Neiman Marcus Christmas catalogue features mind-boggling gift ideas

Posted on 06 Oct 2015 at 2:54pm

IMG_4888The Neiman Marcus Christmas Book is famed for its extravagant gift ideas — Fantasy Gifts, as they call the uppermost selections of once-in-a-lifetime suggestions for the richest of the rich (the top end, a custom tour of India organized by O’Harani Luxe Experiences, caps out at $400,000). For another travel experience, jewelry designer Ippolita will take you on a custom 7-10 day tour of the artisans of her native Italy, seeing how Murano glassblowers, artisan book binders and a host of other craftsmen preserve centuries of technique. (That’s just $150,000.)

To travel more one-on-one, shell out $150,000 for a customized motorcycle by Arch. Sure, that’s a lot for a bike, even a 2,000-cc performance vehicle that looks like an Anime bike made real. But there’s more to the gift — such as, a two-day bike ride across Southern California for you and a friend, with your riding partner Keanu Reeves (I’m not making this up). There’s also air fare to the factory outside L.A., a visit to the facility and accommodations, all while pretending to recreate scenes from My Own Private Idaho. If you prefer four wheels, Ford has designed a limited edition (100 only) Mustang convertible, branded for Neiman Marcus ($95,000).

IMG_4896You probably won’t wanna get the cycle and the whiskey experience from The Orphan Barrel Project, which finds old juice from bourbon distilleries and releases one-of-a-kind editions of classic bottles. The experience includes a gorgeous bar and barware as well as the chance to select and brand two bottles of your own custom whiskeys. How good are they? Well, I tasted two of them and trust me, they are worth the $125,000 price tag.

Still too much? If you have just $5k to spend, you can indulge the kid in your life with a trunk filled with his-and-hers Halloween costumes. For a more upscale trunk of goodies, though, you’ll wanna look over the portmanteau of accessories curated by Iris Apfel, pictured, from chunky jewelry (her signature look) to bags and azure crocodile belts — some antique one-offs, some designed by Iris herself, some new pieces — for a merely $80,000. “I hope someone buys it,” Iris, the glamorous style maven, told me. “Maybe someone has a good sugar daddy.”

I’d like such a sugar daddy, I told her. I think we all would.


17 gayish TV shows to add to your DVR this season

Posted on 05 Oct 2015 at 6:26am

‘Supergirl’ arrives later this month on CBS.

The 2015-16 TV season is well underway. What to watch for the discerning gay viewer? Pop the corn, grab a blanket, and cozy into your favorite couch cushion for this selection of new-season shows featuring LGBT characters we can root for.

The Real O’Neals (CBS). The O’Neals have a secret; several of them, in fact … not the least of which is 14-year-old Kenny’s confession that he’s gay, which he reveals in front of his family’s church congregation. Upfronts for the Martha Plimpton-starring vehicle show initial promise, but it’s the boycott by the American Family Association that should seal the deal.

DC’s Legends of Tomorrow (The CW). Scheduled to premiere midseason, this series from out exec producer Greg Berlanti will feature a host of familiar superheroes, including at least once crossover character, Sara Lance, a bisexual crime fighter who died on sister series Arrow, but is now resurrected through the mythical Lazarus Pits as “White Canary.”

Grandfathered (FOX). John Stamos, who ages just as well (or better) than a fine wine, helms this half-hour comedy about a still-in-his-prime bachelor who finds out he’s a father— and grandfather — all in a day. Kelly Jenrette stars as his lesbian assistant restaurant manager Annelise.

Rosewood (FOX). Private pathologist Dr. Beaumont Rosewood (Morris Chestnut) runs a for-hire autopsy agency with his toxicologist sister Pippy (Gabrielle Dennis) and her DNA specialist fiancé Tara (Anna Konkle) in this Wednesday-night crime procedural.

