Tag Archive | "Holidays"

“The Perfect Host”


Nico Stoerner, Staff Writer

Baby, it’s cold outside – but there’s a difference between being the Perfect Host and simply providing the place for your holiday celebrations. Even more importantly, in the 21st century there are far more things to deal with. From Wi-Fi passwords, numerous remotes, home theaters, and maybe even the coffee maker – odds are your friends or family coming for the holidays will have at least a few questions. Your best bet: Prepare for everything and stay 5 steps ahead so you can be the host with the most, sipping your holiday cocktail (see our HOSTwifiHoliday Cocktail Guide which appeared in the November 15 issue of Fenuxe which also featured our excellent gift guide) and smiling as your guests enjoy their stay. Remember: The key to being a great host is to have fun, so take these steps to ensure that you will be able to relax and enjoy the company.

Prep Work
Most people think only of preparation for a party, but they don’t consider preparation of information for their guests. Especially if you have people staying with you, prepare a guest guide with everything from your and your partner’s cell numbers to the Wi-Fi password and instructionsHOSTStarbucks for the remote. You might also want to leave directions to your local gas station, Whole Foods, and Starbucks for them along with a map of the immediate area – ya know, just in case. Print this on nice paper stock from Paper Source in Virginia Highlands, or even drop into your local office store for some great options. Check your word processing program for easy templates or even look online for the one that you like best. Not only will they be impressed, your friends and family will wonder how long you have considered opening your own B & B.

Stock Up, Stockings Up
Before you hang even the first decoration be sure that you have anticipated your guests every need in advance. Too often we worry about the presentation and not enough about the preparation. The fact is that without adequate towels, linens, toiletries, and other necessary items (toothpaste, floss, mouthwash, shampoo, conditioner, shaving cream, soap, and maybe even some pain relievers and antacids) you’ll spend most of your time together making runs to the store and not enjoying your time together. Consider creating a small guest HOSThangerbasket with travel-sized toiletries like these. Help make your guests feel autonomous and they will also feel comfortable and at home: No one likes to pester their host.

Let ‘Em Breathe
Don’t make your guests live out of their suitcase. Be sure to provide a room with a dresser, luggage rack, or at least a closet with hangers so your guests aren’t digging for their clothes and going around in wrinkled clothing.

Recharge Their Batteries
Provide plenty of easy-to-prepare breakfast foods such as cereals, pastries, and bagels as well as coffee, HOSTpowerstripcreamer, and tea. Although lunch and dinner are fairly organized, breakfasts can be tricky and the timing isn’t always in synch, so provide easy options that everyone will enjoy. As well, consider gadgets, gizmos, and even the occasional gps. In our day and age everyone has something that will need to be charged, so be sure to pick up or set out an empty power strip for mass charging. A charging station, carefully placed so as not to be visually unappealing, will be just the stroke of genius that will surprise and impress your visitors.

Surprise, SurpriseHOSTcentennial
Prepare a list of interesting and unique places and restaurants in your city – both familiar and new – and surprise your guests by showing them your city. They’ll appreciate getting to know your familiar haunts, and you’ll be able to create new memories with them as you experience new places for the first time. Hosting your out of town guests allows you to enjoy your city in a way you haven’t for a long time – as a traveler. As a result of mundane routine you may have forgotten how spectacular your city is: Renew your love affair with your home town and share the fun with your loved ones.

Talk To Me, Baby
As with all relationships, communication is key. TalkHOSTlistening to your guests before their visit to ask the important questions (think food allergies, vegetarians, and special accommodations). Talking to your guests in advance will help inspire you as to how you can best prepare for their visit and what activities they may be most interested in doing. Do they prefer cultural experiences like the High, Coca-Cola, or Fernbank Museum? Perhaps go and see a couple blockbuster movies? Enjoy more restaurants and catching up? Spend hours cooking and sharing stories? Taking the time to listen to your guests will make them feel special and enable you to wow them with your thoughtfulness.


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Holiday Cheer with a Sneer

Nico Stoerner, Staff Writer

This show completely redefines “holiday help.”

