Rich Merritt didn't merely come out of the closet. The former fundamentalist and Marine officer announced his homosexuality in The New York Times. Oh yeah, he also did some gay porn. It's all detailed in his memoir, Secrets of a Gay Marine Porn Star.
Because of his strict religious upbringing, Merritt "wasn't allowed to hold hands with or kiss girls," he says. "I had no problem with that. I thought I was being a good Christian. In reality, I was just a closet case." After graduating from the fundamentalist Bob Jones University, Merritt joined the Marines ("I just wanted to fit in with a group of men," he says).
The Times article told his story, but kept his identity anonymous. But The Advocate, a gay magazine, followed up with "The Marine Who Did Gay Porn," an article that outed Merritt. "All that shit caught up with me," says Merritt.
It all culminated in Merritt trying to kill himself with a cocktail of pills and booze. "Writing [the book] became a cathartic act of trying to understand how I got to this point," he says. Merritt discusses his Secrets at 2 p.m. Sunday at Body Language, 11424 Lorain Avenue. Admission is free; call 216-251-3330. -- Michael Gallucci
DJ doubles as drag queen.
DJ Matthew Harvat leads a double life as Circuit Mom. For 23 years, the 40-year-old Chicagoan has been spinning dance tracks in clubs from Berlin to Miami. But out of the booth, Harvat dons a white beehive wig and albino boa to star in a Broadway-style drag show. "I am very tongue-in-cheek, but not over-the-top campy," he says. "I do it with a little bit of raised eyebrows." For his first-ever show in Cleveland this weekend (he'll perform as Circuit Mom on Friday and as DJ Matt on Saturday), Harvat will make it clear that he's not a full-time impersonator. "The character doesn't rule my life," he says. "Some of these drag queens get so wrapped up in their performer names. I'll say, 'Sweetie, it's just a pound of makeup and a costume, and your real name is Bill.'" Snap! Show times are 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday at Hamilton's, 1415 Euclid Avenue. Admission is free; call 216-241-7721. -- Cris Glaser
A film fest for people sick of War of the Worlds.
Mike Perzel and his crew of judges were looking for one thing when they weeded through a pile of indie films submitted for this weekend's Twistedspine.com Micro Film Festival: "The quality of the filmmaking had to be amazing," says Perzel. "It gives directors something to strive for." The 29 flicks range from the feature-length Streets of Wonderland (about Niagara Falls' seedy underworld) to the short Hippie Highway (about metalheads and their Harleys). "We're not Steven Spielbergs," says festival secretary Julie Yarber. "We're little guys who just want to have fun and entertain." Movies screen 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday at the Knights of Columbus Hall, 4730 Broadview Road. Admission is free; call 440-238-5023. -- Cris Glaser
Sunday's program Remembering the Sights and Sounds of Euclid Beach Park recalls one of the area's most beloved amusement parks. The rides and attractions that kept families busy for 74 years are long gone, but "a number of remnants still exist on the property," says Frank Brodnick, president of Euclid Beach Now. Among them: an old coaster car that'll cart folks around from 1 to 4 p.m. at Euclid Beach State Park, 16301 Lake Shore Boulevard. Admission is free; call 216-881-8141. -- Lucy McKernan