Category Archives: Outside the City

GOLIATH at Six Flags Great America

goliath2 six flags great america


The ride will set three world records for wooden roller coasters including drop length, drop steepness, and speed. It will feature the longest drop at 180 feet (55 m), the steepest drop at 85°, and the fastest speed at 72 miles per hour (116 km/h).

We got a test spin today and IT IS SUPER FAST – and that first drop? OMG!

Reaching top speeds of 72 miles per hour—the fastest of any wooden roller coaster—you’ll then thunder around surprising curves and outrageous twists. You’ll face three intense over-banked turns, a 180-degree zero G-roll twist, and two wild inversions, flipping head-over-heels through a winding inverted drop and a spiraling inverted zero G stall.

Goliath is built by an Idaho company called Rocky Mountain Construction Group. That company uses nontraditional methods to make wooden roller coasters, allowing for thrills traditional wooden roller coasters can’t provide, as detailed in a Tribune report last month.

Like all the big fantastic coasters, lines can be long for a quick 90 second ride!



Wait in short lines  at the LGBTQ  private night  OUT IN PARK…..



Fresh Cooking Ideas with Chef Tong June 22 @ Chicago Bontanic Gardens

my private chef chicago

Foodies and their friends will be flocking to the Chicago Botanic Garden’s Regenstein Fruit & Vegetable Garden for this day of great tastes and gorgeous presentations.

Chef Christopher Tong of My Private Chef, one of Chicagoland’s most versatile Chefs, will share one of his favorite garden fresh recipes at Chicago Botanic Garden’s
popular annual Garden Chef Series.


Chef Tong will appear on Sunday, June 22, 2014 at 1:30 and 2:30 p.m. in the
Regenstein Fruit & Vegetable Garden, Chicago Botanic Garden, 1000 Lake Cook Road, Glencoe, Illinois.

The Garden Chef Series promotes the Garden’s message of growing and using seasonal vegetables,
fruits and herbs. Chef Chris will use the spectacular open-air kitchen and amphitheater at the Regenstein Fruit & Vegetable Garden to present his cooking demonstration.

People who are casual cooks or lovers of gourmet food get to ask questions, discuss preparation,
and come away with a fabulous recipe that they can try at home. Chef Tong will give tips on ingredients, and serving. And, everyone gets to have a taste! Seating is limited and on a first-come, first served basis.

Admission to the Chicago Botanic Garden and Garden Chef Series is free.
Parking is $25.00 per car; free for Garden members.
For more information about this Garden Chef Series event, call 847.835.5440
or visit

My Private Chef is enjoying popularity as one of Chicago’s favorite private gourmet dining services. Trained in European-style fine cuisine, Chef Tong established his reputation at fine restaurants and hotels in Florida, California, and Chicago. Now he has adapted his impressive skills to the world of private entertaining. My Private Chef offers enticing cuisine for a wide range of events, from intimate dinners
to weddings to corporate parties.

Chef Chris says: “Every event is different and I’ve met some wonderful people including many celebrities. Being part of very special occasions makes my work worthwhile. I also love doing cooking demonstrations where I get the feeling that audience members will go home and try some new dishes!”
Some recent appearances include cooking classes and demonstrations on local television, at Bloomingdale’s Home & Furniture Stores, Whole Foods Market, Gilda’s Club Chicago, Taste of Chicago and this return engagement at the Chicago Botanic Garden

For more information about My Private Chef, call Event Services at 773-370-8131 or visit


Madison WI Fruit Fest June 14th


Madison’s Gay Summer Music Festival FRUIT FEST returns June 14th!

Fruit Fest is an Annual LGBTQI Summer Music Festival held in Madison, Wisconsin.

 The music festival is an all-ages free event organized to celebrate Madison’s gay community through a day of music, performance, art, and celebration. 

This year’s Fruit Fest will be held on June 14th and feature headliner Debbie Gibson, as well as many local folk musicians, punk bands, DJs & drag queens. The event will also include the 4th Annual Fruit Loop 5k run/walk, and the 4th Annual Star Fruit karaoke competition. Food, beer and alcohol will also be served on festival grounds from a variety of vendors.

Fruit Fest is located in the heart of Willy Street in the Marquette Neighborhood, an Eastside neighborhood swarming with LGBTQA folks making it the most diverse, and ‘coolest’ hood according to Madison’s Isthmus Favorites. Last year, attendance was near 1200+ over the course of the nine hour festival including locals & many from 90+ miles away.


Fruit Loop 5k

On June 14th Fruit Fest will be hosting the Fourth Annual Fruit Loop, a 5K run/walk through the beautiful Marquette Neighborhood, starting and ending at the Fruit Fest event grounds. The proceeds from the run/walk are distributed to Community Shares of Wisconsin who gives them to LGBT organizations.

In 2011, the First Annual Fruit Loop had over 120 runners and walkers. Check out all the great pictures from the event. We expect the turnout to be even greater this year! Dress as fruity as you want and come out to run or walk and have some fresh-squeezed summer fun for a good cause. If you are interested in participating in the upcoming Fruit Loop on June 14th, you can register here.

Keep up to date with their official FACEBOOK  PAGE


Forget the Polar Vortex! HEATWAVE on Sale January 29th!

facebook version 1

The party EVERYONE is talking about!   HEATWAVE  2014!

Gay Chicago Just Got Hotter!

HEATWAVE Chicago 2014
Your Passport to 24 Hours of Tropical Paradise!

Imagine 24 hours of PRIVATE LGBT Paradise at Key Lime Cove INDOOR Water Park Resort where it is always 86 degrees and humid-add 2,000+ adults (21 + over) in swimsuits and underwear….. It’s going to be insane Fun! Booking starts 12:00 NOON on Wednesday,JANUARY 29th!

From the producers of OUT IN THE PARK @ SIX FLAGS GREAT AMERICA comes a brand new event! Be a part of the country’s first-ever 24-hour PRIVATE LGBT Indoor Poolside Dance Party and Water Park Celebration Benefiting Chicago Gay Mens Chorus!

The event will be Saturday, November 15th, 2014 (This will sell out much earlier!) Party Packages As Low As $85 Per Person includes ROOM + PARTY TICKETS!

Booking starts 12:00 NOON on Wednesday,JANUARY 29th!

Your reservation is paid in full at the time of booking, since this is a private party buy out. No refunds. However, you can re-sell your reservation and have it transferred, if need be.

• 414 Resort-Style Key West Guest Rooms and LUXE Suites
• Seven Room/Suite Options Sleeping/Connecting 2 to 12 Or More Guests
• 12-Hour Indoor Water Park Dance Party Admission Included In Your Room Price
• 4 Amazing DJ Sets from 3PM – 3AM
• 45 Minutes Away from Chicago, 45 minutes from Milwaukee, Across From Six Flags Great America in Gurnee Illinois
• 65,000 Square Feet of INDOOR Water Park FUN – Always tropically-inspired, 86 degrees and Humid
• 10,000 Square Foot State-Of-The-Art Gaming Arcade
• Restaurants, Bars, Confectionery Center, Convenience Store, Souvenirs EVERYTHING A Guest Needs for a 24-hour stay!

