In Angels in America, playwright Tony Kushner served up a telling portrayal of the legendary and ruthless New York lawyer Roy Cohn, chief counsel to the late Sen. Joe McCarthy during his anticommunist and antigay purges of the fifties. Cohn was intoxicated by his own raw power – by his ability to pick up the phone and get people like Nancy Reagan or Donald Trump to move mountains for him. In the play, Cohn, dying of AIDS in 1986, explains his refusal to admit to others – or even to himself – that he is gay. “Homosexuals are men who know nobody and who nobody knows,” he notes, bitterly.
While Kushner wrote these words largely to reflect Cohn’s self-loathing, they also reflected, at the time, a larger truth. Prior to the nineties, the number of openly gay New Yorkers in positions of power was almost nil. Certainly, there have long been people in fashion, the arts, and literature known to be homosexual, and they have exerted unquestionable cultural impact. But that’s different from raw power, at least in Cohn’s understanding of the word. Sixteen years ago, there were no openly gay politicians in New York. No open gays on Wall Street. No openly gay advertising executives. No openly gay editors-in-chief. Today, openly gay men and women are prominent in the upper echelons of every profession in the city, helping to run the world’s nerve center.
As a voting bloc, with neighborhoods that stretch across Manhattan and into the outer boroughs, gays are also a group that politicians, from Rudy Giuliani to Mark Green to Hillary Clinton to George Pataki, now court both for votes and for money.
How did gays and lesbians accrue so much power in so short a time? Unlike many other minority groups, gays have never been absent from the city’s hierarchy. They simply have been hidden. Thus, theirs has been less a movement about getting people into positions of power as it has been about allowing people already in power to come out of the closet, paving the way for those in the next generation to advance while being out themselves.
On the following pages, New York’s editors present 101 such New Yorkers, all of them openly gay. And though the closet clearly remains an issue in fields such as finance and sports, their difficulty in narrowing the list down that far is a sign of how far gays have come. But making the cut wasn’t simply about having power in one professional sphere: They also factored in their impact on New York’s gay community, and on the city at large. And if a few familiar names are conspicuously absent, it might be because they’re still not out.
GAY POWER 101
Edward ALBEE The Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? became an immediate classic, and is still considered one of the most chill-inducing renderings of a dysfunctional marriage around. Other hits include The Zoo Story, The Death of Bessie Smith, and Three Tall Women. His latest, The Play About the Baby, opened Off Broadway to mixed reviews.
Alan BALL The onetime playwright and successful screenwriter won the Oscar last year for American Beauty.
Deborah BATTS A federal District Court judge for the Southern District of New York, the Philadelphia-born African-American is the highest-ranking openly gay judge in the country.
Andrew BEAVER The former executive vice-president at Deutsch Advertising is now client-services director and managing partner at the New York office of TBWA/Chiat/Day, overseeing such mega-accounts as Kmart, Revlon, Circuit City, and Samsonite.
Sandra BERNHARD The part-time novelist and cabaret performer (I’m Still Here … Damn It!) and acerbic fashionista made her terrific debut in Scorsese’s King of Comedy, following that up with a brilliant one-woman show, Without You I’m Nothing, and an entertaining feud with Madonna over Ingrid Casares. Recently put down roots in West Chelsea with her daughter.
Scott BESSENT A former top executive for George Soros, he now runs his own hedge fund, which with $1 billion in assets is among the largest in the world.
Roger BLACK As art director of the Times and Rolling Stone, Black secured his legacy as the world’s most prolific and oft-imitated print-design guru. A pioneer in desktop publishing, he redesigned Newsweek, Esquire, and Ad Age. Now his Interactive Bureau design firm is just as influential online.
Ross BLECKNER Artist who played a major role in the revival of American painting in the eighties. A 1995 Guggenheim retrospective of the work of this art-scene fixture, philanthropist, and relentless socialite helped cement his reputation as a world-class artist.
Stefania BORTOLAMI Seems like everyone struts around Chelsea in Prada or Jil Sander, but few can call them clients. Two years ago, Bortolami’s wheeling and dealing caught the attention of superdealer Larry Gagosian, who snatched her up for himself. Now, as gallery director, she represents such artists as Jeff Koons and Damien Hirst.
Laura BROWN Recently appointed president of Oxford University Press the world’s largest university press after more than twenty years with the company. In the past two years, Oxford has nabbed two Pulitzers, for David M. Kennedy’s Freedom From Fear and Gotham: A History of New York City to 1898, by Edwin G. Burrows and Mike Wallace.
Peter BROWN The international P.R. guru got his start managing the Beatles and opened his firm in 1983. Clients include Paine Webber, Ralph Lauren, Disney, Andrew Lloyd Webber, and the prince of Wales. His July 4 fireworks party is one of the highlights of the Hamptons social season.
Robby BROWNE Senior vice-president at Douglas Elliman and the top-producing broker there for nine out of twelve years, he’s known for his very high-profile clients, including Whoopi Goldberg, Mariah Carey, and Ian Schrager.
Jonathan CAPEHART The former Daily News editorial writer won the Pulitzer for taking on the Harlem power Establishment to save the Apollo Theater. He’s now national-affairs columnist at Bloomberg.
Donald CAPOCCIA A Republican real-estate developer with close ties to both Rudy and Pataki, he was one of the few openly gay people on George W. Bush’s advisory transition team. Capoccia helped spur the Tompkins Square riots when he tried to evict squatters from his buildings. These days, he’s building middle-income housing in Harlem.
Erich CONRAD The platinum-tressed nightlife impresario threw his first party for Andy Warhol and has been going strong since. “Beige,” his Tuesday-night B-Bar shindig, is the salon of choice for Manhattan’s gay A-list. This month, he’s taking over as social director of Eric Goode’s Chelsea Park.
Michael CUNNINGHAM Among the most celebrated writers to emerge in the past decade; his fourth novel, The Hours, won both the 1999 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the pen/Faulkner Award. A film based on the novel is now in production, with Meryl Streep and Nicole Kidman.
Lea DELARIA The popular comedian is currently doing double drag duty as Eddie and Dr. Scott in The Rocky Horror Show, having wowed both critics and audiences with her bravura performance in Broadway’s On the Town. Next up: Showtime’s Further Tales of the City, WB’s cartoon The Oblongs, and a jazz album, Play It Cool, arriving in May.
Dennis DELEON The city’s former human-rights commissioner is now president of the Latino Commission on AIDS and a staunch, often lonely advocate on behalf of AIDS spending and prevention in the city’s hard-hit black and Latino communities.
Bill DOBBS The contrarian attorney and media hound doggedly manages to push his way into every story about gay rights, usually with an angle that enrages other gay advocates and brings attention to his pet causes. Recently led Jimmy Breslin and his wife, Councilwoman Ronnie Eldridge, on a tour of sex clubs in Queens.
Sean DRISCOLL The head of Glorious Food still runs the preeminent caterer in town, dishing up cuisine for the city’s most important benefits and galas.
Martin DUBERMAN The most esteemed historian of gay life in America. An award-winning author, with more than eighteen books to his credit, he founded cuny’s Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies and teaches history at the graduate school.
Ramon ESCOBAR As executive producer at MSNBC, he’s one of the highest-ranking gay TV-news executives in the country, in charge of almost all breaking-news and hard-news programming at the growing 24-hour news network.
Rupert EVERETT The English actor, sometime author, and Versace model started out as an indie dreamboat in Another Country before going on to become Hollywood’s favorite gay boy in My Best Friend’s Wedding and The Next Best Thing. Next up: The lead in The Importance of Being Earnest.
Patricia FIELD The legendary downtown retailer and Emmy-nominated costume designer (for Sex and the City and Spin City) continues to be a fashion-world trailblazer, lighting up staid fashion shows with neon-red hair and matching attitude.
Ed FILIPOWSKI Took over the fashion-P.R. powerhouse KCD (together with co-owner Julie Mannion) in 1991 and assumed one of the most powerful positions in fashion. He controls access to such top designers as Gucci, Versace, and Yves Saint Laurent and the seats to the world’s top runway shows, from Helmut Lang to Marc Jacobs.
Matt FOREMAN Heads up the largest state political lobby, Empire State Pride Agenda, and finally got the state hate-crimes bill passed last year. A thoughtful, shoot-from-the-hip strategist, Foreman played a key role in Hillary Clinton’s campaign and exerts considerable influence on city politics.
Barbara GAINES The recently promoted executive producer of The Late Show With David Letterman has survived twenty years with the late-night comic, and just won an Emmy to show for it.
GAY POLITICOS These Democrats brought gay power out of the closet and into elective office in the nineties: Deborah Glick, State Assembly (Manhattan); Tom DUANE, State Senate (Manhattan); Margarita Lopez, City Council (Lower East Side); Phil Reed, City Council (Upper West Side); Christine Quinn, City Council (Chelsea).
Ethan GETO Canny behind-the-scenes operator active in local and gay politics, he managed Bob Abrams’s Senate campaign. Now a partner in the high-powered P.R. firm Geto & de Milly, he represents Broadway theater owners and the American Cancer Society, among others.
Emily GISKE A prominent Albany lobbyist and a vice-chair of the state Democratic Party, she’s been a behind-the-scenes fixture (and fixer) in New York politics for twenty years, close to some of the state’s top political players. She has both Schumer and Hillary on her speed dial.
Brian GRAYDON The 37-year-old president of programming for MTV splits his time between L.A. and New York, and develops all content for the music channel and launched the smash South Park.
E. Lynn HARRIS The popular author’s most recent book, Not a Day Goes By, made its debut at No. 1 on the Publishers Weekly list, and he just sold two new books to Hollywood for a high six-figure payout.
Ashton HAWKINS The impeccably connected recently retired general counsel and executive vice-president of the Metropolitan Museum of Art was a founding board member of the World Monuments Fund. A close friend of Jackie Onassis’s, he’s a longtime society fixture who rarely steps out without an entourage.
Fred HOCHBERG The son of tchotchkes queen Lillian Vernon was co-chair of the Human Rights Campaign and a big Democratic donor. In 1998, he was appointed by President Clinton to the No. 2 slot at the Small Business Administration (with a little push from then Sen. Al D’Amato).
Roni HORN Sculptor and photographer who ranks among such minimalist masters as Dan Flavin, Donald Judd, and Carl Andre.
Marc JACOBS Girls love Marc Jacobs, say the ads, but so do boys, especially now that he’s opened a West Village men’s store. Jacobs, one of fashion’s most street-savvy designers, splits his time between New York and Paris, where he designs the red-hot Vuitton line.
Jasper JOHNS A modern-art pioneer who hit the bull’s-eye with his images of targets and flags in the fifties and sixties, he’s widely regarded as one of the greatest living American artists. moma gave him a major show in 1996, and his works have become American icons.
Philip JOHNSON At 95, he’s the twentieth century’s most revered architect, responsible for the Seagram Building, the AT&T Building, the Glass House, New York State Theater, the New York State Pavilion at the World’s Fair, and countless other gems and, less memorably, for the Trump International Hotel & Tower.
Ronald JOHNSON An adviser on health issues to mayors Giuliani and Dinkins, he’s now a top honcho at Gay Men’s Health Crisis, helping to shore up the beleaguered AIDS-service organization, still the world’s largest.
Marcy KAHN A lawyer long active in gay causes, she was appointed by Governor Cuomo to the State Supreme Court in 1994, making her the first openly gay person to sit on the state bench.
Chip KIDD Knopf’s legendary book-cover designer single-handedly revolutionized the form, making even insufferable tomes seem enticing. He recently sold his first novel, The Cheese Monkey, to Scribner for six figures.
Andrew KIRTZMAN The veteran NY1 reporter is one of the most astute pundits on television, and his recent Rudy bio made front-page news.