Around this time of year (and in an economy like ours), the allure of a second job may in fact be tantalizing you as you’re planning holiday purchases and presents alike. The additional income you accrue for sacrificing your personal time altogether in order to provide for those you care for may offer you a touch more financial security, but it also might just drive you into the loony bin, which brings us to the subject of this fantastic play.

The Horizon Theatre is celebrating its 14th year producing “The SantaLand Diaries,” a play based upon the memoir by comedian and humorist David Sedaris about a stint he spent as a department store Christmas elf. Believe me when I say there is a reason the show has survived this long. Crumpet the elf (our solo narrator, played by Harold M. Leaver) quickly explains his hopes and dreams while even more quickly stripping down to his candy-cane leggings, dark green velvet coat, and pointy shoes… just in time to begin recounting the various and sundry ways in which he was humiliated for the holidays.

Our cynical protagonist goes on to share the different characteristics of a job as a christmas elf, including mandatory cheerfulness, insults, panic attacks, fistfights, bribery, and how many drinks it takes to wake up and do it all over again. (Right about now I feel inclined to emphasize that this is in fact an adult show, and by no means “family friendly” unless you have some very mature teens.)

As the show moves on, Crumpet comments on his co-workers (whose fantastic portrayals of the various other characters punctuate the show with unexpected and outstanding comedic interjections), insane parents and holiday shoppers, and the sadistic pleasure that some parents get from shoving their children into Santa’s lap. Leaver – with his masterful portrayal of Crumpet, as well as his sly, silly, and sardonic style – does an amazing job of sharing these hilarious stories satirizing the holidays. His co-stars Enoch King and Lala Cochran (playing the various other roles in the show) only serve to compliment him in myriad ways with their crackerjack timing and superb transformations.

With delicious humor and sensational innuendo, Crumpet even flirted with a man in the audience, pulling him away from his wife and feeling him up (just a touch) before whisking him away backstage. All in good fun, Leaver and company do a great job of entertaining and will have you rolling throughout the show.

So while it may not restore your belief in Santa Claus (or working as seasonal help), The SantaLand Diaries will definitely offer you the laugh you needed around this stressful time of year.

*Special Thanks: Kristin Gwock, Horizon Theatre

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Atlanta Ballet’s 53rd Annual Nutcracker Blows Us Away

Nico Stoerner, Staff Writer

As the show begins, you know that something special is on the way.

Having performed in the Nutcracker before myself (although never with the Atlanta Ballet), I had in my mind a certain number of expectations to begin with – but I can honestly say that the Atlanta Ballet went above and beyond anything I could have ever anticipated.

The work they did with master illusionist Drew Thomas shows, as their set, props, and special effects are on par with touring shows from Broadway. Set pieces levitate, characters appear and disappear without a hitch, innovative lighting highlights the stage, and the scenery is both beautiful and unique to any production of the Nutcracker that I have ever seen. The Atlanta Ballet Orchestra provide a magnificent soundtrack to the story with the help of the Georgia Youth choir, and the choreography by John McFall incorporates contemporary touches while remaining true to the traditional performance style.

Photo: AtlantaBallet.com

The story follows tradition with the mystifying Drosselmeyer invoking dreams and the young heroine of our story Marya discovering a beautiful land of living toys, naughty mice, cute lambs, and the terrifying Rat King. Showcasing a number of different performances from various cultures around the globe, every performance and piece were complimentary and of the highest caliber. As well, the pas de deux following the dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies was simultaneously awe-inspiring and breathtaking.

The reinvention of the holiday classic included some contemporary touches including pop moves from disco to hip-hop, the combination of which allowed for patrons both young and old to identify with and enjoy the show. With comedic moments interjected from the bumbling mice, the adorable lambs, and the Russian dancers, as well as the hilarious effects of Mother Matrushka’s big skirt – a performance meant to resemble Russian nesting dolls, with children appearing from beneath her 25 yard skirt to perform. Even better? “Mother Matrushka’s” antics from 15 feet in the air are reminiscent of a drag performance and include lots of laughs as she flirts with the audience. It definitely made for a lovely highlight and brought smiles to everyone in attendance.