Open HEATWAVE Reservations Begin Wednesday, January 29th, 2014 at NOON to the general public. 1-877-360-0403 MUST SAY CODE “HEATWAVE” to have access to the event. (However, TONIGHT, Tuesday Jan. 28th, Scarlet will host a pre -sell event! Stop by from 7-9pm  and find out more!)

Heatwave on Facebook


Brought to you by and Red Bull!
Along with Scarlet Bar CREAM chicago and Ramsey Jay Prince Designs


room layouts  ….




CREAM CHICAGO – The Monday Night Hot Spot

CREAM Chicago!  Mondays nights are HOT this winter! Still located in Harvey Illinois, they have moved into a new space, inside the same Skybox building. It’s smaller and more intimate than the previous space.  The tables surround the elevated dance area, so everyone has a great view. And they have several private rooms if you want one on one time with a dancer.
This is Chicagoland’s only full nude full liquor Gay Male Club. It’s is because it is outside of Cook County that they can do this. And it’s worth the drive! If have a group and want to book a shuttle from Boystown, you can set that up through the site, if there is enough people.
Also sign up to be a VIP while you are there. You can get free cover and other special perks.
We were there for the grand opening in the new space last Monday. HOT. The guys are sexy and yes, they dance nude and partially clothed. Half naked shot boys, lap dances  and private dancers, CREAM delivers sexy men strutting their stuff. And for various rate packages, you can get one song or several songs, in private with the dancer of your choice!

Lots of drinks specials  including a brand new $5 martini list. More than 20!  Ranging from Pop Champagne, The Marilyn, to Root Beer Russian and Purple Rain. LOTS of shots as well. Fruit Loop Vodka, Rumchata and Fireball, and more. The specialty drink menu is huge – something for everyone.

They had a great assortment of guys and the shot boys were friendly and flirty. It was a fun time – and we’ll be back!
***UPDATE  UPDATE!!!  CREAM  has  moved  to FRIDAY  NIGHTS!!***
Follow them on Facebook and get all the updates!


LiveStream of Marriage Equality Rally/Concert in Springfield

HD Live Stream Video Available Of March On Springfield for Marriage Equality
of the March on Springfield for Marriage Equality will provide a live
stream of the concert and rally in Springfield, Illinois, on Tuesday, October 22, 2013.
will be available in high definition. The service is provided by the
same vendor that streams live coverage from the Illinois House and
Senate chambers. Programming will go live at 11:45 am on Tuesday, October 22, 2013. The event is outdoor at the corner of 2nd Street and Capitol, next to the State Capitol Building, in Springfield, Illinois.
We ask that you withhold publishing this information or link until 9 am, Tuesday, October 22, 2013.
  • 11:55 am —————– National Anthem
  • 12:00 to 1 pm ———– Rock the March Concert
  • 1 pm ———————- Welcome by Governor Patrick Quinn and Senator Dick Durbin
  • 1 pm to 2:30 pm ——– Rally with speakers from LGBT, labor, immigration, women’s health, business, sports and faith communities.
  • 2:30 pm —————— March begins, led by drummers and marching band.
  • 2:30 to 3:30 pm ——– March around the Capitol
*All times are estimates.
About the March
The March on Springfield for Marriage Equality will take place on Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2013,
the scheduled first day of the fall veto session of the Illinois state
legislature. The “March on Springfield” is part of a broad grassroots
strategy to secure final passage of Senate Bill 10, the “Religious
Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act,” already approved by the Illinois
Senate. Once adopted, Illinois will become the 14th state plus the
District of Columbia, to treat all of its citizens equally under state
marriage laws, and all married people in Illinois will be treated
equally under federal law. For more information, visit, or find the March at or on Twitter @IllinoisMarches. Hashtags being used for the event include #IL4M and #ILCantWait.

March on Springfield for Marriage Equality October 22nd, 2013

Marriage is an important institution.  It is through marriage that
adults throughout our country and throughout the world express their
commitment and devotion to each other.  In turn, governments use the
institution of marriage to recognize and protect family units. 

However, the definition of marriage has not been static throughout
history.  The definition of marriage has changed considerably from
biblical historical days, when the marital unit might have included more
than 2 adults and when every participant’s consent may not have been
readily apparent.  In past traditions, marriage was sometimes used to
consolidate wealth, produce children, and create kinship between
powerful families.  The legal and social benefits of marriage continued
to evolve to accommodate changing needs of societies.

Marriage continues to serve as an important civil institution in
America today.  Its protections continue on many levels:  financial,
legal, social, and emotional.  Even while the institution of marriage
evolves, it is still the avenue through which our society provides
benefits, rights, protections, and responsibilities to partners.

Marriage bestows a host of benefits -and responsibilities – to
couples who choose to marry.  The following is a short, illustrative
list of some of the more than 1,000 benefits and responsibilities that
married couples enjoy automatically, yet are denied to same-sex couples
that cannot wed.

  • Automatic inheritance, even without a will
  • Responsibility for each partner’s debt
  • Ability to put partner and partner’s children on medical or life insurance
  • Hospital visitation rights
  • Ability to make partner a U.S. citizen and prevent deportation
  • Right to take leave to care for a sick partner
  • Ability to make medical decisions in an emergency
  • Privilege from testifying against partner in court
  • Ability to file joint tax returns and use tax benefits for married couples
  • Exemption from gift and estate transfer taxes
  • Right to joint parenting, adoption, foster care, and visitation of children
  • Right to recognition in all states
  • Right to file wrongful death claims for a partner’s death
  • Right to a divorce, court division of property, and visitation of children in times of breakup


ILLINOIS needs to be the next state to DO THE RIGHT THING!

High School Crowns Gay & Lesbian Best Friends As Homecoming King & Queen

How cool is this?!   High
School Crowns Gay & Lesbian Best Friends As Homecoming King &
Queen !
Irizarry and Ariana Reiff are close friends, and they are also the
newly crowned Waukegan High School homecoming king and queen. Upon
finding out at the school bonfire Wednesday night, both students said
they were surprised. – Both are gay. 
and I are both out and open about our sexuality,” Irizarry said. “Our
attitude is we are who we are and if that bothers people, that’s OK, but
we have so many friends who accept us for who we are.” 

Olympia Dukakis in ROSE November 16th

ROSE, by Martin Sherman, a one-woman play, is a portrait
of a feisty Jewish
 woman who has
survived some of the major events that shaped the 20th century with
 humor, guile, and
spirit. The play illustrates a remarkable life that began in a tiny Russian
 village, moved on
to Warsaw’s ghettos and ship called
The Exodus, and
finally to the
 boardwalks of
Atlantic City, the Arizona Canyons and salsa-flavored nights in Miami Beach.

Dukakis first
performed ROSE in 1999 on stage at the Royal National Theatre in London and 
then in spring
2000 opened at the Lyceum Theatre on Broadway.