Howard KOEPPEL A close Giuliani pal and one of the mayor’s top fund-raisers, he owns a slew of car dealerships in Queens. His friendship with the mayor landed his lover a job in Giuliani’s Department of Cultural Affairs. But with the mayor not long for City Hall, he’s now cozying up to Mark Green.
Michael KORS He’s the darling of Seventh Avenue and fave designer of the Upper East Side set, who swear by his luxurious, casual-chic sportswear (for both his signature and Celine), famously modeled by Rene Russo in The Thomas Crown Affair. In 1999 he won the CFDA Designer of the Year award.
Larry KRAMER Hasn’t written a play in years, or led an act-up demonstration since last century, but the acclaimed author and prickly conscience of the gay-rights movement can still pick up the phone and lecture Tom Brokaw or Leslie Stahl on their gay and AIDS coverage. Everyone takes his call.
David KUHN Tina Brown’s deputy at The New Yorker and Talk, Kuhn was the first person Steve Brill turned to when he launched Contentville, and when he decided to kick himself upstairs at Brill’s Content. As editor-in-chief, Kuhn has softened Content’s media-scold persona and steadily broadened its reach.
David LACHAPELLE Leading photographer whose hyper, digitally manipulated pop style has attracted a cult following and brought him work at Vanity Fair and other top magazines. Part of the East Village underground, he is often seen around town with such carnivalesque nightclub fixtures as Amanda Lepore.
Nathan LANE Jumped from being Broadway’s best-kept secret to a household name as Robin Williams’s live-in lover in Mike Nichols’s 1996 hit The Birdcage. Though his TV series, Encore! Encore!, flopped, Lane had huge success once again with Guys and Dolls and A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. Next up: the much-anticipated The Producers, with Matthew Broderick.
Helmut LANG Cutting-edge Viennese-born New York designer whose spare, modern collections have become an urban uniform of cool. Business was acquired for a hefty sum by Italian label Prada and is poised to be a fashion megabrand.
Arthur LAURENTSThe playwright, screenwriter, and author of Gypsy, West Side Story, and The Way We Were just wrote a memoir documenting his 50 years in Hollywood and on Broadway.
Fran LEBOWITZ The Dorothy Parker of the Hudson Hotel set, Lebowitz is said to be nearing completion of her latest novel, a very belated follow-up to the still-trenchant Social Studies and Metropolitan Life.
Arthur LEVINE Editorial director of an eponymous imprint at Scholastic, he is the editor responsible for Harry Potter-mania on this side of the Atlantic. Apparently had a complete makeover – from hair to toe when J. K. Rowling’s series started to fly off the bookshelves and create a pop-cultural frenzy.
Patrick MCCARTHY The powerful chairman and editorial director of Fairchild Publications, he oversees W, Women’s Wear Daily, Jane, and Details. His influence on the fashion world expanded even further after Condé Nast bought Fairchild last year.
Terrence MCNALLY Playwright and New York theater powerhouse whose Love! Valour! Compassion! snagged a Tony for Best Play. Other stage successes include The Ritz, Lips Together, and Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune, which was made into a movie starring Pacino.
Steven MEISEL Vogue’s in-house contract photographer, major contributor to the fashion-photography bibles, and the lensman behind fashion’s leading ad campaigns. The guy responsible for Linda, Naomi, and Christy initiates and inspires new trends in fashion photography and is an anointer of new modeling talent.
Tobias MEYER Sotheby’s worldwide head of contemporary art has broken record after record for postwar art and helped send prices for works by living artists skyrocketing.
Michael MUSTO Probably the main if not the only reason gay people still snatch up The Village Voice. For fifteen years, his wicked weekly column has been one of the guiltiest pleasures on the printed page.
Thomas O’BRIEN Interior designer famed for his warm modernist style, which is a hit with downtown and creative types. The former creative director of Polo Ralph Lauren opened his Aero Studios in 1992 and has since designed Giorgio Armani’s New York penthouse and commercial spaces for Ralph Lauren and Donna Karan.