A classic show made contemporary, this is a performance you simply cannot miss. Be sure to take a brisk walk to the Fox after dinner this holiday season and see this spectacular production.

*Special Thanks: Sigele Winbush, The Atlanta Ballet

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Living the life: St. Martin

As the blustery winter bite in the air continues to strengthen, it becomes harder to keep sun-drenched daydreams at bay. Indulge your yearning for warmer temps by hopping on a short Delta flight to the Caribbean in picturesque Saint Martin.


Make your stay at (where else?) Villa Rainbow. The gay-owned private villa is located at Pic Paradis, Saint Martin’s highest point. You’ll have all the seclusion you and a partner need while being just minutes from the beaches.


And ohhh the beaches. Saint Martin is divided into 37 breathtaking beaches with over 112 miles of coastline. There are beaches with mounting cliffs breaking the gentle waves, expansive bays that provide easy access to unparalleled Caribbean coral reefs, nude beaches, and lazy hideaways. If you prefer an unpopulated and private swim in the turquoise Saint Martin water, look for Tintamarre and Green Cay. A lively and trendy beach experience can be found at Fenuxe’s favorite Orient Bay.

If you’re looking for an adrenaline rush, there are gay-friendly businesses scattered about Saint Martin ready to provide for your adventurous side. There are over 50 dive sites ranging from those acceptable for beginners to sites for seasoned divers. Above the water you can also rent jet skis, sail a catamaran, snorkel, or even kite surf. For a slightly slower pace, horseback riding on the beach is always a fun and romantic option.


After a long day at the beach, retreat back to Marigot, the cosmopolitan capital of Saint Martin. The mixing of European culture and Creole tradition gives Marigot a captivating and exciting personality. Unique boutique stores, trendy restaurants, and local vendors greet you on the streets of the capital city and provide a distinctively Caribbean shopping experience. Stick around for the nightlife and check out Eros, a hot little gay club with a friendly vibe. And don’t worry about the language barrier, because almost everyone speaks English.


From November to January, visitors can enjoy the color of a Caribbean holiday season as residents decorate their houses, gardens, shops, and even their boats with dazzling decorations, colorful garlands, and a Santa here and there.


So if you’re looking for a respite from the cold and a good gay time for all, Saint Martin is not to be missed during the winter season.


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Give a Little Bit

The spirit of volunteerism is ingrained in the gay community due to all the causes we have to fight for. Thanksgiving gives each of us the ultimate opportunity to put that spirit to use. Organizations with close affiliations to our community need our help, but so do those without any specific tie to us. Here’s a couple of both who need you this season.


Open Hand

The critically and chronically ill, the disabled, and the senior citizens of Atlanta have Open Hand to thank for giving them the nutrition they need. Open Hand offers nutrition care programs and home-delivered meals, and that’s where you come in. Thanksgiving is their busy time and they need people to pack and deliver meals. They’re doing double deliveries on Wednesday November 24th and they need as many drivers as they can get, so take a shift and warm a heart!




Hosea Feed the Hungry

One of the city’s most well-known homeless organizations gives you three opportunities to help over 15,000 of Atlanta’s needy. 5,000 volunteers are being recruited for Thanksgiving setup on November 20th, food prep on November 24th, and especially the big day at Turner Field on November 25th. They not only need servers but also volunteers to help in the children’s corner, the medical corner, and the clothing corner.




Jerusalem House

When it comes to housing those affected by HIV/AIDS in Atlanta, Jerusalem House is the authority. They provide about two-thirds of the city’s permanent housing for homeless and low-income individuals and families affected by HIV/AIDS. Corporate sponsorships are down this year because of the economic climate, meaning many of Jerusalem House’s kids—who make up almost half of the residents—may not have a holiday this year. But you can help. Turkeys, sides, canned goods—you can help make Thanksgiving happen for the families.


Contact Volunteer Manager Sharon Carey at 40-377-3443 x232 to donate or discuss sponsorships.