Recent praise for
wonderful acting of Olympia Dukakis, herself a fighter for justice, an actress
with a 
history of stage activity, as a university lecturer, the founder and director
of a 
New Jersey
theatre, in her classic roles, and especially in her total immersion into the
of a Holocaust
survivor as a symbol of the Jewish people and its suffering, make this play 
something so
sublime that the Cameri Theatre is deserving of applause for the third year 
of its cultural
enterprise (the International Theatre Festival).
” – News1 Tel Aviv


Long a vital,
respected actor of the classic and contemporary stage and the epitome of 
weariness, this grand lady did not become a household name and 
sought-after film
actress until age 56 when she turned in an Oscar-winning performance as 
Cher’s sardonic
mother in the romantic comedy
Moonstruck (1987).
Since then movie (and 
TV) fans have
discovered — an acting treasure. Her adaptability to various ethnicities
Italian, Jewish,
Eastern European, etc.), as well her chameleon-like versatility in everything 
from cutting edge
comedy to stark tragedy, has kept her in high demand for the past 30 
years as of one
of Hollywood’s topnotch character players.

Olympia Dukakis
Starring in “Rose,” a concert reading by Martin Sherman

Saturday, Nov. 16 7:30 p.m.

Dorothy Menker Theater  @ Moraine Valley Community College  

9000 W. College Pkwy.    Palos Hills, IL 60465-2478


***Dinner and a Show: Enjoy 25% off your total bill at Cíao Ristorante (10296 S. 78th Avenue, Palos Hills) before or after any Mainstage Series performance by showing your tickets.
Reservations are required by calling Cíao at (708) 237-2426. Some restrictions apply.



Rock the March: One Hour Concert Will Launch the October 22 March on Springfield for Marriage Equality

Nationally prominent performers with Illinois roots will kick off the March on Springfield for Marriage Equality on Tuesday, Oct. 22
with a free one-hour concert live near the steps of the Illinois State
Capitol. The diverse entertainment bill includes reality TV stars from
“The Voice,” “American Idol,” and “America’s Got Talent;” a national
poetry slam winner; a world champion & MVP quarterback who is also a
pre-Grammy nominee; and a 2013 Trans 100 honoree fighting violence
against transgender people.

“Love transcends gender, sexual orientation
and faith,” said Tracy Baim, March Co-chair, “and Shakespeare wrote ‘If
music be the food of love, play on!’ We are marching to Springfield to
tell the people’s representatives that ‘love is love,’ and that our
families deserve the same marriage benefits granted to other loving
couples in Illinois. What better way to begin the March than by raising
our voices in song and poetry?”

“Rock the March” will kick off with
performances by members of LGBT Choral groups including: Chicago Gay
Men’s Chorus, Windy City Performing Arts, Artemis Singers and Amasong.
Jammin for Justice EarthBeat Drummers will kick off the March.
Headlining performers will be:

*       Sandra Antongiorgi – World, Latin, neo-soul singer, songwriter & painter

*       C.C. Carter – author, activist, teacher and performance poet
*       De’Borah – singer, song-writer and star of “The Voice”
*       Steve Grand – “All American Boy” singer, song-writer and YouTube sensation
*       Sami Grisafe – all-star MVP quarterback and award-winning singer-songwriter

*       Kokumo – African-American transgender woman, singer, writer & performer
*       Stephen Leonard – Out rock powerhouse singer & song-writer
      Marcus Terell & the Serenades – singer, performer and star
of “American                             Idol”, “America’s Got Talent”
& “Making The Band”

The concert will begin at noon on October 22, 2013,
at the March on Springfield stage in front of the Illinois State
Capitol on 2nd Street. The marriage equality rally will immediately
follow the concert, with a march around the State Capitol starting at 2:30 pm

There is no cost to attend and members of the public are welcome. For more information, visit  BUSES   STILL AVAILABLE!!!

OUT IN THE PARK raises $11,000 for Chicago House

Thank You, Thank You, Thank You! To so many people who were involved in making Out in the Park at Six flags Great America 2013 a huge success.  alone, could not make this event happen without the help and support from our peers.  Our media sponsors  Stacy  Bridges and Mark Nagle from GRAB Magazine,  Mark Mariucci from QUEST Magazine in Wisconsin, Bill Pritchard and the staff of and the staff of  Zona Rosa Magazine all donated thousands of dollars in advertising, well exceeding our expectations  and everyone really pitched in and went above and beyond!  And a huge thanks to Mini Cooper of Chicago, our co-producer.


We always say, It takes a village to pull this off. This is not the Michael and Derrick show. It’s a community effort coming together for the greater good.  And an All Inclusive event. Almost   5,000 people came out this year to support the event and were so grateful. Six Flags Great America is willing to give our community an entire private Sunday 11am to 6pm but we have to deliver 10,000 attendees-we will get to that point-we’re determined to make it happen, that is the end all goal and feel  our community is ready to support an all day private event.

We all need to find our own ways to serve; our own ways to give back.  Our business on its own cannot write a big check to charity. However, we have a sizable network within our business, the relationship resources, strong partners and advocates, and ideas to collaborate and bring the community together – and all help write this year’s check, for almost $11,000!!  This check is not from – it’s from the  ENTIRE community. We were just the instruments to  help make it all happen.


Thanks  to Jess Godwin and Isaiah Grass for their super live vocal performances.  Teri Yaki, Debbie Fox and Cyon Flare all helped entertain the crowds.  DJ Matthew Harvat always delivers a great evening of music and this year Scarlet’s Scotty T and Team Scarlet got the evening off and running with a bang. Walgreens helped spread the word this year through many of their stores.  Scarlet, Taverna 750, Charlies and Lucky Horseshoe also helped with promotions and support.

Thank you to all of the volunteers and brand ambassadors who helped us spread the word. And most of all – thank you to YOU WHO BOUGHT THE TICKETS and came out and had a great time!


It is a huge risk to orchestrate an outdoor event a year in advance in the Midwest.  Thankfully, we had  a gorgeous Fall day.  Kohls had bought out the park for the next day for employees and their families, the temperature dropped dramatically and it rained and rained hard most of the day. How lucky we were that was not our day this year, we would have been very negatively affected.


Six Flags Great America also did an amazing job of emptying the park in a record 45 minutes. They closed to the general public at 7pm and were able to allow us to begin entering at 7:45pm into an EMPTY park.

We will be doing a similar Gay Days party at Six Flags St. Louis on a Saturday night, June 7, 2014 and we’ll be back to Gurnee next September on a Saturday night for Out In The Park 2014 as well. And we have one more AMAZING party event in the planning stages for 2014, a private, charity-based, Water Park, 12-hour Saturday Night Dance Party in late Winter/early Spring unlike anything the Midwest has ever been able to enjoy before….stay tuned for all the details.

Friend us, Follow us, LIKE  us – to get all of the updates as they happen.


Michael Snell

Derrick Sorles


MOMIX is back in the Chicago Area September 28th

MOMIX is a company of dancer-illusionists based in Washington, Connecticut, founded in 1981 by Moses Pendleton, with a worldwide audience base. Momix is unusual among contemporary dance companies for being a for-profit organization.

MOMIX  BOTANICA  September  28th.
  MOMIX returns for a third appearance to present their thrilling signature work: Botanica. With an eclectic score ranging from birdsong to Vivaldi,Botanica reveals nature’s changing imagery. An herbal remedy and natural aphrodisiac, it shows off the endlessly renewable energy of the superb MOMIX performers, with costumes, projections and custom-made props and puppetry adding an extra dose of fantasy to the elixir. This is dance at its most organic and inventive. The seasons will never be the same.

