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On Our Radar – April 25, 2019

Kathleen Turner To Be Honored At Tennessee Williams Festival Gala

The Provincetown Tennessee Williams Theater Festival is pleased to announce that Kathleen Turner, a living legend of the stage and screen, will be the guest of honor at this year’s Performance Gala, the festival’s annual fundraising dinner. The gala will be held at Town Hall (260 Commercial Street) in Provincetown on Saturday, June 1, where she will discuss her life and career as an actor and director in film and on stage. Details of the festival’s 2019 program will be also be announced.

Turner has crafted unforgettable performances in movies like Body Heat, Romancing the Stone, and Serial Mom, as well as in television and on stages around the world. She received a Tony Award nomination in 1990 for her performance as Maggie in the Broadway revival of Tennessee Williams’ Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. She received a second Tony nomination and an Evening Standard Award for her 2005 performance as Martha in the Broadway revival of Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? She is the co-author of Send Yourself Roses: Thoughts on My Life, Love, and Leading Roles with Gloria Feldt and Kathleen Turner on Acting: Conversations About Film, Television, and Theater with Dustin Morrow. Turner has won a Golden Globe for Best Actress twice and has been nominated for a Golden Globe three other times.

“The Gala audience is in for a treat: the bone-shaking sound of Turner’s voice for sure, but even more listening to what her great voice advocates,” says festival curator David Kaplan.
In Turner’s new book, Kaplan says, “She writes about the preparations to create her smart, steamy performance of Maggie in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof on Broadway. She found humor and love necessary to play the role, and discovered the fun of performing Maggie despite the challenges of the text. She has sharp insights, too, about the role of Martha in Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, which she played for hundreds of performances in London, New York, and on tour.”

General admission tickets to the Performance Gala, as well as premium seats and table sponsorships, are now on sale at twptown.org and by phone at 866-789-TENN.

Orbitz Declares Provincetown Top Place to Celebrate Pride in 2019 According to Survey

Orbitz, a travel booking site and the first online travel company to launch a microsite dedicated to LGBT travel recently completed an online survey to determine where LGBT travelers were booking this year for Gay Pride, which also commemorates the 50th anniversary of Stonewall, and Provincetown topped the list.

Data was collected from Orbitz pricing and demand information based on historical averages for flights and hotels booked during Pride event dates during 2017 and 2018, as well as travel intent based in search information collected during Pride event dates from 2018 to 2019. Orbitz also conducted a survey among 300 U.S. adults ages 18 to 44 fielded between March 11 and March 15, 2019. The survey asked questions like how far the respondent would plan to travel for a Pride event (42 percent said more than 50 miles), if a Pride-friendly destination impacts their decision on where to travel (74 percent), and top bucket list places to celebrate Pride. There are about 150 cities and towns across the country with Pride celebrations.

1. Provincetown, Massachusetts, May 31 – June 3
2. St. Petersburg, Florida, June 21-23
3. Atlanta, October 11-13
4. Long Beach, California, May 18-19
5. New York City, June 1-30
6. Minneapolis, June 22-23
7. Columbus, Ohio, June 14-16
8. Miami, April 1-7
9. Houston, June 22
10. San Francisco, June 29-30

Provincetown Business Guild and VACAYA to Bring Gilbert Baker’s 25th Anniversary Rainbow Flag to Carnival

The Provincetown Business Guild is partnering with VACAYA on its inaugural LGBT+ cruise. VACAYA will anchor in Provincetown Harbor on Thursday, August 15 for the kick off of Carnival Week.

To celebrate this first-of-its-kind partnership, Provincetown’s carnival flag and sections of the original Gilbert Baker Rainbow25™Sea to Sea Flag will make their way cross country via land, air, and finally sea from West Hollywood to the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., to Independence Hall in Philadelphia and to the Stonewall Inn in New York City before they board the Celebrity Summit for the final leg of their journey to Provincetown on VACAYA’s inaugural all-LGBT+cruise. In 2003, the world’s longest 8-color rainbow flag (1.25 miles) was unfurled in Key West to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the rainbow flag’s debut. Following the event, the massive flag was broken down into sections, which found their way to various cities and organizations around the world. Now, the Provincetown Business Guild and VACAYA are bringing those flag sections back together in a community-wide event. On the morning of August 15, VACAYA’s guests will disembark the Celebrity Summit and deliver to Provincetown its carnival flag and the Sea to Sea Rainbow Flag sections. Local officials and celebrities will welcome VACAYA and simultaneously raise the carnival flag high above the town at the Pilgrim Monument, while the sections of rainbow flag will be reassembled on the beach in a celebratory kick off of Carnival Week.

“The rainbow flag represents so much to the LGBTQ community and it’s become a universally recognized symbol of peace around the world. This cross-country trek is all about love,” said Bob Sanborn, Executive Director of the Provincetown Business Guild. VACAYA CEO Randle Roper adds, “When we started planning our very first cruise, we looked at destinations around the globe. Ultimately, selecting Ptown was an easy choice for us because it’s the #1 LGBTQ community in America. We’re making history by being the first all-LGBT+ cruise to ever sail to Carnival and we’re the largest ship ever to overnight in Ptown. Being here while bringing the Rainbow25™Sea to Sea Flag back together in such a dramatic way will be a moment to remember for all time.”

Todrick Hall To Make Provincetown Debut Carnival Week

In his Provincetown debut, Todrick Hall will be kicking off this year’s Carnival Week at Town Hall on August 17 at 8:00 p.m., presented by Rick Murray and Jonathan Hawkins. A multi-talented singer, rapper, actor, director, choreographer and YouTube personality, Hall rose to prominence on American Idol. His popular YouTube channel has over 3 million subscribers and 588 million channel views, consisting notably of original songs, choreographed flash mobs for Beyonce, musical collaborations, and appearing regularly on RuPaul’s Drag Race as a guest judge.

Hall distinguished himself as a Broadway star in runs of Kinky Boots and Chicago. Following two successful tours of Straight Outta Oz, Hall visited 60 cities worldwide in his The Forbidden Tour, traveling the US, Europe, Asia, New Zealand, and Australia. From his smash dance hit “Dem Beats” featuring RuPaul to Taylor Swifts “Look What You Made Me Do,” join Todrick for his Provincetown debut in this Carnival exclusive performance!

Exclusive ticket packages are available: VIP ticket holders receive a private meet and greet and two beverage tickets, including alcohol, beer, and wine. First Class ticket holders receive two beverage tickets. VIP ticket holders gain access to upper balcony as well. Tickets to all Crown & Anchor shows and events are available online at onlyatthecrown.com, by phone at 508-487-1430, or at the Crown & Anchor box office, 247 Commercial St.

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The Queen of the Dunes Still Reigns

Hazel Hawthorne Werner by Walker Evans Walker Evans Archive, The Metropolitan Museum of Art metmuseum.org

by Steve Desroches

In that moment of creation an artist
 never knows how long the work will live. Legacy may not be the point, but nevertheless, each expression represents a point of view, a unique voice that can echo far beyond the life of its creator. The regeneration of imaginative cells is perhaps what some call the inspiration art can produce. Its what makes a painting, a book, or a photograph become part of our collective consciousness throughout generations. Some have a global reach, while others barely dip outside of a tiny village. But no matter. Each artistic work has atomic potential to continue to fly through our culture, creating new universes in its wake.

Hazel Hawthorne Werner by Walker Evans Walker Evans Archive, The Metropolitan Museum of Art metmuseum.org

Such an ember drifted all the way from Provincetown to Helsinki via Berlin. Inka Leisma took a year off from her job as a communications specialist for the Finnish Tax Administration to live in the German capital. As Berlin is bursting with creativity, she reveled in the city’s cultural offerings. And it was in 2014 at the exhibition hall Martin-Gropius-Bau, Leisma went to see a major show of work by Walker Evans, the famed American photographer and photojournalist. Prior to traveling to the United States documenting the Great Depression for the Farm Security Administration, Evans frequently visited Provincetown, capturing both the town and its bohemian culture. In this extensive presentation of his life’s work there was one photograph that didn’t just catch Leisma’s attention, but rather grabbed a hold of her and refused to let go. It was a portrait of Hazel Hawthorne taken in 1933, most likely in Provincetown. She had never heard of Hawthorne, and the corresponding label didn’t give any information. She was mesmerized. As she rode her bicycle home she repeated to herself, “Hazel Hawthorne. Hazel Hawthorne. Hazel Hawthorne,” so she wouldn’t forget the name. So began a thrilling obsession that brought Leisma to the dunes of Provincetown.

“I still don’t know what happened there,” says Leisma of that day in Berlin. “It defies explanation. Everything turned blurry. It’s very hard to explain. I just really felt like she was reaching out to me. It’s quite emotional.”

Inka Leisma

A quick Google search later and Leisma had found out the basics, much of which many longtime Provincetown residents remember. Born in 1901, Hawthorne (who later also went by Hazel Hawthorne Werner) first came to Provincetown in 1918 and divided her time between New York and the Cape tip, until she died here in 2000 at the age of 99. Over the course of her fabulous life, Hawthorne accomplished so much more than just sitting for Walker Evans. She was bohemian royalty. A feminist and environmentalist before such terms existed, she eschewed restrictive social conventions and expectations of the day. A cousin of Charles Hawthorne, the artist who founded the Cape Cod School of Art in Provincetown in 1899, Hazel herself was a major player in the art colony as both a writer and doyenne of the salon and artistic social circles in town. She eventually came to own Thalassa and Euphoria, two of the famed dune shacks where she wrote and entertained such writers as ee cummings and Jack Kerouac (some critics claim Hawthorne was an early influence on the Beat writers). Everyone knew her.

As Leisma dug into researching more and more, she learned it wasn’t just Hawthorne’s joie de vivre that made her so popular, but also her work, which attracted the high praise of her fellow writers like Edmund Wilson, John Dos Passos, and John Cheever. However, as is so often the case with women, she ended up a mere footnote in the biographies of her famous male counterparts. Her two novels, 1934’s Salt House, a fictionalized account of life on the Cape tip, and Three Women, published four years later, are long out of print and very hard to find. She not only wrote for Provincetown newspapers and magazines, but also The New Yorker as well as highly esteemed literary and poetry journals that published her many poems, essays, and short stories. The more Leisma learned, the more it troubled her that Hawthorne was being lost to history as memory of her and her work began to fade, even in the town where she once held court as the Queen of the Dunes. She became committed to ensuring Hawthorne’s like and work would not vanish. And her journey of discovery has been a remarkable one.

“You never know what’s around the corner,” says Leisma. “But you have to go because it’s so very good.”

After connecting with several relatives of Hawthorne’s via Instagram, Leisma first traveled to Provincetown in 2017 as well as to other locations in the United States, delving into archives large and small, including the famed Beinecke Library at Yale University, the New York Public Library, and Provincetown’s own public library. She returned in 2018 after securing a spot with the Peaked Hill Trust Residency Program for the Arts and Sciences to spend a week in the same dunes where Hawthorne once lived and wrote. Her project’s initial results are on her website: findinghazelhawthorne.com, but she’s also finished the first draft of a narrative nonfiction book about her global trek to present Hazel Hawthorne to the world. Funded in part by a grant from the Association of Finnish Non-Fiction Writers, her manuscript tops off at about 530 pages. Written in English, her goal is to have it published first in the United States.