Faking It (MTV). Aside from making the most popular boy in school, Shane, gay, and giving him a hot MMA-fighter love interest, Duke, to make out with, Faking It also warrants your DVR space for introducing TV’s first intersex character, Lauren, who will spend this season handling the fallout of being outed by her ex-boyfriend … who we can only hope meets the business end of a choke hold.

Supergirl (CBS). There’s no indication that there’s anything LGBT about this new series initially, but it’s produced by Berlanti, so there’s high-flying probability that we’ll see some diversity soon. It’s already well on its convention-shattering way with Mehcad Brooks (True Blood) playing former Daily Planet photographer James Olsen.

Best Time Ever With Neil Patrick Harris (NBC). Doogie has turned his perennial hosting prowess into a full-time gig (at least for a short season of shows) with this primetime party that will feature comedy, music, games and more.

Modern Family (ABC). Tensions are rising for semi-newlyweds Cam and Mitchell, the latter of whom admitted to losing his job at the end of season 6. Can the oddest gay couple on TV weather the storm? Yeah, probably, and hopefully with a lot of hilarity.

How to Get Away With Murder (ABC). Sure, Connor Walsh is a stereotype of a gay man who uses his sexuality to his advantage, in How to Get Away With Murder — but, really, who’s complaining? Less shirt, more sex, please.

Todrick (MTV). Quadruple-threat Todrick Hall — the YouTube sensation famous for his full-scale productions of gay-ified Disney covers — gets his comeuppance in this docu-series about (what else?) the making of said full-scale productions.

Nashville (ABC). Nashville’s Will Lexington is the hottest gay cowboy since, well, you know.

Undateable (NBC). The highly underrated multi-camera comedy will return to NBC this fall for its third season (didn’t know about the first two seasons, did ya?) with — get this — all-live episodes. As if that’s not enough to pique your curiosity, perhaps bear-tastic bartender Brett can.

The Walking Dead (AMC). The body count will continue to rise in season 7 as Rick Grimes and group try to strike a survivable balance within the fallen Alexandria society while facing a new threat of the Wolves. Here’s hoping that boyfriends Aaron and Eric get a decent storyline before one of them bites the dust.

Out actor Jussie Smollett as the gay scion on ‘Empire.’

Couples Therapy with Dr. Jenn (VH1). When you can’t bear witness to an actual train wreck, Couples Therapy is a solid stand-in, this season starring Drag Race alums Carmen Carrera and Adrian Torres.

American Horror Story: Hotel (FX). Lady Gaga stars as Elizabeth the Countess, bisexual owner of the Hotel Cortez, which will see its fair share of LGBT characters pass through its door, including roles filled by Angela Bassett, Denis O’Hare, Finn Wittrock and Cheyenne Jackson.

Empire (FOX). Gay heir to the Empire Records fortune, Jamal (Jussie Smollett) gives Empire its LGBT street cred, but it’s family matriarch Cookie (Taraji P. Henson) who makes us want to put those jams on repeat every single week.

Younger (TVLand). You’ll have to wait until January to catch the second season of TVLand’s sleeper-hit Younger, starring Sutton Foster as a 40-something divorced mother pretending to be a 26-year-old editor’s assistant, but it’s worth scheduling on your DVR in advance. The indispensable Debi Mazar provides the show lesbian realness while too-tempting tattoo artist Nico Tortorella’s eye candy gives us something to suck on.

—Mikey Rox


Cocktail Friday: Ginning up recipes

Posted on 02 Oct 2015 at 3:10pm
Caorunn_Gin_LizClayman_Lost & Found_011

Lost & Found

I only recently discovered Caorunn gin, a small-batch gin created, surprisingly, in Scotland. But bartenders have known about it for a while at least (I found one recipe from last fall prepared by Henderson Avenue’s hipstery dive bar The Gin Mill, called Gin, Smoke & Lies, made with amaro, pineapple, hibiscus syrup and lime). I’m a big gin drinker, though, so here are a few more recipes culled from mixologists around the U.S., that fall into a category called “shrub drinks” (“shrubs” usually combine 1 cup each fruit juice and sugar with vinegar and citric acid, plus other ingredients as needed).