Saturday, Sept. 28      7:30 p.m.

Dorothy Menker Theater  @  Moraine Valley Community College

 9000 W. College Pkwy., Palos Hills, IL 60465.




OUT IN THE PARK September 14th, 2013. Don’t Be Left Without a Ticket

First off – It’s actually  8pm – 1am now!  ticket sales are brisk and Six Flags have given us an extra hour to ride, dance and party!
Because this is a “private event” – there are no tickets at the door. Only online, from your PC and printer. And this party has the potential to SELL OUT this year.  Tickets are available through Saturday afternoon – as long as we do not hit 10,000. That’s the cut off this year.  The park can hold 40,000. But the beauty of the private night is short lines. And Six Flags wants to make sure we all have a great time.  So I wouldn’t wait!  Get tickets now and don’t be disappointed!
When you arrive at the park, we will  be checking IDs  and banding people who want to purchase adult beverages! That will save time inside.
You will also get a map upon entering with a schedule of the evenings events and times and locations, as well as all the bars and drinking areas!
SCOTTY  T from Scarlet along with a couple of their uber sexy personalities will kick off the night – followed by Dj Matthew Harvat. 
If we sell enough tickets this year, and prove to Six Flags we can fill their park, they may give us an ENTIRE DAY of own next year! WHOO HOO!
So please support this awesome event – which this year, will help benefit Chicago house. 
CHARLIES   has  buses going , $25  round trip.  
Some seats still available. 3726 N Broadway St
Charlies is also hosting the Official After Party till 5am!  FREE entry with your Six  Flags ticket.  Lot of pre and post parties – look here. Scarlet will host the official closing party on Sunday Sept. 15th, complete with photos from the Six Flags event!

OUT IN THE PARK 2013 Weekend of Parties in Chicagoland

GET TICKETS  for OUT IN THE PARK, Saturday Sept. 14th, 8pm – 1 am


Season Passes are NOT honored for Private Parties

FOLLOW Out in the Park on FACEBOOK


In the Heights Comes To Paramount Theatre September 11 – October 6


Nominated in
2008 for 13 Tony Awards, taking home four including Best Musical, Best Score,
Best Choreography and Best Orchestration,
In the Heights is an
exuberant contemporary musical that follows three days in the lives of
residents living in New York’s largely Hispanic Washington Heights

Aurora’s Paramount Theatre will launch its third Broadway subscription
series this September with the first local professional staging of In the
, one of Broadway’s most acclaimed contemporary musicals, a
potent reminder of the importance of chasing one’s dreams, and the show all of
Chicago will be talking about this fall. Performances are September 11 through
October 6, 2013. 

For as little as $73.80, subscribers can purchase In
the Heights
and see three more Tony Award-winning best musicals at the
Paramount in 2013-14 –
Miss Saigon (directed by Jim Corti, October 30-November 24, 2013), 42nd
(directed by Rachel
15-February 9, 2014
and Rent
(directed by Jim Corti,
March 12-April 6, 2014). Join the nearly 20,000 Broadway series
subscribers who have already taken advantage of Paramount’s Buy Two Shows, Get Two Shows Free offer.
To meet growing
demand for its “better than Broadway” productions at such affordable prices, Paramount
has already extended the run of each show from three weeks to four in 2013-14.


Single tickets to In the Heights are also
on sale for $36.90 to $49.90.
For renewals, new subscriptions,
single tickets and information,
go to, call (630) 896-6666, or visit the Paramount box office Monday through
Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and 2 hours prior to evening performances.  


Conceived and
featuring music and lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda, with a book by
Pulitzer Prize- winner Quiara Alegría Hudes, In the Heights
transports audiences to a Latino enclave on 183rd Street in New York
City where family bonds are strong and neighborhood ties are equally as
binding. But change is in the air that will impact everyone. In the
is a story of dreams and sacrifices, loyalties and love, all
taking place in one city block surrounded by millions. The pure energy of the
barrio pulses with the poetry of rap, soaring ballads and powerful Latin-inspired
grooves resulting in one of the most original scores to hit Broadway in years.
In a community on the brink of change, full of hopes and dreams, the biggest
struggles can be deciding which traditions you take with you and which you
leave In the Heights.
Rated PG.

As always, top theater artists from Chicago and all over the
country have been tapped to reward Paramount audiences with a breathtaking production
of In
the Heights
. Rachel Rockwell, named “2012 Chicagoan
of the Year in Theatre” by the Chicago Tribune, and director of Paramount’s
wildly acclaimed productions of Hair, Annie and The
Music Man
, will direct.
The cast
features Nick Demeris (Usnavi), Paula Scrofano (Abuela Claudia), Lillian Castillo (Carla), Keely Vasquez (Daniela), Ricardo Gutierrez (Kevin), Lucinda Johnston (Camila), Luis Herrera (Sonny), Jonathan Butler-Duplessis (Benny), Caitlainne Rose Gurreri (Vanessa), Christina Nieves (Nina) and David Baida (Piragua Guy). Ensemble
members are Kasey Alfonso, William Carlos Angulo, Mary Joe Duggan, Courtney Landwerlen, Rachel
Marie LaPorte
, Eric Lewis, Terrance Martin, Tommy Rivera-Vega, Daniel
and Lauren Villegas.

The set is a beauty,
a replica of the original Broadway design by Tony nominee Anna Louizos
Tom Vendafreddo (music director/conductor) will lead the
Paramount Theatre Orchestra with live, lush renditions of the play’s rich
musical score. Paramount’s In the Heights production team also
includes Katie Spelman
(choreographer), Elizabeth Flauto
(costumes), Jesse Klug (lights), Jeff Dublinske (sound), Sarah Ross (props), Dianne Morrisette (wigs), Rose Marie Packer (stage manager) and Beth Ellen Spencer (assistant stage

About The Paramount Theatre 

The Paramount Theatre is the center for
performing arts, entertainment and arts education in Aurora, the second
largest city in Illinois. Named “One of Chicago’s Top 10 Attended
Theatres” by the League of Chicago Theatres, the 1,888-seat Paramount
Theatre, located in the heart of downtown Aurora at 23 E. Galena Blvd., is
nationally renowned for the quality and caliber of its presentations, superb
acoustics and historic beauty.   

The Paramount Theatre opened on September 3,
1931. Designed by nationally renowned theater architects C.W. and George L.
Rapp, the theater captures a unique Venetian setting portrayed in the art deco
influence of the 1930s. The first air-conditioned building outside of Chicago,
the Paramount offered the public a variety of entertainment, including
“talking pictures,” vaudeville, concerts and circus performances for
more than 40 years.

In 1976, Aurora Civic Center Authority purchased
the Paramount and closed the theater for restoration. The $1.5 million project
restored the Paramount to its original grandeur. On April 29, 1978, the
Paramount Arts Center opened, offering a variety of theatrical, musical,
comedy, dance and family programming. In 2006, a 12,000-square-foot, two-story
Grand Gallery lobby was added, with a new, state-of-the-art box office, café
and art gallery.


