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World-Renowned Choreographer Jamal Sims Discusses His New Documentary

Jamal Sims is no doubt one of the biggest choreographers of our time. He has worked with some major players in and out of the LGBTQ entertainment scene including Neil Patrick Harris as well as choreographing major television shows and programs like Dancing with the Stars and the Academy Awards.

And yes, he was that hunky dude you saw on several episodes of the Emmy-award winning RuPaul's Drag Race. Now the multi-talented and charismatic gentleman has a new documentary premiering on LOGO this week, where he finds himself behind the director's chair for the first time ever.

 

 

The documentary tells the story of Anthony, who grew up in Atlanta as a heavy-set, gay black kid with a love of dance. Together with his crew of other gay African-American men, they've taken a unique style of dancing knows as "bucking" and grown it into a national movement incorporating fierce competitions and becoming a force of education and affirmation. It premieres tomorrow night at 8:00 PM EST on LOGO.

I spoke with Jamal about the documentary, as well as what inspired him to get into the world of dance, his upcoming work with Will Smith, and how he balances his personal and professional life. Take a look. 

At what age did you decide that a life in the world of dance was for you? 

I can remember being 8 years old, watching The Wiz and wanting to be a part of that movie.  

Did you have any inspirations that got you into it? 

The Wiz was a definite source of inspiration and then I would watch Soul Train every Saturday. Those two programs, along with Michael Jackson, inspired me to dance. 

You've done choreography for so many major movies. Do you have a favorite? 

I am really excited about Aladdin. It comes out in 2019 with Will Smith. I just saw the cut of it and it is fantastic.   

Tell us about your switch to the director's seat in When The Beat Drops. Why the big transition? 

I have been wanting to direct for the past ten years. I had an opportunity with this documentary to direct dance sequences as well as tell stories about something I am very passionate about. I was given the opportunity and realized that I would have to take the opportunity and that is how When The Beat Drop came about.  

Can you tell us more about the film? 

The films inception really started in 1997, when I was at Gay Pride in Atlanta. I was exposed to these boys who were bucking. As a professional dancer, I thought I had seen everything under the sun, but bucking was new and it blew my mind. I said then that I would love to do something on them whether it be a documentary or a television show. Over the years I carried the idea of doing this documentary. 

What are you hoping the audience gets out of it? 

I hope the audience walks away with the understanding that we all have more empathy for each other and we have to be careful about prejudging others that are different from us. These boys have a passion for dance and they are risking it all for their passion for dance.   

I know you are partnered to a fabulous man in real life. How do you guys keep the romance going in your relationship? 

We are very lucky and fortunate we always try to meet up every two weeks and we get to go to fabulous places and explore the world together. That's what keeps us going. He is based in Atlanta and LA and I am constantly traveling for work to LA and Canada. So it can be tricky with our schedules but making sure we see each other every two weeks makes it work. 

You can follow Jamal on Twitter here, and for more information on When The Beat Drops, click here.

'Light in the Water' is a Documentary Worth Seeing

The fight for equality in sports is still one that we deal with on a daily basis in the LGBTQ community, however we have made some incredible strides over the past 50 years that has brought us much acceptance across the boards. It wasn’t always that easy, and a new documentary from LOGO proves that in a time where being openly gay was a lot more difficult than it is today.

Three-time Emmy Award-winning Logo Documentary Films premiered their latest documentary, Light in the Water, on Thursday night. The film reveals the untold story of a group of gay men and women who found one another through their love of competitive swimming, ultimately becoming a family and a force for the LGBTQ sports movement.

The West Hollywood Aquatics Team – who also go by “WH2O” - were pioneers in gay sports. With a current roster of more than 180 individuals, the organization initially grew out of a group of athletes training for the first Gay Games in 1982. During a time when being gay and being an athlete was considered an oxymoron and the AIDS crisis only increased homophobia across the U.S., WH2O prioritized inclusion and dignity and combated stigma.

As one of the original members states, “if you could swim, you could live…or at least you were alive for that moment.” And another: “swimming was about celebrating and rising above all the darkness that was around us…and striving to show the word that we are not being wiped out by an illness.”

Light in the Water reveals the inside story of a group of trailblazers who personified the change they wanted to see and created a legacy for equality in sports that lives on in the team today.

It is produced by Patty Ivins Specht and Lis Bartlett and directed by Bartlett. Executive Producers from Logo Documentary Films are Pamela Post and Taj Paxton.

The trailer for the film can be seen below. For more information on it, including airtimes, please check out their official website.

 

 

WH2O

WH2O is one of the founding members of International Gay and Lesbian Aquatics (IGLA) and is sanctioned by United States Masters Swimming (USMS) and United States Water Polo (USWP). The teams and their members compete in regional, national, and international meets and tournaments.

The teams include athletes of all abilities ranging from ex-Olympians to beginners. Everyone is welcome regardless of skill, gender, race, sexual orientation, or disability, and 20%-30% of the current team is heterosexual.  Throughout the years, WH2O has unfortunately lost 38 beloved members to AIDS and related illnesses.

In the inaugural Gay Games, WH2O received 38 medals, 32 of which were gold!  During Gay Games III which had 7,300 athletes, 73 of them were from WH2O, and one member, Michael Mealiff, broke a world record!

GAY GAMES

The Federation of Gay Games (FGG) promotes equality in and through sport and culture through the international LGBT+ and gay friendly quadrennial event known as the Gay Games.  The Gay Games was conceived by Dr. Tom Waddell, an Olympic decathlete and continues today. Gay Games X will take place in Paris in August 2018.

Fun facts on growth:

Gay Games I (1982, San Francisco) –1,350 athletes from 170 global cities participated

Gay Games II (1986, San Francisco) –3,500 athletes

Gay Games III (1990, Vancouver) – 7,300 athletes

Gay Games IIII (1994, NYC) – 10,864 athletics, which is bigger in size than the 1992 Olympics!

Drag Queens Take You 'Out of the Closet' in new series

You remember those iconic episodes of MTv’s Cribs? You know, the one with Mariah Carey in the bathtub or Hugh Hefner galavanting around the Playboy Mansion? Oh, the early 2000s!

Well, if you are like me and you can’t help watching old episodes and laughing at how ridiculously lavish and dated they are--you’re probably excited to learn that a new form of cribs is hitting the web feature--get this--the drag queens of RuPaul’s Drag Race. Now, you may or may not be a fan, but the new series may bring back a little bit of nostalgia for people showing their possessions. What’s wrong with me?

The new digital series appropriately named Out of the Closet will take viewers and fans on a behind-the-scenes (and makeup) look at the lives of some Drag Race favorites. From makeup, to garments, to some of their best secrets Logo will give you a look at the queens you’ve never seen before.

In the inaugural season, you will get to see the closets and spaces of Sasha Velour, Acid Betty, Aja, Alexis Michelle, Kimora Blac and Manila Luzon. Maybe they’re saving Vanessa Vanjie Mateo for season 2?

Out of the Closet will be released every Tuesday at 12pm beginning April 17th on the Logo website, just in time for lunch with the ladies!

Until then, check out the teaser below: