Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year, Cool Cats!

May your New Year be filled with wine and roses! See you on the other side of 2013!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Happy Pre-New Year's Eve!

Ayhan hosted a festive gathering in the East Village Friday night for longtime friend Ulf, who was an Ambassador to Sweden in Turkey when Ayhan first composed his musical "Swedish Style." Ultimately, their connection led to Ayhan meeting Bjorn & Benny from ABBA, one of the highlights of his career.

Ironically, his equally long-lived pals Emrah and wife Punar from Turkey were simultaneously in NYC... It was, in fact, Emrah who collaborated with Ayhan to connect with the Swedish Embassy at the time... Quite a reunion, complete with a spread of combination Swedish & Turkish culinary delights. *

Thursday, December 27, 2012

And Billboard's No.1 Song Of 2012 Is...

Oh, yes! Yes! The No. 1 Song of 2012 is thankfully, graciously, deservedly... brilliant! What a wondrous year it has (finally) been to celebrate a return to melodic music. For the first time in many a year, radio recognized that gimmick-filled hip-hop loops and temporary shoop shoops were no longer fulfilling the masses... Thanks to social media, YouTube and iTunes, which taught radio a lesson: Folks want to hear melodies they can sing along with. The masses want MUSIC, for god's sake. (Doink!)

As minions of The Nun are well aware, I have ever... always... perpetually... been a dogged proponent of the power of pop music to maintain the enduring spirit of the melodic memories that define the times of our lives... It's taken the radio airwaves a good 15 years to rediscover that songs... with choruses... are what everybody wants. Wow, what a revelation, huh?

And so (drum beat)... Gotye's "Somebody That I Used To Know," is the No. 1 song of 2012, a song that will forever mark what we were all doing at a particular time with a particular person in a particular situation... because the track is utterlhy indelible... I could not be happier that Billboard has deemed it the top song of the year, based on a combo of radio airplay and sales.

And the same goes for the No. 2 Song of the Year, "Call Me Maybe" from Carly Rae Jepsen, so pervasive across pop culture in the year gone by that it will always be associated with all you were doing and who you were doing it with during the summer of 2012.

Ah, yes, this is how I hold onto every hit from the 1980s to this day: Their melodies remain so entrenched that I associate them with time and place. And that, cool cats, is the magic of good music.

The majority of 2012's Billboard Top 10 Songs are a wonder to behold... the anthemic "We Are Young" from fun., the giddy pop delight of Maroon 5's "Payphone," the enticing seduction of Ellie Goulding's "Lights" and the joy of radio listeners' first love via Brit boy band One Direction's "What Makes You Beautiful."

Oh yes, 2012 has redeemed all that music aficionados live to love about music... with the exception of Nicki Minaj's gruesome, icky, gimmicy "Starships"... but nine out of ten... I dare not complain.

Billboard's Top 10 of 2012

1) Somebody That I Used To Know
Gotye Featuring Kimbra

2) Call Me Maybe
Carly Rae Jepsen

3) We Are Young
fun. Featuring Janelle Monae

4) Payphone
Maroon 5 Featuring Wiz Khalifa

5) Lights
Ellie Goulding

6) Glad You Came
The Wanted

7) Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You...)
Kelly Clarkson

8) We Found Love
Rihanna Featuring Calvin Harris

9) Starships
Nicki Minaj

10) What Makes You Beautiful
One Direction

Coming soon: 
The Taylor Top 40 for 2012!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Christmas Eve With NYC Family

When you're single and have no kids to indulge, Christmas Eve is open to all possibilities... such as celebrating with friends at an NYC gay bar. I joined Leonard and Ayhan at Boxer's in Chelsea for festivities early Monday evening, followed by a final Christmas cocktail a couple blocks west at G Lounge. Above, three pics, three different iPhones!

Amazing to walk the streets of New York... empty. Not a car or cab in sight... so odd.

This is the second Christmas that I've been single, after a 10-year relationship, where we traditionally decorated the tree, watched "Mommie Dearest" every year and opened dozens of gifts on Cmas Day. It's an odd sort of phenomenon, being solo during the holidays... Despite decorations and good cheer all around, it maintains a dull, ground-level buzz, never quite penetrating my emotions.

