Tag Archive | "manhunt"

To Love and Hope and Disconnect

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THE OBSERVATIONIST

I feel like the soul of my not-yet- deceased great grandfather inhabits my body from time to time. While I’m sure that my ancient patriarchal family member of three generations prior wouldn’t care to hear me talk about him being dead (yet), the old man inside me is just begging to complain about those crazy kids today with their goddam Internet.

Not only has modern day technology zapped us out of trying to work for things like figuring out the best pizza in town (just go to Zaggat.com) or how far away the nearest halfway house is (a simple Googleing of “need drug rehabilitation” yields many results), it’s simply made us come to accept less mystery in our lives in exchange for simple, quick gratification. And I’m not just talking about porn, although I have to admit, it’s the first industry I think of as being transmogrified by the on-line monster. For some inexplicable reason, I yearn for the days when a friend would let me borrow a VHS tape of 12 men get- ting gangbanged by an overweight little person, but now I can find that and so much more at www.weepeopleneedlove2.com almost too easily. And because it’s so easy…it bums me out a little bit.

The same can go for dating. No longer do you have to consult with your friends for hours about the perfect place to go for a mid- night stroll, the best Italian restaurant you want to share with your newfound beau, or even the cutest little porno shop to find a dirty movie together. No, those days are gone as all the mystery has evaporated with the click of a mouse.

Hell. Hooking up isn’t even the same! With countless web- sites like Manhunt, Adam 4 Adam, and Penises 2 Love 4 Ever, finding a hookup (or…love?…yeah right…) has never been easier or lazier. The World Wide Web has taken the once delicate art of finding erotic gratification and turned into something cheap and tawdry, unlike the many truck stops in the 1970’s where a man really had to work at getting an HJ from another random guy. We’ve become a society of gay dudes enslaved to the accessibility of the Internet so much so that all we really understand is instant satisfaction.

Maybe I’m just being ungrateful for modern technology. Don’t get me wrong; I love a blender or a microwave or even a Sonicare toothbrush just as much as the next guy. And I am thankful that all this technological progress has somehow translated into me being able to enjoy the comfort of an air conditioned home while living in the balls-hot weather of South Florida. But in my love life? I’m not completely sold on having a computer be my conduit between my genitalia and the rest of the world.

In any case, I suppose that I should not judge others for whatever it is they do on the Internet, but be able to just sit back and realize that while I may yearn for the nostalgia of days gone by, the world is an ever changing place in every facet and that’s a fact that I must accept or go live somewhere deep in the woods of North Dakota. While the idea of being surrounded by bears does have a certain sense of appeal, I think I’m going to stay right here in South Florida by my laptop for a bit longer.

Just a little history: The Internet is a global system of interconnected computer networks that use the standard Internet Protocol Suite (TCP/IP) to serve billions of users worldwide. It is a network of networks that consists of mil- lions of private, public, academic, business, and government networks of local to global scope that are linked by a broad array of electronic and optical networking technologies. The Internet carries a vast array of information resources and services, most notably the inter-linked hypertext documents of the World Wide Web (WWW) and the infrastructure to support electronic mail.

The Observationist contributes a weekly column on various topics. If you have any questions, topic ideas or comments please e-mail to: troym@jumponmarkslist.com

Former Manhunt Employee Feels Transgender Discrimination

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Partner Fights for Dating Website Owner to “Make it Right”

By DMITRY RASHNITSOV

(Photo: Manhunt co-owner Jonathan Crutchley, courtesy of Flickr.com)

In September 2008, A.J. Spellman was so excited to begin working at Online Buddies, LLC, the parent company for Manhunt.com, one of the most popular gay dating and hookup websites all over the United States. Spellman was hired as a Customer Service Representative, which would allow him to help take care of his disabled fiancée, Bri Crofton.

In his interview, during which he appeared female, Spellman mentioned his intention to transition from female to male and all the people he interviewed with said they had no problem with the transition and when the time came he would need to speak to HR and get everything squared away.

