Hello darling, it's Betty Jack DeVine! The sweet kids at Queer TV asked me to spill the tea on the ATL (which we also call the "gAyTL"!). If I had to sum up Atlanta in one word, I'd say "connections." I'm not talking about our airport (a modern wonder, with its speedy electric trains and Starbucks every three feet!). And I'm not talking about all the media here (what would we queens do without our Turner Classic Movies?).

No, I'm talking about the people connections--the way the kids here will take in a newcomer and dreamily enfold her into a shimmering web of friends--the kind of friends you'd be lucky to meet in a lifetime somewhere else and here, why you can hardly stumble down to the street with your empty vodka bottles without running up on some hilarious fool you just can't stop cackling at! That kind of thing always happens at our favorite bar, the Metro--a treasure trove of trash, go-go boys and fabulous friends like ARGE, Todbot, Russ, Janet, Suepie, Roger, Pauly Vegas, Dave Gazelle and more!

Arge with his favorite tailor, Mr. Feely
Todbot in his form-fitting Todbra

Janet entertains so beautifully at her pool
Party Dogs Pauley Vegas, Angie Bowie, and Dave Gazelle

The Atlanta scene has been the launching pad for some of the queer world's brightest stars: RuPaul, The Lady Bunny, Larry Tee, Lahoma Van Zant, "When Pigs Fly" star Michael West, and on and on and on! There's something of a gay "underground railroad" between Atlanta and New York (where all the above have made it huge), and recently I jetted up to Manhattan myself to enjoy a special event with a most noticeable Atlanta twang!

You see, back in the '80s, my gorgeous lover Dick Richards' childhood pal Nelson Sullivan (who visited us often in Atlanta) used to promenade all around New York making videotapes of the crazy club kids--like Ru, John Sex, The Now Explosion and all Gotham's grandest. Well Nelson, God bless him, didn't live to put all these tapes together into his magnum opus and they sat, for a long time, in a secret Atlanta vault.

Enter Steve Lafreniere, the brilliant Index magazine writer, who worked up a deal to co-curate, with Dick, an exhibit of Nelson's tapes at none other than Gavin Brown's enterprise, the very hottest art gallery in Manhattan! So up we flew!

Nelson was both handsome and talented
That's Dick with John Sanchez (in the cute head rag) and Steve Lafreniere on the steps of their Propect Park home in Brooklyn where we all stayed as their guests.

The fun kicked off that Wednesday night with a swank affair at Void in Soho. The place was packed to the cap with folks, many former Atlantans who were delighted to see some home folks. (Southerners are so sentimental!) We saw Michael West and Russ Trent; luscious Troy (looking better than ever, baby!); Manhattan Monkey Clay Boye; artist and designer Michael Allen. Steve's pal John Sanchez (truly one of the top cute boys on the island!) wrote a brilliant article about the exhibit in red-hot "Time Out New York," and showed off copies. Adorable Danielle shocked me silly by quoting verbatim whole bits I'd done on TV in Atlanta, and big dog Robert Saaf was off his leash! Our DJ was Mr. Larry Tee, who had the good sense to shamelessly drop some of his own greatest La Palace de Beaute hits from back in the day! (But imagine my embarrassment upon learning that the foxy bud I'd been following like a love-stuck puppydog turned out to be Conrad--Larry's boy! Sorry, Tee! No disrespect, dog!)

The next day, we headed from the luxurious Park Slope home Steve and John share with "Sex and the City" inspiration Ella uptown to Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum--there, on the top floor, emerging from a fountain and surrounded by the very hottest stars of Now, was our own darling RuPaul! Even when's she's standing still and frozen in wax, she's working!
RuPaul rules all the other stars in "The Opening Night" tableau at Madame Tussuad's on Times Square

That's Elton John in the background outfitted in red admiring our darling
Every Inch A Queen!
At her feet, her beloved subject, the fabulous Barbra Streisand
Babs and Dave
Who's the real Shade Shady ?
In the Gift Shoppe at Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum there is not even one RuPaul souvenir for sale even though there is a giant picture of RuPaul on its wall.

That night, after a stunning performance of "Un Ballo in Maschera" at the Met,

it was off to Spa, where we were the grateful guests of Connie Girl, and our guide DJ Tennessee introduced us to club maven Steve Lewis. The stars twirled before us as Kevin Aviance, Tobell and Girlina made us feel especially welcome. We finished off the night with cocktails at an old favorite of mine, fun and friendly Ty's.

Then on Friday for the opening at Gavin Brown's, what a spectacle! I positively mooned over Atlanta dreamboat Darren, another new Manhattanite. Ed Woodham, the Atlanta performance art impresario, was delighted to see us. Ed has sold a new TV series to the Bravo Cable Channel and had just started work on it today. I snapped a great shot of Les "Linda" Simpson (get this: she's about to revive her hilarious My Comrade magazine in a new glossy format) chatting up punk rock legend Jayne County. But the most prolific photographer had to be Paula Gately Tillman, formerly of Atlanta, who came from Baltimore with her husband Joe Roman to revel in the extravaganza. Paula got a shot of me with the Village Voice's Michael Musto (who wrote a great column about the party; see http://www.villagevoice.com/issues/0107/musto.shtml).

Michael was there with long-time roll-dog Albert Crudo (and I was shocked later to learn that it was their first time out together in four years!) I especially loved chatting up the lovable Brian Funk, a hilarious hottie I'd first met in Chicago some years back and who is now the curator of the Japanese Garden at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. Our apres-opening dinner party included Deee-Lite's DJ Dmitry and his lovely girllfriend Robin. What a night! Our weekend of wonder wrapped up the next evening at the East Village home of Everett and Jorge, who treated us to chicken wings and drove their kitten into a frenzy with a new, ceiling-mounted cat toy!

Man, do these New Yorkers know how to have a big time on Saturday night, or what?

Jayne County with My Cumrag - whoops , I mean My Comrade editor and creator Linda "Les" Simpson
Paula Gately Tillman and her husband Joe Roman
Jayne County and Dick with fashion designer turned oil painter Albert Crudo (www.albertcrudo.com)
spunky Brian Funk
Everett is sitting to the left of Dick and Jorge is between John Sanchez and Steve

Just between us girls, after all that action, Atlanta has seemed a tad dull. Oh, who am I kidding, it's so tired here that the bars are putting out cots for the boys to collapse on! But it's still winter, and soon, as the merciless heat of the Southern summer takes hold, people will shed their clothes the way rednecks throw Bud bottles out the car window, and we'll all be up whooping and hollering all night again! So when y'all are ready for a big time, come down to Atlanta and let us show you why this is a place that people love to live in, get away from, and come on home to again.

That's just the way we are.

I love y'all, and I'll be looking for you at every party.


Betty Jack Devine

After a ninety minute delay caused by a bomb scare, Delta brought us home
P.S. If you have problems, as many do, with painful, inside-the-head pressure as the plane is descending to land -OUCH! - try these Earplanes. I got these for the whole gang at Mori Luggage and they really work. Both Dick and Dave are wearing theirs.

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