Out and About with Dana Miller

Drunks, Lovers, Sinners & Saints
Dana Miller

I have never been sabbatically challenged. I’ve taken leave of work, eating, sex, my senses, even thinking from time to time. Yet when I awoke in an ambulance on my way to Cedars it just seemed like the ideal time to consider a permanent sabbatical from drinking. See, over the years I have taken more out of alcohol than it’s taken out of me. But just barely.

Another gentle shove I received towards some semblance of sane solvent-free sabbaticalness was in the form of a gaggle of loved ones perched unexpectedly in my living room one morning strongly suggesting I flee in exile for 30 days to a joint they found in “Palm Springs adjacent.” They meant Riverside. I pleaded that, hell, it only takes one drink to get me loaded. My only problem is I can’t remember if it’s number 12 or 13! Lord, they were right. I had stayed for most of the play, but thankfully got out before the curtain call.

Now that I am forced to live on nothing but food and water, there are hordes who suggest my teetotaling ways have had a disastrous effect on pubs. They cite my absence from L.A.’s oldest gay hang The Spotlight, the Hamburger Hamlet on Sunset and the bar at the Silver Spoon as a primary cause for their recent or upcoming closures. This of course is utter nonsense—well, OK. Maybe the Spotlight. This sordid innuendo does however reinforce to me that abstaining is favorable both to the head and the pocket.

Come Nov. 10, APLA is tossing a bash for Clear Channel’s Jim Murphy. For over the past decade, Jim has served APLA in a number of volunteer capacities that brought the agency both cache and cash. The other day I was in his office where he oversees giant stations like KIIS-FM, HOT 92.3 and My FM and noticed this huge plaque on his wall commemorating a benefit we worked on together years ago featuring Elton, Sting, Bon Jovi, Alicia Keys, Rufus Wainwright, Elizabeth Taylor and others. It was a very cool show and Jim recalled it was his first real effort on behalf of APLA.

It got me thinking about simple acts of personal philanthropy. Jim is a member of our community who, after seeing and feeling the need, got involved and made a very real difference. His focused beam of influence arguably convinced one of the largest media organizations on the planet to rise up and use their full power to take a swack at HIV/AIDS in a world where still 5,000 die of this ruthless scourge daily.

Jim is among those who toil in an often forgotten effort to ease this war. These soldiers are all about and by honoring one, the spotlight is pointed on the masses that are altering both perception and reality on behalf of people living with HIV and AIDS. APLA is honoring Jim Murphy at one of my favorite old watering holes, Bar on 4 at Neiman Marcus. Damn, this time I really will be drinking water at a watering hole.

As a gay man of a certain age, I’ve attended more than my fair share of memorials. Elizabeth Taylor’s family and friends raised the bar the other day by bringing a few folks together in an elegant manner to celebrate her truly remarkable life. Colin Farrell—who met ET just two years ago yet carried on a priceless friendship by phone at all hours of the night—served as host with wonderful memory snapshots from Sir Michael Caine, Jose Eber, my old pal Martha Nelson from Time Inc. and ET’s stepdaughter Kate Burton. Elton told the touching tale of the fighting side of ET and closed at the piano with “Blue Eyes.” But it was the tribute and thanks bestowed by her grandchildren that truly charmed.

When ET passed a few months ago I wrote that she had single-handedly made the war on AIDS cool for Hollywood to embrace. She was there for us when no one else was, and for that, our community owes this incredible woman a debt of gratitude we can most certainly never repay. In 2000, Queen Elizabeth named her a Dame. But hell, this Dame was truly our Queen Elizabeth.

My 16th annual Toy Box Party is set for Sunday, Dec. 11 from 4-8 p.m. at Santa Monica and Larrabee between Eleven and Revolver in WeHo. Alan Friel and Curt Sharp imported this bash from NYC and that first year we collected toys in the vestibule of St. Thomas the Apostle in Hollywood. Fifty gents showed up. This year we’re hoping for a festive crowd to drop by our winter wonderland for some holiday grog and cheer. AIDS Healthcare Foundation via their Out of the Closet stores are distributing all the toys collected to families affected by HIV and AIDS. Pasadena’s AIDS Service Center, Whittier Rio Hondo AIDS Project and Bienestar will also assist. Please drop by Toy Box Party ‘11 for a seat on Hunky Santa’s lap. As always, your gift of an unwrapped toy is your way into the celebration. Become our friend at

Thanks for taking the time to read this. Until next issue, I shall again take my leave. Heck, there must be something else I can give up in the next couple of weeks! Cheers!

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