“A.J. received a generally warm welcome, though he was sometimes teased on the call center floor for being the only female-bodied CSR. He was a bit thrown off by repeated references by veteran coworkers to ‘Gestapo-like’ treatment at the hands of upper management, and brought these concerns home early on, but grew to believe that certain coworkers were merely being dramatic,” said Crofton who has become the ad-hoc voice for Spellman.

Crofton said that after Spellman began hormone therapy to start the transition, that’s when the real problems began.

“His voice and appearance changed drastically and extremely rapidly,” Lofton said. “At the same time, little things started happening, like entire lunches starting to go missing, rather than just an occasional soda; loud comments were made regarding voice cracks and facial hair. A.J. took the latter in stride as possibly being average, callous male social interactions.”

While Spellman appealed for help about the harassment with his direct supervisors, upper management and human resource personal, Crofton said that nobody in the company would help Spellman out, and instead began writing poor work reviews for him, including calling him “paranoid”.

After months of harassment with no help from co-workers or management, Spellman was fired for emailing a photo of a cartoon strip to Crofton. According to Online Buddies, LLC policy, employees may not email any photos to anyone outside of the company. This policy is there because they do not want employees violating the privacy of Manhunt members by emailing private photos.

Crofton contends that the photo was a cartoon that could be found at other places on the internet and was not a private members photo.

“It was a photo of a large man holding his breasts together and thrusting his tongue between them,” Crofton said.

Spellman believed he was wrongfully terminated and filed for unemployment benefits, however Manhunt and Online Buddies, LLC denied the request and the case went in front of the Division of Unemployment Assistance.

According to Crofton, Spellman went through three appeals, but his unemployment benefits were denied each time.

While Spellman continues to look for a new job, sending out dozens of resumes and applications a day, Crofton is trying to use the power of the internet to garner support for her fiancée. Two months ago she wrote a letter to Manhunt owner Jonathan Crutchley, asking for his help with the situation and to make it right. She still has not heard anything back from him and is currently planning the next steps, possibly even taking Manhunt to court for employment discrimination.

“I am going to give you the benefit of the doubt, Mr. Crutchley,” Crofton wrote in her letter. “On your personal website, you claim to care about social responsibility. I will assume that, when you founded Manhunt.net and Online Buddies, you intended to create a professional, diverse and pleasant workplace. I will even go so far as to presume that you had no idea that these events had occurred, or that AJ has continuously been denied unemployment benefits based on your employees’ year-long adamancy regarding their claim that AJ willfully ignored customer confidentiality policies.”

Crofton is also asking the worldwide GLBT community for their help. For more information about the fight, visit: www.brinaj.com. Crutchley and his partner Larry Basile founded Manhunt in 2001.

Crutchley was a former realtor and Basile owned a gay bar and hotel. Neither has publicly commented about Spellman nor Crofton’s website and mobilization of the GLBT community.

In 2008, Crutchley caused controvery when it was found out that he had donated $2,300 to the presidential campaign of John McCain, the same McCain who in the most recent congress voted against the Mathew Shepard Act and repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

“The gay community should know that Senator McCain is a very tolerant and gay-friendly man in private,” Crutchley said in 2008.

Manhunt itself is involved in a new controversy, recently making all profiles available to be searched by anyone, including people who do not have accounts.

DATEBOOK May 27 – June 2, 2010

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Stefan Pinto stars in the play Escorts at Rising Action Theater in Oakland Park from June 2-June 6. (Photo by Robert Figueroa)

Thursday 05.27.10

THE MDGLCC’S MONTHLY NETWORKING PROGRAM

MDGLCC presents a networking program for the Downtown membership group. Hard Rock Café Bayside Restaurant 401 Biscayne Blvd #R200 (behind the Bayside Marketplace), 305- 377-3110.; registration 11:30 a.m. with luncheon/networking from noon to 1:00 p.m. Cost is $30 per person including seated style lunch. Limited to 30 persons; RSVP to 305-573-4000 or mailto:mdglcc@bellsouth.net. Get your seat early.

