Cameron Diaz: The gay interview

Posted on 23 Apr 2014 at 3:22pm

Cameron1Cameron Diaz is all about breaking the rules … especially when someone else is breaking them, too.

Strutting into a room at the Four Seasons at Beverly Hills, the actress surveys the space and lugs an oversized sofa chair to the opposite corner where she gets comfortable, her slender legs curled behind her, heels still on.

In person, Diaz really is the sweetest thing, but don’t cross her. At least not in The Other Woman (opening Friday), where the actress, along with Leslie Mann and Kate Upton, serves some nasty shenanigans to a lover she learns is secretly married. (And because you need that sassy colleague to give you sage advice on getting even, Nicki Minaj co-stars.)

For this gay press exclusive, the actress recalls the faux lesbian action on the set of The Other Woman, clarifies statements she made regarding her sexuality (don’t call her bisexual), and advises the ladies to “step it up a little bit.”

— Chris Azzopardi

Dallas Voice: Recently I was at the gay club and they played that unforgettable sing-along from The Sweetest Thing: “The Penis Song.”  Diaz: No way! That’s so awesome.

When you did that song with Selma Blair and Christina Applegate in 2002, did you ever think the gays would still be dancing to a song about penises this many years later?  Not at all, but I guess we should have figured! We should’ve guessed that. It’s quite obvious.

Because the penis is timeless.  Exactly. The penis is timeless.

Because of its girl-power fierceness, The Other Woman aligns itself with Nine to Five, Sex and the City and The First Wives Club. Why do you think gay men in particular are so drawn to these movies?  These women are underdogs. In Nine to Five, it was really about discrimination. Gays and lesbians know what it’s like to be discriminated against, to be the underdog and to have to fight to be seen. That’s something that could be relatable. It’s that feeling of beating all the odds and pushing through, and continuing to go on even though you get beat down and you feel like you can’t possibly make it through.


How do I remember the opening of the New York World’s Fair when I’m only 39?

Posted on 22 Apr 2014 at 10:03am

The Unisphere hasn’t sunk into the swamp under Flushing Meadow Park because of my Uncle Milt

I know I’m supposed to wait for Throwback Thursday for a post like this, but today is the 50th anniversary of the opening of the 1964-1965 New York World’s Fair.

I grew up in Yonkers, N.Y., and as a kid my family went to the World’s Fair a number of times.

Most of the pavilions and attractions are gone, but one that remains is the Unisphere. That was the big globe that served as the symbol of the fair that can be seen when landing at LaGuardia Airport. My Uncle Milt Taffet did the engineering on the Unisphere that has kept it from sinking into the marshy garbage dump that Flushing Meadow Park is built on.

On my last trip to New York, I asked my aunt how Milt became involved in the project, but she really didn’t know. My father and two uncles owned an electronics factory in Queens with a big sign on the roof that said TAFFET Electronics facing the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, not far from Flushing Meadow Park. We assume someone associated with the fair noticed the sign and contacted them. However it happened, I think of my uncle every time I fly into LaGuardia.

I remember the fair as a sort of pre-Epcot Center, full of all sorts of wonders. I saw color TV and touch-tone telephones for the first time, and we even used a picture-phone booth. Ford showcased its car of the future, the Mustang, and GM showed people living in underwater colonies in the Antarctic and on the moon and highways of the future where you programmed in a destination and didn’t have to touch the steering wheel. Animatronics were introduced at the World’s Fair.

Once the fair closed, some of the pavilions were moved elsewhere. The best known was Pepsi’s It’s a Small World that’s now at Disneyland. Yes, I know. Now you won’t be able to get that damn song out of your head all day, either. The animatronic Abraham Lincoln and General Electric’s Carousel of Progress also moved to Disneyland. (Disney World didn’t open until 1971, but copies are found there).


Brontosaurus at Dinosaur Valley State Park in Glen Rose, Texas

A piece of the New York World’s Fair can be seen right here in North Texas, also. Two of the Sinclair Oil pavilion’s dinosaur models were moved to Dinosaur Valley State Park in Glen Rose, about 75 miles southwest of Dallas. They’ve been restored recently and remain on view near the park’s entrance.

From Dallas, take US 67 to Glen Rose and make a right at the Dinosaur Valley sign, drive past the Creation Evidence Museum into the park. The dinosaurs are outside the visitor’s center, before you get to the fossilized dinosaur tracks. For fun, stop at the creation museum to learn about how the dinosaurs were wiped out in the flood with Noah and how Adam and Steve were real people. Or something like that.

One other thing that might confuse anyone who knows me is: How can I possibly remember the New York World’s Fair that opened 50 years ago today if I’m only 39?


Pell stepping down as artistic director of Dallas Opera

Posted on 22 Apr 2014 at 9:58am
Pell Jonathan

Jonathan Pell in the Winspear just before it opened in 2009.

Jonathan Pell, who has spent nearly 30 years with the Dallas Opera, currently as its artistic director, and who marshaled its move from Fair Park to the Winspear Opera House, is stepping down from his full-time role with the company, the DO has announced.

Pell started with the DO in 1985 as its artistic administrator and will walk away on Dec. 31 from his day-to-day role. He will stay on as “artistic advisor.”

Pell brought such luminaries to the DO for their debuts as Cecilia Bartoli, Renee Fleming, Patricia Racette, Susan Graham, Denyce Graves and Ruth Ann Swenson. He also spearheaded several world premieres, including The Aspern Papers (which was revived last season), Therese Raquin and Moby-Dick (which will return next year).

The DO will continue its operation under general director Keith Cerny and new music director Emmauel Villaume. The DO wrapped up its 54th season earlier this month.


Breaking news! A rare glimpse of the actual Easter Bunny!!!

Posted on 21 Apr 2014 at 10:41am

(That’s Lady Easter Bunny to you.)



REVIEWS: ‘Evita,’ ‘Spunk’

Posted on 18 Apr 2014 at 9:52am

caroline bowman as eva peron with CheFor many, Evita was the show that won over musical theater fans to Andrew Lloyd Webber’s side before he became the bombastic hit-monster of Cats and Sunset Boulevard. In some ways, it’s the most unlikely of musical subjects: The machiavellian machinations of the former first lady of Argentina, Eva Peron, who was long-dead by the time the show opened. And yet, it’s a compelling piece of operatic theater, a kind of political tragedy where Lady Macbeth never has second thoughts.

The original production made stars out of Patti LuPone and Mandy Patinkin (Madonna made the movie version 17 years later). The version now at Fair Park Music Hall, courtesy of Dallas Summer Musicals, doesn’t reach those legendary heights, but it’s a reminder of how solidly entertaining and innovative Evita has always been.

It’s the day Eva (Caroline Bowman) has died, and a disgruntled Che Guevara (Josh Young) seems alone in his lack of sentiment. Was she a devil or a saint? Madonna or whore? Is it possible to be all of these things? Through flashbacks, Che narrates her calculated rise from rural nobody to radio star to wife of military hero and eventual president Juan Peron (Sean MacLaughlin).

This is the national tour of the recent Broadway revival that starred Ricky Martin. Ricky doesn’t she-bang in this one, but with Tony Award nominee Josh Young in the role of Che, it doesn’t matter much — he has a powerful tenor and a fierce indignation (especially evident in the fantasy number “Waltz for Eva and Che”).

He’s not the only strong performance, though — indeed, of the many productions I’ve seen of Evita this is the first where all five man roles are equally well played. Bowman’s transformation from girl-from-the-sticks to trashy actress to steely political wife to, eventually, a frail and cancer-ridden ghost, is endlessly convincing. MacLaughlin is a strong, sexy Peron, and even Christopher Johnstone, as the cheezy singer Magaldi and Krystine Alabado as Peron’s former mistress do excellent, detailed work. Michael Grandage’s direction keeps the show moving effortlessly, and despite a few missed opportunities for irony and character development, it’s a stellar show, not revived often enough.

KA2_8128Up at the Addison Theatre Centre, WaterTower Theatre has its own stellar musical on the boards. Based on three short stories by Zora Neale Hurston, Spunk is a jaunty little 90-minute show that has the smoky appeal of a Lenox Avenue speakeasy in the 1930s.

Liz Mikel is this show’s Che, a kind of narrator who escort us through three unrelated scenes by one of the few female voices to emerge from the Harlem Renaissance. The stories are largely unrelated both in tale and tone, but Hurston’s clear, precise style bursts through each of them. In one, a woman (Tiffany D. Hobbs) in the rural south endures the abuses of her drunken husband … until an opportunity presents itself that may free her. In another, zoot-suited dandies throw more shade than a drag queen at noon as they try to woo a liberated woman in post-War NYC. In the third, a loving family man deals with the anguish caused when his wife cheats on him in a weird twist on The Gift of the Magi.

This is toe-tapping theater, full of energy and dark beauty, magnificently lighted by Jason C. Foster (who imbues the Art Deco, Gatsby-inspired set with fire and mood) and performed by a gifted cast. Just try not to have a good time.


So, they let Leslie Jordan in the Round-Up Saloon

Posted on 18 Apr 2014 at 9:26am

Leslie Jordan performed at the Round-Up Saloon on Thursday night in a fundraiser for Oklahoma state Sen. Al McAffrey, who is running for Congress from Oklahoma City.

Jordan was in rare form telling stories, including one about how he was thrown out of The Round-Up 20 years ago. This time they let him in — but only through the back door.

McAffrey began his political career in the Oklahoma state House. When he ran for state Senate, Kay Floyd, a lesbian, replaced him in the House. Now that McAffrey is running for U.S. Congress, Floyd is running for McAffrey’s state Senate seat, and a gay man is running for Floyd’s state House seat. Obviously, liberal Oklahoma is going to hell.

One thing’s for sure — no one else running for Congress from Oklahoma had ever had a fundraiser like this one.


Out director Bryan Singer accused of 15-year-old sex crime

Posted on 17 Apr 2014 at 3:54pm

DBryan Singer, the openly gay film director who shot to fame with The Usual Suspects and has since helmed Superman Returns and launched the X-Men franchise, has been accused of sexual abuse in a federal civil lawsuit. The thing is, the alleged abuse occurred in 1999. The accusation is also of sexually abusing an “underaged” male, though the plaintiff was in fact 17 at the time (the abuse allegedly occurred in both Hawaii, where the age of consent is 16, and California, where it is 18).

Singer has disputed the charges. And considering that the acts supposedly occurred as long as 15 years ago — and the statute of limitations for rape would have expired more than seven years ago — the claim is rightly viewed with some suspicion.

The timing also seems curious — Singer’s next film, X-Men: Days of Future Past, opens next month. No better time to make a stale claim than when the defendant is anxious to avoid bad press.


Bette to speak at Hyatt luncheon

Posted on 17 Apr 2014 at 3:53pm


If you think I should have put a last name in the headline, you have no need to read further and won’t be attending.

Bette Midler will be in town on May 1 for the Woman to Woman 2014 Luncheon benefiting Jewish Family Services. Chad Mantooth and I are two Jewish women here in the Dallas Voice office that will be there.

The first time I saw Midler perform was in her first role on Broadway as Tzeitel in the original Broadway production of Fiddler on the Roof. I saved my Playbill and years later she signed it. A few years later, I saw her first concert on Broadway, Clams on the Half Shell. Her piano player from her Continental Baths show, Barry Manilow, was in the audience. She pulled him up on stage, and they did an extra half hour that day. Over the years, I’ve seen a number of her concerts. I’ve always been exhausted after watching her perform. She’s always been nonstop, high-energy, start to finish.

The only reason I’m not still watching Ruthless People and Down and Out in Beverly Hills is because my Beta machine finally conked out, and I never replaced them on DVD.

Beaches I only saw once — I thought a great Bette movie would be comforting after coming home from my partner Jon’s funeral. Not the right time to watch it, but I had a good cry with Bette.

For anyone unfamiliar with Jewish Family Services, their offices are on Arapahoe Road in a building on the old Prestonwood Mall site. Its services, open to anyone, not just the Jewish community, include marital, family, divorce and individual counseling. LGBT families have always been welcome at JFS, which has partnered in the past with LGBT synagogue Congregation Beth El Binah to create a coming out and a parents group. A food bank, family violence intervention, employment services and services for children and adults with special needs are among the many services provided by JFS.

Woman to Woman luncheon at Hyatt Regency Hotel, 300 Reunion Blvd. May 1 at 11:30 a.m. Individual tickets $250 available online or at 469-206-1664.


The moon shone red on Passover — Thanks Obama

Posted on 15 Apr 2014 at 6:37pm

MoonLast night was not just a full moon, but a blood red full moon, which brought the crazies out.

Right-wing website World News Daily headlined the event with the warning: Move over Obama: The ‘pen and phone’ that really count.

Here’s their problem. In his State of the Union address, the president said he would issue executive orders to break the deadlock in Congress. Well, God doesn’t like that. How does WND know? Because the moon was red last night in a totally predictable and explainable astronomical event that happens with some regularity.

And while we’re being bat-shit crazy, we might as well bring in the Jews, especially since this week is Passover.

WND quotes a Pastor Mark Blitz who said, “I believe the moons are like flashing red warning lights at a heavenly intersection saying to Israel as well as the nations they will be crossing heavenly red lines, and if they do, they will understand as Pharaoh did on Passover night 3,500 years ago that the Creator backs up what He says.”

So, I’m not sure if the good pastor is equating the lunar eclipse to one of the 12 plagues that is part of the story of Passover. If so, were any cattle or first-born harmed during this lunar eclipse? Or is he calling Obama the Pharoah and if so, why can’t the president just tell Congress to act or he’ll bury them in the pyramid he’s building for himself.


‘Drag Race’ promises to drop ‘transphobic’ gags

Posted on 15 Apr 2014 at 11:13am


Following a dustup occasioned by a game that made its contestants guess the gender of a person based on close-up photos of their anatomy, RuPaul’s Drag Race has had a change of heart about some of the language it uses on the show, the Huffington Post is reporting.

The series, which airs on Logo Mondays, pits a dozen or more drag queens — that is, men impersonating women — against each other for cash and the title of “America’s next drag superstar.” Occasionally, however, a contestant on the show has been a genuine transgender woman, not just a drag queen; those “coming out” moments are some of the most sincere and heartfelt on reality TV. So it seemed a disconnect for some that the show would routinely use the term “she-mail” as Ru’s version of  ”e-mail” to the contestants, since “she-male” is considered a derogatory term for a trans woman. (The “she-mail” controversy began when it was first used in Season 1, though the hubbub quickly died down.)

In a statement from Logo to HuffPo, the network said, “We are removing the ‘you’ve got she-mail’ intro from new episodes of the series. We did not intend to cause any offense, but in retrospect we realize that it was insensitive. We sincerely apologize.” Several former contestants (some trans, some not) lobbied for the change and endorsed the decision.

The question it raised for me is, why now? And why that term?

The “now” is fairly easy to answer: Society has developed its sensitivity to LGBT issues over the years, and it continues to grow, and the “female of she-male” game from several episodes ago was clearly a tipping point.

The “why” is harder to answer.

Is it derisive to call a trans person “she-male” offensive, even transphobic? Most definitely. But is calling a gay man a “girl” also bad? It certainly is when said with malice — but one of Ru’s other catch-phrases is “Silence! …. Bring back my girls,” in reference to the (male) contestants. Is calling someone “queer” wrong? When shouted angrily from a car at a gay man walking down the street, yes. But Queer Eye and Queer as Folk showed us how to co-op hate speech and turn it into empowerment.

“She-male” is clearly wrong, but “she-mail” — a pun on “e-mail” — is, and should be considered, a joke … perhaps one in bad taste, but then, bad taste is the stock in trade of Drag Race. In the same way that the transploitation film Ticked Off Trannies with Knives was so named in order to take ownership of a term that can be used derisively, couldn’t we all agree that “she-mail” was meant in good fun and leave it at that? There’s no show on TV that has greater respect for the gay community — including the trans community — than Drag Race. The show also objectifies men (the bikini-brief-clad Pit Crew), uses words like “hunty” and “fishy” in suggestive ways, regularly plays the quiz-show parody “Snatch Game” (and we know what “snatch” means in this context) and makes countless other transgressions. In the way that gay activisms popularized the mantra “We’re here, we’re queer, get used to it!” could we take an expansive look at our culture and distinguish between maliciousness and good-natured hazing?

Maybe not. The trans community suffers a lot of indignities, and coming out as trans isn’t easy. We should try to be sensitive to issues of tolerance and not spread hate. But Chaz Bono — child of Cher and perhaps the most famous trans person in the world — was a guest on the show last night, and he presumably didn’t object to the term. Maybe we could all take a lesson from Chaz … or maybe Chaz needs to take a lesson from the activist trans community.