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.