I have a stack of Christmas cards sent to me over the past several weeks; they remain unopened so far, simply because reading each card, sitting by myself, feels like a lonely affair. Better to wait until the holiday has passed, when I hope to enjoy them without attaching the meaning of "Christmas Without You" to warm wishes.

Yes, Christmas is a bit of a bummer. It's pretty, it's warm and wonderful, and yet, it's truly the loneliest day of the year. Sometimes life is an empty highway, indeed. *

Tuesday, December 25, 2012


Happiest of holidays from your pals at The Smoking Nun. As always, thank you for stopping by! *

A Very Merry Tom Daley Christmas!

Olympic diver Tom Daley continues to indulge his many minions with a series of sexy Christmas pics... Too bad Santa couldn't deliver a cute Brit under the tree this year... (I swear, in 2013, this young man is going to come bursting out of the closet... and the masses with celebrate!)

Monday, December 24, 2012

Ooh La La! Merry William Levy Christmas!

The holidays are ever so much joyous with a sexy Santa, yes? The Smoking Nun's 2010 Sexiest Man Alive William Levy hopes you've been good boys & girls in 2012... Coming soon: Our bid for the 2012 Sexiest Man Alive, an annual tradition as wondrous as any holiday, indeedy. *

Saturday, December 22, 2012

A Brooklyn Heights Christmas

Above left, the 63rd-annual Brooklyn Heights Christmas tree along the Promenade... right: apartment entry way and below: The Empire State Building is all dressed up for Cmas. *

The Sun Sets In DUMBO

I caught this quintessential view of the Manhattan Bridge in Brooklyn's DUMBO earlier this week, just as dusk peaked, casting a gold hue over the blue-green iron of the structure. Actually, the Empire State Building is positioned just in the center of the lower opening of the Bridge, but the sun was so bright, it's completely washed out... All the same, I likey. *

Friday, December 21, 2012

Happy Holidays! A Stony Point Christmas

Last weekend a posse of pals headed to Rockland County, N.Y., for my dear friend Donna's annual family Christmas party in Stony Point, N.Y. In attendance: Leo, Christa, Jenn, Patty & Tina, Donna's fab parents Elsie & Frank, her man Ty, and dozens and dozens of Italian relatives.

I felt like I was in a combo of Bloomingdale's decorated for the holidays, the "Godfather" set and a hot porn movie. Much testosterone among the clan!

Good thing it was a warm and wondrous occasion, because getting there took some effort: subway to a Port Authority bus to a New Jersey Transit train to a car to their beautiful home... We actually spent the night at the Howard Johnson's (who knew the hotel chain still existed?!) in Suffern, N.Y., and took the train home the next day.

This is as close to a Christmas celebration as I'll have this year. Good to spend it with extended family. Happy holidays! *

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Another Sizzling Promo For 'Smash' Season 2!

Another new promo for "Smash," Season 2! Ooh la la! This is looking better and better! *

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

William Levy Signs On To Star In 'La Tempestad' Telenovela

William Levy has signed to star in a new telenovela, "La Tempestad," which will begin filming in February 2013, airing on Televisa. The show will film in Mexico under director Salvador Mejía.

This is the third project the two have worked on together. Levy will play Captain Fabre.

During a press conference in Mexico City announcing the series, Will also said he may be appearing in a four-week run on Broadway in "Chicago." Can you imagine Levy being in New York for an extended time? I'd be camping by the stage door every night. Oh, good god googmooga, the possibilities!!! *

The Return Of Golden Globe-Nominated 'Smash'!

It's been a long time coming, but at last, the second season of NBC's musical series "Smash!" is at last on the way... February 5, 2013 is the launch date, with new cast members Jennifer Hudson and Broadway veteran cuties Andy Mientus & Jeremy Jordan—and complete retooling from "Gossip Girl" executive producer Joshua Safran...

There's irony there, considering that both "Smash" and "GG" regularly film in my Brooklyn Heights nabe.

