Drive-by tasting: Yolk

Posted on 23 Jan 2015 at 11:44am

All-star breakfast at Yolk

First-look review: The Yolk’s on you

They say you can’t judge a book by its cover, but can you judge a restaurant by its opening? That that issue after what happened earlier this week with Yolk.

I was surprised to get the opening-day invitation less than a week before the doors opened. Usually, you get a press release promoting the opening while the restaurant finds its legs — a soft opening, friends-and-family practice services, a press walk-thru — prior to the grand opening. That didn’t happen with Yolk. Monday was the preview and the only sample prior to the grand opening on Tuesday morning. Perhaps, I figured, they didn’t need to rehearse — this is the seventh shop and the chain. They must know how to do this.

But Yolk is an import from Chicago. This is Dallas.

The opening was an unqualified disaster. It was supposed to start at 6 p.m., though I arrived 30 minutes early (with their permission) for a sneak peek. By 6:15 p.m., the doors where still shuttered with about 70 people lined up outside. Yet not a single piece of bacon was frying on the griddle, nor had a single egg been scrambled. They didn’t even offer me so much as a glass of water while I cooled by heels, or provide a press kit. When nothing had changed by 6:20, I left.

I wasn’t the only one. Those who stayed griped on social media about the paltry food (in quantity and diversity). Not the most auspicious of starts.

Maybe those practice services would have been a good idea after all.

Other than the location — the former Screen Door and Café des Artistes space in One Arts Plaza in the Arts District — Yolk doesn’t feel like Dallas at all. On the menu, they add the parenthetical “sausage” after “chorizo.” Perhaps they don’t know what that is in Chicago; Dallasites know better.


The sunnyside up interior at Yolk

Actually, I didn’t meet a single staffer who was local — everyone (the owner, the publicist, the manager) came down from Illinois. I asked the owner, Taki Kastanis, why he chose Dallas as his first store outside of the Midwest. “Dallas is awesome!” was his brief but enthusiastic response. “Why, thanks,” I said, “but maybe some specifics?” He noted that Dallas and Chicago have a lot in common, both being cities with many newcomers. Then he walked away.

Still, I wondered why hadn’t done a little bit more research for the local market. Yolk is open from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily. — excellent if you wanna get breakfast on the way to work or are looking for a brunchy lunch spot (both lunch and breakfast items are served all day).

But the Arts District is a nocturnal neighborhood that sometimes doesn’t get hopping until 9 o’clock at night. Why not offer a late-night menu for post-theater munchies? (Yolk also doesn’t seem quite high-end enough for its neighbors.)

These are the complaints that twirl through your head when you’re at a restaurant opening and there’s no food.

So how is Yolk at the food?

So far, so good.

The menu is extensive, though much of conjures variations on a theme. There are eggs (benedict, scrambled, omelets) and French toast and crepes; bacon, sausage and beef burgers; breads and buns and coffee. No real surprises. (And can anyone tell me why you have to pay at the counter at every breakfast spot instead of the table? It’s some unwritten rule, I guess.)

For my first visit, I ordered the all-star breakfast, which seemed like the best option for a sampling of the menu: Two eggs any style (I got mine scrambled), two slices of bacon, two sausage links, two pieces of French toast, plus that most hackneyed of breakfast plate clichés, the orange wheel.

The bacon, hickory-smoked and thick-cut, was chewy and filling, if not cooked to the crispness I personally prefer. I’m a huge fan of sausage links, and these were good. So was the toast, make of challah bread with a slight crunch on the edges I enjoyed. Also good was the maple syrup — authentically viscous, not the water sugar glue you often get. The plate even arrived with bottle of catsup and hot sauce without asking (hot sauce is a go for me; catsup not so much).

The eggs, however, felt slightly corporate — although ordered “scrambled,” they arrived more as an omelet: flat folds of protein and cholesterol that lacked fluff or texture. I envisioned they being designed to fit conveniently on an English muffin for a to-go order rather than convey the best the eggs have to offer.

Then again, they were eggs. Not much you can do to ruin them, I guess. And the coffee is … coffee, neither great nor bad.


South of the border benny, with chorizo (that’s sausage)

Which is, perhaps, why the blundered opening bothered me so. A breakfast restaurant is actually quite destinational — not for an anniversary, perhaps, but you need to want to have diner food to seek it out. And breakfasts tend to be more about familiarity than innovation. You need to win us early, and get us coming back.

