That Was Halloween

Hey B.I.T.C readers!

I gotta say I’m a bit concerned with what I see going on around my city. Permit after permit for the allowance of condo development in the heart of local Toronto villages. It’s spookier than Halloween.
I love progress but it’s totally out of control. I love all the villages in my great city but I’m going to take this opportunity to keep my focus on the gay village. It’s literally getting pillaged with obsorbant rents giving way for major condo developers to swoop in and build their massive structures. The government makes their gold through taxes and we get stuck with corporate coffee shops and drug marts. We lose all the heart and heritage that makes a city a place where people want to mingle and mix and be. The crap truth is that these condos are getting bought up by foreign investors that’s don’t even live in the places. It’s a flip property in many cases driving up the cost of living for everyday Torontonians. So before our very special landmark village is raped into the condo jungle that our crap government is allowing, I’ve got more sexy hot spots you gotta check out before, heaven forbid, they become Shoppers Drug Marts.

The Drink!!! Sexy sassy and full of local hotties. Grab a coffee by day and club it out with great cocktails by night.

I went on Halloween with some buddies of mine thanks to a cute fellow down at the door inviting guests in. I think the real highlight of this cute coffee house/cocktail lounge is its great view of the village street below where all the gouls were out in full force this hollows eve.
It seems this local trend of mixing coffee house and pub seems to be a crowd pleaser. I know I love it! Of course there is alway so much more to tell but alas, I’ll have to save it for another blog. After the long night that was Halloween it was most appropriate to vanish to the north lands to relax at my buddy’s cottage. Made for a perfect Halloween detox. By the way this property is available for summer and fall renting so if you’re looking for a fabulous escape from you’re crazy busy life get in touch with me at bruceinthecity@hotmail.com and I’ll point you in the right direction!

The Drink 4 kisses out of 5. (Keeping the gay village alive)

Badass B.I.T.C Beard of the Week…. This hot bearded bro has got a nice big one! A beard of course.
Geoffrey is a Toronto local who works with costumes for small and large theatre productions in the city. He is also an entrepreneur and has his own kilt making business among other things. Look for a feature blog on this talented fellow later this month! Hey boys! I do believe this bearded bear is available!

B.I.T.C

Editor: Mary Ellen Monk

photos by Bruce Christopher and The Drink

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Wine with Erik “Happy Halloween”

Hey everybody!

So I have a pretty interesting wine this month for you all, it fits with the theme at this time of year. I’m also showing a little love to California this month to support all that is happening (you know the fires that wiped out a bunch of wineries). Also on a more cheery note, happy All Hollows Eve!

Carnivor Cabernet Sauvignon $17.95
This wine has a suuuper deep dark purple colour, its almost opaque! (at least in my lighting it is). The aromas coming from this wine are beautifully robust and complex with notes of mocha, blackberry, toasted oak, cassis, blueberry, and vanilla. It’s a dry wine with rich notes similar to the nose, and a full well rounded body. The wine has a great balance of acidity and bitterness that makes it feel very smooth. You can pair this wine with all kinds of food like a burger, grilled pork, or is you are inclined, a cigar!

Erik for Bruce in the City

Edited by Mary Ellen Monk

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Bears in Habitat

Hey B.I.T.C readers! Wow, well Fall finally arrived in the City I think. Just in time for Halloween next week. Before I begin my little blog this week it’s been a while since I’ve had my B.I.T.C session so here are some moments to write home about.
So I was heading to The Lodge the other day, my first time checking it out. My mode of transportation in the city is either cab or TTC. This day it was the TTC. The weirdest things happen to me on the TTC. There are so many I could seriously write a separate blog just for that! I was looking all bearded and ready to hit The Lodge for the first time and I was relaxing minding my own bear business in the lower landing of the bus just below the stairs that lead to the upper level of the bus. Someone hit the bell to get off. Not unusual, however what happened next was well, asinine! A lovely voluptuous woman steps into the landing, one step away from my shoulder, again not unusual, but then proceeded to rest her ass onto my shoulder! I’m not kidding! Her bottom was so busy beautiful she seemed to have trouble keeping control of it and in standing in the landing her butt protruded out enough that it rested itself right on my shoulder blade. I was in shock. I couldn’t even speak as her bottom waited comfortably on me for it’s next stop. My god where was it going to land next??? I’ll never know.
I arrived at The Lodge not long after and I was definitely in need of a drink or tranquilizer. The Lodge is this cool little pub in the village. I’d never been but had heard a lot about it. It is above O’Grady’s another bar I like during non-Pride season. Their security during pride are always assholes so I choose not to go. So I quickly found a corner seat with a good view of the pub and it’s bears. I wanted to study these bears in their natural habitat. I wasn’t really sure whether there was a possibility of getting mauled or bitten. It was wonderfully unpretentious. The works between Twink, Jocks, Cubs and Bears can be worlds apart not unlike an episode of Degrassi High.
It’s remarkable to me how unwelcoming these neesh groups can be to each other. It’s not all rainbows and unicorns in the village. I remember when I first moved here and went to another local queer spot this very Queenly Dude actually laughed at my shoes because they weren’t designer. I was pretty soft back then and I actually sank in my seat with embarrassment. Oh, how things have change. Today I’d just B.I.T.C slap him! Verbally of course. No violence, just love. So I’m sitting there watching the bears down their beers. A very cute little cub bartender helps me decide on a beer.
I wanted to feel just like those other bears and not drink my usual wine. His name was Sam and he was very sweet. The bears played gossip chain and talked Will and Grace. Suddenly you appeared. A mature fellow with a warm and welcoming smile and offered to buy me a drink. I had received a welcome shot from the bears in the corner moments before. I felt like the bear of the ball. The music was very retro: Carpenters, Ann Murray, Joni Mitchell, Kenny Rogers. I loved it. I was literally on bear planet. I was home. It was so cozy and cute. Just like me. If you are a local bear or a bear enthusiast I highly recommend you stopping by. I recommend abstaining from feeding them unless you want them to follow you home.

