Category Archives: Interviews

Celebrity, author, singers and more interviews

World AIDS Day: ProudTimes Publisher & CEO Appear in a New Podcast

Greg Halpen, a New York City-based vocal artist and host of Redefining Gayness explores a topic many queer couples can identify with today: being in a mixed-status couple in terms of HIV-diagnosis. Please check out the column which inspired the podcast at Metrosource.com, and keep up with Greg on his website where he publishes his podcasts.

The Bubbles No Longer Tickle My Nose: Being Gay & Half-Native on Thanksgiving

By Hellen Back

Ms. Back is a performer, originally from Santa Cruz, who now makes their home in Portland. She has kindly agreed to share recollections from her life, in and out of drag.

My dad’s family didn’t approve that my mother wasn’t white: so I never met them, never celebrated holidays, never met my grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and the whole lot. Instead I was raised by my Mom’s family, who are Native-American.

Thanksgiving was always kind of a joke in our family.

During these dinners, a maternal relative would inevitably shout out, and cause everyone to laugh, “Why the hell are we celebrating this again?” You bet, Thanksgiving was always kind of a joke in our family.

Thanksgiving was alway a mindless eating binge, with very little thought given to the supposed history behind the holiday. A time to gather with family to eat, laugh, eat, nap, eat, repeat. Then watch old movies and football and then of course eat some more. 

My nana’s green bean casserole with the crunchy God-knows-what on the top, the standard dry and overcooked bird, the forgotten rolls burning away in the oven, lumps in the gravy and years, the standard shit some families insist on repeating less than 30 days later on Christmas. Of course, years ago, when various pain-in-the ass uncles were still alive, the political arguments. This was often followed by squealing tires as someone left in a rage. As dad once put it, “They drove up in a Mercedes, but left in a huff!”

Dad had married into my big crazy Native American family when he met mom. She was petite and gorgeous and the love of his life. He was great, a big, good look’n guy. A bit actor in “motion pictures” and TV shows, mostly Westerns. 

He was great on a horse so he was often a stuntman, and made his career doubling actors like Errol Flynn and John Barrymore. He really was a dead ringer for Barrymore and cut quite the figure and profile. As a kid I remember dad always being impeccably dressed and people inevitably used the word dapper when describing him. He was also the most liberal, loving person you’d ever meet with a huge heart that was definitely in the right place.

…roped-off heirloom chairs in their houses and roped-off heirloom minds in their heads.

He had been born into a well-to-do, Protestant Bostonian family of polite WASPs–the kind with roped-off heirloom chairs in their houses and roped-off heirloom minds in their heads. Scandalously, his mother had been French-Catholic and had made sure he was christened in the Roman Catholic Church just before she passed away from complications caused by his birth.

That’s all it took, a few drops of holy water and the unintelligible mutterings of some musty old priest and his life was changed forever. His father’s family from that day forward treated him like a servant, even worse than a servant. He slept on the porch, even in the dead of winter. He stole bagels and milk off of the neighborhood porches and did his best to get by.

Hellen as a Youngster, at Roughly the Same Age His Father was Abandoned by His Own Father…

One day his father took him down to the train station when he was about five-years old or so, handed him a couple dollars and then stepped aboard a departing train as it pulled away from the station, never to be seen or heard from again. After that, dad was on his own. Luckily for him he was taken in by a Black family in Boston who fed and clothed him. He never forgot that kindness and he lived his life completely devoid of any racism. His first wife was latino with whom he had eight very good look’n kids.

“Would you like to be in motion pictures?”

Later in life, in his late forties, he met my mom. Mom was dark and beautiful with a dazzling smile and a killer figure. She told me that dad’s first words out of his mouth to her had been, “Would you like to be in motion pictures?”

Yeah, She Was in Pictures…No Joke.

She laughed and told him what a line and then, they were together for the next thirty or more years. I remember people staring at us and yelling things when we’d go out. Restaurants were particularly uncomfortable. I was born in 1957 so-mixed race couples were few and far between. Kids at school would say “Your mom’s a n****r.”

So, dad would come down to the principal’s office to raise hell.

Both mom and dad’s best-friends were black. When they’d visit, I’d be in the front yard playing with their kids, and every other house on the block in our lily white neighborhood of Downey, California was studded with angry faces peeking through curtains watching us disapprovingly. A few years later when I was to come out as gay the residents of Downey had something else to hate me for and–hate me they did. Daily verbal and physical assaults which lasted until the day I escaped that awful little city.  

Portrait of the Artist as a Fey Lad

When I came out to my parents…dad wasn’t in the least bit fazed and never had an issue with it. Mom had wanted grandchildren badly, but soon got past that and our family, mom’s family, they didn’t blink an eye, they loved me unconditionally, the entire family.

After knowing the “good Christian” white people of Downey I realized that I wasn’t missing a thing by not knowing my dad’s family, the only good thing they ever produced was him, a good guy that never saw the color of a person’s skin or judged someone by whom they loved. 

…the only family I’ve ever known.

Today I think of family, my Mom’s Family…the only family I’ve ever known. Today they are scattered around the country and many have passed, but they are all in my thoughts and my heart. Just a bunch of fun, loving, crazy Indians (we still call ourselves Indians by the way, because we can call ourselves whatever we damn well please) and at some point today someone in each household will pause and ask, 

“Why the Hell are we celebrating today again?” 

Gay History to Be Thankful For as We Approach 2020

by Robin Will, President of Gay & Lesbian Archives of the Pacific Northwest

While We’re Thinking About Thanksgiving Local LGBTQ+ Groups Are Already Focused on Next Spring

Robin Will, President of GLAPN

ProudTimes welcomes Robin Will and the Gay & Lesbian Archives of the Pacific Northwest to this publication. In his first piece for us, he discusses the importance of both 2019 & 2020 as hallmark years for our community.

A word or two about terminology: in the beginning, the word “gay” seemed to be enough. In 1970, two of the principals of Stonewall, Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, marched in the first parade under the banner of their newly-formed transvestite organization. In Portland, Gay Pride didn’t become Lesbian & Gay Pride until 1982. Other factions of our community found their voices and claimed their space at other times. Our awareness and our language are still changing.

In 2020, we’re looking at two more semi-centennials: the first Pride celebration nationally, and the first gay community organizing in Portland. Our community can expect a lot of emphasis on history as part of Portland Pride this year.

First, Let’s Consider Stonewall

June 28, 1969 marked the beginning of three days of rioting at the Stonewall Inn, a Mafia-owned gay bar in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village, after a routine police bust went seriously off the tracks. The Stonewall Riots weren’t the first demonstrations by gay folks, nor the first time queer people ever fought back against bullying by police. However, they seem to be the first events that, as they happened, were understood as a struggle for civil rights and, in the terms of the moment, for liberation.

People were certain that the Stonewall riots were more than just another spat with the cops – so much so that by November of 1969, a community group in Greenwich Village had already obtained a parade permit for the first anniversary of the riots. The event would be called The Christopher Street Liberation Day

The Very First Pride Parade

There’s also a second 50th anniversary to be thankful for – it was the first Pride parade. Marchers lined up for 14 blocks, and Stonewall principals Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson walked with their brand-new organization, Street Transvestites Action Revolutionaries (STAR), which may have been our country’s first militant transgender organization – or at least, by definition, the first to march in a Gay Pride parade. 