Leisma rattles off details about Provincetown like a longtime visitor, proof she is a quick study and keen observer. Prior to seeing the portrait of Hawthorne, she had never even heard of Provincetown. Now, she is smitten, as when she sees the ocean in Finland she envisions the waves lapping on the beaches of Provincetown on the other side of the Atlantic. The town, and its people, were so wonderful to her, friendly and helpful with her work, inviting her into their homes to answer any questions she had and to wish her well. But it was those times in the dune shack that for her are the biggest gift of this project, fueled by the image of Hawthorne that spoke to her five years ago.
“It was as really magical as it sounds,” says Leisma. “Getting up when the sun rises and going to bed when it sets. Reading original documents, reading her work in the same place she lived. It was just magical.”

To learn more about Inka Leisma’s project visit findinghazelhawthorne.com.

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November/December 2018

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A Very Special Q&A with Dina Martina

Photo: David Belisle

The holidays are here! It’s time to celebrate! There are all kinds of holiday traditions here in Provincetown all season long, from the lighting of the Pilgrim Monument and the Lobster Pot Christmas Tree to the Polar Bear Plunge followed by fireworks over the harbor on New Year’s Day. But for many it just isn’t the holidays until they’ve seen the Dina Martina Christmas Show, a holiday extravaganza that puts Radio City Music Hall’s Christmas Spectacular to shame. Nothing will leave you feeling the spirit of the season, and slightly confused, more than the Dina Martina Christmas Show! Ill-fitting costumes, dump-truck choreography, and a voice that shatters the calm of any silent night are all year-round hallmarks of a Dina Martina performance, but watch what happens when she adds a little Christmas magic to her surreal stage show. It’s so off the charts they had to make a new chart! Dina took a little time between polishing her jingle bells and watering her poinsettia with Tab to talk about her classic Christmas record The Dina Martina Christmas Album, her favorite holiday memories, and why she just loves this “delightful little ashtray of town” so much!

Photo: David Belisle

Provincetown Magazine: Your Christmas shows are the talk of the town wherever you perform each holiday season. Do you recall the first Christmas show you ever did? What can people expect from your show this year?

Dina Martina: The very first Christmas show I did was very minimal, or “bare-bones,” as some would say. I sang “The Little Drummer Boy” for about 45 minutes and I didn’t really have a costume budget, so I just wore a pair of nylons and that was it. I used lots of flamboyant hand gestures to make the audience think there was a lot more going on than there actually was. But for this year’s show I’ll definitely be clothed. People can expect that, plus…gosh, I don’t even know. At the very least, they can expect the zest and vigor that keeps us all young during the holidays.

PM: What are some of your best Christmas memories from childhood?

DM: I’ve always loved the smells of Christmas that you don’t smell any other time of year. The smell of my mother’s perfume. She wore Tabu by Dana. I also loved it when my Uncle Omar would come over and play fetch with me. He’d take off one of his dirty socks and wad it up and throw it across the room and I’d run after it and bring it back. That was another one of those “holiday smells,” I guess. Uncle Omar wasn’t really my uncle; I’m not really sure what his connection to the family was.

PM: What’s the best Christmas present you’ve ever received? What’s the best Christmas present you’ve ever given?

DM: The best present I ever received was pinworm, from my adopted daughter, Phoebe. I loved it so much because it gave me a chance to focus on something other than my scabies. And the best gift I ever gave is probably a toss-up between two gifts I gave to Phoebe for her eleventh birthday: either the chemical peel or the feet binding.

PM: The Dina Martina Christmas Album is right up there with other holiday classics like A Perry Como Christmas, Johnny Mathis: Merry Christmas, and Ray Conniff and the Ray Conniff Singers: We Wish You A Merry Christmas. What was that recording session like? Do you have a favorite track on that album?

DM: That recording session was epic. It was a long rainy weekend in Philly, and for starters we had the Wrecking Crew backing the whole thing, but then all these people kept dropping in left and right to guest on it, like Terry and Jimmy Jam and Sly & Robbie, the Kelly Family, you name it. We stayed up for days and ate pork and beans with sardines and smoked More menthols from both ends. My favorite track is Phoebe’s song, “Fun in the Snow” because her vocals are so tender and juicy.

PM: It’s so great to have you back in Provincetown for the holidays, especially since this past summer’s show was so fabulous. What do you love about Provincetown that has you coming back each year?

DM: There’s so much I love about Provincetown. I love the saltwater fudge. I love the single rowboat paintings. I love the wide range of entertainment showcased there, and that you can see different acts performing together, like Varla Jean Merman and Peaches Christ, or Merle Haggard and Tears for Fears. The first show I ever saw in Provincetown was Fatty Arbuckle and the Pointer Sisters at the top of the Pilgrim Monument.

PM: 2019 is just around the corner. Are you making any resolutions and do you have any hopes and wishes for the New Year?

DM: I don’t make New Year’s resolutions anymore because I always gained them back, but I do have predictions for next year. I predict that wireless extension cords will be a thing, as will tampons without strings. A lot more streamlined, you know? I also predict that pop-up funerals will come into vogue. They’ll pop up in empty storefronts in malls. Viewings and respects being paid, right next to Forever 21. These predictions were originally for 2016 from a psychic I met once, but they didn’t come true, so I figure I can make them my predictions now. They’re sure to be winners at some point, you know? Just like lottery numbers. I also predict someone will develop an app that gets rid of skin tags. God, at least I hope someone does.