Lost & Found (created by Vincent Favella, Brooklyn)

1 oz. Caorunn gin

3/4 oz. prickly pear shrub


Making it: Whip-shake gin and shrub with one ice cube; pour into coupe glass; top to taste with champagne. Garnish with orange twist.

The Brand New Companion (created by Scott Koehl, Chicago)

2 oz. Caorunn gin

Blueberry balsamic shrub

3/4 oz Cynar

Caorunn_Gin_LizClayman_Brooklyn Sunset_027

Brooklyn Sunset

3/4 oz. sweet vermouth

1/2 oz. simple syrup

Making it: Stir together ingredients, and serve in a Nick Nora glass. Garnish with lemon.

Brooklyn Sunset (created by Tony Del Pino)

2 ox. Caorunn gin

5 oz. lime juice

1/2 oz. ginger shrub

Club soda

Making it: Combine first three ingredients in a cocktail shaker; strain into a Collins glass. Top with club soda to taste. Garnish with a lime wheel.


Best Bets • 10-02-15

Posted on 01 Oct 2015 at 8:00pm

Friday 10.02 —Sunday 11.01

Friday 10.02 —Sunday 11.01

Denise Lee sings the blues … again

Is it typecasting or the role of a lifetime? Frankly, we don’t care — we just know that, even though M. Denise Lee has portrayed Billie Holiday in two prior productions of Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill, we’re happy she’s back in a new version at Jubilee Theatre about the final concert by the legendary blues singer and tragic figure. This is the same role that won Audra McDonald her fifth Tony. Eh. We still prefer to see Denise in it.

Jubilee Theatre
506 Main St.
Fort Worth

Saturday 10.03—Sunday 10.18


Gay Latinas get hip-hop treatment in Cara Mia’s ‘Blu’

Here’s a story you don’t hear told every day: A queer Latina couple raising a family in a society ravaged by gang violence, told in the form of an epic poem flavored with hip-hop. But that’s exactly what Cara Mia is taking on with Blu, a play by San Antonio native Virginia Grise. Rene Moreno directs the mix of modern musical and spoken word.

Latino Cultural Center
2600 Live Oak St.

Sunday 10.04


Live ‘La Vida Ricky’ at Gexa concert

From Menudo cutie to daytime hottie to international pop sensation to gay icon, Ricky Martin has been in the public eye (and he’s an eyeful) for decades. And he hasn’t slowed down. The guy who popularized Spanglish and electrified dancefloors with his sultry moves on songs like “Livin’ La Vida Loca” and “She-Bangs” is in concert Sunday. If you were lucky enough to win our ticket giveaway, you already have your plans in place, but there’s still time to get seats to what may be the last big outdoor concert of the summer season. (Opening acts are Wisin and Ha*ash.)

Gexa Energy Pavilion
1818 First Ave. in Fair Park
7 p.m.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 2, 2015.


Fall foodie fiesta!

Posted on 01 Oct 2015 at 4:00pm

Whet your appetite: October is chock full of foodie fundraisers and functions

IMG_7535ARNOLD WAYNE JONES  | Executive Editor

Fall is sort of synonymous with eating: Thanksgiving, Halloween candy, pumpkin spiced lattes, German Oktoberfests. And Dallas hits it full force starting this week.

It begins, as it has the past seven years, with Burgers & Burgundy, the annual benefit for DIFFA that includes sliders and munchies crafted by some of the top chefs in North Texas (pictured). Only this year, it’s not just Texas representin’ — lead chef/organizer John Tesar (Knife, Oak, El Bolero) has invited nationally-known chefs like Justin Brunson (Old Major) and Kris Morningstar (Terrine) to join local notables like Tre Wilcox, Blaine Staniford (Grace), Sharon Van Meter (3015 Trinity Groves) and Brian Luscher (The Grape, Luscher’s Red Hots) in crafting bites to pair with wines. It returns to the beautiful gardens of the Seanor Estate (4627 Meadowood Road) on Oct. 2, from 6:30–9:30 p.m. tickets run from $85 (online) to $150 (VIP). Learn more at

