Ballroom boys

Readers of our cover story `"Who leads?" March 30, 2006` about Orlando's same-sex ballroom dance partners Stuart Nichols and Richard Lamberty should know that not only did this lively couple take first place at the Gay Games VII in Chicago last summer, as was their goal, but they went on to take the gold again at the OutGames in Montreal just weeks later. Then they went all the way to the World Federation of Same-Sex Dancing championships in Budapest and took second place in their ballroom specialty. The two have essentially put Orlando on the map of same-sex ballroom dance celebrities! Take a look at their video from Budapest on YouTube and shake your butts for these guys, please. (

To prove they haven't forgotten the little people in their hometown, especially the author of their cover story — me — they have requested my presence as a celebrity guest judge in Dancing With the Porn Stars, a production they're in the process of putting together for the Orlando International Fringe Theater Festival.

My role, according to Nichols, will be to watch the performances, which he says, "will feature nudity, just not yours or mine or Richard's — that is, unless you become suddenly, unpredictably uninhibited." And then rate them, "using our silly props like the bone-o-meter, or the clit-stick or the orgasmatron." These guys teach me so many new things.

Best Book by Bill Belleville

We gotta give a Big Goddamn! to Sanford-based environmentalist, author and all-around Florida philosopher Bill Belleville for having his 2006 book, Losing It All to Sprawl: How Progress Ate My Cracker Landscape, earn distinction as one of the Best Books of 2006 by the national Library Journal. Belleville's chronicle of a historically faithful restoration of an old country home in Seminole County and his painful decision to depart when the sounds of construction surrounded him was one of 34 books from 7,500 that were reviewed as part of the process (from a reported 56,000 that were published).

From the Library Journal's write-up, we quote: "‘They paved paradise and put up a parking lot.' Environmental writer/filmmaker Belleville poignantly reveals how the words of the old Joni Mitchell song have become a grim reality in central Florida, as his traditional Cracker home and rural neighborhood give way to suburban strip malls. Uncontrolled development is an issue not just for the Sunshine State but for America as a whole."

Other accolades have been heaped upon Sprawl though nary a word about its very existence has made its way into the pages of the Orlando Sentinel. It's a strange coincidence that Belleville is a tight friend of author and former Sentinel columnist Bob Morris, whose own successful forays into fiction have been ignored by the paper as well.

WMFE changes guard … sorta

It's been a long time in the making but now it's finally happened: As of Dec. 13, José A. Fajardo was officially promoted to CEO of the broadcasting stations of WMFE. For the last 40 years, Stephen McKenney Steck has ruled with an iron fist at the East Colonial Drive outpost, even choosing his successor and how he would take over the reins in careful stages. Steck will continue as a full-time staff member through 2007, carrying the title of president emeritus and special adviser to the chief executive officer. That means that Big Daddy will be keeping his eye on things from a close vantage point.

On the positive side, Fajardo is his own man and a strong leader in the community in his own right. Though there's no stopping the new wave of public broadcasting, especially on television — they have commercials in addition to fund-raisers! — WMFE's future plans do call for growth after years of layoffs and laying the groundwork for high-definition broadcasting.

Here's hoping that we never see one of the station's monthly publications bearing a likeness of Lawrence Welk, ever again.

Alchemy at Stardust

Corinne Gammichia, owner of Alchemy the Hair Salon in College Park, continues to shake her colorful extensions into the arts community, starting with her first party in 2007 at Stardust this weekend to launch artist Brian Becker.

Now based in Winter Park, Becker will showcase his paintings, drawings and photographs at this reception. During 10 previous years in New York City, Becker was a contemporary of Annie Liebovitz and Richard Avedon but has been drawn back to Orlando to carry on.

While Gammichia's parties are always well-attended by interesting characters, it's been difficult to catch wind of them in a timely fashion. But as part of a fresh approach to 2007, Stardust now has a curator with a website for its monthly affairs — Drew White of

(7 p.m. Saturday at Stardust Video & Coffee; free; 407-623-3393)

Speaking of The Arts, Culture To Go


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