The Dina Martina Christmas Show is on Sunday, December 30 at the Crown and Anchor, 247 Commercial St., Provincetown, at 7:30 p.m. Tickets ($30) are available at the box office and online at onlyatthecrown.com. For more information call 508.487.1430.

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The Flaming Tree of January

Image courtesy of Jay Critchley.

Provincetown Celebrates Re-Rooters Day

by Steve Desroches

The Pilgrim Monument’s Christmas lights have gone dim. The fireworks blasted over the harbor to signal the New Year. The crowds of holiday revelers are gone. Thus begins the quietest time of year in Provincetown as the Cape tip slides into the beauty and solitude of January as the hardy, year-round residents hunker down to rest and recharge before the tourist season perks up again with the crocuses and spring peepers of April.
Indeed, it would appear that the holidays are over, as with the passing of the Epiphany, even those that celebrate “Little Christmas” are done. But leave it to Provincetown to have a holiday all its own to close out the season. Each January 7 Provincetown celebrates Re-Rooters Day, a mad cap blend of art, politics, and bohemian aesthetics with both a little flair and flare.

The uniquely Provincetown holiday began in 1983 when artist Jay Critchley was at the town dump, when it quite literally was a dump and not the organized transfer station of modern day. A conceptual artist who creates in a variety of formats and genres, including performance, Critchley has long integrated his environmental activism and commitment to community into his works. And the Provincetown landfill was ripe for finding discarded elements for his latest ideas. On this particular day, while traversing the mound of garbage, Critchley noticed all the discarded Christmas trees and began to place them upright all over the giant modern-day midden trying to re-root these trees to see if they would come back to life. The next year he began to put them around town and held the first Re-Rooters Day ceremony, holding the highly ritualized service near Ciro and Sal’s restaurant and then moved it to its current home on the flats of the East End in 1985.

Image courtesy of Jay Critchley.

At the core of Re-Rooters Day and its ceremony, which takes place at sunset in any and every kind of weather, is a sense of renewal. Critchley builds a small boat, something he says came to him back when Re-Rooters Day was founded, as discarded pieces of wooden boats were easy to find around town. In that boat he places an old Christmas tree, and those who come to the ceremony bring non-toxic items to burn that symbolize something from the past year they’d like to shed. Like any ritual, there is a corresponding textual element and a call and response chant, followed by Critchley, dressed like a fabulous Mad Hatter in hip waders, dragging the boat out into the harbor and setting it on fire as the congregants sing. All of this occurs with a sweeping panoramic backdrop of the Provincetown skyline.

“The original idea was a personal ritual to purge, to cleanse,” says Critchley. “A rebirthing of a new energy. I never publicized it. I just did it. This was before social media, so word didn’t spread as fast. Those that knew about it came. Some years it would be five people, others 50. Now, a couple of times a week, all year, people bring it up to me in some way.”

Born and raised in Forestville, Connecticut, spending many influential and inspiring summers close to nature on Huntley Island in Long Island Sound at his aunt and uncle’s home, which had no electricity or running water, Critchley moved to Provincetown in 1975. And over his time here he’s been a prolific artist and community activist, creating attention-gathering works like his Sand Car Series, where he left a sand-crusted Dodge Coronet 500 station wagon in the MacMillan Wharf parking lot for the summers of 1981 and 1982, and his Theater in the Ground @ Septic Space project, where he turned his old cesspool in the yard of his Carnes Lane home into a tiny performance venue. He’s also created the Provincetown Community Compact, a nonprofit to support the arts, environment, and health on the Outer Cape, and of course, he is the force behind the annual Swim for Life, an event he sees as intimately tied to Re-Rooters Day for its rituals related to the environment, community, and a rebirth. He’s been the driving force behind so many memorable moments and exhibitions, most in Provincetown have a story about Critchley.

Image courtesy of Jay Critchley.

Coming from a large Irish-Catholic family, ritual is important to Critchley, as it’s such a large component of his cultural and personal background, and that influence is easily recognized in the Re-Rooters Day celebration. While the holiday is impish and playful, it’s also rooted in political satire and an editorial lyricism. The International Re-Rooters Society (IRS) presents the event itself, one of many corporations founded by Critchley that he utilizes to give himself the “authority” to speak and act in an overly corporate culture, a recurring aspect of his work. Each year he develops a theme and a corresponding Ten Commandments based on concepts and events that defined the previous year as well as the buzzwords of the day. Some of the commandments from last year’s Re-Rooters Day included:

“Thou shalt not fat check countryless donor maintenance bullying race-blind retroambulative franchised hair extensions” and “Thou shalt keep holy post-combustion gender fluid kleptocrats jomo-ing deregulated preemptive creation stories.”

Critchley also utilizes re-written Christmas carols that fit the themes. All of the writing work is really a poetry element, says Critchley, and upon further reflection, he recognizes an Allen Ginsberg influence to it all as well as a play on corporate gobbledygook. The result is that any Re-Rooters Day looks like a bundled-up coven following a Merry Prankster participating in a chanting ritual to welcome to the new age whose spell is so powerful the co-opted pagan symbol of an evergreen tree spontaneously combusts. It’s the written words that bring Re-Rooters Day its meaning, tradition, and humor to a town that revels in consistently defying convention and creating new ways of thinking.