This weekend also welcomes a newcomer to the food stage: The inaugural Taste of the Anatole. This three-day food fest, taking place at the Hilton Anatole in the Design District, begins with  Food and Wine Around the World on Oct. 2 ($85), followed on Saturday, Oct. 3 with intimate workshops and an evening Grand Tasting ($99) and finishing up with Sunday brunch ($59). The evening events will be accompanied by live music, as well as wines and spirits from the likes of Cakebread, Robert Mondavi Napa, Maker’s Mark and more. And you can even get ticket packages that include a two-night stay at the hotel, and each night includes an after-party at SER. For more information, visit

The next big event is the annual Chefs for Farmers, which is bigger than ever. This three-day culinary event, which runs from Oct. 23–25,  includes a Guest Chef Dinner Oct. 23 at host-chef Matt McCallister’s FT33 in the Design District, The Butcher Block Party outside the Joule Hotel on Oct. 24 (featuring 15 local chefs and bartenders) and on Oct. 25, the main event Culinary Village at Lee Park. For tickets and a full list of participants, visit

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 2, 2015.


W and JFK offer dual discount

Posted on 01 Oct 2015 at 2:12pm
6th Floor

The Sixth Floor Museum in the former School Book Depository

Presidents George W. Bush and John F. Kennedy have one thing in common — they both have museums in Dallas. Now you can get a discount to visit both museums.

The George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum and The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza announced a dual promotion for visitors to both institutions. Adults purchasing a general admission ticket to one museum will receive a $2 off coupon to purchase admission to the other museum. The discount is effective Oct. 1-Dec. 31.

“We find that many people visit both museums, creating a unique presidential history tour within Dallas,” said Alan C. Lowe, director, George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum. “This special promotion allows us to thank them for their support.”

“As we approach an election year in 2016, there is renewed interest in presidential history and legacy,” said Nicola Longford, executive director, The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza. “With the holiday season coming up, this discount is a wonderful way to share these Dallas landmarks with family, friends and guests who are visiting from out of town.”

Hey, maybe they have a few other things in common. They both lived in the same house and they’re both best known by letters rather than names.


Stage review: ‘Matilda’

Posted on 01 Oct 2015 at 1:11pm


The history of kid-lit (and adult literature, for that matter) is populated by stories of neglect, privation and resilience. It makes sense: There’s no drama, really, if the tyke dies at 6 of malaria. From Oliver Twist to Harry Potter, the heroes of these tales are often young boys, but Matilda, the protagonist of novelist Roald Dahl’s tale, is a scrappy little girl. (She’s like a British Little Orphan Annie.)

I wasn’t  familiar with the story going into Matilda The Musical, except what I picked up through cultural osmosis over the years. But the show, now at the Winspear, seems to combine a dystopian society where learning is frowned upon, reading is for suckers, TV is the height of human achievement and cruelty goes unjudged except by sensitive souls. (All are typical Dahl exaggerations of actual life the 1960s.) In other words, this is kid-lit that doesn’t really play to kids. And clocking in at two hours 45 minutes, is past the bedtime of a few critics, as well.

I don’t quite get the audience of Matilda, which is plot-thick, long and rangy. Personally, I didn’t pick up until midway through Act 2 that Matilda possessed telekinesis, and I didn’t understand why the school librarian was so rapt in her storytelling (the way children usually are of avuncular figures like Grandpa in The Princess Bride). And anytime you litter a stage with a half-dozen pre-adolescent voices pitched so only a dog can hear, you’re playing with acoustic fire. (At least half the lyrics sung by the young ensemble are as garbled and unintelligible as Cockney rhyming slang.)

