Billy Masters 12.28.23

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Billy Masters 12.28.23

"No offense, but you look like Billy Masters."

— I don't know which part of this quip from a stranger insulted me more—that he didn't realize I am Billy Masters, or he thought someone would take offense to being told they look like Billy Masters.

This was a strange year for someone who writes about the entertainment industry. After all, most of it was shut down due to those pesky strikes. And yet, we rallied on. One of the sticking points in negotiations was the threat that AI would eliminate people's jobs. So we put it to the test. I asked ChatGPT to generate the opening of a Billy Masters column. This is what I got: "Ladies, gentlemen, and those of you who are still deciding what fabulous category you fall into. I'm Billy Masters, and I've got a mouthful of sass and heart full of glitter." The fact that highly advanced computers took almost three decades of weekly columns (that's over a thousand columns) and came up with such drivel proves that my position as the most beloved of gay columnist is as secure as ever.

Sitting here aloft my perch, I surveyed many stories. But I don't think anything grabbed my interest more than the battle between Billie Lourd and her entire family. For those of you who don't know (and, frankly, why should you), Billie is the only child of Carrie Fisher and Bryan Lourd—who is gay, but that's another story. Carrie's brother, Todd Fisher, had applied for Carrie to get a long-overdue star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and was told there's a three-year waiting period for a posthumous star. Years go by, and one day Todd gets a call from a friend saying, "I'll see you at Carrie's ceremony on May the 4th" (as in "May the force be with you"). This was news to Todd, so he called the people at the Walk of Fame. They say the guest list is being handled by Disney. He calls Disney and they tell him he's not on the family's guest list—run by Billie. Turns out Carrie's half-sisters Joely and Tricia Leigh Fisher were also not invited—which begs the question, is Billie talking to any members of her family? She didn't respond to any of their calls, so Todd went public with his frustration. Then Billie issued a statement: "The truth is I did not invite them to this ceremony. They know why." Billie is upset that Todd wrote a book about his sister and mother (Debbie Reynolds), and she's upset that Joely talked about them in her memoir. Todd considered just showing up at the ceremony, but was told that Billie would not come out if any of the Fishers were there. As a writer, I love this story. As someone who knew Carrie and Debbie, I think Billie needs to grow the fuck up.

Was anything sweeter this year than Kim Cattrall's triumphant return to the "Sex and the City" family? After everything that went down, nobody expected a rapprochement. And just like that, there she was. The fact that the head of HBO called her directly and brokered the deal—without any input from the creatives or cast from "AJLT"—speaks volumes of Cattrall's cache. She got to call the shots on every aspect of her appearance—except for the spin the show put on it. Still, a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.

Alas, we can't look back on 2023 and not mention the J-word. Yes, Jada. Bottom line—I don't believe a word anyone in the Pinkett-Smith family says. I think there are major psychological problems afoot—but I'm no psychiatrist (or podiatrist, for that matter). In the past, one would call Will "cuckolded". Then we heard a fascinating tale from Will's former assistant and former best friend, Brother Bilal. He went on a podcast and claimed that he walked in on Will shall we say it..."sodomized" by Duane Martin. How does he explain Jada's role in all this? "I am saying to you if a woman is used to something the size of a baby leg and you come in with a pinkie toe, there's nothing you're gonna do to please her...If she's itching for that baby leg, she want that baby leg!" I dunno about you, but I suddenly feel dirty. And slightly aroused. And a little bit hungry.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis launched his "War on Drag" by enforcing a law from 1947—which stated that men impersonating women is too indecent for children. So he ruled that drag queens fell under "adult entertainment", and if a minor were there, you could be fined...or worse. People claim this started as a way to stop drag queens from reading stories to kids in libraries—and let that sink in. It had unintended consequences. Stage musicals like "Hairspray", "La Cage", and most of Shakespeare's plays feature men dressed as women—and they could be shut down. Drag queens in gay pride parades in public could be arrested. Then the Orlando franchise of Hamburger Mary's restaurant filed a suit against the governor and the State of Florida for infringing on their First Amendment rights. And they WON! U.S. District Judge Gregory Presnell ruled, "This statute is specifically designed to suppress the speech of drag queen performers." It doesn't overturn the law, but it does make it unenforceable.