Consider checking out a preview of a documentary which came out a few years ago about the life of pioneer transgender activist Marsha P. Johnson, via Netflix.

So in 2019 we celebrated the riots; in 2020, we’ll be marking the 50th anniversary of that first Pride Parade. That accounts for two anniversaries – and there’s one more, in-between, that’s local to Portland. After Stonewall, calls for gay liberation went out on radio, TV, in publications we would have referred to as “establishment” back in the day, as well as in press that we called “underground” catering to the gay community which was decidedly a fringe group at the time. Nationwide, queer people heard those calls, and responded. 

Below: An example of the “underground” and largely clandestine publications available to queer and what we might call counter-culture or subversive readers in the late 1960s & 1970s.The Willamette Bridge was one such paper, it ran for only a few years from June of 1968 to June of 1971. John Wilkinson, who lamented gay life in Portland at the time in this article, is also a hero of the gay community in the Pacific Northwest.“Gay, young, & lonely” was too often the norm in describing the lives of queer people at the time.

In Oregon, the Eugene Gay People’s Alliance (EPGA) first met in January 1970. In Portland, an article in the Willamette Bridge pointed out in February that Portland didn’t have anything like the Gay Liberation Front that was meeting in other cities. The uptake was quick: Portland’s Gay Liberation Front met for the first time on March 24, 1970.

Queering Oregon: The Gay Liberation Front Comes to Portland

So there’s the third semi-centennial – the start-from-scratch beginnings of Portland’s own LGBTQ+ community. 

As we move through 2020, Portland’s Pride Northwest will be doing their best to celebrate these beginnings, and they will be getting some help from GLAPN, the region’s only LGBTQ+ historical society. Since GLAPN has been proudly collecting, preserving, and sharing our community’s history.

The Gay Liberation Front got discussion rolling, and almost immediately yielded to The Second Foundation (a nod to Isaac Asimov) to develop a gay presence in Portland. It was The Second Foundation that created the first Pride celebration in Portland, an indoor gathering held in 1971. In 1975 the party moved outdoors, to the Park Blocks near Portland State University; and in 1976, the event took place at Waterfront Park. Portland had our first Pride parade in 1977.

In Their 70s Now

The queer youngsters who were in their late teens and early twenties in 1970 – the ones who had the fire and gumption to picket, parade, and organize and work for gay liberation – are in their seventies now. For sure, they were following in the footsteps of elders – work in the queer community had gone on in one form or another since the 1920s in the United States. But this particular generation has the dubious symmetry of being born into pre-Pride isolation and persecution, seeing the first public glimmer of hope just as they came of age, and witnessing the LGBTQ+ rainbow developing in living color through their adult lives. 

Ask somebody over 70, and they’ll explain: Stonewall came to the nation, and the Gay Liberation Front came to Portland, when there were no legal protections for LGBTQ+ people, and no interest in developing any. Persecuting gays was legal, and it was a social norm: homosexuals were considered criminal by law, mentally ill by health professionals, and pariahs by most of the religious community.

George Oberg, a Local Hero of the Early Gay Rights Movement in Portland…

Criminals, Reprobates, Mentally Ill

Yes, being gay was criminal. In Oregon, homosexuality was effectively outlawed until 1972 by a law that prohibited sodomy. Over the years the legislature and the courts had redefined the “crime” in almost comically broad terms, but the penalty wasn’t funny: a felony conviction, with 5-15 years in the penitentiary. After 1923, sodomy convictions also resulted in referral to the Oregon Board of Eugenics for sterilization. A sodomy charge – with a public trial, covered in detail in the newspapers – could ruin a life and derail a career. But there were other tactics at the discretion of the cop on the beat: citations for lewd conduct, disturbing the peace, disorderly conduct, and/or illegal assembly were perfectly routine and legal ways to harass gays, get them off the street, get their names in the paper, and maybe lock them up for a little while.

In 1972 – two years after the first Gay Liberation Front meeting in Portland – Oregon was the fourth state to legalize sex between consenting adults, outside of prostitution. That means today’s 70-year-olds were 23 before the onus of criminality was removed from their sexuality in Oregon. Other states were slower.

Homosexuality was listed in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual until 1973. Families or courts could – and did – commit individuals to mental hospitals for treatment. Today’s septuagenarians were 24 years old when they came off of the “sick list.” The mental health professions weren’t instantly transformed – hidebound professionals believe what they learned in their senior seminars, and many conservative religious groups haven’t changed their minds to this day – but the change was valuable to young professionals, for morale in general, and, occasionally, in courts of law. It’s worth noting that every LGBTQ+ community startup in Portland, ever, has immediately developed its own list of doctors and counselors. We sadly haven’t ever been able to trust the community at large with our physical and mental health.

Well, Portland’s Gay Liberation Front didn’t last long. Reading between the lines, those early gatherings were apparently a matter of hippies and slogans.  Almost immediately, a more mature organization picked up the stronger folks from the GLF and got on with business of creating community. They called themselves The Second Foundation, with a nod to Isaac Asimov, and their name is on most of the earliest heavy lifting that made space for queer people in Portland. 

The Risks They Took

Many of the LGBTQ+ people who did that early work are still living, and this year, GLAPN and Pride-NW will be telling their stories. There was the transplant from Ohio, who wanted to know where the gay bars were, and didn’t know who he could safely ask. There was the kid who couch-surfed away from home until his 18th birthday, because he overheard his parents discussing getting him lobotomized to cure his homosexuality. There was the young teacher who was considering suicide as an alternative to coming out to her parents; and the reporter who was using several pen names in the underground press, to give the impression that more than one person in Portland was interested in women’s issues.

They are people who didn’t know if they would get arrested or not at these first meetings, and they weren’t sure what coming out in public would do to their reputations and employability, forever. They’re in their seventies now. Pride Northwest, GLAPN, and this publication intend to wish them Happy 50th Anniversary in the months to come.

Robin Will (pronouns he/him/his) was born in Hillsboro and grew up in Portland, graduating from Benson Polytechnic High School in 1966, and from Portland State University in 2007.  After briefly considering the ministry and exploring social work as a paraprofessional, he spent most of his career in the publishing industry, in a variety of roles that included writing, editing, design, and production management, He has been president of GLAPN (Gay & Lesbian Archives of the Pacific Northwest) since 2014.

Photo by Bill Spencer

ProudTimes Welcomes the New Monarchy

An Interview with Empress JenuWine Surreal Beauté & Emperor Chance de Valmont

by Jewell Harrington, III
ProudTimes CEO & (Unofficial) Rose Court Correspondent

The Imperial Sovereign Rose Court is Oregon’s oldest LGBTQ Organization, and second only to San Francisco’s Imperial Court System. On October 19th, came a very special time in Portland at The Melody Event Center, the crowning of Portland’s own Emperor and Empress. ProudTimes CEO and (Unofficial) Rose Court Correspondent, Jewell Harrington III sat down with Empress JenuWine Beauté, and Emperor Chance de Valmont for a personal interview to meet the newly crowned monarchs.

Proud Times: Congratulations to you both! Was this a pretty exciting ride for each of you? 