5 kisses out of 5

B.I.T.C

It’s that time we all wait for…. Badass B.I.T.C Beard of the Week. This weeks Badass B.I.T.C Beard belongs to…

Rick!

“ I don’t know if there are any important facts about me at all, but I do cut hair for a living and I’m a karaoke rockstar.. but other than that I’m pretty average. Oh and I’m covered in hair from head to toe if that’s notable and relevant. LOL. All of my childhood and early 20’s I spent nearly 100 pounds overweight so even though I’m nearly 50, I still don’t necessarily see what others see. My partner is amazing, believe me I’m the lucky one. He’s a doll and one of the kindest, and thank God for my sake, one of the most understanding people ever!”

Awe!!! This dude sounds incredible right? Humble! Stunning! Taken!! Damn, eh beards? Rick you’re now entered in the year end contest! Stay cool and keep reading Bruce in the City!

B.I.T.C

Edited by Mary Ellen Monk

Posted in Check it Out!, Clubs and Bars, Pubs, Restaurants | Leave a comment

Totally Folked Up!

Did I ever mention I worked for a dinner theatre company a few years back? I had been managing in retail for what felt like 100 years and I just felt like doing something different. It was a crazy gig and it was during that time I met a really adorable girl who mentioned her boyfriend was also in the performing arts. There were quite a few really talented people working as servers at that theatre. It was super cool meeting and working with them even if it was for just a quick summer. I did however bump back into that cute couple a couple years later and found out Alison’s now husband was working on a CD project and I was intrigued. Over the past year Justin Ralph has raised funds, posted performances, got family and friends to rally behind the project, and to be very honest I couldn’t help but get behind it myself. While working hard to get this music out, he got married to his beautiful girlfriend and they had a stunning child. I just had to chat with Justin Ralph and find out what he’s all about.

Bruce: I’m so excited for your new music project and I’ve already viewed your video a dozen times. Tell me where this passion began.

Justin Ralph: I was really into musical theatre when I was in high school, and ended up getting a vocal teacher through my then-girlfriend (now wife!) at the time.

Bruce: Yes and congrats on your marriage and even more fabulous the new baby!! After the vocal coach happened what was the next step for you?

Justin Ralph: I moved to Toronto to go to a joint acting program at University of Toronto/Sheridan College, and my vocal teacher at the time really encouraged me to do opera as well as musical theatre.

Bruce: I would have loved to see that. Was musical theatre your main vocal style because your new project is far removed from those roots.

Justin Ralph: Well as time went on, I ended up doing more and more opera in my lessons actually. I did some auditions, and ended up basically falling into doing opera for the following ten years.

Bruce: Wow that’s pretty incredible. Sing to me!! I’m kidding, but no, really sing….. I’m kidding please continue.

Justin Ralph: Thank you ha! The truth is I really enjoyed my time in it, met some amazing friends, and got the opportunity to do some fantastic shows.

Bruce: I hear a “but” in there somewhere.

Justin Ralph: A few years ago, I woke up one morning, and realized as much as I enjoyed doing it, my heart wasn’t entirely in it. We happened to live in Sudbury at the time, and I went to the folk festival there and totally fell in love with what I was hearing. I went home, determined to change my path, and immerse myself in folk and country music. I bought a banjo, listened to folk and country music 24/7, started doing some songwriting, and slowly wound down my opera career.

Bruce: I was really curious how that transition came about because this project could not be more folk if you were Bob Dillan or Joni Mitchell yourself. I’ve heard it. I love it. I just want to pack my bags, move out of the big city, and hang my hat in the next small easy going town where you can still hear the knife sharpener driving by. Tell me how you did it. How did you make your dream your reality?

Justin Ralph: Yes, so fast forward to 2017. On January 1st, I decided I was going to have two big goals for the year. 1. Be a good father (our first baby was due on January 16th) and 2. record an album. I decided to crowdfund to produce the album, and was incredibly grateful and surprised when I passed my goal and raised about $6,000 to record the album.

Bruce: That’s Brilliant! And your album was born. Tell my readers all about it. By the way did I tell you I have the best readers? I just know they will get behind this music. It’s so relevant with the passing of a folk rock icon this week (Downie)Canadian music and it’s diversity is alive and well. Justin tell my readers about this earthy poetic work.

Justin Ralph: Thanks. The album is called “By The Old Railroad”, and is made up of three original songs and three traditional folk tunes. The originals are all based around my life here in the country, and really inspired by the landscape around me. I wanted to write tunes that felt like they could have been made up about this area 100 years ago. For the traditional tunes, I went with songs that had really inspired my own writing, from the uplifting bluegrass classic “Will the Circle Be Unbroken”, to the dark and moody blues tune that Nirvana covered in the 90s, “In the Pines”. Todd Huckabone, who produced the album, really brought some cool layers to the music that gave it some blues and rock feel, and I was really pleased with how it all turned out.

Bruce: Well clearly I’m a fan!

Justin Ralph: Now that the album is out, I’ve been doing some touring to get it out there, from my small hometown of Kemptville up to the far great north in Cobalt. I’m hoping to make a trip to Toronto soon to do a performance there as well.

Bruce: I know you won’t forget to invite me to your show. I’d love to cover it. Will you come back and give my readers an inside look at your show in Toronto!? I’ll let you let that simmer. No pressure!

Justin Ralph: Thank you and now that my album is out the album is available on my website directly at https://www.justinralph.com as well as iTunes, Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon, and more.

Justin Ralph – Home
www.justinralph.com
Home page of Justin Ralph, a folk singer based out of the Ottawa valley.

Bruce: Well seriously all the best with your album. It’s real, it’s raw, it’s captivating, and it’s so incredibly Canadian and I hope all my readers will make me proud and visit these sites you mentioned and get themselves a copy. I have readers all around the world and I can’t think of a better way for them to enjoy something so intimately local. Thank you so much for spending this time with me. Let’s do this again when you perform in Toronto!
Justin Ralph: Thank you Bruce. Really appreciate you having me.

I hope you all check this guy out! He’s talented! He’s hot! He’s bearded! How can you refuse?

Speaking of Beards! It’s time for Badass B.I.T.C Beard of the Week!!! Drumroll please……
Steve C
He is a self proclaimed 55 year old kid that loves classic rock (Freddie Mercury and Robert Plant are two of his idols) but he also loves Grace Jones, Donna Summer, Lady Gaga and Pink. Steve loves living in South Florida because he hates the cold weather.

He seems like a cool guy right?? Congrats, you are Badass B.I.T.C Beard of the Week! You are now entered in the year end draw for a great prize! Good luck!

B.I.T.C

Edited by Mary Ellen Monk

Photo credit for Justin Ralph article: Alison Boudreau

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Bruce News!!!

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The Jazz Hot

There’s never any excuse not to check out a hot jazz ensemble. That’s why when I was visiting my family in Peterborough this week for some serious R and R I had to stop into this swag little place that’s infamous for its great live jazz music. The place is called The Black Horse. When I walked in I was a little taken back. I expected what I would normally see in Toronto, people dressed to the nines. Clean shaven men tapping their toes and ladies all a glow with the latest drink trend enjoying some Jazz before the reality of high rise office life found them in the morning. When I entered The Black Horse I was like, “I’m home”. The bar was lined with beards best in show. The guys looked like they easily new every song from Led Zepplin or Metallica and the ladies… there was one. Not including the wicked vocalist performing on the stage to my left. I was torn, do I gaze euphorically at the beard buffet to my right or do I sip my Corona, mind my own business, and fall under the spell of Ms. Marsala Lukianchuk? Being a man of notable ability I quite easily decided on both. Marsala was swag personified. Her chops were undeniable scatting out some of the best vocals I’ve heard in a while. Her audience of sexy bearded fellows were captivated by her and for the first time ever in a pub I can honestly say I don’t think the boys were there for the beer. Even the incredible trumpet player was sporting a badass beard (Cleber Cardoso Bittencourt) Those bears were cubs that night and Marsala was the jazz hot! To my shock a few of the fellows actually got up as she graciously shared the stage with other local talent including a wicked base player. She did a duet with a male vocalist and knocked everybody’s work socks off and even that one lady patron got up and sang Blues Skies. Marsala Lukianchuk was really incredible. Rob Phillips is the bands keyboard and musical director. He has performed in several locally successful ensembles. Marsala  has also done a tonne of work and there are many great clips of her on YouTube. I can’t wait to catch her with Rob Phillips the next time I’m in town.

