Wednesday, December 30, 2009


Meet Jeanne Dear, pronounced [Zhann].

She lives in Glendale and is a member of 3 Peaks 3 Weeks Challenge, an annual all-female fundraiser to provide awareness in Africa for three peak issues: environment, education, and health. Funds raised will provide financial support for African grassroots organizations.

Jeanne departs in a few days to start her journey where she’ll summit Mt. Kenya, Mt. Meru, and Mt. Kilimanjaro. YES! You go, girl!

I interviewed Jeanne several weeks ago and am currently piecing the article together. What an infectious, inspirational attitude she has! The article will be published in A&Us February issue.

Sunday, November 29, 2009


Me and my old pal, Gorby

Well, not really! On our way back to the States from Germany, who's on our first leg of the flight from Berlin to Munich -- Yep, Mikhail Gorbachev.

Davidd and I had arrived at the airport early and were sitting near the gate, which was a very small area. It was 20 minutes before boarding and people were beginning to mill around. We were talking and I noticed about 5 people coming through the crowd to the front led by a female Lufthansa employee. I glanced over and did a double take when I saw him. My mouth fell open and I said to Davidd, "OH MY GOD, It's Gorbachev. It's Gorbachev."

Over the past few days he had been blasted all over the media in Berlin since he was there for the 20th anniversary of the Fall of the Wall. Feeling slightly intimidated, yet elated, I whispered to Davidd, even though I knew the answer, "Do you think I should ask to have my picture taken with him?" Davidd replied with a shrug, "Do what you want. You're going to do it anyway."

I thought for a couple seconds, stood up, and walked over to his small entourage. I usually don't like to bother notables when they are in public as I feel it is an intrusion. But I knew I would never have another opportunity like this! I approached this tall guy and a platinum-haired woman, who looked like a cross between Bette Midler and Carol Burnett. It must have been his personal assistant. Gorbachev had his back toward me. I inquired, "Hi. I'd like to ask Mr. Gorbachev if he'd mind if I get my picture taken with him." The guy spoke to me in German and the woman replied, "Oh, I'm so sorry, but he's had ten-thousand photographs taken this week and I'm sure he doesn't feel like it. I'm so sorry." She kept apologizing. I added, "I'm from Los Angeles...." She apologized again. Then she turned toward him, his back still toward me, and spoke to him in Russian. I heard the words, "Los Angeles." He turned to me, looked into my eyes, said a few words in Russian [probably, "nice to meet you"] and extended his hand. I smiled, nodded, and put my hand in his. I gave the woman my camera. She asked how to operate it, I quickly showed her which button to push and she snapped. Whew. I did it! Gorbachev let go of my hand and turned away from me. Wait. The flash didn't go off. Fuck.

The empathetic airline gal looked over and said, "Oh, the flash didn't go off. Will it be alright?" Had she not said that I might not have gotten another pic, as I felt I was intruding. Well, no, I probably would have!

"Oh, would you mind taking another one?" I pleaded with the personal assistant. After a minimal frown, she did. She said something to Gorbachev, he turned back around, I put my arm over his shoulders, and the photo was taken. That's the one you see above [notice "Berlin" written on a plane between me and Gorbachev through the window]. I said, Thank You, and walked back to my seat. I was flying! Davidd said, "Good for you!!"

Within a few minutes, Gorbachev entered the small plane. He sat in the business section which consisted of 6 rows and we sat 2 rows behind him in coach. He was sitting next to the window and the assistant was sitting in the aisle with one seat between them. When I passed him on my way to my seat, I said to the assistant, "Excuse me. Here's my business card [I had written "Thank You" on the back]. I'm a journalist." Gorbachev was busy getting situated.

Being one of the first people on the plane, it was entertaining to watch passengers gasp and gaze as they passed him. One German woman, as she passed me, widened her eyes and smiled then took another look at Gorbachev. During the flight, this woman's son, who was in his mid to late 30s, approached Gorbachev's row. He was there for a minute talking to the assistant when Gorbachev looked up. The guy pointed to Gorbachev then to himself then to the camera. He was denied.