JenuWine Beauté: This was indeed a very exciting journey.

Chance de Valmont: Yes, very exciting indeed.

PT: How long have you been wanting to be crowned Emperor & Empress? When did you first say, “Someday, that’s for me!”

JWB: I’ve always admired and love Portland’s Rose Court. I often wondered if I would ever be one. Then one day I moved here and joined the organization. Six years ago, was when I realized that someday it could be me. 

CdeV: When I was a teenager titleholder with Portland’s Youth Court, I was introduced to the Rose Court. Ever since then I knew I would someday step up to become a Monarch of Portland.

PT: Can you tell us a little bit about your court names, your inspiration, etc.?

JWB: Well my name is JenuWine Surreal Beauté. I created the name JenuWine to reflect my persona in and out of drag. Surreal is a family name that comes from Mark & Rob Surreal, my Papas, who reside in the Tri-Cities of Washington. Beauté is my last name and comes from a queen who called me that one night and my friends adopted it and started using it for me. My Inspiration as a Rose Empress began with Rose Empress XLIV, Poison Waters. She showed me that you can have fun, stay classy, and support your community all by staying true to yourself. 

CdeV:  My stage name, Dr. Chance de Valmont has evolved over the years. Originally I went by Chance because it was my mother’s nickname for me. de Valmont is the last name of the male lead from the French novel Les Liaisons dangereuses. The Doctor title was given to me by the late DJ Scooter from The Escape Nightclub. A Disco-Pharmacologist If you will. 

PT: When did you each decide you would run for this year’s title? 

JWB: I made a personal change in March/April and began my process. It wasn’t until about June/July when I truly was onboard and committed to running. 

CdeV: After a successful step down as Imperial Prince Royal in 2017, I knew this was my time.

PT: What inspired you to run for your titles, and how long had you been considering it? 

JWB: I have been inspired by numerous Rose Monarchs who have paved the way in Portland for our community to be who they are. I have been considering running for five years now. 

CdeV: This community is what inspires me, without it there would be no reason to run. I am inspired by our College of Monarchs that came before us. They created the oldest LGBTQ+ organization in Oregon and since then we have helped to create and fund many services and organizations that this community holds dear.

PT: Chance, I noticed you were running uncontested. How did this have an effect on your campaigning for the title of Emperor? Did you find that you could relax more, or did you have to step up your game?

CdeV: I wanted to run my campaign as if there was competition. The community expects and more importantly deserves it. This was a way for me to give a preview as to what is to come this year. Having run before, I knew what is expected and why it is important to get out and engage the community you will be serving. 

PT: JenuWine Beauté, who were the other contestants to the throne, and did you find it particularly challenging to run against them?

JWB: There was one other candidate for the position. Her name is Shima B. Valentine. Whenever one competes for a competition it is always tough. This campaign is unlike many people have ever experienced. You put a ton of heart, soul, money, and determination into showing your community that they should elect you to represent. Shima was quite the competitor and definitely brought a strong campaign to the competition. The most challenging aspect is the fact of not knowing how you are doing or which way the votes will go. It really makes you anxious to know the results. 

PT: How long have you been involved with the Rose Court and/or participating in other pageants? What titles have you each held previously, and from where? 

JWB: My involvement with the Rose Court has been 6 years, however I have been involved in the International Court System for 20 years. I have held a few titles here and there. LaFemme Magnifique Tacoma 2001-2002, Miss Gay Tacoma 2002-2003, Empress XXV of Tacoma, LaFemme Magnifique Olympia, Miss Gay Oregon XLV, and now Rose Empress LXI. 

CdeV: This year marks 20 years of involvement with the Imperial Court System.  In 2001 I was crowned Thorn XXV of Portland, in 2005 I ran and won the title of Mr. Gay Portland XXX and in 2016 I was appointed Imperial Prince Royale XLII. I am the third person to elevate to the position of Rose Emperor from the Portland Youth Court. His Most Imperial Majesty, Rose Emperor XLIII, The Nobility of the Rose, Dr. Chance de Valmont.

PT:  Are either of you affiliated with any other LGBTQ organizations, and if so, what will holding the Emperor and Empress titles bring to these other organizations?  

JWB: I personally have participated in a few other organizations by attending their events and helping their organization. Some of those include but not limited to are as follows; Oregon Reign Football, Rose City Bowling League, HIV Day Center, and more. Reigning as Rose Empress LXI allows me the position in our community to help make a difference to those organizations on a broader scale. Leading the ISRC with my Rose Emperor, we are able to ask our constituents to volunteer/donate to this other organizations to truly unite all aspects of our diverse community. 

CdeV: My partner Ty VanHelsing and I head the world’s oldest LGBTQ+ Youth Court. It is my intention to bring more exposure to this amazing group of youth leaders by inclusion and community presents.

PT: I know reaching out, activism, giving back to the community is important to both of you–& important for those running. Did you establish a platform together? Or did you come up with individual ideas then meld the two together? 

JWB: We came up with our own platforms separately. We each have a passion to support our local queer businesses. We both worked on our own platforms and then after we were crowned, have been working together as a team to achieve our goals. 

CdeV: After sitting down with one another and many conversations it is clear that my Empress and I have the drive for community, inclusion and charity. It’s just the right thing to do.

PT: I know that traveling and taking time off of work has an effect on your jobs, so how do you work around that type of situation?

JWB: Luckily for me, traveling is my job. I’m a flight attendant for a living. The tricky part about that is I’m constantly traveling for work. This makes it a tad difficult when wanting to represent in the city during the weekdays, yet when I’m home in Portland, I definitely make sure I do my best to represent wherever I am able. 

CdeV: Recently I made a career move to go back to education. It happens to mesh very well with the obligations of this position. Weekends and holidays off. I am able to travel in the evenings and attend local events. Also summers off never hurt anyone. 

PT: Speaking of travel: we saw you went to Hawaii a few weeks ago. What was that like? 

JWB: Indeed we sure did. It was The Imperial Court of Hawaii’s annual Coronation. It was our very first walk together as the reigning Rose Monarchs of Portland. We were instantly greeted with the Aloha spirit from the moment we arrived until the time we left. The Rose Court members present represented Portland so beautéfully that we were awarded Hawaii’s highest honor of the night. The Teddy Award for Best Overall Presentation. An honor we both will cherish and remember. We also created lasting memories with the newest Monarchs of Hawai’i, Emperor Keoki Nalu Nunies and Empress Averianna Jewel Nunies! They are excited about making a journey to our City of Roses for Coronation on October 14th-18th. Hawaii was a great beginning for our reign. 

CdeV: I think my Empress covered this one for both us.

PT: Has it been decided how many other coronations will you be traveling to, and is there a calendar of events that people can check out to see what’s happening in the LGBTQ community? 

JWB: We have a tentative list of Coronations we plan/hope to attend during the year. We also have plans to attend local events here in Portland as well. Your readers may follow along on our Facebook group or they can become a member of our organization for the year on the Rose Court’s membership page. These are just a couple ways for members to follow along. 

CdeV: Yes, we do have quite this list of events here in the States, Canada and Mexico. We will be spreading the message of love, charity and community in more than 20 cities this year. My Empress mentioned our local webpage but also check out the International Court System and the Imperial Court System for more information.