Around the same time, the phenomenal Jinkx Monsoon made Broadway history by playing Mama Morton in "Chicago". Jinkx was sure to let people know she didn't do it alone. "I'm following in the footsteps of my sister Peppermint, who broke ground as the first Ru girl, drag queen, trans woman to perform on Broadway in "Head Over Heels". And now I get to take the torch and do my own thing with it." Speaking of torches, flaming George Santos made history by being elected to the House of Representatives and being thrown out within the same calendar year. Perhaps he'll go back to doing drag...anywhere other than Florida, naturally.

Prior to 2023, nobody knew Lukas Gage's name. All we knew was that he was a cute guy whose apartment was trashed by a director during a Zoom casting session. Looking back, I wouldn't be surprised if Lukas leaked that footage himself, and used the sympathy as a launching pad. We next saw him bent over a desk getting rimmed—not that there's anything wrong with that. Then he was all over social media cavorting with hairdresser to the stars Chris Appleton (another name I'd never heard before). Within days, they were dating and expressing their love for each other on television. In the blink of an eye, they got married in a ceremony presided over by Kim Kardashian. That it lasted a few months was the most shocking part of the story to moi. Somehow in the midst of it, Gage got to make a movie that received a teensy bit of attention. What will happen to him? It depends on who he meets next.

Let's congratulate a few couples who found each other. Comedian Matteo Lane tied the knot with his short-term beau, Rodrigo Aburto. I hate to point out they knew each other for less time than Lukas and Chris, but at least they're still together...for now. Then there's singer Ty Herndon, who also tied the knot. "Never in a million years would I have imagined meeting someone who would bring so much love and light into my heart." This inevitably leads to talk about breakups. Ricky Martin and Jwan Yosef divorced after six years. So did Billy Porter and his hubby Adam Smith. Straights have the seven-year itch; we have six. I guess we gays just figure things out quicker! On the other hand, Antoni Porowski didn't even make it to the altar with Kevin Harrington.

One of the most shocking stories of 2023 was about the "suicide" of Jeff Thomas—a stunning fitness model. In an unreleased interview, Jeff revealed he was "kept" by married gay entrepreneur Peter Thiel. His availability didn't come cheap. "If I'm gonna give up relationships I have and give up my dreams right now, during Covid, or dating other guys or pursuing people, then I'm going to get a $300,000 car and I'm going to get a $13 million home." The arrangement worked for a while, but Jeff eventually tired of the Hollywood lifestyle and abruptly moved to Miami. How independent he was is questionable. He showed up at Thiel's New Year's Eve party, and let's just say he wasn't welcomed with open arms. Peter's partner asked security to escort Thomas off the property. Jeff was lost and couldn't figure out his next move. Maybe he'd become a firefighter. Or EMT. A few weeks later, he was dead on the pavement far below his deluxe apartment in the sky. His brother stated, "Jeff struggled with addiction and mental health challenges, which ultimately led to his tragic passing." To date, Thiel has not issued a comment.

There were other notable deaths in 2023. None hit closer to home than the passing of Momma, a Los Angeles institution. For seven consecutive years, we were joined at the hip hosting Los Angeles Pride and Will Clark's legendary Bad Boys Pool Parties. Talk about versatility. San Francisco's legendary Heklina passed away while on tour in London. And then there's the passing of Dame Edna Everage and her creator, Barry Humphries. That left the world just a bit gloomier. Leave to Richard Belzer to not go softly into that good night. His friend, Bill Scheft, claims that the caustic comedian's last words were, "Fuck you, motherfucker." I think that says it all.

Could it be that a new "Catfish" hit the web? So say folks who followed the online drama between two ridiculously named nuts right out of "The Gilded Age". The Herculean hunks posted photos rippling with muscles and dripping of AI—while slinging mud that their same-sex marriage was mired with wilting wealth and cheating cads. All of their online "friends" and family had just as questionable pedigrees—to say nothing of nonsensical names. That this column exposed the cadre was not surprising. That I vanquished them is my holiday gift to the world. While it all seemed pointless, an exposé is an

When I'm flexing my investigative muscles, we've definitely come to the end of another year of columns. This list is far from exhaustive—I skipped many worthy stories. If I left you wanting more, go to, where I'll give you more than your fill. If you have a question going into the New Year, send an email to [email protected] and I promise to get back to you before someone realizes looking like Billy Masters ain't so bad! So, until next year, remember, one man's filth is another man's bible.