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Popular Topics in The Arts
Drag Shows: Drag Queens and Female Impersonators Drag Shows: Drag Queens and Female Impersonators
Female impersonation need say nothing about sexual identity, but it has for a long time been almost an institutionalized aspect of gay male culture.
Photography: Gay Male, Pre-Stonewall Photography: Gay Male, Pre-Stonewall
Although sparse in images documenting the gay community, pre-Stonewall gay male photography blurs the boundaries between art, erotica, and social history.
Erotic and Pornographic Art: Gay Male Erotic and Pornographic Art: Gay Male
Given the historic stigma around making, circulating, and possessing overtly homoerotic images, the visual arts have been especially important for providing a socially sanctioned arena for depicting the naked male body and suggesting homoerotic desire.
New Queer Cinema
Independent films that aggressively assert homosexual identity and queer culture, the New Queer Cinema can be seen as the culmination of several developments in American cinema.
White, Minor
Renowned photographer, teacher, critic, editor, and curator, Minor White created some of the most interesting photographs of male nudes of the second half of the twentieth century, but did not exhibit them for fear of scandal.
Halston (Roy Halston Frowick)
The first international fashion superstar, Halston dressed and befriended some of America's most glamorous women.
Surrealism Surrealism
An artistic movement that grew out of Dadaism and flourished in Europe shortly after World War I, Surrealism embraced the idea that art was an expression of the subconscious.
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In Memoriam
In Memoriam: Mark O'Donnell (1954-2012)
Posted by: Claude J. Summers on 08/07/12
Last updated on: 08/07/12
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Mark O'Donnell with his twin brother Steve.

Writer Mark O'Donnell, best known as co-author of the book of the Marc Shaiman-Scott Wittman musical, Hairspray (2003), which was based on the John Waters 1988 film, died in New York City on August 6, 2012. He collapsed and suffered cardiac arrest in front of his Riverside Drive building on Manhattan's Upper West Side.

A novelist as well as a playwright and librettist, O'Donnell also published humor in magazines such as Esquire, The New Yorker, and The Atlantic.

His novels include Getting Over Homer (1997) and Let Nothing You Dismay (1998), humorous but touching novels set in gay New York. They have sometimes been seen as reminiscent of Armistead Maupin's San Francisco-set Tales of the City. He is also author of a collection of humorous pieces, Vertigo and Other Tall Tales (1993).

O'Donnell, shared the 2003 Tony Award for Best Book of a Musical with Thomas Meehan, for their work on Hairspray. The pair also earned Tony nominations in 2008 for their book based on another John Waters film, Cry-Baby, with music by David Javerbaum and Adam Schlesinger.

Among O'Donnell's survivors is his twin brother Steve O'Donnell, also a comedy writer. As DNAinfo.com reports, the twins attended Harvard University, where they worked on the humor magazine, Harvard Lampoon.

In a recent interview in The Believer, the twins contrasted their careers. Steve O'Donnell, who is best known for his work as a writer on The David Letterman Show and The Jimmy Fallon Show, said, "I guess I think we should get to the more sensational aspect of our relationship--the fact that we're twin brothers from a large family of ten brothers and sisters, working-class Cleveland, offspring of a welder and a . . . homemaker, who were themselves the offspring of immigrants. And, that most profound as well as lurid portion of the equation, that you're gay and I'm straight. There's a carnival-act aspect to that, but it opens the doors to more profound questions. Nature versus nurture, environment versus heredity . . .all that stuff."

In a statement issued today, Steve O'Donnell said his brother was an "unusual, brilliant, playful spirit and he's going to be missed very much." In a telephone interview, he added, "I loved him more than any other person on earth. I think he'll be remembered for having a unique, inspired take on things that was both eternally wise and beautifully innocent."

In response to the news of O'Donnell's death, Marc Shaiman said, "Mark was a kind soul, a hysterical mind and the real hero of 'Hairspray.' His passing is shocking, our great loss, but heaven's gain."

In 2008, Steve O'Donnell made a video for the No on Proposition 8 campaign urging Californians to vote against the discriminatory amendment that prohibited same-sex marriage. In the video, he referenced the fact that his twin brother was his best friend and that they should enjoy equal rights.

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