PT: Perhaps, what issues you most wish to focus on over the course of the next year? 

JWB: We’d like to focus on raising funds through partnerships with local queer owned businesses and organizations. 

CdeV:  I will second my empresses statement but also would like to focus on community engagement and youth participation in the organization.

PT: Lastly, is there anything you’d care to add? 

JWB: We want to let everyone know that you may get involved by attending any of our monthly meetings. They take place the first Monday of every month (unless it’s a holiday) at Darcelle XV Showplace 208 NW 3rd Ave at 7pm. Attendance is free. We invite one and all to come check out our organization and see what we are about. We’d also like to thank Proud Times for this amazing opportunity to be featured. It’s very much appreciated. Thank you Portland and we look forward to seeing you out and about in our Beautéful community. 

CdeV: If any of the readers have further questions, comments or want to get involved please check out our website Rose Court. Thank you to Proud Times for this interview and taking this opportunity to get to know about our organization. And remember “For you in Portland a rose grows.”

With any news or information related to the Imperial Sovereign Rose Court please contact our CEO, Jewell Harrington, III at proudtimesmagCEO@gmail.com & he’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

Staying Visible & Vital: Mr & Miss HIV Awareness Pageant 2019

Community Matters

By Sebastian Fortino

This Sunday, May 5th, from 5:00 PM until 9:30 Darcelle XV’s showplace in Old Town will host the Mr & Miss HIV Awareness Pageant. The event is owned by local Allen Cole, known by his stage persona as Cheralyn Michaels.

“The status of the contestant is irrelevant..but HIV is not,” he says on the group’s Facebook page. He defines the event as: “a pageant to spread awareness of HIV/AIDS through education.”

The event promises five miss entries, and three entries for mister. Cole is bringing Sabel Scities, the newly crowned Miss Gay Dallas, along with La Femme Plus International, Vivica Valentine as co-mistresses of ceremonies. The local Portland news is also taking notice. In fact, KOIN 6 news anchor Jennifer Hoff will act as a special guest judge.

The crowns of Mister and Miss will be passed from the current title holders, Don Hood and Chartreuse O’Hara to the new recipients this Sunday. ProudTimes will certainly follow-up letting you know who won the crown, and what they hope to bring to their roles for the next year.

Mister HIV Awareness, Don Hood, took some time to talk about his involvement and what the experience meant to him. Previously, he has served as Mr Oregon Leather. Hood was proud to wear the sash and crown whenever and wherever he could, using the opportunity to speak to the about issues surrounding HIV. On a personal level, the title means the world to him.

“I was the first Mister,” he told ProudTimes. Adding, “and hopefully not the last as a person that is living with and is a survivor of HIV/AIDS. That puts a huge face on it.”

In terms of his service as the first titleholder, he said his biggest accomplishment was through music. The pair put on what they called an AIDS Concert.

“All the music that was performed had to be about HIV/AIDS or written by someone who had died or was living with it,” he said. “The concert was a big hit, it was everything that I wanted in a fundraiser–and more! We had two charities to raise funds for that night.”

The organizations which benefitted were the HIV Day Center, and Women of Wisdom, who are under the umbrella of the Quest Center. We raised over a thousand dollars, and were able to give each charity a little over five-hundred dollars each.”  

Hood is retired and lives with his husband and partner of over 20 years. He tells the upcoming winners to do as much in their role as they can, and says the most important thing for each winner is to have fun with the title.

“I am very proud of what we did,” Hood said referencing what he and his husband were able to raise for local charity.

The theme this year is “A” Scarlett Letter. ProudTimes will be there to see who wins the crowns. Check back in for a follow-up article next week. Be sure to check out the Mr & Miss HIV Awareness group on Facebook for information about the pageant on May 5th. As always, please email editor@proudtimes.com if you know of any upcoming events or fundraisers important to the LGBT community in the PNW.

Celebrating Female DJs who Pump Up the Dance Floor: Jules Juke

National Women’s History Month, 2019

By Sebastian Fortino


As part of ProudTimes’ coverage of Women’s History Month, we are speaking to DJ’s who are serving up hot beats on the dance floor. They are all fierce queer women, who are changing the tracks through empowerment, and progressive change. Today, we bring you Portland resident, Jules Juke.

Jules Juke DJing at ClubFlock – Local Lounge, Portland, Oregon

ProudTimes: How long have you been DJing? When did you decide you were going to get out there and spin?

Jules Juke: I’ve been obsessed with underground music since middle school, but spent many years promoting it from behind the scenes as a writer/album reviewer on webzines, long before I decided to put myself in front of the decks as a DJ at my college radio station, KUPS, in 2009. Back then I wasn’t Jules Juke – the radio show was just called “The Mixdown” and I hosted with my real name! Jules Juke didn’t come about until 2012 when I played my first club gig.

PT: Was this something you wanted to do, or have experimented with doing, from an early age?

JJ: As an introvert, DJing never really crossed my mind until I was much older. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was essentially a crate diver long before I knew the term existed. I loved finding and exposing new music, but had little personal desire to play in front of an audience. I had been on a steady diet of trance since 2006, but never felt a great urge to mix trance despite listening to it all the time. In 2008, I fell headfirst into the retro-yet-futuristic sound of synthwave and 80s electro. It was then, that I finally felt I found a genre I wanted to play with more than consume. That to me is what separates a typical music lover from someone who becomes a DJ or producer–that extra push to create something that didn’t exist before.

PT: Do you think the industry is difficult for women to break into? Is it something of a “boys club?”

JJ: It’s definitely somewhat of a boys club and that can be intimidating for women to want to break into, especially if you don’t see any role models like yourself in the community. Just look at the DJ Mag Top 100 DJs! There are only six women in the Top 100, up from four in 2017! Often electronic music festival lineups mirror this underwhelming percentage with female representation in the single digits. Not to mention female musicians are overly sexualized and subjected more often than their male counterparts to unfounded criticism of mixing technique or using ghost producers. That said, I feel like the techno space actually has better female representation than the EDM space and there are slowly more female DJs being profiled in media and festivals signing on to the Keychange initiative to bring gender and diversity balances to lineups. Organizations like She Said So and PWR by Kittens are also doing remarkable grassroots level work to change the industry landscape.

PT: What kind of music do you spin–how would you describe your DJ style?

JJ: My sound is best described as playing in the space between genres with an underlining attention toward melody. I tend to mix with an ear toward a cohesive story and the emotions I want to evoke. Aside from House and Techno I enjoy playing Disco/Funk, Tropical Bass, 80s/90s and my personally curated styles called RnBass (R&B influenced Bass music) and Future Club (a mix of Ghetto House, Trap, Jersey Club, and Bass music).

I also have a soft spot for pop music so I curate a Spotify playlist called Cruise Control dedicated to sharing music that’s “too alt for the radio and too pop for the underground.”

PT: Are there any venues, events, audiences, types of shows which you really prefer to make music at over others?

JJ: Nothing makes me happier than seeing someone lost in the moment, eyes closed, brain off, body vibrating to a song they can’t identify in a room full of strangers doing the same. I don’t really have a favorite venue, but my favorite audiences are the ones with an open mind who aren’t there to listen to any particular artist or genre, but just want to let the DJ to take them on a sweaty, danceable journey.