Patrick O’NEILL One half of the star advertising creative team that produced the first gay TV spot in 1998 (for Ikea), he’s worked for more than 22 major ad firms, designing campaigns for Coca-Cola, Evian, and Volvo, among others. Now a managing partner and co-creative director at TBWA/Chiat/ Day’s New York office.
Catherine OPIE When she was living in L.A., this photographer made us take a different look at its strip malls, freeways, and nouveaux riches mansions. Now the much sought-after camerawoman and Yale professor continues to create politically charged work that brings the city’s underground to light.
Jim PEPPER The courtly southern-bred philanthropist directs millions to community-based gay organizations through the Stonewall Foundation, which he founded in 1990.
Robert RAUSCHENBERG The legendary artist’s use of appropriated images and urban junk helped take art off the wall. Still prolific and continuously inventive after five decades. The Guggenheim had to devote both its uptown and its downtown locales to house his 1997 retrospective.
Terence RILEY Became director of moma’s department of architecture and design in 1992, just one year after joining the venerable institution as curator. Still a practicing architect, the ever-busy Riley has built himself a solid and powerful place in the design world.
Larry RINDER Arrived from the Bay Area last spring to become curator of contemporary art at the Whitney Museum and chief curator for the still immensely influential Whitney Biennial in 2002.
Narciso RODRIGUEZ Immediately thrust on the social and fashion map when he designed the wedding dress for Carolyn Bessette Kennedy. Won over the fashion set with clean, sleek, glamorous collections and picked up a design director’s job at LVMH brand Loewe along the way.
Adam R. ROSE President of Rose Associates, a real-estate-development-and-management firm that manages 14,000 residential units (of which it owns about a quarter) in New York City. Scion of one of the city’s great real-estate families, he is also a major philanthropist.
Allen ROSKOFF Loud and sometimes abrasive, he’s a veteran and effective City Hall adviser on gay issues and a top aide to mayoral front-runner Mark Green. Don’t cross him: Everyone will know about it via the outgoing message on his home answering machine.
Scott RUDIN The most prolific, eclectic (and feared) producer in Hollywood is fast making his mark on Broadway as well. Though he has his own studio at Paramount, Rudin occasionally produces for Disney and other companies. Credits include The Addams Family, The Truman Show, and In & Out. Coming up: Zoolander, directed by Ben Stiller, and, onstage, The Royal Tenenbaums, directed by Wes Anderson.
Mark SCHOOFS After winning a Pulitzer for his groundbreaking reporting on AIDS in Africa for The Village Voice, he was quickly snapped up by the Wall Street Journal.
Walter SCHUBERT The first and only openly gay member of the New York Stock Exchange. Schubert’s family has been on the exchange for generations, and he founded and runs Gay Financial Network.
Sam SHAHID Legendary art director and current creative director of Interview, responsible for the memorable sex-charged Calvin ad images in the eighties and that gay coffee-table essential, Abercrombie & Fitch’s Quarterly. Makes or breaks many a model’s career.
Ingrid SISCHY As the editor of ArtForum in the eighties, she helped usher in a new generation of art-world stars like Julian Schnabel, Francisco Clemente, and Jeff Koons (who all remain close pals, of course). Now, as editor of Interview, she’s cultivated a global network of rich, famous friends that (almost) rivals Warhol’s. Who else could hook up Elton and Eminem?
David SLOAN An ABC News heavyweight who started at the network over twenty years ago, he’s now the executive producer of 20/20 Friday, the network’s flagship (and highest-rated) newsmagazine. The founder of 20/20 Downtown, he was brought in at the request of Barbara Walters to give an edge to the Friday show.
Liz SMITH The 77-year-old Queen of Gossip and New York icon shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon. She’s still clinking champagne flutes at A-list parties on both coasts and pumping out a daily dose of celebrity dish at the New York Post that’s syndicated in nearly 70 nationwide newspapers. Last year, the jubilant Texan published Natural Blonde, her best-selling memoir. But don’t call her gay. She’s bi!