The show earned a Golden Globe nod in the oddball category of "Best Musical or Comedy," and brings back Megan Hilty, Anjelica Huston, Jack Davenport, Debra Messing, Christian Borle and Katharine McPhee.

Safron tells Entertainment Weekly, "As a viewer, I really loved the show. It's literally just reaching in and moving the tiny pieces that weren't connecting, the gears that weren't fully aligned. If you loved Smash last year, you are not seeing a radically different show. And that was important to me."

Indeed, getting rid of some of the peripheral characters and zzzzz side plots should frame "Smash" for the breakout status it deserves; look at how new musical series "Nashville" has flourished out of the gate: by sticking to a core story.

E! News also reports, "The first 10 minutes of the show’s second season make it clear what is going on with a number of characters... Thankfully, we’ll have the answers to all of your questions in a month and a half, and the show will transition from being something that is a little bit silly into a fantastic portrayal of the world of Broadway." *

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Sir Ivan 'The ‘Peaceman’ Takes Listeners To ‘La La Land,’ While Sharing His Message Of Strength, Hope And Acceptance

Unlike your average, everyday millennial superhero—a la Batman, Superman or Spider Man—caped crusader Sir Ivan's missive goes beyond thrills and spills at the local movie complex. And it's got a beat, to boot. As a dance artist and performer, philanthropist, activist and reality TV celeb, Sir Ivan has spread his message of positivity, acceptance, understanding and goodwill around the world for more than a decade via his self-styled imaging as "The Peaceman."

Since 2001, Sir Ivan has scored eight hits on the Billboard Dance Club Play Songs chart, reimaging upbeat earnest 1960s' "hippie" anthems into festive techno remixes—from his debut club re-rub of John Lennon's "Imagine" through 2011's top 10 "Hare Krishna." Other hit tracks include "San Francisco," "Blowing in the Wind," "Peace On Earth" and "For What It's Worth." An accompanying music clip for smash "Kumbaya" garnered 14.8+ million online hits and stands as the fifth most-viewed video at Yahoo! Video. That track was also nominated for an OutMusic Award for Outstanding Contemporary Spiritual Song.

Meanwhile, Ivan's 2010 debut full-length album "I Am Peaceman," offers dance remakes of classic anthems like "Eve of Destruction," "Happy Together," "Turn Turn Turn" and "In the Year 2525."

His latest single—the first with original lyrics—is "La La Land," which reached No. 10 in 2012 on U.K. Music Week's Upfront Club Chart, Top 20 on DJ Times National Crossover Pool Chart, and Top 30 on the Billboard Dance Club Chart. With a robust radio and promotional campaign, "La La" is now heading to mainstream pop radio.

Sir Ivan notes, "The message of 'La La Land' is consistent with the songs I covered from the '60s, in terms of exploring social progress. While we've made substantial strides in the U.S., civil, environmental, children, gay and women's right are just as relevant today." The song offers a giddy, kaleidoscopic melodic froth, but is framed around an ambitious message that remains all-important: "I'm addressing violence in all shapes and forms, with the hope that awareness will turn to action."

As he has done time and again, Sir Ivan and his nonprofit Peaceman Foundation is putting money where his mirth is. He's pledged $100,000 to The Trevor Project, the nation's leading crisis intervention and suicide prevention organization for LGBTQ youth. "There is never an excuse for harassment and bullying, and I will not stand for it," he attests. "As the son of a Holocaust survivor, I became aware from a young age of the need to stand up for the persecuted."

Abbe Land, The Trevor Project's Executive Director & CEO, adds, "Every gift helps ensure that young people in crisis can plan for a future that begins today. We are grateful to Sir Ivan and the Peaceman Foundation for their generous support of our life-saving, life-affirming services for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth."

This outreach is perhaps the culmination of Sir Ivan's decade-long calling as The Peaceman. He morphed into the iconic character after 20 years in the banking industry when, at age 45, as the eldest son of Siggi B. Wilzig—a legendary Auschwitz survivor, financier and philanthropist—he retreated from the family's multi-billion dollar banking business and resigned from Trustcompany Bank's Board of Directors.