SIZZLE 2010

Originally a one-day occurrence, Sizzle has evolved into a 5-day smorgasbord of captivating daytime events, and pulsating nightlife. Hit the beaches of Miami This Memorial Day Weekend.

MANHUNT 2010

Boardwalk hosts Manhunt 2010. This is a ten week Playgirl Semi-Finalist contest with a $1,000 Grand Prize and a sponsorship. 1721 North Andrews Avenue, Fort Lauderdale. (954) 463-6969.

Friday 05.28.10

OUT GIRLS MOVIE NIGHT

It’s an OUT Girls movie night (screening and discussion) at the Stonewall Library and Archives at 7 p.m. A mutual attraction develops and the two unlikely characters explore the uncharted territory of unexpected love. Free Admission. 1300 E Sunrise Blvd Fort Lauderdale. (954) 763-8565.

KIM ZOLCIAK AND DJ TRACY YOUNG LIVE

Living Room Nightclub hosts the Silver Party 2010 with Real Housewives of Atlanta star Kim Zolciak and DJ Tracy Young. Don’t miss Kim’s “coming out” party. 300 SW 1st Ave., Fort Lauderdale. Doors open at 10:30 p.m. Celebrate the Memorial Day weekend these two ladies.

JANICE DICKINSON

As part of the 2010 White Fort Lauderdale Weekend, Janice Dickinson hosts The White Angels Fashion Showat The Manor. The Manor is located at 2345 Wilton Drive in Wilton Manors. Dickinson was one of the original supermodels in the early ‘80s and her over-the-top personality will rock out!

Saturday 05.29.10

MEMORIAL SERVICE FOR BETTY ANN PRISCAK

A Memorial Service will be held for long-time WIN member Betty Ann Priscak.at the Sunshine Cathedral at 1 p.m. In lieu of flowers please either send a donation to The Sunshine Cathedral or to the “Prayer Garden.” Lauderdale.

THE SUM OF US

The Sum of Us is a love story about a widowed father and his gay son, who’s trying to find Mr. Right. After meeting in a local pub, Jeff and a young gardener, Greg, hit it off and begin to date. When he meets Jeff’s stubborn, opinionated Dad however, Greg begins to back off. The show stats at 8 p.m. Tickets: show only: $35.00 ; show and dinner package – 3 course Dinner at Primavera Restaurant (located across the parking lot): $60.00. Rising Action Theatre, 840 E. Oakland Park Blvd., Oakland Park. (954) 561-2225.

CONNIE FRANCIS

Join the City of Fort Lauderdale and legendary singer Connie Francis at the Great American Beach Party. This free event features live bands, a classic car show, family beach activities and a 50th Anniversary screening of Where the Boys Are, presented by the Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival. 11:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. at the beach (A1A and East Las Olas Blvd.)

Sunday 05.30.10

VAN GOGH: BRUSH WITH GENIUS

Discover a Van Gogh you’ve never seen before: serene and radiating with love of life as he retraces his footsteps through his letters. In this passionate voyage, you are thrown into a unique visual experience where the paintings spring to life before our eyes, so near us that we can feel the painter’s energy, the wind in the branches of a cypress, the dazzling Southern sun. The film offers us the unique joy of seeing and getting to know, with ever increasing admiration, the man whose energy and freedom are intrinsically bound to the great beauty of his work. Museum of Discovery & Science and AutoNation® IMAX® Theater. 401 SW 2nd Ave, Fort Lauderdale.

POVERELLO BENEFIT

The Matty’s On the Drive vs. New Moon Water Balloon Fight benefiting Poverello begins at 4 p.m. Water balloons $1 each. 2426 Wilton Drive, Wilton Manors, FL, 33305, 954- 564-1799. Come out and join this fun-filled event. Wear something that you won’t mind getting wet.

LAFFING MATTERZ

Laffing Matterz, a live, original, musical comedy revue spoofing current events, is currently playing in Fort Lauderdale at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts . 4:30 p.m. Call 954-462- 0222.