But even with its shortcomings and “wherefore?” puzzles, ultimately Matilda The Musical works in some clever and unexpected ways. The set resembles a set of playroom building blocks; the costumes are Mod London-Meets-Dickensian  BDSM; and best of all are the actors, including the little dynamo as Matilda (a rotating slate of young actresses) and Bryce Ryness, dragging it up as the hatchet-bodied headmistress Miss Trunchbull. Unacknowledged cross-dressing villains? It’s like a British panto gussied up with steampunk attitude. Adults should enjoy that more than the kiddos.

— Arnold Wayne Jones

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 2, 2015.


‘Upstairs Inferno’ schedules first Texas screening at Austin Film Festival

Posted on 30 Sep 2015 at 5:22pm

Austin - Upstairs Inferno - Split Rice and posterLast week, I wrote about how local filmmaker Robert L. Camina won an award at the North Louisiana Gay and Lesbian Film Fest at the screening of his new film Upstairs Inferno, which chronicles the single largest murder of gay men in U.S. history. After a series of successes at festivals all over, from Palm Springs to North Carolina, Upstairs Inferno will finally receive its official Texas premiere. The bad news? It’ll be in Austin.

The documentary will screen twice as part of the Austin Film Festival — which, interestingly enough, is not a gay-specific fest, but a general mainstream one … a first for Upstairs Inferno. The first will be Nov. 1 and then again Nov. 3; Camina will be in attendance.

If you can’t make it down to the capital city that week, though, fear not — Camina informs me that a Dallas screening will soon follow.


A visit to seedy but beautiful Galveston

Posted on 28 Sep 2015 at 10:28am

butterflyThe most shocking thing about my recent trip to Galveston was how clear the water was. We waded in over our knees and we could still see our feet. I’ve gone to Galveston lots of times. I love Galveston, but I’ve never seen the water there this clean.

For anyone who’s visited the Caribbean or even beaches along the east or west coasts, that’s not much of a boast. But this was Galveston with some of the ugliest beaches and brownest water I’ve ever seen along an open coastline. OK, so the Galveston Chamber of Commerce probably won’t be linking to this piece.

Not only was the water clean, but so was the beach.

What’s also surprising whenever I go to Galveston is just how seedy it is. With Houston just 40 miles away, I’m always surprised the gay community hasn’t snapped up some of the great old buildings and turned them the island into a showplace. But that hasn’t happened. The LGBT community on Galveston is very small.

Still, a number of great old buildings have been preserved. The Opera House is undergoing another renovation. Buildings along the Strand — one of my favorite streets in Texas —  are filled with fun stores to browse.

The old Flagship Hotel, the only hotel in the U.S. built on a pier entirely over water, is gone and the pier is now an amusement park. Roller coasters and a ferris wheel are lit with LED lighting and have become the island’s new landmark.

We had dinner at Gaido’s, a Galveston institution that’s one of the state’s best seafood restaurants. At Mosquito Cafe, have the lemon dream cake.

Also worth the trip is a visit to Moody Gardens’ three pyramids. The aquarium pyramid is closed currently for renovation. The rain forest is home to colorful tropical birds, butterflies who like to pose for pictures and a particularly ornery monkey. He’s happy to pose from a comfortable distance of five or six feet.

So why do I love a trip to Galveston? Even when the water isn’t this clear, I love the sunrises and sunsets over the Gulf. Despite hurricanes that have tried to wash the island off the face of the earth, many older buildings — some more than 100 years old — survive. The seafood is always fresh — waiters will warn which fish had to be flown in or are farm raised.

Despite how seedy, there’s so much beauty on Galveston, it makes a wonderful, relaxing weekend getaway.




Cocktail Friday: Flor de Violette

Posted on 25 Sep 2015 at 3:48pm

FLORI have to admit, I missed National Rum Day last month. I mean, how could that happen?! But I’ll make up for it with this concoction that employs a new super-premium rum from Bacardi.

1-1/2 oz. Bacardi Gran Reserva Maestro de Ron

3/4 oz. lemon juice

1/2 oz. St.-Germain

1/7 oz. creme de violette

1/7 oz. simple syrup

Making it: Combine all ingredients in a shaker, shake vigorously with ice and strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with lemon twist.