The Drag Queen

“I’m not used to posing as a boy,” says Travis Barr. Burly and black-haired, he’s standing along the waterfront at Astoria Park looking uncomfortable in his sweats and sneakers while staring into the camera’s naked eye. What should he do with his hands? How should he stand? Where should he look? Anita Buffem, the brassy buxom blonde he plays in a variety of venues, would know how to pose. So Travis turns things over to her. Larger than life in mile-high stilettoes, leopard-print bathing suit and rhinestone cat-ear tiara, she grabs the rail at the water’s …

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The Actor Who Makes Life His Stage

“Would you mind if I make breakfast?” Alec Shaw, who is walking around the kitchen in his bare feet, cracks a couple of free-range brown eggs into the skillet. As they are cooking in coconut oil, he slices four sweet potatoes into circles and plops them, along with a handful of spinach and arugula, into a pan, where he sautés them in olive oil. When the eggs are almost done, he adds mushrooms and avocado then piles everything into a mountain on a black dinner plate. There aren’t many places to sit in his barely furnished third-floor walkup. …

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The Retiree Who Beat the Odds

How’s your heart? James Everett puts his hand over his chest and pretends to listen intently for the beat. “Let’s see,” he says. The seconds tick by. “I’m OK,” he announces. The declaration is delivered playfully. James, who was born with a heart condition, has had three open-heart surgeries and recently beat a bout of endocarditis. He gave up worrying about it long ago. So, he says, should you. James, who has remnants of wispy white hair and the polished voice of a broadcaster, also has survived testicular cancer. What surprised him was the recent onset of …

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