“It’s a real series of intentions,” says Critchley. “It’s a way for me to dig deeper into my core of feelings of anger about what’s going on with the environment and what’s going on in the world. It’s a way to identify the events of the previous year by putting words in this juxtaposition, new words, a comingling of words. I’m trying to make sense of the world in a way that challenges myself to think outside of expectations. It brings you deeper into the present.”

The 36th Annual Re-Rooters Day will be celebrated on Monday, January 7, 2019 at sunset. For more information visit jaycritchley.com/re-rooters.

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Naughty and Nice

The Kook Toy Drive

by Steve Desroches

It’s a quiet December night in Provincetown. The Pilgrim Monument is lit for the holidays, as are the shops and homes along Commercial Street. The surf gently laps the harbor beach as the sound of jingle bells fills the air. Two elves smoke cigarettes as they greet a friend, another elf, but this one is drinking a beer. They’re hanging outside of the Grotta Bar below Local 186 on this particular night last year, which happened to be the date of the special election for an open Senate seat in Alabama. As the elves continue their cigarette break the door to the bar opens and a tipsy Santa Claus yells out, “Hey, that mother f**ker Roy Moore lost!” as the beginning riff of “Sweet Home Alabama” plays and the crowd inside cheers. “Well, what do you know,” says one elf, stamping out his cigarette with his green shoes curled up at the toe with a little bell hanging down as his friends run inside. “Christmas came early this year.”

Some of the misfit elves at Christmas Kook over the years.

There are lots of “Only in Provincetown” moments. And that was one of them. While it might sound like Santa’s elves swung through Provincetown for a night of carousing, the sighting of Christmas misfits is actually a sign that it’s time for one of the town’s most beloved holiday traditions, one that mixes the bohemian eccentricity of the Cape tip with its near-sacred credo of taking care of its own: the Kook Toy Drive.
For almost 20 years drag superstar Penny Champagne and Her Merry Band of Misfit Elves has held this annual rock and roll Christmas fundraiser to make sure the children of Provincetown and their families that are in need have a wonderful holiday season, as well as meet basic needs for the winter. Taking care of children and those in need is of course a hallmark of the holidays in many places. It’s how the funds are raised that makes it a decidedly Provincetown affair.

The idea started back in the 1990s when Scott Martino, one of the co-founders of the Gold Dust Orphans and husband of playwright and performer Ryan Landry, took a peak into a local toy drive box. With all due respect, he thought the toys looked kind of crappy. So for a couple of years he’d perform as his drag persona Penny Champagne with Landry’s band Space Pussy and raise a little money for a toy drive of their own. Then Martino founded the legendary weekly party titled Kook, which ran for about 15 years from the late 1990s through early 2000s, where he met Jennifer White, the manager of the old Vixen nightclub who had moved over to the Grotta Bar the same time Kook made the move. The duo revived the idea of the toy drive, and soon formed a working relationship with the Provincetown school system to identify families in need (anonymously) and find out specifically what the children wanted for Christmas, or the holiday season, to make the effort personalized. Over the years they went from raising about $1,000 in an evening to last year’s record topping over $10,000. That number is a remarkable testament to their efforts and those who participate, though in the beginning they needed to combat the persistent myth that all those who live on the Cape and Islands are wealthy.

Some of the misfit elves at Christmas Kook over the years.

“When we first started, we would hear all the time people question that there were people struggling in Provincetown,” says Martino. “Those that questioned it assumed everyone here is rich. There are a lot of people who had no idea who actually lives here. Who do they think washes the dishes, cleans up after them, and works to make their vacation or summer here? And there are people who fall on hard times, who get sick, lose their housing, who just need help sometimes. But attitudes have changed. We don’t hear much of that kind of talk anymore.”

Since it began, White and Martino estimate they’ve raised over $100,000, with every dime going to children and families in need in Provincetown. On the evening of the Kook Toy Drive, often called Christmas Kook, no one is paid to work the event. DJ Lisa “Rodd Hott” Bonenfant provides the rock music soundtracks as Darren Showers works the door. The bartenders donate all tips to the cause, as do those who perform. Martino giggles when he thinks of what has graced the stage of Christmas Kook, as while it’s for the children, the event most certainly is not. Over the years Christmas Kook has seen drag queen Qya Cristal’s sweaty impersonation of Whitney Houston with a cocaine ring around her nose singing a parody of “Do You Hear What I Hear,” Landry reading demented Christmas bedtime tales, and Mary, the mother of Jesus, singing “Like A Virgin.”

Perhaps the most anticipated moment of the night is “Tits for Tots,” when Misfit Elf Ahbi Nishman, and other women with ample breasts, allow those paying $5 or more to do a shot from between said breasts. The Christmas tradition began years ago when Martino called Nishman and asked, “Can I objectify you for a good cause?” After hearing what the evening was for, she said “Sure.” But at that time it was just to raise a large sum to watch Nishman jump up and down on a pogo stick, which, after some thought, everyone realized was dangerous in a nightclub with spilled drinks on the floor. “Tits for Tots” followed, and each year a long line forms, featuring every gender and sexual orientation, to participate in what has become a playful holiday institution in Provincetown.

“When you think about it, it’s really kind of sweet,” says Martino with a mischievous smile. “It’s all for taking care of children, and to do that with breasts, you know, which nurture and feed children, it kind of all make sense. It all comes full circle.”
Jokes and jabs aside, the Kook Toy Drive warms the hearts of many in the community, even eliciting significant donations from those who can’t attend, as well as local business owners. Confidentiality is never broken, as the Kook crew, who does all the shopping the very next day, sees only the gender and ages as well as the wish list of each child they are helping. Both White and Martino say it’s what they ask for that at times brings tears to their eyes. A little girl wanted a science kit, as she wants to be a doctor when she grows up. A boy asked for an office chair so he could have a comfortable place to sit while doing his homework. Another child asked for a copy of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, as he loved it so much he wanted to read it again and again. Other times it’s an entire family that needs winter coats, or food and fuel assistance. The Kook Toy Drive has become successful enough it can provide for everything on the list the Provincetown Schools give them, and despite years of decline, the number of families with children in town is on the rise. Provincetown takes care of its own, repeat both White and Martino. It’s part of what makes the town so special.