Atlanta Center for Self Sufficiency

The Atlanta Center for Self Sufficiency is the result of a merger back in May between the Samaritan House of Atlanta and the Atlanta Enterprise Center. They came together to form one strong organization with a mission: combat homelessness through job creation and a steady income. The Center’s Cafe 458 offers two ways to help this holiday season and throughout the year. Weekdays from 9AM-2PM they need volunteers to staff the restaurant that serves the homeless. And then return for your own brunch on Sunday, when Cafe 458 turns into a for-profit restaurant, with all proceeds going to the Center.



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Holiday. Celebrate.

When you want to make a splash on Thanksgiving Eve while helping a worthy cause, you bring in the big guns. That’s why Brad Williams has booked superstar DJ and Producer Tracy Young for a blowout night at Jungle benefiting The Toy Party.


The unstoppable Young is celebrating 20 years in the booth, an era filled with multiple highs: DJ-ing Madonna’s wedding, spinning at private parties for A-List celebrities from Diddy to Cher, and becoming a top shelf draw at nightclubs around the world with her globe-rocking remixes.

With celebrity comes gossip and controversy, and this year proved Young wasn’t immune to the drama. A gig producing
Real Housewives of Atlanta star Kim Zolciak’s single “Tardy for the Party” turned personal when the two allegedly started dating, causing the tabloids to pounce.


Nonetheless, this party is for a cause as Young is donating $1,000 of her fee and Jungle is donating $1,000 of the door fee to The Toy Party, the biggest holiday party and fundraiser of the year. Young will also be donating toys courtesy of her family’s toy store Doodlehopper in Virginia. “I am so excited about my return to Atlanta and playing at Jungle,” she tells Fenuxe. “I’m also very grateful to be able to give back to the community and the children less fortunate than I was growing up!”


The Toy Party is the signature event of For the Kid in All of Us. They’ve distributed more than 27,000 toys and raised more than $450,000 for Georgia’s needy since its founding in 2003. The Toy Party is back at AmericasMart 3 this year and the event will be supporting a record 20 agencies that provide for Georgia’s underprivileged.


For the Kid’s President, Jorge Esteban, says The Toy Party is becoming a destination party and that the kickoff event at Jungle will only help that cause. They’ll even be accepting toy donations at the door. And Jungle owner Brad Williams is excited to put the event on, both because it’s a Toy Party benefit and because it’s the first time in four years that Tracy Young has played a gay club in Atlanta.


Whichever the appeal—the spirit of giving or the spirit of dancing—Jungle’s got it covered on Thanksgiving Eve.


Thanksgiving Eve featuring DJ Tracy Young

Benefiting The Toy Party

DJ Mike Pope opens

Wednesday, November 24, 2010 at 10:00 PM

$10 cover before 11PM, $20 after 11PM.

Advance VIP tickets available online at www.jungleclubatlanta.com
Jungle Club Atlanta
2115 Faulkner Rd NE
Atlanta, GA 30324
Phone: (404) 844-8800

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Top 7 Thanksgiving Tidbits

What legendary gay-friendly restaurant has a huge Thanksgiving spread? What traditional dishes were missing from the first Thanksgiving? What’s the secret weapon every gay should have during a Thanksgiving with the fam? Whether you’re coming out, digging in, or tipping one back, we’ve got the info you need to know for Thanksgiving 2010.



Price of the four course Thanksgiving dinner at “The Gay and Gray”–The Colonnade


“Pass the gravy, and I am so into man candy. Woot woot!”

Least popular way to come out at Thanksgiving


Turkey and mashed potatoes

Items not present at the first Thanksgiving


Wine, brandy, gin, and beer

Items present at the first Thanksgiving.



Percent capacity of Gravity Fitness on Friday, November 26th


A flask

What every gay is most thankful for at Thanksgiving with the family


“Thanksgiving Gay Parade”

The procession of primped gays crisscrossing 10th and Piedmont on Thanksgiving night



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Crumpet: Man In Tights

Atlanta has its fair share of holiday traditions. The Pink Pig at Lenox. The nightly snowfall at Atlantic Station. Now with its 12th year of caustic holiday comedy, you can add The Santaland Diaries to that list.


The Santaland Diaries is adapted from the book Holidays on Ice, by the bestselling (and openly gay) humor writer David Sedaris. It tells the story of an unemployed writer in need of extra cash who takes a job as a Macy’s Department Store elf. “Crumpet” the elf gives the audience a look behind the beards and pointy shoes of department store Santas and elves.


Crumpet is played as always by the engaging Harold M. Leaver, a longtime player of the Atlanta theater scene. Leaver told Fenuxe that the role continues to inspire him year after year due to the fact that they update the content to reflect current events.


He also enjoys the audience reaction. “It’s usually after they’ve had a couple days of shopping for or with relatives and they’re inundated with the commercialism of the holidays,” he says. “They’re thinking a lot of really evil thoughts and they need someone to express those for them. And I get to do that!”


And while the play is “bitter as all get-out” as Leaver told us, he loves the sweet message expressed by the play’s end. “It kind of goes back to what the real meaning of what Christmas is supposed to be,” he says.



The Santaland Diaries

Nov. 26 – Jan. 2

Horizon Theatre

1083 Austin Ave. NE

Atlanta, GA 30307


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Rainbow Blues

The 38-day period between Thanksgiving and New Years Day known as the holidays can cause a rollercoaster of emotions for those in the LGBT community. For some, the moments fly by and precious time is spent with cheerful company making memories that will last a lifetime. But for others, as the days grow shorter, the holidays seem to last an eternity.

The holiday blues. It’s a time that can bring about all kinds of stressors no matter one’s sexual orientation. There’s all the social commitments, the stress of travel, the financial pressures. The days are shorter and the cold temperatures drive people indoors, often causing depressive symptoms. People often utilize this time of year to evaluate where they are in their lives, and it can negatively affect the mood if the reality doesn’t match up to the expectations.

But what about holiday stressors unique to the LGBT community?

The Extra Layer

There’s no definitive research proving whether or not LGBTs experience holiday anxiety and depression in greater numbers than straight people. But Will Mahan, Director of Equality Counseling Center, wouldn’t be surprised if it were true.

“I think there’s holiday stress which everybody experiences, gay or straight,” says Mahan. “Then there’s an extra layer of stress that I think comes from being gay and lesbian at this particular time of year.”

The emphasis on family is kicked into high gear during the holidays. Rifts about someone’s sexuality could lead to increased stress and uncomfortable situations. Or if one hasn’t come out yet, they have to deal with the anxiety of hiding it and playing the pronoun game, as well as questions from inquisitive family members about their personal life.

These family dynamics can cause stress within a relationship too. “If you have a partner and the parents aren’t accepting of that, do you go home or do you have separate holidays?,” says Mahan. “If you have an office party and you’re not out at work, do you come out at work or tell your partner they can’t come?”

There’s also a heightened emphasis on religion during the holidays, which can bother many gay people who are scarred by their religious upbringing. So there are major factors at play which adversely affect our community in particular at this time of year. You don’t have to be down because you’re out though.

Exposing the Ideal

You can relieve holiday stress in some of the same ways you relieve stress any other time of year—eating well, getting a good night’s sleep, exercising. But taking ownership over your holidays can be the most vital step.

“Holidays a lot of times are defined by family traditions from growing up and if you still enjoy those and are still welcome to be a part of that, then that can be great,” says Mahan. “But I think it’s good to try to define the holiday for what you want it to be.”

If the family dynamics are not healthy, you can avoid it altogether by taking off for a vacation in South Beach. Or you can stay and celebrate with the family of friends you’ve created outside of the family you grew up with. You can establish new traditions with your partner for meals and present exchanges.

And don’t get caught up in the “ideal” holiday images seen in the media throughout the season. No, it’s not standard behavior for a husband to surprise his wife with a Lexus wrapped in a bow in the driveway for Christmas.

“Everybody can benefit from the fact that [the holidays are] a good time to reconnect with people and socialize and spend time with people that you care about,” Mahan says. “So if you keep that guiding principle in mind, that’s a lot more important than the stuff that we get told is important by people wanting us to buy stuff.”

