Entertainment » Television

Move over Oscar :: the Pill Awards hit their stride

Tuesday Jan 19, 2010

The Oscar, the Emmy, the Tony... the Pill?

Don't chuckle. All those mainstream award shows were infants once. Not that The Pill Awards are in their infancy. Come this Sunday night at Arena nightclub, the Pills turn six with what shapes up to be their biggest ceremony to date.

Hosted by Hedda Lettuce and Colton Ford, the event will feature a virtual who's who of New York's queer entertainment scene. There will be performances by Amanda Lepore, Cazwell, The Black Peter Group, Ariel Aparicio, Jason Walker, Chevonne and The Ones; and celebgay presenters Loris Diran, Michael Musto, Randy Jones, Whore's Mascara, Dallas Dubois, Rainblo, King Ralphy, Will Clark, Celso, The Dazzle Dancers, Ari Gold, Michael Lucas, Dina Marie, Acid Betty, Flotilla Debarge, Britney Houston, Naked Highway, Jipsta, Daniel F. Levin (Hee-Haw), Sherry Vine,  Shawn Hollenbach and Paul Case (Miss Fag-Hag Pageant), Daniel Gray, Heather Leigh West, JFortino, Francis Legge, Brian Kent, Kyle Quandel, Robynne Kaamil, Gazelle, Nekked, Samwell, The Kiki Twins, Nole Marin (America's Next Top Model, True Beauty), and Malan Breton (Project Runway), just to name a couple dozen.

And if that won't be enough, there's the after-party that will happen immediately after the award ceremony is concluded @ ASSETERIA featuring the intoxicating sounds of superstar DJ Junior Vasquez with a special performance by Bebe Zahara Benet (RuPaul's Drag Race), ? 
The Pills were created to celebrate underground queer artists of New York. They are an off-shoot of ADD-TV, billed as 'Television for People with short attention spans...,' which is seen on New York's public access channel MNN the first Thursday of the month at 9 PM. Each features short films, music videos, live performances and video montages related to a specific theme. For more on ADD-TV visit its website where you can also see the nominees in each of the 23 categories and vote for your favorite. EDGE spoke to co-creator of ADD-TV George Lyter. who is co-producing the event along with Derek Scott Graves about the awards, ADD-TV and the state of queer television.

Guerrilla Gay television

EDGE:Okay, can we start how would you describe ADD-TV?

George Lyter: ADD-TV (Attention Deficit TV) was created as an alternative, edgy platform for queer filmmakers and talent. Airing monthly on Manhattan Neighborhood Network, each episode has a one word theme, from which an eclectic mix of short videos are programmed to tie it in. Its a monthly mini film festival of sorts.
EDGE:Could it be called guerrilla gay television?

George Lyter: Yes. Its very DIY friendly.
EDGE:Why call them The Pill Awards?

George Lyter: Attention Deficit - short films - The Pill Awards was just sort of tongue and cheek because initially we didn’t want to take the competition too seriously. It was just an excuse to collectively get together, get dolled up and celebrate our own.  People take pills for ADD...right?
EDGE:If you had to describe The Pill Awards agenda - what is it?

George Lyter: To platform queer filmmakers and talent and give the a night to shine celebrating art and solidarity.
EDGE:How would you describe their growth over the six years?

George Lyter:

Vote for your favorites

EDGE:Can anyone vote for the winners?

George Lyter: Yes. Voting use to be an eclectic mix of two dozens judges who would view the shorts from each season and choose the winners. However this is the second year that the voting has gone public instead. (Note: you can vote through Friday, January 22, 2010 at the Pill Awards page on the ADD-TV website.

EDGE:This looks to be the biggest event yet. Do you feel like you’re putting together the Oscars in terms of planning?

George Lyter: Michael Musto of the Village Voice did coin it as ’the gay Oscars’. I take pride in how this awards show has grown. I couldn’t be doing it without the help of Derek Graves.  He’s on board as co-producer and he gets its. The PILL AWARDS is a viable entity and it recognizes the talent within our community and this is a good thing. Its always been a free red carpet event and we’ve always had wonderful support from NYC gay rags and the local queer entertainment.
EDGE:Do the categories change from year-to-year?

George Lyter: There is a core of recurring categories (Best Short, Best Drag, Sexy Pill). With the onset and outlet of nationally televised gay network, this has brought on a whole new crop of gay music video stars.  So there are obviously more music video categories.

EDGE:What’s new this year?

George Lyter: Two new categories this year are the ACTIVIST PILL and the INTERNATIONAL PILL.  The issues in the nominated shorts in the ACTIVIST PILL range marriage equality, Hurricane Katrina, to safer sex. And this year we are thrilled to be honoring legendary DJ Junior Vasquez with a lifetime achievement award. He is the Madonna of the DJ world if you think about it.
EDGE:Which title or artist received the most nominations?

George Lyter: "Illuminate" by Natalie Lebouleux is a fantastic black and white stop motion short from the UK, gorgeously lit with animated dolls. Cazwell racks up quite a few nominations with his "I Seen Beyonce at Burger King" as well.
EDGE:Will there be a red carpet?

George Lyter: It should really be pink.
EDGE:We all know what the Oscar and the Emmy look like, what do the Pill Awards look like?

George Lyter: Funny. For the past six years, The Pill Awards are these large sized pill capsules which anyone can buy. Each presenter opens these capsules and the winner’s name is inside. Its very tongue and cheek and plays on the Attention Deficit we are constantly bombarded with in visuals. There is also a play on the pharmaceutical influence on mainstream media and certainly gay culture.
EDGE:What do you think of corporate gay television, such as Logo or heretv?

George Lyter: In 2002, when ADD-TV debuted, the only outlet for queer filmmakers was the gay film festival circuit. I had a few of my NYU shorts which ran their global circuit and they inspired me to created ADD-TV.  LOGO is a blessing on one side for queer artists on one side. It offers national exposure.

On another it is very corporate driven which is not the core of the gay ghetto. We should be grateful that they exist and i hope they survive. I hope out gay recording artist realize how fortunate they are that just by their sexual orientation they garner national broadcast, which is surely not the case for heterosexual recording artists. And easily I can see how the structure of ADD-TV, as a half hour ’shorts programming’ genre has influenced the programming of say LOGO and the CLICK LIST of best shorts and music videos.
EDGE:What’s next for ADD-TV? Going national? Cable?

George Lyter: Well, I have been heading the programming of ADD-TV for six years now. I’ve decided to put ADD-TV on hiatus. This is an end of an era in some ways for us. Like I’ve said, currently there are many outlets for the short digi genre. But the PILL AWARDS has eclipsed ADD-TV in some ways and certainly this is where my creative heart is. I look forward to this year’s awards show, taking a breather, and regrouping and reformatting the PILL AWARDS to be an awards show not just of shorts programmed on ADD-TV anymore...but a more encompassing and reaching awards show with more creative people on board to take it to the next level. Derek Graves has been a dream to work with and we have big plans for the future PILL!  Stay tuned!

The Pill Awards take place on Sunday, January 24, 2010 at Arena, 135 West 41st Street (6th Av/ Bway) 212.278.0988. Doors are at 8pm, with DJ Die J! Mars from The House Of Field for Pre-show 8p-9p, and the Pill A show is from 9p to 11p, PILLs afterparty immediately after @ ASSETERIA featuring the intoxicating sounds of superstar DJ Junior Vasquez with a special performance by Bebe Zahara Benet (RuPaul’s Drag Race). ? 


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