The pubs get 3 kisses out of 5

Marsala and ensemble 4 kisses out of 5

B.I.T.C

Edited by Mary Ellen Monk

As promised Badass B.I.T.C  Beard of the Week is…..

This weeks hot beard belongs to Matt! His girlfriend submitted his pic to bruceinthecity@hotmail.com and when asked why she submitted his stunning beard pic she simply said

“Other than the fact that he’s incredibly yummy?! Lol, He’s lived with his beard longer than he’s lived without it. He has had it for more than half his life.”

He is certainly yummy!

I think that justifies Matt being Badass B.I.T.C Beard of the Week! Congrats Matt you have been added to the year end draw!

 

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Bruce News! B.I.T.C Wear!

Brucesters!!

B.I.T.C Wear

by

Bruce in the City

Bruce Christopher

Stay tuned for details!

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What’s the Buzz? Badass B.I.T.C Beard of the Week!

Be a Badass Bruce in the City Beard of the Week!

Send your Badass beard selfie to bruceinthecity@hotmail.com for your chance to be featured as Badass B.I.T.C Beard on my Sunday blog and my official Twitter account bruceinthecity! Each person will also be entered into a draw for a year end prize! B.I.T.C

 

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Gay and Glad

There it was like a beacon of hope for countless gay people who just wanted to fit in, feel safe, and learn more about themselves. The year was 1970, one year before this big old bear poked his head out of his mother’s purse. Glad Day Book Shop was creating a place of refuge in a heterosexually dominated literary world by blasting a path for brilliant LGBT writers to sell their works. But even more than this, allow for incredibly important community awareness and legitimacy to a group of people who were fighting everyday for a voice and a culture to call their own. Glad Day Books is now considered the oldest bookstore of it’s kind in the world. I remember it fondly as a young person when I used to zip into Toronto on the Go train with my best buddy Brenda. There were two streets we were sure to walk, Queen Street West and Yonge Street. Queen Street for reasons of its own which I’d be happy to get into another time. Yonge however was that never ending street of dreams. For me it was almost 20 years from their monumental open to when I excitedly window shopped then investigated the aisles after that long flight of stairs upward to self expression and sexual liberation. My girlfriend was two doors down at the incense shop unaware of my need for such an outlet. It would be many years later that I would finally come out to her. And by girlfriend I mean “Hey girlfriend” even though we did date early on in Grade 7. Wow, I was so bi! How rebellious. Well today’s Glad Day Books has liberated itself from the old up top shop to a hot new trendy cafe, pub bookshop in the heart of the village just south of Church and Welsley. It’s been reopened in the new space for almost a year and the fun they’re having over there? Forget about it! It’s incredible. From fabulous drag shows with the very talented Uma Gahd, to influential author events. One that will be taking place in November and I’ll be certain to cover that for sure! I was there with a new friend of mine whom I met on one of those free apps for bears over 35 and we spent the afternoon enjoying the disco grooves of The 70’s as we sipped our beverages. I actually had a really lovely mascoto which I’ll have to get the name of for you. Lots of local drinks to be had which I love. Support local!!! Another little bit of trivia for you, did you know Glad Day is owned by 35 different people who all pulled together giving of their time, talents, and dollars to keep this important landmark of the city and the gay community right where it should be, supporting a whole new generation of Queens and their dreams? I’m certain there will be many new tales to be told from the trendiest coffee cocktail book shop I’ve ever stepped foot in. Bravo to one more year of books and booze! OMG I smell Bookclub! Clearly I can’t say enough about this place. It’s fun! It’s wild! It’s packed! But in today’s world when many LGBT people continue to suffer around the globe it’s also more than ever, relevant.

5 kisses out of 5

B.I.T.C

Drum roll please!!!!

As promised our first official Beard of the Week! Playwright Steven Jackson! Check out his Badass B.I.T.C beard and also my review of his play “The Seat Next to the King” a few blog postings back! Congrats Steven! Our first official Badass B.I.T.C Beard of the Week! Hey Brucesters submit your beard selfie to bruceinthecity@hotmail.com and any relevant info you would like our readers to know about you and who knows maybe You will be chosen as Badass B.I.T.C Beard of the Week!

Edited by Mary Ellen Monk

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Bruce News! B.I.T.C Beard!

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