The greatest LGBT sporting summer Chicago has ever seen comes back to life with a feature-length DVD that is filled with more than two hours of footage from Gay Games VII. It blends drama, spirit, competition, emotion and energy into a must-see memory.
With national distribution by Wolfe Video, the DVD ( $19.95 ) also is available online at www.GayGamesChicago.org .
There are chills, spills and thrills throughout the DVD, from the magic of the Opening Ceremony on July 15 at Soldier Field through the misty eyes at the Closing Ceremony on July 22 at Wrigley Field ( including the celebrities who performed or spoke at each event ) . The DVD truly captures the eight-day gala that hit Chicago suburbs such as Oak Park, Evanston and Crystal Lake, as well as every region of Chicago.
'This is an awesome experience,' said one triathlon competitor.
The DVD offers a glimpse of all 31 sports, plus the wide-ranging cultural aspects of the Gay Games. There, of course, were plenty of Speedos around the water polo matches, and controversy around rowing in the northern suburbs.
The DVD offers a look at the characters of Gay Games VII, the spirits of the quadrennial extravaganza which brought together sports men and women from every corner of the globe.
There was the pain of a stiff foot to the face in tae kwon do, and the mass of muscles at the physique competition. There's flag football in the mud and same-sex dancing inside an elegant hotel grand ballroom. Truly, Dancing With The Stars has nothing on Gay Games VII ballroom dancing.
In addition, there are individuals who stand out, such as Paul Mart, an 88-year-old who competed, still celebrating and jovial.
Produced and directed wonderfully by Brenda Schumacher, the DVD is at times cheerful, such as the rendition of a Muscle Boy song ( by Jinx Titanic ) . However, the sadder aspects of reality are also shown; for example, a competitor was interviewed but did not want to be shown out of fear for his life when he returned home.
Kudos for the DVD work of co-producer/editor Wendy Jo Carlton and Cara Meiselman; associate producer Anne T. Hanson; and camera operators Gordon Lake, Kristin Neilson, John Weaver, David Aaron, Mary Joeile Rizk and Ky Dickens, among others. Gay Games board Co-Vice Chair Tracy Baim was co-producer of the film for Chicago Games, Inc.
We also learn about the successful, popular Scholarship Program, which drew competitors from South Africa, Croatia and elsewhere.
People of all stripes ( from everyday folk to more well-known people ) are profiled. Chicagoan Dick Uyvari and his longtime partner Joe LaPat are saluted on the DVD for their immeasurable donations to the Games. We also see former pro football player Esera Tuaolo playing indoor volleyball, as well as singing and speaking.
Tatsuya Nagashima was a concert pianist and a tennis participant. He also told how Gay Games VII was the first time he watched protestors yell at himand what he did back to them.
We see darts, billiards and swimming, including the lady who plans to save $50 a month so she can make it to Cologne, Germany ( the site of the next Gay Games competitions ) in 2010.
The DVD also offers looksor the sounds of Margaret Cho, Erasure's Andy Bell, Ari Gold, Jason & DeMarco, Kate Clinton, Leigh-Ann Naidoo and Megan Mullally, among others.
Oh, yeah, there's Cyndi Lauper as well, in all her rainbow delight.
The summer showcase of 2006 that attracted about 12,000 worldwide participant in Chicago featured sailing on Lake Michigan, tennis at Northwestern, and soccer in the heat and humidity. The Chosen Few, a lesbian team from South Africa, won the bronze medal in Women's B soccer.
Worldwide legends came to Chicago, such as British weight lifter Chris Morgan. There also were regional superheroes, such as Brian Cordeiro, a hockey sensation for the Boston Lobsters. Then there's the 60-year-old figure skater who just so happens to be deaf and spoke in sign language.
The DVD offers more than its share of sculpted, gifted physiques. There are bronzed bodies galore. There also are plenty of the Average Joe and Average Jane competitors.
The bonus chapters include more than 400 still photos and a tribute by famous athletes to Gay Games founder Dr. Tom Waddell.
Gay Games VII is memorialized on DVD for lifefrom the confident San Francisco Rockdogs basketball team to the energetic figure skating of Josh Figurido to the antics of the Pink flamingo to, well, every rainbow moment of pride we saw this summer.
See www.gaygameschicago.org .
Two DVD screening parties have been scheduled, including Tuesday, Dec. 4 at Sidetrack, and Saturday, Dec. 9 at Spin ( Halsted and Belmont ) , 6-9 p.m., $10 cover includes complimentary Absolut and Miller drinks.