A New Mindset

Overall, making it through the holidays with good memories is about mindset, whether you’re gay or straight.

Mahan says oftentimes people with anxiety and depression aren’t necessarily experiencing more stressors than others—it’s how they perceive those stressors that can create the anxiety or depression.

“Be patient, keep your sense of humor, count your blessings, don’t worry about everything being perfect, don’t fret over the catastrophe that could happen, wait till it happens and then deal with it then,” he says. “A lot of times people get really worried about what it’s going to be like to go home or what it’s going to be like to not have anyone special to share the holiday with, and sometimes it’s really not as bad as you think it’s going to be.”

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Jesse Brune: The Fenuxe Interview

Jesse Brune turned heads as a hot, openly gay personal trainer on Bravo’s breakout hit Workout, and now he’s putting his true passion of cooking to use on The Food Network’s Private Chefs of Beverly Hills. When he’s not trying to keep eccentric clients happy on the air, he devotes his time to his LGBT non-profit Project: Service L.A. The charismatic chef called us while in the middle of post-production on Private Chefs to talk about his Southern roots, playing straight for a week, and some surprising Thanksgiving tips.

So Jesse, tell us about Private Chefs of Beverly Hills.

The title kind of says it all [laughs]. It’s a show that follows six chefs in Beverly Hills as we take on these really insane events thrown by eccentric clientele with ridiculous requests. The personalities are really big, from the chefs to the clients, so a natural conflict arises. It often comes down to who has a better vision, who’s right, who has better taste and how we’re going to execute it.

What kind of ridiculous requests?

I’ve had to do a four-course meal for dogs. Seriously. It was at a country club for dogs, which actually exists. I did this whole party for this guy whose name is Joe Exclusive, who calls himself a lifestyle ambassador to the rich and fabulous. This guy was almost from another planet, just wacky. As the season progresses, it just gets more insane.

Did you ever question whether you were going to be “out” on Workout?

Well I studied acting for years and acted in New York and Los Angeles. I had a creepy experience when I was 23 or 24 signing with a larger management firm and they wanted me to go into the closet. So being so young and really wanting to be successful I said “Yeah sure, of course!” And that worked for about a week. I called them and just said, “You know what, I think you guys are the devil.” [laughs]. And I just stopped, I’d had enough. My two passions were acting and food and I knew I had to decide what I wanted to do, so I hung up the acting hat and started culinary school the next week.

My first week in culinary school I was like, “I am so screwed.” I could never work in a restaurant, it was impossible. So my goal was to be on The Food Network but I knew that I would never compromise being who I am. So I came out very publicly on Workout as the gay trainer and I’ve been working steadily ever since because I was really comfortable being who I am and letting my natural talents really flow.

So back to cooking. What’s the first piece of advice you would give to someone who’s hosting their first Thanksgiving dinner?

Give yourself a lot of time. A lot of people wait until the day of to start preparing stuff. That Thanksgiving meal is a task. There’s a lot of prep especially if you don’t have a lot of help in the kitchen. I have backed myself into that corner so many times and by the end of making the meal I don’t want to eat, I want to sleep.

But generally I say, “Just go for it.” The holidays are your get out of jail free card, your one time that you can just go for it and indulge and have fun and not worry about all the ingredients you’re using. I usually get asked what are some healthy alternatives you can do for Thanskgiving and I’m just like “Uggh, don’t!” [laughs]. There’s always ways to be more conscious in preparing your food, like substituting the butter with different kinds of oil, using less salt and cream, using things like soy or almond milk, keeping your vegetables clean and steamed, things of that nature. But why would you? [laughs]

So you teach cooking classes around the country. Do you ever make it to Atlanta?

I would love to come spend some time in Atlanta. I haven’t been down there since I was a kid and my grandparents lived in the area. My mother is a southern belle, she was born and raised in Charleston, South Carolina so I was raised on soul food. So though I generally cook pretty healthy, I can do premium soul food. One of the episodes this season I did a healthy soul food party and part of me died a little bit with that because it was like, “Oh my God, my Mom’s mouth is probably going to melt off when she sees this.” [laughs] But it actually turned out pretty good.

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