Justin Sayre's THE MEETING Honors Marlene Dietrich, 11/15
Each edition of The Meeting* honors a different gay icon; the November show pays tribute to silver screen legend Marlene Dietrich. The essence of Deco glamour, the international film legend donned a tuxedo and top hat to pioneer androgynous fashion at a time when Hollywood's gender lines were rigidly defined. Privately bisexual, she flirted with onscreen lesbianism. Also a noted song stylist, she introduced the famed torch song "Falling In Love Again" and the camp classic "The Boys in the Back Room." Special guests include Nellie McKay, Cole Escola, Danielle Grabianowski and Kim Smith. Tracy Stark serves as Musical Director.
The Meeting*, the monthly gathering of the I.O.S. (International Order of Sodomites), has become a downtown sensation with its signature blend of outrageous comedy, political and social activism, and cultural education. Justin Sayre - the show's creator, writer and host - serves as the Chairman of the Board. Each month, the I.O.S gathers to educate the membership on essential business of the day through musical performances, skits, trivia and regular features such as "Letters to the Chairman" and "New Rulings from the Board." Justin Sayre and The Meeting* were named one of the Top 10 nightclub shows of 2011 by Time Out New York, received the 2012 Bistro Award for "Comedy Artistry" and a 2011 MAC Award nomination for Best Male Comedy Performance.
The I.O.S is the centuries-old secret organization of homosexuals and their friends - modeled after The Mattachine Society and other groups - that sets the mythic gay agenda.
"At the heart of the show is community," Justin comments, "something that even with all our advancements, we still find hard to create or to maintain. But the thing that has been amazing to me is the reach of the show. So often, straight men and women, fathers and girlfriends, tell me they have had the best time. Comedy can really show people that we are all funny, fallible human beings stumbling around trying to do the right thing. There are differences of course, but by accepting them and celebrating them we show a pride in our common humanity that is infectious. The Meeting* is a gift: not something that I give, but something that I get. A chance to share my thoughts and ideas but also a great opportunity to celebrate gay culture. That's pretty good, huh?"
Past "agenda items" have addressed current issues such as the Anti-Homosexuality Bill in Uganda, the romantic saga of gay penguins at the San Francisco Zoo, and a guide to the so-called "Gay Panic" defense. The organization's valuable Public Service Announcements have included the Houseboy Relocation Program, helping Fire Island's displaced hired hands, and the Twink Literacy Campaign, dedicated to educating today's youth about classic gay culture (soon to be a digital short).
The monthly events have featured popular guest stars such as Lea DeLaria, Christian Campbell, Marilyn Maye, Frank DeCaro, Molly Pope, Lance Horne, Lady Rizo, Tituss Burgess, Natalie Joy Johnson, Kenny Mellman, Randy Rainbow, Maude Maggart, Jack Ferver, Murray Hill, Jeffery Self and Cole Escola, Bridget Everett, Steve Hayes, Poor Baby Bree and more. Previous shows have paid tribute to singers such as Dolly Parton and Diana Ross; films like "Valley of the Dolls" and "Beaches"; actresses such as Bea Arthur and Molly Ringwald; as well as playwrights and filmmakers like Tennessee Williams and John Waters.
On June 18, 2012, The Meeting* presented their second annual all-star Night of A Thousand Judys concert at Playwrights Horizons, honoring the iconic entertainer Judy Garland. The sold-out evening was a benefit for The Ali Forney Center - the nation's largest organization dedicated to serving homeless LGBT youth - and starred Tonya Pinkins, Michael Musto, Nellie McKay, Karen Akers, Howard McGillin, Ashley Brown, Daniel Reichard and more. The 2011 edition at Joe's Pub featured performances by Jackie Hoffman, Daisy Egan, Paul Iacono, Gay Marshall, Jeff Hiller, Emily Bergl, Ryan O'Connor, among others.
This summer Justin headlined his own show as part of Daniel Nardicio's Icon Series at the Ice Palace on Fire Island, in a season that also featured Liza Minnelli, Alan Cumming, Sandra Bernhard and Margaret Cho. Yale University presented a special edition of The Meeting* in 2011 as part of their Pride Month. The new website, www.InternationalOrderofSodomites.com, was recently launched with podcasts, videos, blogs and more.
Justin Sayre - described by Michael Musto in The Village Voice as "Oscar Wilde meets Whoopi Goldberg" - is a child of Forty Fort, Pennsylvania who demonstrated a supernatural instinct for "camp" at an early age. With a voice straight out the MGM finishing school for girls, he moved to New York believing it was still 1947. He was terribly misinformed. As an actor, he has worked and studied with some of the finest professionals in the city. As a gay, Justin has excelled at scarf placement, devilish quips, and a healthy but firm love of the American musical. He has also performed at Comix, "Our Hit Parade" at Joe's Pub. Justin has contributed to the Radical Faerie Digest - one of the oldest gay publications in the country. In 2011, two of his short plays were presented by the "Fame and Shame on the LES" performance series. An evening of his short plays, "Justin Sayre Is Alive and Well... Writing" - called one of the "Top 10 Events on the New York Stage" by the New York Daily News - sold out two shows at Ars Nova in April. In June, Justin co-wrote and narrated a new adaptation of Stravinsky's "The Soldier's Tale" for the Greenwich Music Festival, which was called "a thought-provoking, atmospheric performance" by Greenwich Time. He hosted a special centennial event to celebrate Harry Hay, co-founder of the Mattachine Society, at New York's Center for Gay and Lesbian Studies in September. A reading of his new play The Click of The Lock, featuring Randy Harrison, Christian Coulson, Cole Escola and more, was seen at the Cherry Lane Theatre in October.
The Meeting* hosted by Justin Sayre is presented at The Duplex (61 Christopher Street at 7th Ave, New York, NY 10014) on Thursday, November 15 at 9:30 PM. Tickets are $10 in advance and $15 at the door. There is two-drink minimum per person. You must be 21+ years of age to attend. For tickets, visit www.BrownPaperTickets.com. The Meeting* hosted by Justin Sayre is produced by Adam J. Rosen and Dan Fortune.