I feel honored that I was granted the photograph.

And as Davidd summed up, "This is the most important person in the world that you have ever met, Dann." Indeed. [Picture below is the first shot I got.]

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


I'm still traveling aboard. Currently in cold and rainy [even snowy] Berlin amidst the excitement of "The Fall of the Wall -- 20 years", which takes place on Monday, 9th November. Was staying at the Adlon Kempinski just feet away from the Brandenburg Gate, now presently at the Ritz-Carlton in Potsdamer Platz, across the street from the bustling Sony Center.

Berlin is my last stop after having visited Munich, Salzburg, Stuttgart, Koln, Heidelberg, and Duesseldorf. Gatherng some intriguing and informative stories....


Duesseldorf in front of a Frank Geary creation

In the Alps surrounding Salzburg

On the bridge in Heidelberg


In Koln, I did an interview with Michael Lohaus, head of the gay games 2010,
which will take place in Koln.

Hallstadt, Austria

Neuschwanstein Castle outside Munich

Sony City Center in Berlin

More interviews and more sights to see . . .

Sunday, October 4, 2009


Yep, that’s the name of his show!

Don’t miss South African’s political satirist, Pieter-Dirk Uys

[pronounced “Peter Dirk Ace”]

this weekend at The Redcat -- Disney Hall’s little theatre downstairs.

Ms. Evita Bezuidenhout, "the most famous white woman in South Africa"

In his hometown of Darling

I caught his performance this weekend at UCLA and it’s slap-your-thigh, stand-up-and-holler frolicking entertainment. This talented impersonator [even does an impeccable Bill Clinton and Desmond Tutu] who lives in the tiny town of Darling, is ghastly extraordinary and he does it all under the umbrella of HIV prevention. Pieter has been an AIDS activist from Day One and even travels around his homeland of South Africa carrying a dildo to schools teaching kids how to have sex properly. Yeah, Pieter! We need more like you . . .

I will interview Pieter once I’m back from my trip.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009


For the month of October I will be traveling as a guest of the German Tourist Board gathering stories that come my way in Munich, Stuttgart, Heidelberg [pic below], Cologne, Düsseldorf, and Berlin. One story will be with Michael Lohaus, the head of the Gay Games, which will take place in 2010, and a physician in Berlin who is on the cutting edge of the AIDS epidemic.

Fortunately, I will be in Berlin for the 20th Anniversary of the Fall of the Wall. Unbelievable to think that it has been that long . . .

ONE MONTH BEFORE THE WALL FELL I was in Berlin, staying at The Grand Hotel on the East Side, feet away from the Brandenburg Gate. Little did I know when I returned to LA, that the cement would crumble into a gillion pieces!

While there in Berlin in 1989, I met a fascinating guy, Normie, in a Dance Club who was raised under Communist rule. I befriended him and, luckily, he drove us around the East taking us to his home in Caputh, where his family owned The Ferry House Restaurant located on a lake where ferry boats crossed. He also showed us Einstein’s summer home in Caputh and drove us nearby to Potsdam at the Cecilienhof Manor [former home of Crown Prince William and his wife, Cecile] where the WW2 conference was held with Churchill, Truman, and Stalin.

We also got to tour Schloss [Palace] Sans Souci, the summer residence of Frederick The Great in the 18th Century. It’s rumored that amidst his lavishly vast tree-populated landscape that he would have naked parties with boys and play hide and seek. Hmmm, I wonder if I hadn't been there in a former life!

It’s nice to report that Normie and I are still friends and that we'll partake in the "Fall of the Wall" anniversary festivities together.


Thursday, September 24, 2009


Interviewed VIRGINIA MADSEN several days ago at her hillside home near Thousand Oaks. Not to kiss her ass, but she certainly looks much younger in person! Her hair is naturally blonde, but currently brown due to just finishing up her latest film with Kevin Spacey, Father of Invention.