SUDS

SUDS is a bubbly 60’s musical about romance in a Wash-O-Rama. From Chapel of Love to Don’t Make Me Over, SUDS is the show to see. The story of three girls trying to find love in a laundromat, SUDS bubbles over with fluffy. Sun-2pm & 7pm. $42. Broward Stage Door. 8036 W Sample Rd.

954- 344-7765.

FLAMINGO GARDEN TOURS

Flamingo Garden Tour is from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at the Flamingo Gardens, Botanical Collections & Wildlife Sanctuary located in Davie. Tours are presented by knowledgeable volunteers. 2955. $15 for adults. 954- 473-2955. Many spectacular sides are awaiting

Monday 05.31.10

THE WORLD OF GIANT INSECTS

Keeping in line with its commitment to entertain as well as educate, Miami Metrozoo presents The World of Giant Insects from at 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. These animated robotic insects, enlarged 40 to 600 times their actual size, will present a different view to the onlookers. miamimetrozoo.com. (305) 251-0400

THE CHAT NOIR CLUB

There is finally a reason to go out on Monday night. Be a part of the interactive and surreal playground of performers that include contortionists, models, burlesque, drag, fetish, spoken word, live music and a few more surprises. 10 p.m. Entrance is $20. Dream Nightclub is at 1532 Washington Ave., Miami Beach. 305-674- 8018.

MIAMI BEACH BOTANICAL GARDEN TOURS

This is a fantastic way to spend your Memorial Day Weekend with your partner. Take a free guide tour of the Miami Beach Botanical Gardens from 11 a.m. to noon. Miami Beach Botanical Garden is at 2000 Convention Center Drive, Miami Beach. (305) 673-7256. Come for the beauty, stay for the serenity.

Tuesday 06.01.10

AROUND THE WORLD IN 80

Around The World In 80 Nights, part of its Knight Arts Challenge, is designed to enrich the community and provide incite into a variety of ethnic cultures through a combination of film, art, fashion, music and/or cuisine. 5:30 p.m. Reception | 7:00 p.m. Film & discussion. Admission: General Admission is free. Cinema Paradiso, 503 SE 6 St., Fort Lauderdale. Details and advance tickets: www.fliff.com. 954-525- 3456. Parking: Free after 6:00 p.m. at meters and in the Courthouse Garage.

FLORIDA MARLINS VS. MILWAUKEE BREWERS

Cheer on the Florida Marlins as they take on the Milwaukee Brewers at the Sun Life Stadium. 2267 Dan Marino Blvd, Miami Gardens. 7:10pm. Admission: $40-$48. Let’s play ball.

SALSA CLASSES

Celebrate the beauty of Salsa through connection with the music and body movement. Students learn to express themselves through the rhythm of Classes are from 7 to 10 p.m. at the Casa Salsa Dance Studio in Oakland Park. (954) 588- 8085. Dance up a storm and hit those moves.

Wednesday 06.02.10

IMOGEN HEAP

Imogen Heap is in concert at 8 p.m. at The Fillmore Miami Beach At Jackie Gleason Theater, Miami Beach, Florida. Watch as the artist Imogen Heap performs all of her hottest songs. $58. 1700 Washington Avenue Miami Beach.(305) 673- 7300.

WIN MONTHLY GENERAL MEMBERSHIP MEETING

You are invited to attend the WIN (Women In Network) general membership meeting at The Pride Center at Equality Park from 7 to 9 p.m. It’s All About the Women. 2040 N. Dixie Hwy,.Wilton Manors. 954-463-9005

ESCORTS

“Escorts” returns to the Rising Action Theatre. Last performed a year ago, this new, streamlined, preoff Broadway version is back. David Leddick has written a book about male escorts. The show reveals the stories of sixteen male escorts in words, song, and dance and in the flesh. With libretto and lyrics by David Leddick, music by Andrew Sargent, direction by David Kingery and produced by V. J. Colonna, musical theater doesn’t get any sexier. The Rising Action Theatre. 840 East Oakland Park Blvd. 1-800-838-3006. 8 p.m. General Admission Tickets: $25-$30 VIP Tickets $65-75. Enjoy the show.

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