William SOFIELD An interiors architect with a strong modernist bent mixed with a craft tradition, Sofield has been in the international fashion and design limelight since he redesigned the New York and Beverly Hills Gucci stores, with Yves Saint Laurent makeover to follow. Also designed the interior of the SoHo Grand Hotel.
Andrew SOLOMON An impeccably connected writer who has written extensively on Russian art, euthanasia, foreign policy, and medical issues. Solomon’s much-anticipated book on depression, The Noonday Demon, will be published this summer.
Stephen SONDHEIM Considered by many to be the finest living composer, the 70-year-old lyricist-composer had his breakthrough with the musical Company. Since then, he has added to his sterling résumé Sunday in the Park With George and A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, not to mention the lyrics to Gypsy and West Side Story. In 1997, he received the National Medal of Arts Award from President Clinton.
Darren STAR The protégé of Aaron Spelling became a household name after creating Beverly Hills 90210 and executive-producing Melrose Place. As executive producer of HBO’s Sex and the City, he introduced the Cosmo to places like Dubuque. But his latest venture, The $treet, was canceled by Fox.
David STEWARD The Time Inc. golden boy helped build Martha Stewart’s empire as COO of Living Omnimedia, then left to be CEO of TV Guide until its merger in 1999. He is now CEO of Earthnoise, a streaming-video company.
James A. STEWART A Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and former page 1 editor of the Wall Street Journal, he wrote the best-selling Den of Thieves and Blood Sport, among other books. He now writes on business and politics for The New Yorker.
Catharine STIMPSON Among the leading luminaries of American academic life, she serves not only as dean of New York University’s Graduate School of Arts & Science but also as director of the MacArthur Fellows Program, which annually awards “Genius” grants worth $500,000 apiece.
Andy TOBIAS Recently elected to a second term as DNC treasurer after raising a record amount during last year’s elections, the influential investor, best-selling author, and financial writer incessantly calls just about everyone else on this list and beyond, extracting money and cutting deals.
Henry VANAMERINGEN The largest single benefactor to such gay causes in the city as the Center and In the Life, this septuagenarian is heir to the International Fragrance Corporation, the De Beers of the perfume industry.
Junior VASQUEZ Now entering his third decade behind the turntables, the legendary D.J. still reigns supreme on dance floors thanks to a Saturday-night party at Twilo that extends further and further into Sunday every year. A master mixer who’s worked with everyone from Whitney Houston to Madonna, he just released a CD for Virgin.
Olive WATSON The IBM heiress sits on the board of the state’s gay lobby, the Empire State Pride Agenda. A generous philanthropist who focuses on women’s and gay issues, she’s an avid pilot who flies her own plane. She and her partner have a 4-year-old son.
George C. WOLFE Head of the Public Theater, who made his mark with his plays The Colored Museum and Jelly’s Last Jam, both about racism and black culture in America. He was inducted into the theatrical canon in 1996 when he won a Tony for Bring In ‘Da Noise, Bring In ‘Da Funk.
Evan WOLFSON The senior staff attorney at Lambda Legal Defense Fund, he’s argued some of the major gay cases of the decade, including the battle for marriage rights and last year’s Supreme Court challenge to the Boy Scouts. In June, The National Law Journal named him one of the 100 most influential lawyers in America.
Tony WRIGHT As chief strategy and planning officer for North America at Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide, he heads up all advertising, direct-marketing, and interactive at the mammoth communications conglomerate. Brought in such clients as BP Amoco, Goldman Sachs, and Motorola, and just launched the Blue card for American Express.
Dr. Christopher BARLEY and Jonathan SHEFFER Sheffer, a composer and conductor, oversees (and helps bankroll) the well-regarded Eos orchestra. Barley, an internist, was one of Hillary’s health-care advisers. The couple is active in state and local politics and helped raised wads of cash for both Hillary’s campaign and the DNC.