I did go back, the next morning. I ordered a different selection — specifically, the south of the border “benny” (for “benedict”) featuring the aforementioned chorizo on an English muffin topped with poached eggs and hollandaise. The hollandaise flavorless — it lacked the necessary zing from lemon juice — but the side of melon (and, again, orange slices) did cut the heat and greasiness from the chorizo. But this was almost too much food for an office worker to consume in one sitting.

I’ll give Yolk a chance, at least if I happen to be in the area. But it could use improvements. They should offer free guest wifi, the kind of perk that would woo eaters away from a drive-thru or Denny’s and make this a destination diner. And I still think they need to consider being open late, at least on weekends when there are performances at the Winspear, Wyly, Meyerson or City Performance Hall. With all due apologies to Sean Connery, that’s the Dallas way.

Yolk at One Arts Plaza.


Cocktail Friday: Dirty Limetini

Posted on 23 Jan 2015 at 10:29am

IMG_9160Our friends at Equality Vodka came up with this little ditty, which we liked so much we thought we’d share.

2 oz. Equality vodka

1 oz. Patron Citronage

1.5 oz. simple syrup

1 fresh lime

Making it: Combine all liquid ingredients (including lime juice) in a shaker with ice. Pour into a glass with a spear of olives. Splash with 1888 Dirty Martini or olive juice. Garnish with a lime wedge.


Kathy Griffin on Cher emojis, gay ‘letters’ and already trying to get fired from ‘Fashion Police’

Posted on 22 Jan 2015 at 8:44am

KathyG3Kathy Griffin isn’t kidding when she says, “If I can get serious for one second…” Putting aside her usual biting assault against all things celebrity, the comedian gets candid about her dear friend and idol Joan Rivers in our latest interview: Griffin’s frequent death-related conversations with the late comedy legend, “literally” getting Joan’s permission to succeed her on Fashion Police, and how Joan taught Kathy “not to give a fuck.” — Chris Azzopardi

Dallas Voice: Hi Kathy, how are ya?  Kathy Griffin: Umm, this isn’t gonna go out to any, uh, gay people, right, Chris? Because, you know, you give those people an inch, they’ll take a mile.

Are you talking about penis size?  I’m talking about, when are we gonna end it with the letters and the numbers, Chris! LGBTQIA-2-3-4-5! Dammit! I’ve got a GLAAD Vanguard Award and an HRC Award and I still can’t keep up.

I’m gay myself and I can’t keep up. Which letter or number are you?

Just the G for now.  Look, Chris, you’ve gotta up your game. You’ve gotta stick in at least — can’t you be a Q? How hard is it to be a “questioning”?

For you, Kathy, I could be a Q. And I could be a number.  OK, good. I just wanted to get a little something out of you, because, you know, I gotta be up on the times with the LGBTQIA2s, and from what I understand you people are adding letters on a daily basis.

It’s really confusing you straight people, I know. Keep it simple for the breeders! We are simple people, dammit!

So, Kathy, congratulations on Fashion PoliceThank you! I am so-o-o-o excited! I mean, obviously I have the biggest shoes in the world to fill. But the fact that Joan and I were such good pals — and, in fact, discussed the show many, many times — it’s just, for me, if I can get serious for one second, actually meaningful. And I know it’s a silly show — we’re gonna make fun of silly celebrities and pictures — but Joan was such a good pal to me, but also an unrecognized pioneer in many ways.

I have to say, I really am getting a lot of gratification out of the fact that I believe posthumously she’s finally getting the respect that she so earned and so deserved, and that’s kind of a mission that I’ve assigned to myself. No one has assigned it to me, but it’s just important to me that her legacy is protected and honored, because it’s a legit legacy.

I mean, she was wild and outrageous, and I get it — with the sequin jackets and the feather boas and the saying crazy things to TMZ — but just as a female comedian, I mean, talk about a feminist, talk about a groundbreaker. I would never have this career without her, and I don’t mean just this job (on Fashion Police) — like, duh — but I mean everything from the beginning: what she did for women in comedy in such a male-dominated field, and for the LGBT community, and being down with the gays long before Stonewall, before it was cool. Anyway, it’s such an honor for me to sit in that chair.


Gwen Stefani: The gay interview

Posted on 21 Jan 2015 at 10:18am

GwenStefani3Editor’s note: More than 15 years ago, I drove over to Fort Worth to see No Doubt in concert. I was glad I went — not because of No Doubt, which gave a kind of programmatic concert that felt robotic and uninspired — but because that was my first introduction to the opening act: Cake. I’ve been a huge Cake fan ever since. No Doubt? Not so much. Gwen Stefani has never stood out to me as any kind of icon worthy of gay devotion … and I have to say, I feel even more strongly about that after reading Chris Azzopardi’s interview with her, below. What are your opinions about Stefani? And are they changed after reading this?

