Vorasky, about Proposition 8, the danger of gender typing and the celebration of same-sex relations within the animal kingdom.


Earlier this month, Time.com quotes a law professor who specialises in lesbian and gay rights as saying, in referring to the passing of California's Prop 8 that it's never been about marriage. Those who supported Prop 8 in California and similar laws in other states like Arizona and Florida have said that if marriage is not "protected" then legislating morality will one day be completely undone and we will have "full normalisation" of homosexuality. Somehow in our society, love is the greatest threat that must be beaten down at all costs, and violence is glorified as protection and morality. As Homer Simpson once said when a couple was making out in front of his kids, "How dare you expose my children to your tender feelings!"

In certain animal societies, sexual energy functions as a harmonising influence. For example, animal studies have shown that at least 80% of the interactions between male giraffes are classified as "homosexual". Giraffes are highly intelligent. They do not pre-emptively strike in pseudo self-defence, but they do protect themselves if directly threatened. Their hooves are heavy enough that, if attacked by a lion, they can seriously injure the lion by striking out. But they do not strike first; they are not violent creatures. The sexuality freely expressed between males in their species has the ultimate effect of lowering aggression.

And then there are the Bonobo monkeys, whom I recently saw referred to in the media in an article about Lindsay Lohan. When the group gathers together, the female Bonobos have sex with each other, and then the community eats. The Bonobos are not violent creatures, unlike the more sexually regimented Common Chimpanzee. In Bonobo life, the expression of sexual energy between females harmonises the larger group. The Common Chimpanzee and the Bonobos are the closest relatives to humans in the animal kingdom.

In human society, for thousands of years, we have documented our violent history to the point of people simply believing we are a violent species. We have split sexuality in half by making "heterosexuality" right and good, and "homosexuality" wrong and bad. We have strictly encoded gender behaviour to limit how men and women are allowed to express themselves. We elevate the male over the female to such an extent that to this day, in certain countries — and cultures, even in America — parents overwhelmingly choose to abort female children. Human men and women are thus heavily regimented, and violence is its own result in this intensive campaign against humanity and sexuality.

A friend said to me recently: "Are you saying that it's the suppression of gay feelings that causes violence?" It's not just "gay" feelings that are suppressed in gender typing, but loving, tender feelings. Listen to ‘When I Was a Boy’ by Dar Williams:

I was a kid that you would like, just a small boy on her bike
Riding topless, I didn't care who saw.
My neighbor came outside to say "Get your shirt!"
I said "No way! It's the last time, I'm not breaking any law".
And now I'm in a clothing store where the sign says "less is more".
More that's tight means more to see, more for them, not more for me.
That can't help me climb a tree in ten seconds flat.

When I was a boy, see that picture that was me,
Grass-stained shirt and dusty knees.
And I know things have gotta change, they've got pills to sell
They've got implants to put in, they've got implants to remove.
But I am not forgetting, that I was a boy too.
… So I tell the man I'm with about the other life I lived
And I say "Now you're top gun, I have lost and you have won".
And he says "oh no, can't you see?
When I was a girl, my mom and I, we always talked,
And I picked flowers everywhere that I walked.
And I could cry all the time, now even when I'm alone, I seldom do.
And I have lost some kindness
But I was a girl too,
And you were just like me
And I was just like you.

I say let's fully normalise human sexuality! Let's make the two one. Let's unite that which we have torn asunder. And let's expose each other to our tender feelings. What do we really have to lose?