Jonathan BURNHAM and Joe DOLCE Burnham is president and publisher of Talk Miramax Books, which recently snagged a series of high-profile authors: David Boies, Rudy Giuliani, Madeleine Albright, and Dr. Jerri Nielsen, whose South Pole memoir, Icebound, hit No. 1 on the Times nonfiction list. Dolce, the former Details editor and co-founder of Fashion Wire Daily, is now developing film and TV projects.
Kate CLINTON and Urvashi VAID A writer and renowned grassroots organizer, Vaid ran the D.C.-based National Gay and Lesbian Task Force before taking a plum job at the Ford Foundation. Clinton, a comedian, now has a regular stint on CNN, taking jabs at politicians and infusing the depressed network with needed humor.
Ann GODOFF and Annik LA FARGE Random House president and editor-in-chief Godoff’s successes include best-sellers like Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, The God of Small Things, and White Teeth. La Farge, the senior V.P. of Contentville.com, beat out four other e-publishers for rights to James Ellroy’s Widespread Panic, and signed e-books by Ed McBain and Elmore Leonard.
Parker LADD and Arnold SCAASI The last of New York’s couturiers, Scaasi famously dressed Barbara Bush and created the black-tulle-pants outfit Barbra Streisand tripped over when she accepted her Oscar in 1969. Ladd, his partner of three decades, is head of the Literacy Partners.
Matthew MARKS and Jack BANKOWSKY The Tina Brown and Harry Evans of the art world. Marks represents Nan Goldin, Ellsworth Kelly, Willem de Kooning, and Lucian Freud and owns the first and still most influential gallery to move to Chelsea. Bankowsky edits ArtForum.
Lily TOMLIN and Jane WAGNER The star of 9 to 5 and The Incredible Shrinking Woman, and one of America’s most influential comics, Tomlin has inspired everyone from Kathy Najimy to Whoopi Goldberg. Her Broadway show turned movie The Search for Intelligent Life in the Universe was just updated for the millennium by Wagner, her partner and collaborator for 30 years.
Jann WENNER and Matt NYE Wenner, the rock groupie turned power publisher, founded Rolling Stone in 1967, when he was just 20 years old, parlaying it into a top-notch media conglomerate that includes Men’s Journal and US Weekly. Nye, a menswear designer, won the CFDA’s Perry Ellis award for Best New Designer in 1999.
CHERRY ON TOP
“When I think about it, I’ve had some swell leading ladies,” says actress Cherry Jones. Diane Lane fell for her in Twelfth Night; she had a “nice little seduction scene” with Hope Davis in Anne-Marie MacDonald’s Goodnight Desdemona, Good Morning Juliet; and, most recently, she was the love of Brooke Shields’s life in the Lifetime film What Makes a Family, based on a true-life custody battle. “This film is the most important thing I’ve ever done,” says Jones. “It was just such a pleasure to get to portray what felt like a true lesbian experience.”
As a child in Paris, Tennessee, Jones dreamed of working in New York: “I used to play in the woods and pretend the rocks were the towers of Manhattan.” Though her stage career has won her an impassioned following, film roles have rarely made the most of her mix of radiant intelligence and vibrant sexuality. Cradle Will Rock, in which she played theater legend Hallie Flanagan, was a delightful exception: “I walked into a room of journalists and they asked how this was going to change my career, and I said as a middle-aged lesbian in the film world I didn’t think a flood of offers was going to be a problem. After a pause, a journalist stood up and said, ‘Do you know how unique you are? We’ve never heard an actress call herself a lesbian or middle-aged.’ ” Says Jones: “I came out of the womb a happy gay person. I never felt I had to hide.”
When Eminem producer Dr. Dre was asked by writer Kurt Loder last summer about his protégé’s antigay lyrics, Dre responded by saying, “I don’t really care about those kind of people.” But the multi-platinum artists had just agreed to do the September cover of Vibe magazine, bringing them face-to-face with 33-year-old editor-in-chief Emil WILBEKIN, one of the most influential men in hip-hop – and one of “those kind of people.”