“It’s my most favorite event of the year,” says White. “When we all pull together to make this happen. It really helps a lot of people who need it. And every year the need grows.”

The 2018 Kook Toy Drive is on Tuesday, December 11 starting at 10 p.m. at the Grotta Bar at Local 186, 186 Commercial St., Provincetown Admission is $5, though donations are taken throughout the evening. Donations may also be sent through Paypal via the Kook Toy Drive 2018 Facebook page or by check to: Kook Toy Drive, P.O. Box 1001, Provincetown, MA 02657.

 

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The Holidays on the Outer Cape

The annual Jingle Bell Run

Ha Ha Ha AND Ho Ho Ho

by Steve Desroches

Some joke that there are only three seasons in Provincetown: getting ready for summer, cleaning up from summer, and summer. Indeed that stretch from the Fourth of July to Labor Day does dominate much of life in Provincetown, but of course while the rhythms and motions of the town do slow down, the town on the tip comes to a distinctive sparkle and glimmer during the darkest time of the year.

Photo: Chuck Anzalone – Courtesy of PMPM

Thanksgiving through the New Year has become a special time in town, when the community comes together after a bustling autumn and visitors revel in a holiday season that is uniquely Provincetown. It literally starts with a flash as the Pilgrim Monument is illuminated the night before Thanksgiving, and stays lit until January 6, acting as a holiday beacon, followed by the lighting of the Lobster Pot Tree in Lopes Square the Saturday after, in what has become another beloved tradition in town.

While of course Plymouth gets all the attention every year when Thanksgiving rolls around, the Pilgrim Monument and the Bas Relief, featuring a depiction of the signing of the Mayflower Compact, are of course reminders that the Pilgrims landed here first. And in a relatively short and quick amount of time, a lot more visitors are landing in Provincetown to celebrate Thanksgiving. What was once a sleepy weekend has grown into a full-on celebration, as many choose to have Thanksgiving dinner at an ever-growing list of restaurants open for the holiday and offering special menus, as well as second-home owners who rent their places out for the summer coming to enjoy the town with family and friends in tow.

Thirsty Burlington

Now the town is hopping that long weekend as entertainment options have expanded, too. The Crown and Anchor is abuzz starting with Drag Bingo on Friday, November 23. Then, Thirsty Burlington brings back The Cher Show, where she showcases the beloved mega-pop icon, covering everything from the Sonny and Cher days right up to her most recent album covering the hits of ABBA, on Saturday, November 24 as well as a special New Year’s Eve performance. Later that night Gerald Goode takes to the piano at the Dive Bar at the Crown for an evening of good times and music.

The Canteen begins their popular Holiday Market Thanksgiving weekend, which will be open Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. to around 6 p.m. through January 1. Featuring locally made goods, the market, modeled after European Christmas markets, also hosts entertainment as well as other surprises throughout the holiday season.
Now in its 28th season, the Coffeehouse at the Mews is up and running every Monday night with an open mic and featured performer, and a special Christmas event planned for December 17.

The Lobster Pot Christmas Tree in Lopes Square. Photo: Rebecca M. Alvin

Over at the Pilgrim House, the fabulous Sharon McNight brings her bawdy comedy cabaret back to town for a show sure to have the Puritans rolling over in their graves on November 23 and 24.

For those looking to keep trim this holiday season sign up for the 8th annual 5k Pilgrim Trot on Thanksgiving Day with all proceeds going to Helping Our Women (HOW) and $100 prizes for the first male and female to cross the finish line (Go to pilgrimtrot.com to register).

Sharon McKnight

The very next weekend after Thanksgiving Provincetown gets doused in glitter as the Christmas season kicks off with Holly Folly, the annual LGBT+ holiday festival. The Atlantic House, the Crown and Anchor, and the Porchside Bar and Club Purgatory at the Gifford House throw dance parties all weekend long to keep the party going. But in the true spirit of this time of year, Holly Folly begins with the 10th annual Tis the Season for Giving, a benefit variety show for the AIDS Support Group of Cape Cod hosted by Anita Cocktail and Barbie Que on Friday, November 30 at the Crown and Anchor. Saturday afternoon at the Crown features Holly Folly Drag Bingo (which returns for New Year’s Eve weekend, as well) followed by the Provincetown premiere of The Boy Band Project: Holiday Edition, an homage to boy bands like NSYNC, The Backstreet Boys, Hanson, One Direction, Boyz II Men, and more, as Broadway actors from musicals like Wicked, Hair, Cabaret, Mamma Mia, The Book of Mormon, Altar Boyz, and Rock of Ages perform from boy band Christmas albums.

The Pilgrim House celebrates Holly Folly with the return of Lee Squared: An Evening with Liberace and Miss Peggy Lee, a hilarious performance of a concert that never happened between Mr. Showmanship and the jazz singer who gave everyone fever! It’s a night of fantastic live music and singing, spot on impersonations, and most of all, big laughs. A huge hit this past summer and again during its return engagement in September, don’t miss this chance to see this truly one-of-a-kind show on November 30 and December 1.

