Billy Masters 11.16.23

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Photo by lifescript, via Wikimedia Commons.
Photo by lifescript, via Wikimedia Commons.

You all know that Barbra Streisand's book is out. And I know you know this, because the majority of emails I received last week are about it. Since the book is only slightly longer than "War and Peace", and the audiobook clocks in at 48 hours, I haven't made my way through the whole thing. But I know you'll want some details that you won't read elsewhere. So I skipped to the chapter about her attempt at filming Larry Kramer's "The Normal Heart". At first, she was going to direct and star in it. But there were numerous issues with Larry's script, the casting, the money, and the studio. After numerous roadblocks, Streisand stepped down as director in frustration. Kramer asked George C. Wolfe to direct the film, in which Barbra would still act (alongside, we now learn, Ben Stiller). But the difficulties continued. Kramer criticized Barbra publicly, and the project eventually fell apart.

But Barbra never gave up on "The Normal Heart", and actually put together a cast that would include Mark Ruffalo, Bradley Cooper and Julia Roberts. The sticking point was that nobody would pay Larry the one million dollars he wanted for his script. While this was going on, Julia was making "Eat Pray Love" directed by Ryan Murphy. Barbra explains, "The next thing I hear is that Ryan has written Larry a check for one million dollars and will be directing the movie for HBO with Julia Roberts and Mark Ruffalo. Well, he didn't get Bradley Cooper — then I would have had to kill myself!" Throughout this chapter, Barbra speaks at length about her son Jason Gould, "Jason really wanted me to make this movie, and I was looking forward to working with him on the film in some capacity. It meant so much to me just as his mother." After critiquing Murphy's version, she summed up by saying: "I'll always regret I didn't get to make 'The Normal Heart'. It's my loss. But I'm glad Larry finally got it made."

Barbra also talks about many films she was asked to be in. One surprise was "Splash" — the Ron Howard movie with Daryl Hannah as a mermaid. Picture the climactic scene, where Tom Hanks finds Barbra with a mermaid tail in the bathtub! I would have paid anything to hear him say, "So don't just lay there, honey — swim something."

Dateline: Smiths Station, Alabama. F.L. Copeland, known to his friends as "Bubba", had been mayor of the small hamlet since 2016. Prior to that, he was on the city's Board of Education for 11 years. He was also pastor of the First Baptist Church in Phenix City, Alabama. He's also a proud Trump supporter. On November 1st, a website published a social media post of Bubba dressed as a woman, using the name Brittini Blaire Summerlin, and describing himself as "a transgender curvy girl". When asked for a comment, Bubba said this was simply a "hobby for getting rid of stress". After the story broke, he addressed his congregation. "Yes, I have taken pictures with my wife in the privacy of our home in an attempt at humor because I know I'm not a handsome man nor a beautiful woman, either." The outlet that ran the initial report issued a follow—up. They learned that Copeland had written some trans fiction categorized as both "violent" and "disturbing". After that report came out, the police responded to a "welfare check" and spotted Copeland driving down a road. They pulled him over, he exited the vehicle holding a handgun and killed himself.

In news that would have been music to Bubba's ears, the Catholic Church has ruled that transgender people can be baptized. This has been largely due to the work of Pope Francis, who has fought the church hierarchy in terms of LGBT rights. The new doctrine states that trans people can be baptized "as long as there is no risk of causing a public scandal or disorientation among the faithful." So I guess you can't film it for "RuPaul's Drag Race"! They also allow people in same—sex relationships to be witnesses in a Catholic wedding — as long as they aren't the ones getting married, naturally. Whether the child of a same—sex couple may be baptized appears to still be in question.

Bad news for Belinda Carlisle. For the third time, she will have to postpone an Australian tour. I'll let her tell you what happened. "As you know, I'm supposed to be going to Australia next week for a tour that's been rescheduled three times. And I had an accident and damaged my knee and I have to have sort of emergency surgery tomorrow. So this is all going to prevent me from going to Australia this time. I'm embarrassed and I'm really, really, really sorry. And I'm hoping that it gets rescheduled for 2024...if you'll have me." Get well soon, Babe.

Meanwhile, the ageless Lulu is preparing to celebrate 60 years in showbiz (and her 75th birthday) with five special shows in the UK — culminating in a special evening at the London Palladium on April 17th. And, yes, I think it goes without saying that the champagne will be flowing.

I know I occasionally come off as someone who's seen it all and isn't fazed by much. But last week, I was watching "Dancing in the Stars" (as Barbara Walters liked to call it) and there was a moment in the group dance when the pairs interchanged. Suddenly we had four same—sex partnerships: Barry Williams and Sasha, Jason Mraz and Pasha, Alyson Hannigan and Peta, Ariana Madix and Daniella. I have to confess, my little gay boy heart skipped a bit of a beat. What's most interesting is that none of the dancers nor the judges mentioned it — as if it were no big deal. And I thought to myself...what a message they're sending out.

Same—sex dancing partners have been commonplace for much longer on the UK's "Strictly Come Dancing". This season brings us Layton Williams — known in the UK from many TV and West End productions. His partner is the delicious Nikita Kuzmin — who is straight, but we're not holding that against him (he also gets blonder every week). Their dances have routinely been showstoppers. It's certainly been a banner season for Nikita, who got to open a recent show paired with fellow pro, the stunning Vito Coppola, in a mesmerizing same—sex love story set to "Something Just Like This". It brought down the house. Kuzmin was born in Ukraine and raised in Italy (where he trained alongside Coppola). When his parents showed up to see him in the studio, he got choked up. "In the end, I'm just a kid from Ukraine who's just living his dream." Clips can be found on our website.

All this chit—chat about "Strictly" was sparked by an "Ask Billy" question worthy of answering in print. Jared from London asks: "Are you watching 'Strictly'? What do you think of Bobby? I'm sure you saw his package on the Halloween episode. It's made all the papers here."

Now you've got my attention, and I tuned in. Bobby Brazier is a 20—year—old, mop—topped, lanky lad best known for his role on the UK soap "EastEnders". He is the son of a contestant on the 2003 edition of "Big Brother UK" he was basically born into reality television. In the Halloween episode, his pants weren't extraordinarily tight. But as the dance went on, a large, bulbous mass worked its way against his left thigh. It was so distracting that Shirley Ballas (Mark's mum) seemed speechless. Even the typically unflappable Craig Revel Horwood appeared somewhat flapped. He kept his comments to the dancing, but added, "Is there anything that bottom of yours can't do?" According to all the media reports, the BBC was flooded with phone calls. Most were in favor of the bouncing bulge, while there were a few dissenters. You can check it out for yourself on

When we're topping the leaderboard with someone's bottom, we've definitely come to the end of yet another column. I should mention that Brazier danced to "Come On—a My House". But not the Rosemary Clooney version. This rendition was sung by Della Reese. Who knew? For more useless bits and bobs, check out — the site that'll give you more than candy. If you have a question, dash it off to [email protected] and I promise to get back to you before I plan my next trip to the UK. So, until next time, remember, one man's filth is another man's bible.