Groupon employees to participate in October 22 Marriage Equality March on Springfield

Groupon has long been a strong supporter of marriage equality in
Illinois. Today they released a video, produced by Groupon employees, to
showcase that support.
We’re also excited to announce that Groupon will be
participating in the March on Springfield, busing interested employees
to the rally that day in support of marriage equality on October 22.
About the March
The March on Springfield for Marriage Equality will take place on Oct. 22, 2013,
the scheduled first day of the fall veto session of the Illinois state
legislature. The “March on Springfield” is part of a broad grassroots
strategy to secure final passage of Senate Bill 10, the “Religious
Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act,” already approved by the Illinois
Senate. Once adopted, Illinois will become the 14th state plus the
District of Columbia, to treat all of its citizens equally under state
marriage laws. For more information, visit


Live Nude Male Strippers Come to Chicago land : CREAM

CREAM is the newest night on Mondays featuring full on naked nude male dancers and strippers! Yep-  full on junk in your face – because it’s outside Cook county line.

Half naked shot boys, lap dances  and private dancers, CREAM delivers sexy men strutting their stuff.  $10 gets you a lap dance,  $25 is a 2 song private dance and $125, well that’s   VIP champagne private 30 minutes of fantasy. Mind you, this is not a sex club – it’s sexy and fantasy. There are rules – and camera’s to make sure customers do not get out of hand. 
The idea was developed by Fox Management who handle lots of entertainment needs around the city. They decided to take over a club called  SKYBOX  at  16702 S.  Halsted St.,   Harvey, IL 60426. (7pm – 4am).
The softly launched CREAM this past Monday and plan a Grand Opening for August 5th. As they grow, they want to add on female dancers for the lesbian customers. Later this year they will launch the Stallion Male Review for women on different nights – Mondays will always be LGBT focused. 
They offer Limo shuttle service from Halsted and Belmont for $20 round trip.  The limos run back and fourth throughout the evening.  There is also talk a party school bus, stocked with kegs and entertainment for more a  gay frat boys night out and they also may offer a  VIP  party bus fully stocked with drinks and entertainment.  All these variations will unfold as the business builds and they develop a following. 
Follow them on Facebook and get all the updates!


2 Great Shows Coming to Chicago

I LOVE to see shows in small theatres. Most of our theaters downtown are WAY TOO BIG for stage shows. If you are not in the first 12 rows, you miss out on so much. The theatre at Moraine Valley Community College is the perfect size. No bad seats. And they bring in some awesome shows!
Thodos Dance Chicago

Saturday, Feb. 9, 7:30 p.m. in the Dorothy Menker Theater and only $20-$25!

Embracing Chicago’s rich history via contemporary
dance like never before, The White City: Chicago’s Columbian Exposition
of 1893 is an ambitious one-act piece complete with period costumes and
video projections by Chicago filmmaker Chris Olsen.
Legendary Tony Award-winning Broadway choreographer Ann Reinking and
Artistic Director Melissa Thodos set the piece to Bruce Wolosoff’s
Songs Without Words.

All 12 ensemble dancers will perform to tell the
story of the legendary 1893 World’s Fair through dance.
Characters range from Mayor Carter Harrison Sr.; Harrison’s assassin,
Patrick Prendergast; John Root, one of the key architects of the Chicago
World’s Fair; and Dr. H.H. Holmes, the cunning serial killer who used
the fair to lure his victims to their death in his elaborately
constructed Murder Castle.

The evening also includes several other thrilling pieces drawn from Thodos’ inventive and imaginative repertory.

“Best Dance Event in Chicago of 2011″

— Chicago Sun Times


And this, is SO COOL!

A Lamb Chop Celebration featuring Mallory Lewis

Saturday, April 6, 2 p.m.

Tickets $10-$20

An entertaining hour of laughter and song.  The beloved children’s icon Lamb Chop,
skillfully bought to life by Shari’s daughter, Mallory Lewis.

Fun for
all ages, kids will fall in love with Lamb Chop, teens and
20-somethings will remember
Lamb Chop from Lamb Chop’s Play Along,
and grown-ups will enjoy revisiting their youth as they laugh and sing along with Lamb Chop and Mally!

“Once you’ve seen one of Mallory’s shows,
you’ll walk away with a wonderful memory and also feeling like you have
just acquired a new best friend.”

— Tonya Cook, Iowa State Fair



Sci-Fi Meets Theatre as Intergalactic Nemesis hits Chicago

How It Works:
Three actors voice dozens of characters, one artist creates hundreds of
sounds, and one keyboardist accompanies while more than 1,000
hand-drawn, blow-your-mind comic-book images blast from a large screen.

The Story:
The year is 1933. Pulitzer Prize-winner Molly Sloan and her intrepid
assistant Timmy Mendez have traveled to Transylvania to meet a key
contact for a story about illegal pelt smuggling. As the crackling
fireplace warms the room against the blizzard outside, their contact,
Vlad, tells them that their story is at a dead end: all of the smugglers
have either disappeared or been killed by … something.

 There are
rumors of monsters in the Carpathian Mountains. Vlad hands Molly and
Timmy a map of something called the Central Hive when suddenly an
assassin appears in the doorway and Vlad falls dead, a knife in his

Almost as suddenly, a mysterious and handsome stranger appears
behind the assassin, throws the assassin into the roaring fire, and
tells Molly and Timmy to run for their lives. Reporter Molly Sloan and
her assistant Timmy Mendez have stumbled upon the story of the century.

Saturday, Nov. 10th, 2012.  7:30 pm

Grab your seats now . . . before it’s too late!

“Totally nuts and a ton of fun! Do not miss it!” — The Austinist

“Something you simply must experience if you are a fan of awesome.” —

Moraine Valley Community College
Fine & Performing Arts Center
9000 West College Parkway
Palos Hills, IL 60465

Phone (708) 974-5500


Gay Day Gay Night at Six Flags Chicago September 8, 2012


An all-new private LGBT event featuring rides, live music and a party-like atmosphere and vitaminwater® are excited to premiere an all new LGBT event and fundraiser at Six Flags Great America. Out In The Park 2012 will be a private event for the LGBT community, their friends and families. “We are very excited Six Flags Great America is allowing us this unique opportunity to produce such an awesome event at their park,” said Derrick Sorles, owner of “We are proud to have TPAN (Test Positive Awareness Network) as our benefitting charity.”


On Saturday, September 8, 2012, from 9pm – 1am, the park will be closed to the general public for this private event. Guests will enjoy the music of DJs, Matthew Harvat and Phil DaBeatz, as it is heard live throughout the park. The DJs will be spinning together simultaneously as a team bridging two styles that compliment each other and bringing a signature dance floor experience to Six Flags Great America. This amazing LGBT event is expected to welcome people from the five surrounding states coming together to pride-fully celebrate!

Tickets purchased in advance are $35 which includes admission to the park all day long, free parking and admission to the Private Event! A portion of the advance ticket sales will benefit TPAN.

Tickets are available now online at using promo code OUT2012.


A limited number of bus tickets will be available departing from Uptown on Montrose Avenue, 1 block West of Broadway. Busses will depart at 3pm and also at 6pm. All busses will leave the park at 1am and return to Uptown.  Bus tickets are extremely limited. Visit for more information or call 773-878-5323.