PT: I know there are less and less venues specifically catering to queer women. When you get the opportunity to perform for a primarily lesbian or female audience, does that add any excitement to your approach?

JJ: Of course! I love queer female audiences because I feel safer around them! Even when I’m on the dancefloor enjoying the music, I don’t have to worry about some random guy touching me uninvitedly. I think creating a safe space in a club setting is a very complicated and nuanced issue. Jen Roberton does an amazing job with LesbiOut/Flock to create that vibe for her events!

PT: Do you have any influences, whether from DJs or musicians, that inspire your sound or attitude when you’re playing?

JJ: My favorite female DJs are La Fleur, Peggy Gou, and J. Philip because they are all amazing selectors and the thought of being able to spend a day picking their brains on music makes me weep. I also love Brenmar, Stanton Warriors, and Russ Chimes because they inspire the type of stylized sound I want in my mixes with lots of remixes/re-edited tracks to make their sets sound unique. Aside from DJs I really love producers who sit outside of a particular genre box and execute on thematic bodies of work like Henry Saiz, Imogen Heap, Max Cooper, and Club Cheval.

PT: How do you best promote yourself, your events, or parties while still keeping your identity intact? Meaning: to get noticed, some artists scale back in the hopes of attracting more fans. Do you find yourself trying to appease any standards?

JJ: Not to sound like a broken record, but this is an interesting question to me because I’m such a student of genre that I never really feel like I scale back or change what I play to appease. My collection of music is so wide and diverse, that I happily step into mixing new genres as a personal challenge. My goal is always to pick out the best bits and elements I like out of a style and mold that into my own thing. For example, I started DJing yoga events in 2017, but had no chill out music to play. I reached out to my DJ friends and asked them to send me some of their favorite ambient tracks. Through that experience I discovered some amazing artists I’m really drawn to, but never would have found otherwise. Doing this countless times has only deepened my appreciation for different styles of DJing.  

PT: What are you working on right now–in terms of events, gigs, collaborations etc.?

JJ: I’m headed back to Hawaii next month and will be DJing a non-profit yoga event called Namastyay on 4/7. I also recently guest interviewed on Missing Mei’s Indie Rant Radio podcast, which should be coming out soon! For the Portland folks, I’ll be playing at the Local Lounge in May as part of Club Flock. It’s very exciting to be part of an all female DJ collective after so many years of doing it alone! We have amazing plans in the works so follow Club Flock on social to stay informed!

PT: Female DJs are getting more and more prominent in our cultural landscape—especially in the LGBTQ community–what would you tell younger DJs out there, especially young women, who are interested in getting into the industry?

JJ: I feel like this advice is true for any entrepreneurial pursuit or stretch goal, but know your why. There will always be people who will criticize, reject, and distract you, but your why has to be stronger than all of that or you will give up. My more practical advice is to try make each day nonzero, meaning do one thing everyday toward that goal, whether it be contacting a promoter, learning a new DJ skill, or working on your mixes. Nonzero days are compounding interest on yourself! Most importantly, practice self-compassion because we are usually our own worst critics.

PT: We are celebrating Women’s History Month. What does this mean to you? What are you fighting for in 2019 and beyond?

JJ: Women’s History Month means celebrating all the tremendous work of the women who have paved the way for the rights and equality we have today. I’m extremely lucky to live in the country and time-period that I do. That doesn’t mean there’s no gap to close, it just means I could have been born in a totally different social/political climate where talking about being a queer female DJ would be absolutely ludicrous. I’m humbled and grateful that is not my reality. In terms of 2019 and beyond, #metoo is a movement I feel drawn to and I hope to see more shifting mentality and legislative wins from!

PT: Anything else you’d care to add?

JJ: Thanks to editor Sebastian Fortino, DJ Jen Roberton, and ProudTimes for the interview! Keep up to date with me on instagram @julesjuke or www.julesjuke.com!

If you know any DJs, musicians, or artists who you think ProudTimes should celebrate email proudtimesmag@gmail.com and we’ll see what we can do!

Celebrating Female DJs who Pump Up the Dance Floor: The Dust Bunnies

Women’s History Month 2019

By Sebastian Fortino

As part of ProudTimes’ coverage of Women’s History Month, we are speaking to DJ’s who are serving up hot beats on the dance floor. They are all fierce queer women, who are changing the tracks through empowerment, and progressive change. Today, we bring you Portland residents, The Dust Bunnies.

ProudTimes: How long have you been DJing? When did you decide you were going to get out there and spin?

The Dust Bunnies, Local Heroes PDX. Photo credit: Chazz Gold

The Dust Bunnies: We, are “The Dust Bunnies” comprised of me, Dakota, and my fiance Gen. We have been DJ’ing for for about a year and a half. What started as what was supposed to just be a hobby quickly turned into being asked to DJ for small house parties, and more. Our passion for house music turned into a burning desire to spin for more people.

PT: Was this something you wanted to do, or have experimented with doing, from an early age?

DB: Gen is from New York, Dakota from the San Francisco Bay Area. We both did our fair share of clubbing in our respective cities, drawn to it by our mutual love of house music, dancing, and mostly the community and friends we would see on a regular basis. Neither of us had actually considered we would actually become DJs–but definitely respected the creativity, skills, and vibes that each DJ would bring to each event.

PT: Do you think the industry is difficult for women to break into? Is it something of a “boys club?”

DB: Honestly, if you have the drive and passion for anything, you can achieve anything. In the electronica scene, a lot of world-class techno DJ’s are women, Nina Kravitz, Deborah DeLuca, Amelie Lens, and more. There are a few other notables in each genre but yes, it’s a pretty male-dominated, that is for sure. Whether that’s because women in general aren’t drawn to the craft or other issues, we’re not sure. We have discovered a lot of support here in Portland from many people who want to see us succeed. The Rose City Underground has been a huge support for us. They are our local “family” which we are proud to be a part of.

PT: What kind of music do you spin–how would you describe your DJ style?

DB: We love to spin an interesting combination of OG house music combined with UK-style tech house. Because we are a DJ-duo we provide a unique blending of tracks we like individually and as a collective. Gen loves throwing down some soulful vocal mixes with some good beats and Dakota enjoys creative latitude in mixing songs that invoke that first time you ever went to a rave.

PT: Are there any venues, events, audiences, types of shows which you really prefer to make music at over others?

DB: We don’t really have a favorite venue, but our dream is to spin at beach party in Ibiza, or an outdoor festival or event. We love an audience that loves to dance, so whenever we see a sea of bodies moving and people screaming and shouting…lost in the moment, that is what it’s about. Spreading love through house music.

The Dust Bunnies, ClubFlock at Local Lounge. Photo credit: Rachel Puma

PT: I know there are less and less venues specifically catering to queer women. When you get the opportunity to perform for a primarily lesbian or female audience, does that add any excitement to your approach?

DB: Absolutely! We are proud to be part of Club Flock headed by promoter/DJ Jen Roberton. House music has never really been part of the lesbian club scene and it is sooooo refreshing to be able to be part of this groundbreaking group of female DJ’s alongside Jen Roberton, Missing Mei and Jules Juke. As resident DJs, we get the opportunity to spin monthly at Portland’s Local Lounge, and see more and more people literally flocking to this event. It really has been exhilarating seeing this party take off!