Laura Cappello as Patsy Cline

Of course, the signature event of Holly Folly is the annual holiday concert by the Boston Gay Men’s Chorus at Town Hall Saturday night. This year the Chorus presents Brass, Bows & Boys, a show featuring a diverse array of holiday themed songs. If the holidays have you feeling a bit naughty, take part in the Jingle Bell Run, where participants take a jog down Commercial Street in just holiday themed Speedos and bikinis like the North Pole is having a heat wave.

Each weekend in December features great sales throughout the unique shops of Provincetown, as well as a surprising amount of restaurants still open to feed the hungry shoppers. There are also several events throughout the month to entertain, like the Outer Cape Chorale as they take over Town Hall on December 7 and 8 to present Faure Requiem also featuring John Rutter’s When Icicles Hang. The Provincetown Theater presents Always…Patsy Cline, starring Laura Cappello as the legendary country singer and Julia Salinger as a fan whose life is forever changed after a brief encounter. That show runs Thursday through Sunday from November 29 to December 16. The theater also marks the season with The Townie Holiday Show, a musical variety performance open to all residents to take to the stage December 21 through 23.

Every Saturday throughout the month comedian Kristen Becker and singer and actor Darlene Van Alstyne present Sandy Clause at the Pilgrim House, and on Tuesday, December 11, Penny Champagne and her Merry Band of Misfit Elves hold the Kook Toy Drive at the Grotta Bar, an annual wild night that raises money to help Provincetown families in need (see feature in this issue).

Take a drive down Route 6 to Wellfleet Preservation Hall, which hosts the 20th Annual Animation Show of Shows on December 14 and 15. This film festival screens 15 animated shorts from around the world.

Suede

True to form, Provincetown knows how to throw a party to welcome the New Year like no other town. Newcomers to the First Light celebration are always surprised how many people are in town for New Year’s as this tiny town mixes the cozy and warm with the fun and outrageous. Nightclubs, bars, and restaurants offer up a wide array of dining and dancing options, including the Leather District Dance Party on Saturday, December 29 at the Crown and Anchor, which also hosts the fabulous Suede, presenting her annual New Year’s show. Come Sunday the Crown presents the Dina Martina Christmas Show, a not-to-be-missed holiday offering from the beloved demented darling. Her Christmas shows made her a legend in her hometown of Seattle; so do not miss this one-night-only hilarious holiday romp. New Year’s Eve Thirsty Burlington rings in 2019 with The Cher Show just before the Crown hosts its Resolution Dance Party with DJ Chris Racine and VJ Tom Yaz. And on New Year’s Day, the bravest and/ or craziest of revelers take a dip into frigid Provincetown Harbor for the Polar Bear Plunge and then later that night either bundle up on the beach or enjoy a cocktail in a waterfront restaurant or bar to watch the annual fireworks and welcome in 2019.

This holiday edition of Provincetown Magazine marks our last for 2018. It’s been a fabulous year full of great shows, art exhibitions, and the unique spirit of Provincetown that keeps it one of the most interesting and fun places on Earth (which, despite what a growing number of people think, is indeed round). It’s a thrill to cover arts, culture, and entertainment on the Outer Cape, and we can’t wait to see what 2019 has in store. Have a wonderful winter! See you in April!

Lee Squared

Venues Mentioned

PROVINCETOWN
THE ATLANTIC HOUSE
4 Masonic Pl. 508.487.3821
ahouse.com

THE CANTEEN
225 Commercial St. 508.487.3800
thecanteenptown.com

CLUB PURGATORY
11 Carver St. 508.487.8442
giffordhouse.com

CROWN AND ANCHOR
247 Commercial St. 508.487.1430
onlyatthecrown.com

THE PORCHSIDE BAR
9 Carver St. 508.487.0688
giffordhouse.com

THE MEWS
429 Commercial St. 508.487.1500
mews.com

PILGRIM HOUSE
336 Commercial St. 508.487.6424
pilgrimhouseptown.com

PILGRIM MONUMENT AND PROVINCETOWN MUSEUM
1 High Pole Hill Rd. 508.487.1310
pilgrim-monument.org

THE PROVINCETOWN THEATER
238 Bradford St. 508.487.7487
provincetowntheater.org

TOWN HALL
260 Commercial St. 508.487.7000

WELLFLEET
WELLFLEET PRESERVATION HALL
335 Main St. 508.349.1800
wellfleetpreservationhall.org

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Shoal Hope Ciderworks

For something different, check out the amazing craft cider of Shoal Hope Ciderworks! It’s not beer, it’s not wine, and this hard cider is not even to be compared to other hard ciders. It’s a wine made with apples instead of grapes, and, like wine, can be as varied as the apples themselves. All of the cider is made from fresh pressed juice, locally sourced apples, and whenever possible, Cape Cod ingredients.
Try the best-selling Monument, flavored with a deep brown sugar, leaving a molasses-type finish. Or try the Honey Baby, flavored with Cape Cod cranberry honey, leaving not a sweet finish but one that’s full of honey. Or even the Little Tart, which is a blend of apple and Cape Cod cranberries. The whole production happens right here in Provincetown; you don’t get more local than that, and every market in Provincetown with a liquor license sells at least one variety. It’s also available in many restaurants and in other liquor stores across the Cape. Cheers!

Shoal Hope Ciderworks
[email protected]
508.978.7860
shoalhopeciderworks.com

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ANNOUNCEMENTS: NOVEMBER 15, 2018

Grant Opportunity for Provincetown Residents and Businesses

The Provincetown Economic Development Committee is seeking grant proposals for projects that meet their economic development goals that foster new business and year-round economic development.

