Billy Masters 05.02.24

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Photo by Angela George, via Wikimedia Commons .
Photo by Angela George, via Wikimedia Commons .

"Brought down by a Pecker."

—Bill Maher's quip on Real Time about the current Trump trial. Guest Scott Galloway said that in the courtroom, Trump looks like "a suicide bomber that's having second thoughts."

In 1997, Joan Rivers told me she was writing a book. "It's gonna be about how I lost my entire fortune...TWICE!" She called it, "Bouncing Back: I've Survived Everything...and I Mean Everything...and You Can Too!" I told her a better title would have been, "Don't Let This Happen To You". Lose a fortune once, shame on them. Lose a fortune twice, shame on you. I was reminded of this apropos of Ellen DeGeneres' return to the standup stage. Her first show took place last week at Largo in West Hollywood, which is housed inside the lovely Coronet Theatre—literally blocks away from my unpretentious Beverly Hills (adjacent) abode. "For those of you keeping score, this is the second time I've been kicked out of show business," said Ellen. Here's the punch line: "Eventually, they're going to kick me out for a third time because I'm mean, old, and gay."

Let me remind you how we got here. I know people disagree with me regarding the sitcom, but it was not canceled because she came out. It was canceled because people stopped watching. And, in my humble opinion, people stopped watching because the show became unfunny. Yes, some will argue that the network wasn't behind her. The bottom line is showbiz will overlook anything if you're making money. As for her talk show, it averaged over four million viewers a day at its peak. After reports of a toxic workplace, it dropped to just over a million. Again, money talks. Trust me, nobody ever said Johnny Carson was warm and fuzzy. People from Ellen's staff had conflicting experiences with her. It's interesting to look at her DJs. Her first, Scotty K, was dismissed without notice after a few months. He rebounded by marrying Sean Hayes. Tony Okungbowa stayed the longest—on and off for about eight years. "While I am grateful for the opportunity it afforded me, I did experience and feel the toxicity of the environment." That is contrasted by tWitch, who replaced him. "Obviously there's some things to address, but from my standpoint and from countless others, there's been love." tWitch died by suicide in 2022.

Before Ellen started telling people to be kind to one another, Rosie O'Donnell was the Queen of Nice. While she has many critics, we never heard complaints from any of Rosie's employees. About a year ago, she tossed her hat into the podcast field with "Onward". I enjoyed it, but it was never an effortless fit. Like so many comedians, Rosie is at her best with a live audience. The long-form interview with a single guest was very hit-or-miss, so I wasn't surprised when Rosie announced she was ending the show. She said she'd like to find a way to incorporate live interaction with the audience. Like they've been doing since...oh, I dunno, the advent of radio! If Seth Rudetsky and Billy Masters can find a way to do live shows that also work as podcasts, it can't be that hard.

Way back in 2019, Kevin Hart was announced as host of the Oscars. He was dumped shortly thereafter when homophobic tweets from 2011 resurfaced. He addressed that situation with Anderson Cooper on "60 Minutes" last week. He credits Wanda Sykes for helping him understand the situation. She said, "There's people that are being hurt today because of comments like the ones that you made then, and there's people that were saying it's okay to make those comments today based off of what you did then." Hart told Coop, "It was presented to me in a way where I couldn't ignore that. So in those moments of despair, great understanding and education can come out of it if you're given the opportunity." I think that's a roundabout way of saying he'd like the Academy to ask him again.

A handful of gay performers are being honored at the "Celebration of LGBTQ+ Cinema & Television'' presented by the Critics Choice Association. The event will take place on Friday, June 7th and will stream later on HereTV—which I didn't even know was still a thing. The event will be hosted by Sherry Cola. The Career Achievement Award will be given to Nathan Lane, and the Social Justice Award will go to George Takei. A full list of honorees can be found at

News about shows hitting Provincetown this summer continues to trickle in. I was delighted to hear that my pal John McDaniel will be spending some time in Ptown this summer. He'll have his hands in a number of shows at both the Post Office Café and Cabaret and Town Hall. People like Kate Baldwin, Max Clayton, Alice Ripley, Nicholas Rodriguez and Liz Callaway will join him at the Cabaret, while Betty Buckley and Darren Criss will play Town Hall. Check out for more details.

The Post Office will also host many of my pals for various shows throughout the season. Judy Gold will have you laughing all summer long. Branden & James will be there July 12 and 13, and John Hill peddles his wares August 16. A full schedule and tickets can be found at

Nicolas King and Billy Stritch will also be at the Post Office on August 9 and 10. I was reminded of this when I spent time with Nicolas and Seth Sikes in Boston last week. Collectively they're known as The New Belters, and they brought their new MGM show to Boston's Club Café—and it was terrific. Clever arrangements of classic tunes and some rare gems sung by two consummate showmen. As usual, this duo delivers great vocals, witty banter, and they ain't so bad to look at! They really do evoke a bygone era that I definitely enjoyed visiting for 90 minutes. And, did I mention they ain't bad to look at? Check them out if they come to your locale—or in Ptown or Fire Island or, basically, any place gays congregate.

During a recent trip to NYC, I asked my usual sources for tickets to the off-Broadway hit, "Oh, Mary!"—Cole Escola's play about that laugh riot, Mary Todd Lincoln. Not only did all of the official avenues fail to secure a single ticket, even my unofficial sources came up dry...I hate when that happens! So I was delighted to hear that this well-received queer venture will transfer to Broadway this summer. Yes, it opens at the Lyceum Theatre on June 26th for a strictly limited 12-week run. But then I thought about how daunting it is for a small-ish off-Broadway show to successfully transfer from a 299-seat theater to one seating 950. Adding to my concern is the fact that the play is a slim 80 minutes. Now, I like my theater like I like my men—in and out and in the dark. But at Broadway prices, one might feel short-changed...which is never good.

Pauly Shore's attempt at career resuscitation is still chugging along. You may recall that he campaigned to play Richard Simmons in a big-screen biopic. He even starred in a short film called "The Court Jester" as proof of concept. The only thing it proved to me is Pauly should get his eyes done before he ever appears on film again. Well, it also proved that not everyone is built for Dolphin shorts—but that's another story. Nonetheless, Pauly has convinced the folks at The Wolper Organization that he's the guy for the job. A script is being written by Jordan Allen-Dutton, who is best known for his writing of "Robot Chicken". Not sure I see the connection. It should be noted that Simmons has not only refused to endorse either project, he's actually spoken out against them.

I never thought I'd say this, but Angelyne is back! The blonde bombshell of Hollywood billboard fame is once again hovering above Santa Monica Boulevard. A new billboard just went up promoting her album "Driven to Fantasy", which was first released in 1987. This new issue will also come out on pink vinyl—which makes me think she found some crates in a storage unit somewhere near Cahuenga. Should you be in the WeHo area, Angie will be signing copies on May 4th at the Pleasure Chest from 5-7PM. I'd make a joke, but even I'm not that cheap.

Speaking of singers, let's fit in a quick "Ask Billy" question. Ron from Detroit says, "I thought of you when I saw Jenifer Lewis on 'The Masked Singer'. Did you know it was her? She looked and sounded great."

Did I know? Of course I knew. I'm surprised everyone didn't know—that voice is pretty distinctive. This was taped months ago, and Jenifer had a great time doing it. It was definitely fun to watch, so I'm glad you enjoyed it.

When I'm proving that I can keep a secret, we've definitely come to the end of yet another column. Here's something that's not a secret—I'm not happy when "The View" is in repeats. I know those ladies need a break, but it throws off my whole day. Happily, there's always fresh dish on, the site that never takes a vacation. If you have a question, send it off to [email protected] and I promise to get back to you before I get kicked out of showbiz for being too mean, old, and gay! So, until next time, remember, one man's filth is another man's bible.