A BIG  THANKS  to the generous support of our co-sponsors!, GRAB Magazine, BOI Magazine, The L Stop,  Rainbow Pizza, Absolutely Chicago Segway Tours, and Halsted Healthmart Pharmacy!!



Sunday September 9th – noon – 6pm

At the  gay (Osterman) Hollywood Beach, in CHICAGO!!!

CO$T: FREE. Goes all day until 6PM!   Music!

Come to relax & recover OR to socialize or dance!




About TPAN

Now in its 25th year, TPAN empowers everyone living with or at risk for HIV/AIDS to live open, healthy, and productive lives. TPAN innovates to deliver peer-led support programs and collaborative wellness services and to communicate comprehensive information. TPAN will do so until HIV/AIDS is eradicated.



Since 2007, has been providing the best of everything gay and gay-friendly in the greater Chicago area. Owned and operated by Best Gay Inc., their sites provide news, information, travel tips and entertainment for the LGBT community.


Pianist Philip Fortenberry Jan 22 in Naperville

A true Southern gentleman, pianist Philip Fortenberry will tickle the
ivories whilst telling a story or two when he comes to Naperville.

Fortenberry will perform a cabaret-style show called “Give My Regards”
Jan. 22 at North Central College. The show begins at 6 p.m. in the
College’s Madden Theatre.

During the show, he will perform popular songs spanning all genres and
styles, interspersing them with his own recollections of the many
composers, directors and performers who continue to inspire him.

He has accompanied such legendary Broadway icons as Eartha Kitt, Betty
Buckley, Donna McKechnie and Laurie Beechman
in concerts in New York and
across the nation, and currently serves as the associate conductor of
“Jersey Boys” at the Palazzo Theater in Las Vegas.

“’Give My Regards’ is a show I’ve put together. I’ve had a career of
playing for great shows; great music of all sorts of genres from rock
music to Broadway, and I’ve worked with a lot of amazing artists —
singers, choreographers, conductors and composers,” he said. “This show
essentially pays homage to that music from my perspective. I tell
stories about the music that I play from my perspective as a pianist. I
offer a setting, you might say.”

His show is almost entirely him and the piano.

“I will usually do this number that Katharine Hepburn actually recorded, and who knew she could sing? I figured if she could do it, so could I,” he said with a laugh. “That’s the only reason I would ever sing. I talk, I tell the stories, and I play the songs, essentially.”

Some songs you will hear include medleys from “Mamma Mia” and “Saturday Night Fever;” plus songs from musicals like “Cats” and “Jesus Christ Superstar.” You’ll even hear some ragtime and Liberace’s “Chopsticks.”

“It’s a variety of things,” he said. “It’s such a broad concept. It covers people and experiences in my life.”

Fortenberry has gone from being a four-year-old child plunking around on a toy piano in Southern Mississippi
to playing at the Palazzo Theater in Las Vegas.  It has been a
remarkable journey, he said, and it’s that journey he shares with the

“’Give My Regards’ — there are a lot of people who came across my path
and a lot of experiences I’ve had that are going to bring me to
Naperville, Illinois,” he said. “Never in my life did I dream that is
where I would find myself. It will be an honor to be there.

Get a sneak peak with this video!



Mary Chapin Carpenter in Chicago area Oct. 15th

Acclaimed singer-songwriter, fierce animal lover, and long-time activist, Mary Chapin Carpenter‘s  most recent  album, The Age of Miracles , is a testament that she has indeed traveled so far, as her first song,”We Traveled So Far,” says. 

Mary  has been a dedicated supporter of organizations including Noah’s Wish, Campaign for a Landmine-Free World, Artists Against Hunger and Poverty,  and other organizations.

Her music is poetic, pure and graceful, with her charm and storytelling evident throughout.  “Zephyr” is my favorite track with lyrics: “I tried to be  constant just like a star / I tried to be steady and yar / But the storms keep breaking over my head / I’m aching for blue skies instead”. A good ole-fashioned country song in “I Put My Ring Back On” about giving a relationship another go.  “Holding Up The Sky” poetically and tenderly expresses her experience battling her health concerns, and feeling helplessness, scared and wanting to be free from pain.

When country singer Chely Wright publicly came out, the ONLY  music artist who was publicly been supportive was Mary Chapin Carpenter. Others have been so privately but apparently do not want their fans to know they are LGBT friendly…”only one of those artists — Mary Chapin Carpenter — made a public statement about my coming out,to the positive.”  said Chely….. “Mary Chapin Carpenter said, ‘Chely should be commended for what she’s done.’ My other artist friends reached out to me privately and said they loved me and that they were proud of me, but when asked publicly they said no comment…”

The Age of Miracles is the twelfth studio album from five-time Grammy award-winning Carpenter, including one Grammy-winning and two Grammy-nominated albums. By combining folk, country, acoustic, rock and blues, Carpenter has proven herself to be an artist for whom the conventional boundaries of the music business disappear; she has always professed a love for all kinds of music, and those influences come together in songs that speak to the most personal of life’s details as well as to the most universal.

Don’t miss this Chicagoland appearance!

Dominican University October 15th!  Get Tickets Online!

Mary Chapin Carpenter


My Private Chef at Chicago Botanical Garden for Food Network Hawaiian Food Oct 2

Chef Tong, from My Private Chef,  Prepares
a Hawaiian-Themed Dish during
Food Network Magazine FREE Weekend
at Chicago Botanic Garden.

Put on your grass skirt and Hawaiian shirt for delicious tropical food! You will learn how to prepare a Hawaiian-themed dish by Chef Christopher Tong during the
Food Network Magazine and Hawaiian Islands weekend at Chicago Botanic Garden’s popular annual Garden Chef Series.

Chef Tong’s cooking demonstration will take place on Sunday, October 2, 2011 at 1:30 and 2:30 p.m. in the Regenstein Fruit & Vegetable Garden, Chicago Botanic Garden, 1000 Lake Cook Road, Glencoe, Illinois.

Chef Tong will prepare Hawai‘i-style Chicken Curry with carmelized Apples, Pears and Bananas; served with Coconut rice.

People who are casual cooks or lovers of gourmet food get to ask questions and come away with a fabulous recipe that you can try at home. Chef will give tips on preparation and serving. And, everyone gets to have a taste.

The Hawai‘i Tourism Authority will be demonstrating lei making with fresh flowers and will provide coffee, tea, cacao and macadamia nut samples. Come join the fun!

Admission to the Chicago Botanic Garden and Garden Chef Series is free. Parking is $20.00. For more information about this Garden Chef Series event, call 847.835.5440 or visit

My Private Chef is enjoying popularity as one of Chicago’s favorite private gourmet dining services. Trained in European-style fine cuisine, Chef Tong established his reputation at fine restaurants and hotels in Florida, California, and Chicago. Now he has adapted his impressive skills to the world of private entertaining. My Private Chef offers enticing cuisine for a wide range of events, from intimate dinners to weddings to corporate parties.

