Wandering Eye: How Larry Hogan might save a gay bar (no, really), a local gay rocker gets his due, and more

This past Tuesday, "How Far Will You Go?: The S&M Recordings, 1973-81," a crucial compilation of queer glam-rocker Smokey's music, was released by the label Chapter Music. John "Smokey" Condon, a Baltimore boy who eventually made it to Los Angeles, recorded a number of infectious gay and BDSM-themed rock songs throughout the '70s that also contain the intensity of heavy metal, riffs that predict punk, and plenty of pop-glam decadence that sits comfortably next to, say, Alice Cooper or Roxy Music (Chapter Music dubs Smokey's work "leather rock"). While so many rock stars in the '70s briefly adopted queerness a la Mick Jagger, and glam superstars such as David Bowie and Marc Bolan walked a line with their sexuality, out gay glam rockers' work never got the push it deserved for all of the obvious reasons. Namely, homophobia. Much has been made over the years of Jobriath, whose failure proved that even a major PR campaign in which they said he was "the new Bowie" couldn't overpower anti-gay sentiment in the United States in the mid '70s, and the inability of Smokey's work to grab an audience back then is similar. The press notes for "How Far Will You Go?" quotes a record executive who said, "We can't put this out, it's a fucking gay record . . . it's really good though." Standouts from "How Far Will You Go?" include 'Strong Love,' an eerie synthesizer howler that's like Nick Cave and Elton John backed by Tonto's Expanding Head Band, and a The Doors-ian cover of 'Puttin' On The Ritz' that's like Jim Morrison crooning while dressed like a Tom Of Finland drawing. And then there's 'Piss Slave,' a nearly nine-minute boogie-woogie electro song that includes Smokey declaring, "I wanna be a toilet." Like label Paradise of Bachelor's re-release of queer country album from Lavender Country last year, this collection of work by Smokey's a reminder that aggressively queer voices have always been hiding just under the mainstream. (Brandon Soderberg)

 

Turns out, pimpin' actually is easy—at least in Maryland. Capital News Service has an ambitious and apparently comprehensive look at human trafficking in Maryland. Among the findings: Not one person arrested in Baltimore for the crime has been convicted in state court. "In Baltimore, according to a search of public records, eight of 10 misdemeanor trafficking cases since January 2013 ended with prosecutors dropping charges. One case ended in conviction on a separate charge, and another ended in a stet agreement, meaning it was indefinitely postponed, a search of case records showed." Maryland is one of only two states that consider trafficking an adult a misdemeanor; a bill to increase the penalty died last year when advocates for sex workers opposed it. The CNS project details several cases culled from court records in both federal and state courts. There ia surveillance video of a pimp beating a prostitute for not getting enough business. A massage parlor owner who has been busted a bunch of times (and faces charges in Baltimore County) is profiled. Her undocumented Chinese girls tend to disappear before the cases are tried. Most of the package is about sex trafficking but one story looks at the other—actually larger—problem of trafficking people for menial labor. Unlike the prostitution stories, this story uses the victim's name. Her quote sums up the whole series: "The way we see America in Africa, oh my God, it's like heaven," said Evelyn Chumbow, a survivor of domestic labor trafficking. "You would have never told me I would see a homeless person or I would be enslaved in America. I would never, ever [have] thought that." (Edward Ericson Jr.)

 

A few days ago, outgoing Liquor Board chair Thomas Ward vented to the Brew that Gov. Larry Hogan will undo most of his reform work by appointing pro-business board members. Now, in a twist of fate that will surely get the knickers of Eastern Shore Republicans twisted in a bunch, that same presumption could now save a famous gay bar, the Baltimore Eagle, reports the Baltimore Businsess Journal. As Sarah Meehan writes, a team of developers is currently spending a lot of money to revamp the iconic leather bar, but they lost their license after the "board ruled it had expired under the controversial 180-day rule, part of state liquor law that says a license expires after it has been inactive for 180 days." Meehan goes on to say, "A new board could reverse the fates of the Baltimore Eagle and other establishments that have had their licenses revoked under the 180-day rule." One of the developers, Charles King, is quoted as saying: "It's just insane to me that they're trying to stop business from occurring in the city when if you drive down any street in Baltimore there are boarded up places and boarded up facilities and places that could be revitalized. And the area that we are going to, we would love to see that become revitalized and become a good neighbor." (Brandon Weigel)

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