“I said to the writer, ‘I really need you to talk about his homophobic lyrics,’ ” says Wilbekin. “We need to deal with it, and he needs to deal with it.” In the year and a half Wilbekin has been Vibe’s editor, he has assigned stories on gay issues, included gay couples in social pieces, and built a bridge between hip-hop artists and their enormous but ignored gay fan base. (Last summer, he hosted a party where Lil’ Kim became the first rap star to perform for an all-gay audience.) All within the pages of what is arguably the nexus for African-American culture. He’s one of the few openly gay men in a culture that has been hostile to gays. “It’s not my job to go up to every label and every rapper and tell them they are doing something wrong,” Wilbekin says. “My job is to make sure that homosexuality is dealt with as fairly as anything else.”
QUEEN OF THE BIZ
Christine VACHON may not have invented modern queer cinema, but the landscape would be pretty sparse without her. In the decade since she first helped put director Todd Haynes on the map with Poison, the 38-year-old auteur-producer has made a remarkable 28 films – a celluloid parade of sexual outlaws, from I Shot Andy Warhol, Swoon, and Go Fish to Kids, Velvet Goldmine, and Boys Don’t Cry. This year, her company, Killer Films, has produced a mere seven new films, including a pitch-perfect satire of reality TV called Series 7 and new works by Rose Troche, Todd Solondz, Tim Blake Nelson, and Bruce Wagner – as well as One Hour Photo, her “first film with a big movie star,” Robin Williams.
The flip side of Vachon’s formidable image is a warm, intensely supportive artist’s advocate. A unique mix of blunt honesty and fierce devotion informs her company. At Killer, “we’re competitive,” she says, “but not with each other.” These days, a deal with premiere TV producer John Wells helps speed the plow. “Straight men, God bless ‘em, have opened doors for us,” says Vachon. “The dirty little secret in the gay world is that gay men mash lesbians down all the fuckin’ time. But I don’t say, ‘You’re a discredit to your culture, you bad queen!’ You just get on with it.”
Ten years ago, the successful gay political activist owned a pair of good boots, knew how to use a bullhorn, had access to a copier, and cultivated a healthy sense of outrage. These days, the most important tool in the gay political arsenal is a checkbook. And Jeff SOREF is arguably the man most responsible for teaching gay men and lesbians how best to use it. For more than a decade, the former reporter and heir to a midwestern manufacturing fortune has helped raise millions for gay and AIDS-related causes and for the Democratic Party.
“If I have a legacy, it’s changing the way the gay community thinks about money,” Soref, 52, says. “I was able to mobilize a group to start writing much bigger checks.” Consequently, GMHC’s annual budget ballooned from $14 million to $25 million. And as co-chair of the Empire State Pride Agenda – the country’s largest gay-and-lesbian state political-action committee – Soref, a skilled political infighter, reversed a long-standing ESPA policy against endorsements to get out the vote for Chuck Schumer. With the Democrats out of the White House, will anyone listen when Soref speaks? “Sometimes it’s easier to deal with your opponents than your friends,” he says. “You kind of know what to expect from your opponents.”
THE OLD GAY LADY
No American institution has been transformed more dramatically by the gay revolution than the New York Times. Once, lesbian and gay employees cowered in the closet; the very word gay was prohibited, except in quotes. Things began to change in the early eighties, when Arthur Sulzberger Jr. promised staff members that sexual orientation would have no effect on their career at the Times. After he succeeded his father as publisher in 1992, the paper became one of the country’s first to offer domestic-partnership benefits. Today, lesbians and gays are prominent throughout the Times. They include Adam MOSS, editor of The New York Times Magazine; political reporters Adam Nagourney, Frank Bruni, and Richard Berke; advertising columnist Stuart Elliott; theater critic Ben Brantley; real-estate reporter David Dunlap; classical-music critic Anthony Tommasini; architecture critic Herbert Muschamp; and film critic Stephen Holden. Picture editor Margaret O’Connor and page 1 picture editor Philip Gefter are openly gay, as are technology editor Rich Meislin and Nancy Lee, vice-president of business development for News Services.