For more information about My Private Chef, contact Event Services
at 773.981.8131 or visit them online:


Cloris Leachman in Chicago September 24

Cloris Leachman in
 “Cloris! A One-Woman Show” 
Saturday, Sept. 24, 7:30 p.m.
Dorothy Menker Theater
@  Moraine Valley Community College

” … it’s through a canny mix of melancholy and mirth that Leachman holds us spellbound through her show.” – The San Francisco Chronicle

Leachman’s show is both touching and wildly funny.” – San Jose Mercury News

Enchanting and madly wonderful!” –

The celebrated actress takes you on a hilarious and sometimes poignant journey through her spectacular career and life. Cloris Leachman won an Academy Award for The Last Picture Show, and is the only actor to win nine Emmy Awards.

Now, she shares stories about her Broadway years, the triumph of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, her zany characters in the classic Mel Brooks films Young Frankenstein and High Anxiety, and her recent scene-stealing performances on Dancing with the Stars. The show, set in an imaginary living room, includes video clips, songs and more—including Miss Leachman sitting down at the piano to tackle Rhapsody in Blue and Chopin’s Minute Waltz. A “once-in-a-lifetime” event!

(This show will definitely contain adult langauge!)


More on Cloris Leachman


Crystal Bowersox Returns To Chicago – One Show Sept. 17th

Crystal Bowersox was surrounded by boxes in her Chicago home as she chatted by telephone about the rollercoaster she’s been riding since she was the runner up on Season 9 of Fox television’s American Idol.

Packed and ready for a move to Nashville, the “Farmer’s Daughter” singer now juggles married life as the mom of an infant son, Tony, and a blossoming music career thanks in large part to her stellar performances on the show that won her praise from none other than the notoriously picky Simon Cowell.

“I’m always writing,” she said of her songwriting prowess. “The move to Nashville will just be an asset to me. I want to be there, able to access all of the talent there…and plus, our house will have a bigger back yard!”

The woman who grew up poor began shaping a music career even before she was in high school. The idea to super size her goals came about when she learned she was pregnant and wanted to “give my son everything I never had growing up.”

“I don’t really consider myself an ‘Idol’ contestant,” she said while acknowledging her gratitude to the show. “I was a performer starting at ten years old and I played gigs all over. When I found out I was pregnant, I was playing $100 gigs. I had to find a way to do what I loved and provide for my family.”

Although she’s been embraced by the country music community, Bowersox is ready to let her music muse guide her into whatever genre feels right.

“I love country and pop and rock and all kinds of things,” she said rattling off her favorite performers including Eric Church whose latest single “Homeboy” she deemed “really cool” and the New Jersey-based duo Hoots & Hellmouth.””It  used to be when I was a single lady living alone whenever the moment struck me I would write. Now I write down little phrases and lines and when it comes album time, I have all these notes. Sometimes, though, songs come from somewhere else and it could be pop or country or I don’t know.”

Crystal Bowersox returns to Chicago Septempber 17th, with one show at Dominican Univerisity, Lund Auditorium, 7900 West Division St.  GET TICKETS   ONLINE!~


Chicago Series 2011 – 35th Annual NAGAAA Gay Softball World Series is Underway

LAST NIGHT was the Official Opening Ceremonies for the 2011 Gay Softball WorldSeries!

The huge event was in the Grand Ballroom at  Navy Pier and it is estimated there were over 4,000 in attendance!

Athletes from around the country are here for a week of games and special events.  The games are  taking place at three separate complexes in Schaumburg, Elmhurst and St. Charles. Organizers say the games are expected to bring in more than $5 million in business to the city.

Nine Chicago teams are participating with at least one team in each division. The softball tournament consists of  150 teams from 41 cities in North American in five divisions.


Many of the athletes  will sing, dance, perform sketch comedy or show other special talents, at the annual NAGAAA Talent Show. This year’s event will take place in the Grand Ball Room at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare with all proceeds to benefit the designated Series 2011 charities.

* CHICAGO SINGER   Michael Scott McBride will be sharing his amazing vocals and music which  can best be described as ‘Gospirational’ with a hint of dance.

Emceed by: Tajma Hall,  You will not want to miss this year’s Talent Show. This will be like no other!

When: August 31, 2011
Show starts at 7:00pm
Where: Hyatt Regency O’Hare Grand Ballroom

Then –

Closing Ceremonies

 “Final Say” and “DJ Bill Bennett” Help Wrap Up
World’s Largest Annual LGBT Sporting Event

When: Saturday September 3
Time: 4:00pm – 10:00pm
Where: Waveland Ave in Boystown between Halsted and Broadway



The 35th annual Gay Softball World Series (GSWS), wrap-up a week of softball and social events with a closing awards ceremony and street fair in Boystown on Saturday, September 3, from 4:00-10:00p.m.

The event, which is presented in partnership with the Chicago Metropolitan Sports Association (CMSA), will take place on Waveland Avenue between Halsted and Broadway streets and feature local cover band Final Say and world-renowned DJ Bill Bennett. 



“We’re proud to partner with CMSA and the Northhalsted Business Alliance to close out a week of softball and social events in Boystown,” said Ted Cappas, President, Series 2011.
“We have received incredible support from the community and are especially grateful to our co-sponsor, CMSA, and Alderman James Cappleman, who understand the significance of this event for our community and our local businesses.”

Series 2011 plans to recognize all of the tournament’s championship teams during the closing event. Additionally, the Chicago Cubs (a Series 2011 sponsor) will welcome representatives from the winning teams onto Wrigley Field on Sunday, September 4 for a special recognition ceremony prior to their 1:20pm game against the Pittsburgh Pirates. That Sunday is also Pride Day at Wrigley, brought to you by the Windy City Times, a Series 2011 media partner.  

ALSO  ON SUNDAY – there is a post game party event at SIDETRACK.  Singer Michael Scott McBride will perform.

Admission is free for all Series 2011 participants and CMSA Members.

Sports enthusiasts and members of the LGBT and greater Chicagoland community are welcome and encouraged to attend the Closing Street Fair for a $5 suggested donation at the gate, which will benefit Series 2011 charity partners.

See more  photos  on 
OUR Facebook  Page

get up to the date news  on
GSWS Facebook Page

Best Gay


Patty Duke in Chicago Area to benefit Open Door Clinic

 Patty Duke Live

September 18, 2011 at 2:00 P.M.

Aracada Theater
105 East Main Street in St. Charles

 Buy your tickets online now!


The afternoon starts with the showing of Patty’s Academy Award winning film “The Miracle Worker” After the film there will be a ‘Question & Answer’ interview with Patty.

Patty will not be signing after the show due to the ‘Meet & Greet’ after the show for the VIP ticket holders only. Photos and books signed by Patty will be available for purchase in the theater lobby.


General admission: $25.00 each (Includes film and Q&A with Patty)

VIP admission only: $55.00 each (60 tickets available. Includes film, Q&A and ‘Meet & Greet’ with a photo of your choice for Patty to be personalized) Patty will have many photos to choose from her collection. You may also bring items from your personal collection for Patty to sign at $20.00 per signature. You may also bring your own camera to take photos with Patty.

Light Hors D’oeuvers will be served at the ‘Meet & Greet’ with a cash beer & wine bar.

All proceeds benefit Open Door Clinic.



Concert Stage in Indiana Collapses and Claims a Chicago Lesbians Life


  CNN  reported – As a colleague and as a friend, Christina Santiago always had a way  of bringing people together.