And then the music business came calling. Columbia Records honcho Dave Jurman was impressed by Ivan's music acumen, and his energy and enthusiasm, and aligned the budding entertainer with Grammy-nominated producer Ernie Lake, half of popular remix team Soul Solution. That led to the recording and release of "Imagine," restyled as a high-energy techno dance track. Issued in 2001 by Tommy Boy, it catapulted Sir Ivan to Billboard's Club Play top 40 chart for the first time.

The press deemed the novel artist a "self-styled billionaire banker turned techno-hippy," with headlines like "From the Bank Board To the Charts of Billboard." Sir Ivan explains, "I wanted to go from one extreme to the other," trading in a suit and tie for a long-flowing caftan. Since John Lennon's 'Imagine' is a prayer, the idea was to dress as a lyrical prophet."

That worked out well until the events of 9/11/2001, when Sir Ivan says his Arab-influenced garb could have dire consequences—ironic considering his accompanying message of peace and harmony. "Common sense told me that to keep from being hit over the head with a baseball bat, I better come up with another outfit." And thus: the modern-day Peaceman arrived, complete with a trademark Swarovski Crystal Peace sign, the essence of "a real live superhero character."

Add to that Sir Ivan's second branding earmark: the 15,000 square-foot Hamptons Wilzig Castle, renowned for its over-the-top parties and musical celebrations, big on kitsch and flower power. The bombastic home, which essentially could be a hip, happening nightclub, features an enormous outdoor movie screen, a kidney-shaped steam-emitting pool and more individually designed rooms than one can count.

"That’s the best investment I ever made," Sir Ivan says. "The Castle became another way to express myself. After two decades in banking, it represents another artistic expression—and it's a constant work in progress, architecturally and design-wise. The house itself is an art project, in addition to being the sexiest home in the world." The theme of his summer 2012 party, natch, was "Welcome to La La Land."

And don't think the mainstream media hasn't recognized it. Sir Ivan and Wilzig Castle, dubbed the Playboy Mansion of the East Coast, have been featured on numerous TV shows, including VH1's "The Fabulous Life of the Hamptons," Bravo's "Chef Roble and Co." (where he hosted a medieval pig roast), Travel Channel's "Grand Castles of America" and WE's "Single in the City: The Hamptons." In addition, in 2007, superhero creator Stan Lee personally selected Sir Ivan to appear as "Jewish superhero Mr. Mitzvah" on SyFy Channel's "Who Wants to Be a Superhero?"

But make no mistake, there’s plenty of heart behind the hero, as he maintains diligent focus on civil rights, women's rights, gay rights and environmental rights. Sir Ivan's case in point: "La La Land," whose music video personifies a magical place that rivals Oz, where none of these evils exist… where love and peace supplant terrorism, hate and violence (and another cause he embraces: Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome). He says, "Bullying unchecked leads down the road to genocide. Think about it: Name calling leads to physical acts of violence, and bodily harm can lead to death. Before you know it, society is involved in mass murder. The logical conclusion is the genocide of civilized peoples."

It's little surprise that he relates these traumatic issues to his family's heritage: "As an Auschwitz survivor, my father was bullied by Nazis, while 59 of my relatives were murdered in the Holocaust simply because they were Jews. And 40,000 homosexuals were murdered," he says. "The idea of a group being singled out because they live a different way from the ruling party was unacceptable then. Nothing has changed. It remains the same today."

On the heels of "La La Land" is Sir Ivan's next single "Kiss All the Bullies Goodbye," which confronts the issues head on. "I want to hit it on the head and be very specific. Anyone suffering from bullying—whether they're blind, in a wheelchair, the fat kid, the skinny kid, the short kid, the gay kid. It all starts on the playground just by being different."

And with that, Sir Ivan is driven to stay in the game for as long as it takes to foster change. "Through my music and whatever influence I may have, I want to demonstrate the importance of acceptance and understanding," he says. "If I have the power to help one person evolve in their attitudes of acceptance or to positively impact the life of a single bullied youth, I've been a success."