Honestly, I never really paid much attention to Virginia as an actress until Sideways rolled ‘round. From then on, I was captured. What a tender, moving performance she gives as waitress cum horticulturist, Maya.

Photographer Mark Bennington working his magic on Virginia

Virginia is a proud mom of fifteen year old, Jack, who we met that day, and his father is Antonio Sabato, Jr. Virginia has been very upfront with Jack about HIV/AIDS and they both are active in Elizabeth Glaser’s Pediatric AIDS Foundation.

My colleague and assistant, Kelly Danyluk

Virginia explained the backstory to photograph below. This was their first scene on the production in the rolling hills of Santa Ynez mountains [California wine country] and not far from Michael Jackson’s Neverland. Alexander Payne, the director and then husband of Sandra Oh, gave them a picnic basket with a bottle of wine inside. “Go over there,” he said, pointing to an area near a tree. Abound with curiosity, all four actors do so. They walk quite a distance, far from Alexander and the cameras. Sitting, they all kind’a look at one another, like “What do we do now?” Sandra cups her hands around her mouth to make a megaphone and yells, “Do we start eating?” “YES!” yells Alexander. They grab a couple sandwiches, but still not sure what to do. Then they eye the bottle of wine. Sandra yells out once again, “ Do we drink the wine??” Alexander responds in slow cadence, “ Yes….drink…the…wine…and…have….a…picnic!” They did.

When I show Virginia this photograph during the interview she smiles, chuckles and says, “We all were so happy.” Then she adds, “We were all toasting because we were employed.”

At the end of our interview, Virginia gave us a “Hitching Post” bottle of wine that was given to her on the Sideways set. They filmed several scenes in the Hitching Post restaurant located just outside of Solvang, California.

Virginia will either be our December or January cover. Don't miss this one! She says some very provocative, interesting, and profound words . . .

Thursday, August 27, 2009


I’m proud to say that I am from the Kennedy era.

The assassination of President John F. Kennedy is forever etched in my memory. It is one of those incidents that happen during one’s lifetime, like 9/11 or the moon landing, that you know EXACTLY where you were and how you felt. I was glued to the TV from my living room in Grove City, Ohio, watching the funeral procession march down Pennsylvania Avenue. And there was John-John dressed in his ‘little man’ suit saluting his slain father.

I can recall when ALL magazines on the newsstands, including movie mags like Photoplay and Modern Screen before People magazine, if you can believe that! – were splashed with Jacqueline Kennedy’s elegant face.

I remember when Robert Kennedy was shot at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles; I remember when Eunice Kennedy Shriver started the Special Olympics; I remember when John Kennedy Jr.’s plane crashed to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. The Kennedy Dynasty has shadowed my entire life.

As a journalist, the closet I’ve come to interviewing a Kennedy clan has been Bobby Shriver, Eunice’s son; Maria’s brother. Bobby started the RED campaign with Bono.

I currently have an interview request in for Caroline Kennedy.

I admired Ted Kennedy’s positive attitude and his zest for life. In his last testament he stated he wanted a “Celebration of Life.” When I depart this earth, I request the same. I want nobody crying at my death. I lived a full, vivacious life – celebrate for me -- because I’m finally outta here and have peace!

It remains to be determined if anyone from the Kennedy camp will emerge and take over the torch. I hope so . . .

Sunday, August 23, 2009


The A&U August issue is currently on the newsstands with my cover story on Athol Fugard. And don't miss the July issue with my story on Twilight's, Justin Chon.

Sunday, August 16, 2009


I was recently in the beguiling Santa Ynez hills, yes very near Michael Jackson's Neverland Ranch, and popped into Solvang's PSCPA [The Pacific Conservatory of the Performing Arts] Theaterfest’s lively production of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.

I was so captivated with MICHAEL SKY MOON's [love that name!] portrayal of Chip Tolentino, that I invited him to be interviewed. The charming performer will surprise you with his revealing answers. It's upcoming in A&U magazine.