The grant program is open to all individuals and businesses based in the Town of Provincetown. All funded programs/projects must create, enhance, or preserve jobs in the Town of Provincetown. Grant applications can be for either micro-grants up to $1,000 or macro-grants up to $5,000.

Guidelines and applications are available from the Provincetown Grant Administrator or at the Town’s website provincetown-ma.gov.

Copies of the Guidelines and Applications are also available in the Selectmen/Town Manager’s Office, Provincetown Town Hall, 260 Commercial Street, Provincetown, MA 02657 or from the Housing Specialist/Grant Administrator Michelle Jarusiewicz. She can be reached at 508.487.7087 or [email protected].
The deadline for application submissions is NO LATER THAN Thursday, November 29, 2018 by 5 p.m. in the Town Manager’s Office, Town Hall, 260 Commercial St., Provincetown, MA 02657 for consideration.

FAWC Still Accepting Applications for Fellowships

The Fine Arts Work Center (FAWC) offers a unique residency for writers and visual artists in the crucial early stages of their careers. The Work Center provides seven-month Fellowships to 20 Fellows each year in the form of living/work space and a modest monthly stipend. Residencies run from October 1 through April 30. Fellows have the opportunity to pursue their work independently in a diverse and supportive community of peers. The upcoming deadline for the writing residencies is December 2, 2018. (The visual arts residencies will have a February 1, 2019 deadline) For more information call 508.487.9960 or visit fawc.org.

Massachusetts Cultural Council Artist Fellowships Applications Available Soon
In 2019, the Massachusetts Cultural Council (MCC) will grant Artist Fellowships in a variety of categories. Although application deadlines have passed for Crafts, Dramatic Writing, and Sculpture/Installation/New Genres, MCC will begin accepting online application in the categories of Film & Video, Music Composition, and Photography beginning on December 15, with an application deadline of January 28, 2019.
Grants will be announced by June 2019. For more information or to apply to the program in these categories, visit massculturalcouncil.org/applications/fellows_guidelines.asp.

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Q&A with DJ Lina Bradford

DJ Lina Bradford didn’t start out wanting to be a DJ. She grew up in Manhattan, across the street from Carnegie Hall, with a grandmother who was an opera singer, and a family who accepted her as a trans girl from the very beginning. Starting out in the New York gay underground club scene as dancer/gender illusionist/performer “Girlina,” she quickly became an underground superstar when in 1994 she performed in Wigstock. More recently, she shed her Girlina label and became a DJ on a dare. DJ Lina, who has toured the world, has not been back in Provincetown for more than 20 years. She’s booked to host this year’s Black and Gold Halloween Ball at Town Hall, and so she took some time to catch us up on her past, present, and future.

Provincetown Magazine: When was the last time you were in Provincetown and what were you doing here?

 DJ Lina: The last time I was in Ptown was 1996 and I think it was at some place called the shack. I don’t remember.

PM: You’re mainly known as a Fire Island person. What are the differences and similarities between Provincetown and Fire Island that you’ve observed?

DJ Lina: Well after my 10-year anniversary, I left four years ago. So it will always hold a very dear place in my heart; it’s a very magical island, I love them both. I find it very charming that you can get on a bike, though, in Ptown and ride. It’s a different experience, but most importantly it’s all about the community and being around your brothers and your sisters so that’s the similarity and everything shouldn’t be the same. It’s nice to switch it up.

PM: How was it at Wigstock this year (in comparison with the past)?

DJ Lina: Wigstock was amazing – being able to perform and be with my sister Candis [Cayne]. It just brought back so many fond memories, and Wigstock, it’s always been about community, so it’s very perfect with the timing and bringing all of the different age demographics together under one roof because that’s how it should be always and not just one time a year.  Hooray Lady Bunny.

PM: Things seem to be changing quickly for LGBTQ acceptance, and I know you’ve said before that you were raised in an environment that was very supportive of your trans identity. But things aren’t perfect. Where do you think we still have a long way to go as far as LGBTQ rights and trans rights in particular?

DJ Lina: I think that we can never stop thinking that the fight is over, we have to continue to keep being proactive in every part of the different dynamic diversity under this rainbow and I find a lot of times we tend to not look so unified under our own house that it makes it easier for everyone else to come for the rainbow so I would advise us to be stronger to each other and more supportive and respectful therefore it makes everything more unified.

PM: What makes a great DJ in your opinion?

DJ Lina: I’ve been blessed in this part of my career as a DJ for 21 years, and it never gets old or tired to me because every time is a special time when I get to play music and bring people together. Being able to be eclectic, feeling out your crowd, never having a playlist, and keeping organic and 100 [percent] with yourself and your audience, and then you will see, 21 years later, wow, it still feels like the first time.

PM: What is your process for creating a DJ set? How much do you leave open, versus set in advance?

DJ Lina: As I mentioned, I keep it organic. I never have a playlist. I just go with the energy in the vibe that I’m feeling and then I create, and that is always the best. You have to know how to cater to your audience and take them on a ride. From the first song to the last song it’s a journey, and never ask a DJ for a request. We’re not jukeboxes. You go out to be elevated and taken to a different place, so why should you want to hear what you have on your iPod. I don’t come from that school where you would go up to a DJ and make a request. It’s about getting schooled and turned out.

DJ Lina will host The Black and Gold Halloween Ball at Provincetown Town Hall, 260 Commercial St., on Saturday, October 27, 8 p.m. – 12 a.m. The event is presented by Salt Hotels, and proceeds benefit the AIDS Support Group of Cape Cod. For tickets ($45 – $95), visit salthotels.com/halloween.

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