PT: Do you have any influences, whether from DJs or musicians, that inspire your sound or attitude when you’re playing?

DB: This is a great question. There are a lot of influences that come from DJs that we have admired from our past and present (like DJ Tracy (Bleeke) and Charlotte the Baroness from SF) on Dakota’s side and (Danny Teneglia, Jonathan Peters, and the Martinez Brothers, NYC) on Gen’s side. Currently, a few of our favorites are Prok and Fitch, Chus and Ceballos, The DeepShakerz and Dale Howard.

PT: How do you best promote yourself, your events, or parties while still keeping your identity intact? Meaning: to get noticed, some artists scale back in the hopes of attracting more fans. Do you find yourself trying to appease any standards?

DB: To promote ourselves we go to a lot of events in support of other DJs and to see the DJ’s that inspire us! We find it easy to keep our identity intact by just being true to ourselves from our musical choices down to the way we dress! Just as in life and love, we want people to be drawn to us just because there’s a natural attraction coming from our vibe and music. Once in a while, we may do a gig where we don’t entirely play “our kind-of-music” to help support the community for special LGBT events.

PT: What are you working on right now–in terms of events, gigs, collaborations etc.?

DB: Right now we do spin a wide range of parties –  like the monthly Flock at Local Lounge and are planning a Portland Pride Party working with our Flock crew that will literally knock the socks off of anything anyone has seen for our lesbian community. We also are very excited about opening up for Wolfgang Gartner this month at Whiskey Bar and our debut at Proper Sound to be held at the Tube on the first Thursday of April. We are collaborating with Val Verra, immersed Music to put on a day party with 7 DJs in the summer half of which will be women! There’s much more on our list as far as gigs. Stand by for more by following us on Instagram @thedustbunniesworldwide. What’s even more exciting is that we will have our first produced track coming up in June!

PT: Female DJs are getting more and more prominent in our cultural landscape–especially in the LGBTQ community–what would you tell younger DJs out there, especially young women, who are interested in getting into the industry?

DB: We would tell anyone who is interested in becoming a DJ to talk to any of us. There’s a lot we wished we knew before we went out and bought equipment, or started to learn how to use it. We are constantly learning and growing. We learn from everything from watching other DJs, to YouTube, to even making mistakes and taking risks. If you have the passion and desire to become a DJ, the sky’s the limit, go for it!

PT: We are celebrating Women’s History Month. What does this mean to you? What are you fighting for in 2019 and beyond?

DB: It’s nice to have a month where women are honored and recognized. We believe not only in women’s equality, but equality for all. We are all created equal and should be seen as humans beings regardless of gender, religion, sexual preference or anything else.

The Dust Bunnies, Local Heroes PDX. Photos credit: Chazz Gold

If you know any DJs, musicians, or artists who you think ProudTimes should celebrate email sebastian@proudtimes.com and we’ll see what we can do! 

Celebrating Female DJs who Pump Up the Dance Floor: Missing Mei

Celebrating Women’s History Month 2019

By Sebastian Fortino

As part of ProudTimes’ coverage of Women’s History Month, we are speaking to DJ’s who are serving up hot beats on the dance floor. They are all fierce, fabulous, queer women, who are changing the tracks through empowerment and progression. Today, we bring you Denver-based DJ Missing Mei

Photo credit: Rachel Puma
Missing Mei DJing at ClubFlock – Local Lounge, Portland, Oregon

ProudTimes: How long have you been DJing? When did you decide you were going to get out there and spin?

Missing Mei: I dabbled here and there between 2003-2006 doing underground shows from lounges and private events. 2006 is when I decided to focus on the craft and debut at Premier Nightclub in Sacramento, CA. At the time, Asylum was the longest running Goth-Industrial EDM Night on the West Coast. I remember being so nervous, but being hooked after that.

PT: Was this something you wanted to do, or have experimented with doing, from an early age?

MM: No, it didn’t start that way. Although, I was always a go-to when someone wanted to know what good music was out. My friends would ask for mix tapes and I would happily oblige. My first experimental DJ gig was for a fashion show in college. I remember how it was fun matching up tracks according to the designer models for the show. It was the first rush experience of an audience loving what I spun.

PT: Do you think the industry is difficult for women to break into? Is it something of a “boys club?”

MM: I think on the surface it does look like the boys club and on some level there will always be an undertone that it is. It’s what the industry started from. I recall reading an article from thumpvice.com in 2014 that the average percentage female to male DJ ratio spinning at festivals was like three percent to nine percent at the time. Prior to that, I spun with an all-female DJ crew called ‘Stiletto’ in Cali. The night prided itself as the ‘Only All Female DJ Night’ in the city, which said a lot about the lack of gender diversity. It was a great experience, but it didn’t last long due to draw. But, with that being said, I feel that there has been an increased presence of female DJ’s since then. I think part of that shift is credited to social media and the Internet. There was so much talent that was not being exposed and now that everyone has access to these platforms it helps level out the playing field. It’s optimistic to see more female DJ’s getting their music out there, tracks topping charts, and being headliners for their own shows. But, there is still a lot more progress that needs to happen and that takes time.

 

PT: What kind of music do you spin–how would you describe your DJ style?

MM: Currently, I am really into Tech House. I love the minimalism and heavy beats in the composition. But, I have a range from Goth-Industrial, EDM, Dark Wave, Nu-Disco, Electro, Top 40, to Classic remixes from the 80’s and 90’s. I even spin in Trap at times when I am playing with my band. House is my true love, but Trance music is what got me started into all of it.

 

PT: Are there any venues, events, audiences, types of shows which you really prefer to make music at over others?

MM: I recently embraced the festival scene. It really has evolved from what was the Rave scene in the early 90’s to 2000’s. I love the blends of different genres and DJ’s that make up a festival. It creates a sense of community that welcomes all. One of my favorite gigs was at The Supper Club in San Francisco. The event filled up three rooms that catered to every genre of electronic music. Every room had a different DJ, different electronic music being spun. So, you can imagine the diversity of crowd that it drew! It was fabulous.

 

PT: I know there are less and less venues specifically catering to queer women. When you get the opportunity to perform for a primarily lesbian or female audience, does that add any excitement to your approach?

MM: I’ve been noticing that as well. It has become less, but the parties have become BIGGER which I think compensates for some of that. When I have the opportunity, it is totally empowering and exciting! Those environments tend to be less abrasive and exudes a commonality that does not need to be mentioned. It’s a vibe, a feeling and an unspoken understanding. Short answer: ‘Excitement scale from one to 10?’ Definitely a 10.

 

PT: Do you have any influences, whether from DJs or musicians, that inspire your sound or attitude when you’re playing?

MM: When I first got started, influences would come from the latest artist I was in to or a style that I was drawn to. That is ever changing. But, over the years I have adjusted to playing with feeling and being conscious with connecting to the audience I am spinning for. I feel that there is an advantage to having spun different genres. Because of that, it influences the texture of my set.

