Despite the economic downturn, Arts Center Stage is moving forward in its campaign to build the Long Center for the Performing Arts, and two of Austin's gay playwrights have cause to be happy.

Long Center Phasing Forward

This time last year, Austin was still celebrating the unprecedented number of cultural construction projects in the works. Then, the economy took a tumble, and arts lovers worried that the various museums and cultural centers would go the way of the Intel building. Well, at least one project, the Long Center for the Performing Arts, is steaming forward, and to get the word out, Arts Center Stage has announced a host of new gifts from companies and individuals that officially inaugurate the second phase of the center's capital campaign. The nine donors kicking off Phase Two, which focuses on gifts of $25,000 to $500,000 are: former Arts Center Stage chair Ben Bentzin and his wife Joanie ($250,000); Guaranty Financial Services ($100,000); Ross and Laurie Garber (amount undisclosed); Jo A. and Billie Jo Graves ($50,000); three anonymous donors ($50,000 each); Compass Bank ($25,000); and Frost Bank ($25,000). This $675,000-plus addition brings the campaign up to around $58 million -- roughly two-thirds of its $89 million goal. For more, visit

Gay Playwrights Happy

Naughty Austin is crowing over two actors it has lined up for its next production. The show is Making Porn, Ronnie Larsen's look at the lighter and darker sides of the porn industry, and the actors are two guys who know the subject from, ahem, the inside: adult film stars Ryan Idol and Chris Steele. Naughty Austinite Blake Yelavich will not only be directing the two onstage, he'll be collaborating with Idol on his biography while he is in Austin. The show runs June 13 to July 13 at Hyde Park Theatre, 511 W. 43rd. For more info, call 407-8877. Then, in the fall, the company will be taking its act on the road. Yelavich's play Aidan's Bed, which premiered at Hyde Park in March 2001, will be presented at the 2002 National Gay and Lesbian Theater Festival in Columbus, Ohio.

Meanwhile, another Austin playwright gets to see one of his works make the leap to the big screen this week. Aaron Brown wrote The M.O. of M.I. (The Modus Operandi of Male Intimacy) back in 1995, and its premiere production at the Vortex (then Planet Theatre) with Matt Patterson, Lane Pianta, and the late Laith Radif in the cast was a surprise hit. Now, the thriller about a drifter who comes into the home of a gay couple has become a film by Susan Turley, starring David Christopher, David Stokey, and Cory Schneider, and the Austin Gay and Lesbian International Film Festival is hosting its premiere. The screening is Tuesday, March 12, 7:30pm, at the Arbor (10000 Research). Tickets are $5 ($4 for aGLIFF members). Call 302-9889 for more info.

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Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long Center for the Performing Arts, Long Center for the Performing Arts, Arts Center Stage, Ben Bentzin, Joanie Bentzin, Guaranty Financial Services, Ross Garber, Laurie Garber, Jo A. Graves, Billie Jo Graves, Compass Bank, Frost Bank, Naugh

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