That happened yet again on Sunday evening at Chicago’s Howard Brown Health Center, where Santiago worked for nearly six years. But for the dozens gathered there, this meeting could not have been for a worse reason: They were there to remember the 29-year-old, one of five people killed the previous night when a stage collapsed at the Indiana State Fair.

The makeshift memorial service came together less than 24 hours after Santiago was killed, while awaiting a performance from the Atlanta-based country duo Sugarland. Her partner  Alisha Brennon  was severely injured in the incident.

The three-story stage crumpled onto the crowd at the Indiana State Fair within seconds of being slammed by a powerful wind gust, but the disaster that killed a Chicago woman and four other people seemed to unfold “almost in slow motion,” a suburban doctor said Monday.

They had both mentioned being at the concert on Facebook, said Veronica Hernandez, who knew them.

Santiago had called it a “perfect night” for the couple, Hernandez told WGN. Brennon, too, described the evening as “perfect,” Hernandez told the Tribune.  

Brennon and Santiago had been among the first couples to obtain a civil union in Cook County when it became legal earlier this year, Hernandez said.


Carlton Gardens…A unique Gift shop in West Michigan Just Past Saugatuck

 Saugatuck and Douglas
are filled with all sorts of little gift shops and art galleries…but once you have seen them all, then what? 

On a recent trip  to Saugautuck someone told me about CARLTON GARDENS. This is West Michigans Best Kept Secret!  But not for long!

Just about 40 minutes from the Saugatuck area, this is an amazing little piece of land, beautifully landscaped and full of all kinds of gifts and art., in Grand Rapids.

Carlton Gardens is much more than an enchanting gift shop with unusual wall hangings, floral arrangements, antiques, and garden décor—with nooks and crannies around every corner. The main house is the first stop.  Lot’s of clothes, jewelry,  purses and accessories, mostly all for women, but also lots of lamps, lights and home decor.

In the surrounding yard and gardens you with find walkways leading to a vast array of yard art, benches, baskets, and unique gifts.

Here in this acre of country hidden right inside the city are 4 gazebos, 2 ponds, 2 bridges and 9 out-buildings: the Barn, the Garden House, the Christmas House, the Potting Shed, the Outhouse, the Coop, Breton Cottage, the Apple House, and Chapel by the Bridge, complete with stained glass windows.

Gifts and trinkets and yard art everywhere. You can literally spend a couple hours here.

In fact, owner Ruth Tucker told us she encourages folks to pack a basket lunch and come on out and spend an afternoon.  One of the lovely screened gazebos has great lawn furniture inside, and shoppers are encouraged to come and hang out and enjoy this hidden gem.

While I find many of the galleries and gift shops in Saugatuck and Douglas, a bit overpriced, I found Carlton gardens  EXTREMELY reasonable!  Huge pieces of metal yard art ran $15-$350.  With many in the $60-$80 range.  It is  so beautiful and very affordable.

The property is filled with all of these little  “sheds”  and buildings, each filled with more art and more gifts!

There is even a little Halloween  building and a Christmas building.

Ruth runs the shop and keeps the grounds up with her husband John. Ruth is actually quite the trailblazer!  (Google her!) 

Ruth A. Tucker was for six years a professor of missions at Calvin Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids, and before that taught for seventeen years at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois. She is the author of seventeen books, including From Jerusalem to Irian Jaya, Another Gospel, Women in the Maze and Walking Away from Faith.

Ruth was the first full-time woman professor in  Calvin Theological Seminarys 125-year history.    
In 2003, less than 3 months after Cornelius Plantinga, Jr. was installed as the new president,  “I was, without warning, removed from tenure track and given a terminal appointment. I have repeatedly asked that all the evidence be opened only to be blocked by a dishonest cover-up. When independent mediators were retained by the seminary board in 2005, they called for “retroactive pay to 2003,” among other things. That report was buried. I finished my second terminal appointment on August 31, 2006.”   Talk about an emotional roller coaster!


 So these days she and her husband devote all of their time to  the gift shop and all of its grounds. It really truly is enchanting! I have never seen anything like it. And I encourage anyone looking for unique gifts to give, or for yourself or your yard, make the drive to see Ruth and her amazing gardens!  Plan to spend a couple hours, and bring your checkbook. I don’t see how anyone could possibly leave this place without buying something. Four of us went to the shop and all left with bags of gifts!

Ruth said a lot of gay people have discovered her little shop over the last few years and word has been spreading. 

Her and her husband have actually had the store since 1996. But in recent years have made a lot of changes and additions. They are ALWAYS working on it. In fact, since I was there in July, they have made more changes and additions!

 And they are always getting in new merchandise.
“Much of unique yard art comes from various artists around Michigan.

Ruth says, “Sure, we sell sculptures (and chimes, bird houses, furniture, floral, baskets, pillows, paintings, clothes, collectibles, jewelry and much more). But you need not purchase a thing. Just come and enjoy our wonderful grounds. Bring a lunch and eat it in one of our four gazebos, two of them by waterfalls. Wander over the bridge into our sculpture garden where magic unfolds! 

Hope to see you soon!”

3140 Breton Rd. S.E. ,  3 blocks south of 28th St. S.E.
See lots of  photos on the website  and on Facebook.
Phone: 616-974-1062
Hours: Mon-Fri: 10 am-5 pm ,   Sat: 10 am-3 pm

*PS –   While you are in Grand Rapids, you might want to visit  Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park. Comprised of 132 acres of natural wetlands, woodlands, meadows and display gardens, Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park is a year-round experience with indoor tropical, arid, carnivorous, Victorian and seasonal gardens, changing sculpture galleries with exhibitions by international artists, and outdoor acreage featuring an internationally acclaimed Sculpture Park, Children’s Garden, Michigan’s Farm Garden, amphitheater for summer concert events, nature trails and boardwalks.


Moraine Valley Academic Theater presents ‘Sexual Perversity in Chicago’

The Obie award-winning
“Sexual Perversity in Chicago”
 is the next production for Moraine Valley Community College’s Academic Theater Department

Performances will be
April 28 to 30 and
 May 6 to 7 at 7:30 p.m.,
and May 1 at 3 p.m.

The play will be in the Dorothy Menker Theater, in the Fine and Performing Arts Center, on campus, 9000 W. College Pkwy., Palos Hills. Tickets are just $12 for the general public and $10 for seniors and students.
Please note: This play includes adult language and sexual content and is not appropriate for minors.

The four characters in “Sexual Perversity in Chicago” are a representation of 20-somethings co-habiting and mating in urban America in 2011. This tragic satire is the story of one couple who meets, begins a relationship and moves in together. The show starts out comically, ends seriously and is a look at how people influence their friends.

The play was written by David Mamet in the 1970s and is set in Chicago. While some of the references have been updated to reflect current day, many of them have been retained because they are still relevant. The play was revived in London about five years ago.

“Despite the graphic language and sexual content, this is a beloved Chicago play that still is respected in the theater,” said Dr. Craig Rosen, the director of the show and an associate professor of Theater at the college. “It focuses on the age group students at Moraine Valley are or are on the verge of being.”

Tickets for “Sexual Perversity in Chicago” and other upcoming performances can be purchased at, by calling (708) 974-5500, or at the Box Office located on the south end of the Fine and Performing Arts Center.