 

PT: How do you best promote yourself, your events or parties while still keeping your identity intact? Meaning: to get noticed, some artists scale back in the hopes of attracting more fans. Do you find yourself trying to appease any standards?

MM: I found so far that what works best is to be myself. When I first started, there was an image of what I thought a DJ should be, but really didn’t have a lot of female DJ’s to model. I had one back in the day, DJ Irene, who seemed as close to a personality I could relate to. I really couldn’t always relate to the guys off decks and only with music. I have been fortunate that the genres I spin usually embrace a type of vision where enthusiasm, best intention, optimism and unity holds a higher standard versus what I am interpreting the question is asking, ‘selling out’. It guided me to a DJ residency in the Bay Area for as long as I wanted and the opportunity to meet talented and like minded people that encourage the same integrity. Today, I can say it still remains true.

PT: What are you working on right now–in terms of events, gigs, collaborations etc.?

MM: Currently, I’ve been adjusting to a new city and scene because of a recent move and traveling for gigs in regards to collaboration for brilliant music community movements. It’s has been mainly with ClubFlock and all female queer DJ lineup. There is exciting momentum happening with this crew that we will be announcing soon! I’m also engaged in a DJ and Drum duo project with talented drummer, Joel Swift, called She DJ’s and He Drums based out of Portland. This week, my podcast Indie Rant Radio, had its first interview for season two. It’s the first of a series of interviews with all female DJ’s based out of Denver and Portland.

PT: Female DJs are getting more and more prominent in our cultural landscape–especially in the LGBTQ community–what would you tell younger DJs out there, especially young women, who are interested in getting into the industry?

MM: I think the best advice I could give is to stay true to the music. It can be easy to get caught up in what you think you should be or sound like. In some instance, even with who you should know. There is a difference between networking versus building connection. Connection supports your authenticity and will be more fulfilling in the long run. Stay connected with yourself. Stay connected to your music and surround yourself with people who will lift you up. Once you start understanding your success, it’s good to give back into the music. Whether it’s to another young woman trying to get into DJing or a music cause who can use your support. Stay in true love with what you do.

PT: We are celebrating Women’s History Month. What does this mean to you? What are you fighting for in 2019 and beyond?

MM: Celebrating Women’s History Month is a very exciting moment. It means so much in terms of gratitude and strife. It has taken a lot of women before us to make this happen and it is our responsibility to continue to carry the torch for future female generations to inherit and do the same. One can learn by example that the future can only grow and flourish from not fighting but uniting together.

Missing Mei is also part of Flock, their mission is: To create a magical experience with a unique flock of female DJs by spreading love and connecting the community through underground music. ProudTimes will bring you more about Flock in the coming moths. Currently, you can find their events through LesbiOut on Facebook.

Missing Mei‘s passion for music has always been present in her life and strong in her gene pool, from waking up to her mom singing Italian opera to her dad gigging in his band. For Missing Mei, it made sense to become a DJ before leaving her roots in Hawaii. Missing Mei has channeled DJing as a journey of expression and has found it through tech and electro house. She also fills in her time podcasting for ‘Indie Rant Radio’ highlighting artists and DJ’s on the West Coast.

If you know any DJs, musicians, or artists who you think ProudTimes should celebrate email sebastian@proudtimes.com and we’ll see what we can do! 

From the Editor: Expanding Visibility

From the Editor: Expanding Visibility

ProudTimes is Pleased to Announce New Collaboration

By Sebastian Fortino

ProudTimes is excited to announce a new partnership between myself, Sebastian Fortino, Jen Roberton, Rachel Puma, and K. Leroy Schmierer. Schmierer has been at the helm of ProudTimes.com as Founder, Publisher and Graphics/Layout Editor for several years now. In joining forces he–and the new team–hope to expand and develop our mission, outreach, and audience. We’ll be switching to a format which will allow for more direct content sharing–from our page, to your Facebook and other social media accounts.

To tell you about me, Sebastian Fortino, I have functioned as Portland Correspondent with ProudTimes since Autumn of 2018, prior to that I was the Editor-in-Chief of ProudQueer.com. I also appear as a Gay Voices contributor in Metrosource.com, a lifestyle and entertainment magazine based in New York. I also served as the Lifestyle & Features Editor of The South Florida Gay News (SFGN.com) for two years. I’m a lifelong city guy, raised in Philadelphia, and educated in New York City at Fordham University. I am of mostly Italian descent and can make you a spicy meat’a’ball or pasta alla Norma. After several moves, I’m convinced the Rose City is my permanent home and am proud to serve our community through writing and editing. If we meet ask me about the great pickle juice incident of 2003.

Jen Roberton, Creative Director Content & Promotion, is a native of the Pacific Northwest and has been involved in creating and promoting queer events since she came out in 2015. Professionally, she has a business degree in supply in logistics management, and has an extensive professional background in operations. She is the organizer of the LesbiOut MeetUp group and is an electronic music DJ. Recently, Roberton was a featured performer for Out Central Oregon’s PrideFest at Mt. Bachelor. She is also a podcaster for Lavish Clips with Rachel Puma, her creative collaborator.

 

Rachel Puma, Creative Director Content & Media, is a long-time entrepreneur, as well as a professional sports and entertainment photographer. Puma is a writer and poet with a spectrum of creative talents; including, graphic design and corporate branding. She currently is the co-owner of United Sticker Co. with her brother Kyle, their mission is to use stickers as a tool to join fellow enthusiasts who share the same passions, hobbies, and interests. Similarly, she hopes ProudTimes will also connect our community. Puma hails from New York State, where she developed her love of winter sports, especially snowboarding.   

ProudTimes.com’s mission is to develop relationships with LGBTQ activists, business leaders, celebrities, personalities, & others who best reflect the spirit of the LGBTQ community. Please reach out to the ProudTimes.com team to talk about any upcoming events, or stories you’d like to see covered, or to ask about any advertising, & co-promotional relationships. You can contact them at editor@proudtimes.com, sebastian@proudtimes.com, jen.roberton@proudtimes.com, & rachel.puma@proudtimes.com to learn more about us and what we want to do for our community.

From PT Pages – Celebrity Photographer Mike Ruiz Presents The “Bullies and Biceps” 2019 Calendar

Benefitting New York Bully Crew Pet Rescue(Click to learn more)

Everyone loves photos of adorable pit bull pups. So what happens when you pair the cutest pooches on earth — who just happen to be in need of forever homes — with beautiful, hunky men? The year’s most buzzed-about calendar.

Photographer Mike Ruiz’s 2019 calendar, “Bullies and Biceps,” is fourteen months of perfection (2 bonus months in 2020) that will put a smile on your face every day of the new year.

Mike Ruiz is a celebrity photographer whose clients include Kim Kardashian, Katy Perry, Nicki Minaj and countless others. In addition to his work in Hollywood, Ruiz is known for shooting top male fitness models. “I admire men who have sculpted their bodies into works of art,” he says. “It takes incredible skill and knowledge to form human tissue to near perfection. Photographing their work is quite gratifying to me.”

The men featured in “Bullies and Biceps” are some of the biggest male fitness models working today including Bryan Richards, Michael Dean, Nick Topel and cover-model Casey Christopher. Collectively, they have hundreds of thousands of followers on social media. They also are all passionate about animal rescue.

