Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Two for the Road

Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Two for the Road

Article excerpt

New York cabaret habitues John Wallowitch and Bertram Ross say love--and monogamy has kept them together, A new documentary raises a glass in admiration

Generation Q take note: There is such a thing as a long-term, committed gay couple in showbiz. Lauded composer-pianist John Wallowitch and dance legend Bertram Ross, both in their 70s, have been together for more than 30 years, and the Manhattan pair credit their lasting union to monogamy. "I think it's the only way to go," says Wallowitch. "Channel all your energy into that one human being. What can I say--I was born Catholic!"

And in all their time together, the two "have not ever been secretive," notes former Designing Women star Dixie Carter, who once recorded an album of Wallowitch's songs. "They've had to prove a lot. I wish that some young, brash, in-your-face people today could get a look at what it's like to see a really gorgeous union of two people who know how to handle it."

Many will have that opportunity with the current release of Richard Morris's touching documentary on the pair, Wallowitch and Ross: This Moment. Morris first spotted the couple performing their cabaret routine in 1992, "and I was intrigued," he admits. "It took about four years to fill in the blanks about who these people were."

Those blanks included the Philadelphia-born Wallowitch's Lithuanian background and his rise as a Juilliard-trained pianist, composer, and coach who has worked with the likes of Tina Louise, Richard Chamberlain, Tony Bennett (who recorded their song "My Love Went to London"), and Bette Davis (he was her singing coach for the film Two's Company). Brooklyn-born Ross, a Renaissance man talented in visual and performing arts, was for years largely regarded as choreographer Martha Graham's most prolific leading man. Since the mid '80s he has been Wallowitch's partner in cabaret crime, performing with his lover in packed venues in New York City and across the country.

The film also examines their disappointments. Ross parted ways with Graham on less than amicable terms while Wallowitch's songwriting talent--exemplified by the heartfelt tune "This Moment"--has been ranked with Cole Porter's and Irving Berlin's, and The New York Times has compared him to Noel Coward. …

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