Arts & Culture

‘LADIES’ FIRST: The Bearded Ladies Cabaret, the experimental local cabaret troupe, rallies its considerable creative forces to headline the 25th-anniversary gala for the Avenue of the Arts, Inc., 6-9 p.m. May 4 at Doubletree Hotel, Broad and Locust Streets. For more information or tickets, visit

Grace Jones, the androgynous singer/songwriter, supermodel, actress and iconic queer icon, is the subject of the Sophie Fiennes documentary, “Grace Jones: Bloodlight and Bami” opening at the Landmark Ritz at the Bourse May 4.

As far as innovative opera directors go, Glasgow-born, out opera director Paul Curran is so ahead of the pack, he can hardly see behind him. Along with famed, star-making turns as a wee young general manager of the Norwegian National Opera and Ballet, and as artistic consultant for the Central City Opera of Denver, Curran brought a bold and lively look to Opera Philadelphia’s plush 2015 “La traviata” at a time when Opera Philadelphia boss David B. Devan’s company was just gaining acclaim.

Now, Curran returns to Opera Philadelphia with Bizet’s torrid “Carmen” at the Academy of Music April 27. Curran caught up with PGN on a rare day to himself in Philadelphia.

International drag performer and entertainer Varla Jean Mermen will bring female empowerment to Philadelphia in a new comedic cabaret show.

“Wonder Merman” pays tribute to women, both real and fictional, who have inspired the iconic performer.

 Parx Casino in Bensalem has stepped up its dining and entertainment game in the last few months with a new live-music venue and upscale restaurants to lure people to the bright lights and games of chance.

Among the dining additions is Liberty Bell Gastropub, 2999 Street Road, a culinary oasis in which to sit down and enjoy relatively fine dining away from the controlled sensory chaos of the casino floor.

 Few interpretive theater singers and players have the integrity and innovative wiles of Mark Nadler.

Along with juggling the pioneering tradition and often-coded lyricism of the greats, the pianist and vocalist finds modern twists and elegant nuance in every song he performs. Don’t believe me? See Nadler at Dino’s Backstage April 27-28 (as a music historian, he’s unparalleled, plus he does a mean Jimmy Durante impression).

A SIGHT FOR SORE EYES: Out folk/pop singer and songwriter Rachel Sage celebrates the release of her 13th album, “Myopia,” with a performance 8 p.m. May 4 at Burlap and Bean, 204 S. Newtown Street Road, Newton Square. For more information or tickets, call 484-427-4547 or visit

 Discerning viewers seeking a short but satisfying streaming option might consider “After Forever.” The independently produced series, now available on Amazon, examines love, loss, and dating from the perspective of a 50-something gay man.

“After Forever” revolves around Brian, a handsome, successful Manhattanite played by Kevin Spirtas. The out actor has appeared in everything from B-movies to Broadway musicals, but he’s probably best known for his role as Dr. Craig Wesley on the long-running soap opera “Days of Our Lives.”

On May 3, as part of a Mexican Week celebration, Lightbox Film Center is hosting an outstanding program of short films featuring sexual diversity. The eight films, which consist of live-action, animation and documentary shorts by, for and about LGBTQ Mexicans, will screen at 7 p.m., followed by a panel discussion, a Q&A and a Cinco de Mayo celebration.

   This year we’re doing something a little bit outside of the box for the Travel Issue because, to be honest, if I had to figure out a new twist to make New Hope, Rehoboth, Atlantic City or Provincetown sound new and interesting for your hard-earned vacation time and travel dollars, I was going to start day-drinking and not in the good way.

So, me being a stand-up comic, a low-wattage light bulb of an idea lit up in my brain. Why don’t I ask some my LGBT comic friends I’ve met on the road where they like to go when they have time to get away?

  April is Sexual Violence Awareness month. The statistics speak for themselves: One in five women and one in 71 men will be raped at some point in their lives and almost half (49.5 percent) of multiracial women are subjected to some form of sexual violence in their lifetimes, but there’s not much in the way of research or help specifically geared towards LGBTQ people.

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