Mike Ruiz, too, is a pit bull rescuer and this year’s calendar is in special tribute to Oliver, his beloved canine, who passed away last month. Mike and Oliver shared six wonderful years together. It was Oliver who inspired Mike to fuse his two passions — photography and pit bulls — together into a calendar that would benefit dogs in need of rescue.

The pit bulls that appear in the calendar were chosen at random and represent only a fraction of those in need. “This is a very sad time to be in rescue,” explains Carla Mohan of the New York Bully Crew. “People are giving up their dogs without remorse. Pit bull type dogs are especially vulnerable because most rescues shy away from saving them due to lack of experience, knowledge and the negative media coverage the beautiful creatures have received.”

Founded by Craig Fields in 2010, New York Bully Crew specializes in the rescue, rehabbing and rehoming of pit bull type dogs. They partner with city shelters around the country to help local animals and have also begun outreach in Puerto Rico, Honduras, Peru, and South Korea.

“Pit bulls are the most loyal and loving dogs,” Carla continues. “They are soulful creatures that can be the silliest best friend ever. I have had many different breeds of dogs in my life, but none compare to pit bulls.”

She hopes the calendar will open people’s eyes and hearts and change misconceptions about this goofy and jolly breed. While shooting the calendar, the pit bulls on set stole the hearts of the super gorgeous male models. “I wanted to take them all home with me,” laughs Casey Christopher.

Every dollar made from the sale of the “Bullies and Biceps” 2019 calendar will go directly to New York Bully Crew for various services benefitting the health and welfare of the dogs. “The calendar makes the perfect holiday gift and also brings awareness to these special animals,” says Mike Ruiz. “Every pit bull deserves a forever home.”

Well Bullies and Biceps, this is another gorgeous calendar and a great cause. Being the proud parent/guardian of 3 rescues: Chihuahua, Dachshund mix, and a live-in house rooster who thinks he is one of the dogs, my heart goes out to all dogs, cats, and other animals who are waiting to find their forever home. If this is not too emotional of a subject, could you tell us if it was Oliver who first prompted you to take on these successful and sexy calendars?

Oliver is 100% responsible for inspiring me to do as much as I possibly can for animal rescue. This calendar is one of the things that I do.

Are you able to tell us a little about Oliver’s story?

Oliver was found roaming the streets of South Central Los Angeles, skin and bones, cherry eye and cysts on his legs. He was dumped off at a high kill shelter where he had 1 day to live before being pulled by Bullies and Buddies Animal rescue. They found a foster who happened to be a good friend of mine. On one of my trips to LA, I stayed with this friend while he was fostering Oliver and it was love at first sight. Within 24 hours, the paperwork was filed and I was Oliver’s dad!

When we rescued Buddy and Lucky I knew firsthand the story and I knew I was going to make sure they had the best home I could give them. With the oddball Rodney the rooster we could not let him fall prey to the elements or predators so we did the only thing we were able to and took him in. For Oliver was it the story that finally helped you make the decision to be his forever family or was it more?

It was my immediate connection to Oliver that literally changed the course of my life. I didn’t know his story prior to meeting him nor did I know much about animal rescue. My love for him inspired me to research everything I could about pit bulls and animal rescue. When I learned how animal shelters are overrun with abandoned pitbulls, I couldn’t stand by and do nothing.

Your photography to this journalist is second to none, the way you can capture a model’s unique essence is amazing. I am not just saying this to stroke your ego, I have worked with many photographers and artists over the past 30 years and no matter how good someone is you can always see who has talent and who is gifted and you are truly gifted and your pet calendars show this gift. In your pet calendars Pecs & Puppies, Hunks & Hounds, Heart Throbs & Hounds, and the current Bullies & Biceps you have created gorgeous pairings of human with K-9. I saw in the promo video a little of how you choose the pairing, but I could see that there was more to the process, can you tell us how you decided on the models and the rescues before the photoshoot?

Animal Rescue is all about 2nd chances so I try to find models who are not only pleasing to the eye but who also have stories of overcoming adversity AND who have some connection to animal rescue. Once the models are secured, we basically have the rescue bring dogs who need homes or who make great mascots for the cause. From there, I see where love connections are made between the pups and the models. Aesthetic compatibility is also a consideration. It’s important they look good together and that they connect on some level.

For this year’s calendar Bullies and Biceps, as for the other calendars, once you commit to making it can you go through the hows of how you first start.

It was important to me to have this year’s calendar benefit a pitbull specific rescue since I wanted to honor Oliver, so I decided to benefit New York Bully Crew. Once that was decided, then I had to figure out how I wanted it to look aesthetically. From there, it’s all logistics such as scheduling, casting, getting the puppies scheduled and a million little details that are far too boring to include.

During your photoshoots of the current and past calendars have any of the models adopted their K-9 companion?

This year, Bryan Richards was inspired to adopt a pitbull. Some of the models wanted to do the calendar because they were already pitbull dads.

If a person is looking for a companion would you tell them to find a local rescue and adopt from them first or to adopt a puppy from a breeder?

I would never encourage anyone to buy from a breeder when there are 2 million dogs discarded to shelters every year, 40% of them are pitbull type breeds. People think that when they pay a bunch of money for a dog that they are getting a better quality dog. This, of course, is absurd. You can find any dog with any characteristics you might want from a rescue or Petfinder. The function of a rescue is to get a dog ready to be adopted by giving them the best medical care and training so that they are behaviorally compatible.

Do you think you are going to create another pet calendar for 2020?

I will continue doing these calendars until I can figure out an even better way to help animal rescue. Not only is my goal to raise money for dogs in need but it’s also to educate people on the great benefits of adopting vs buying.
I’m pretty sure the next calendar will be co-ed. I have several gorgeous and very high profile women who want to participate next year so it’ll be men and women.  Not sure what to call it yet, maybe “Babes and Bullies”?

This Calendar has a feel as being a memorial for Oliver and if it is I think it is a great way to share him with the world and show him that he was a loved part of your family. To critics who think Bulldogs (Pitbulls in general) should be banned and put down because they are animals that will someday turn and hurt someone, what message do you have?

Sadly the media misrepresents the true nature of bully breeds. Only since the 80’s have they been vilified in the media. Prior to that, Dobermans were feared and German Shepherds before that. For over 100 years, Bully breeds were considered to be the best family dog. So much so, they were coined “Nanny Dogs”. You are more likely to be bitten by a golden retriever or Border Collie than you are a pitbull. Education is the best way to understand something. People should take the time to do a tiniest bit of research before buying into false information. PEOPLE are responsible for animal aggression. Any dog will become aggressive if abused, neglected, beaten, and starved. So would most humans! I always encourage people to spend time with a pitbull before writing them off as vicious attack dogs. I am now dad to another sweet girl named Julia who is the sweetest, gentlest angel, just like Oliver, her brother before her.

To help New York Bully Crew and other rescues around the world as a parent who chose a rescue over adopting from a breeder, what words of advice might you offer?

The best advice I can give is to go on Petfinder. They are a great resource for both people adopting and rescues looking to place dogs. They are a wonderful conduit for making some love connections. I found my baby girl on Petfinder.

Learn more about  New York Bully Crew.

Learn more about Mike Ruiz.

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