From bed in her Los Angeles home, Gwen Stefani insists she doesn’t mind doing her first gay press interview in a decade on her day off. “I love talking about myself,” the No Doubt frontwoman says, giggling.

Set to release her third solo album this spring, Stefani rang to open up about her “late in life” introduction to the gay community, the lesson she’s teaching her boys when she paints their nails and how hubby Gavin Rossdale has broadened her worldview.

Dallas Voice: You were raised Roman Catholic in infamously conservative Orange County. Considering this upbringing, what was your introduction to the gay community?  Gwen Stefani: That’s a really good question. I’m going back in my brain. When did I get introduced? I think my first friend that I had was Mathu Andersen — that was pretty late in life. He’s a makeup artist that I met doing the “Ex-Girlfriend” video [in 2000], and he was with this guy Zaldy, a designer who’d eventually work on L.A.M.B. with me. Then Mathu introduced me to Danilo, who ended up being my hairdresser, who introduced me to Gregory Arlt, my [current] makeup artist.

These guys have become some of my closest friends over the years, and also the team that have helped me creatively on so many levels. It’s interesting how it feels. All the people that I’ve met in the gay community in my particular life have just been very creative people and people that have just been friends to me in a way that I haven’t had in my life before that. It’s hard to put into words. I don’t know how to describe it, but it’s interesting because we can talk about so many things that we are all interested in and yet it’s different from having a guy friend or a girlfriend. It’s like having a creative partner.

When No Doubt first hit the scene, you were known for your tomboy image. Because of your style, were there times you were mistaken as a lesbian?  I don’t remember there ever being too many rumors about that. I think everybody knew my story, because when Tragic Kingdom came out I had broken up with Tony [Kanal], so everybody knew that “Don’t Speak” and all those songs were about that, so I think that’s probably why [there weren’t rumors]. I was so young when all that started. I mean, I started the band when I was 17.

The way you’ve personally subverted gender norms seems to have influenced your three boys. You’ve gone with your oldest, Kingston, to get manis; also, he wore a tutu on his birthday. As a parent, what importance do you place on showing your kids about self-express?  It’s one of those things where, it’s not like I don’t think about it, but they’re used to being around me, and I’m always doing my hair, makeup, nails. Their whole life is, like, sitting on my lap while I’m doing that surrounded by three gay men who are on me the entire time. [Laughs] It’s just normal for them. What I like to say is that being unique and original is what makes me happy, and I think that rubs off on them. My sons did nails just the other day, and the only reason was because their nails were so disgusting! Like, they were in the mud and I was like, “We have got to do your nails!

I literally have 400 bottles of nail polish, so they took them all out and put them all over the bathroom. We … did tiger stripe nails. I said to Kingston, “Are you sure you wanna do pink, because you’re gonna go to school tomorrow? Are you sure you’re not gonna be embarrassed?” He said, “No, I don’t care; it’s a cool color.”

I just love that. It’s really important more than anything else to not be talked into something, to stand your ground and to be able to be strong about what you feel. That’s what I like and that’s what I want them to learn — that being individual and being unique is important. Don’t be scared of that. I don’t want them to try to be like everyone else, and at that age, everybody just wants to have the same shoes everybody else has, and I don’t really like that. If they do want to, I’ll support that as well. You just want them to be happy. It’s a short life and it goes by so quick.


New exhibit opening tonight in TCU’s Moudy Gallery

Posted on 20 Jan 2015 at 3:00pm

Screen shot 2015-01-20 at 2.44.22 PMA new exhibit exploring how American artists perceive their identity and relate to issues facing the country opens tonight at TCU’s Moudy Gallery.

States of the Union: Highlights from the TCU Permanent Art Collection coincides with President Obama’s State of the Union address tonight. But visiting the exhibit may be a far more valuable experience.

As our country confronts racism, police brutality and discrimination with as much as rage as cynicism, States of the Union couldn’t open at a better time, even if it is opening in a bastion of white privilege.

According to a press statement, the exhibit is a landmark in TCU history; it’s the first public exhibit of many works in the little-known permanent art collection. It’s also the result of a semester-long effort by first-year graduate students in Dr. Mark Thistlethwaite’s Art Museum seminar.

The artist roster is impressive, and not just because many are big names in American history. Among them: Will Barnet, Alice Neel, Lee Krasner, Romare Bearden, Larry Rivers, and Andy Warhol. The curators should be lauded already for not just including impressive names but an array of diversity, including artists of color, as well as women and queer artists.

But don’t worry if you miss tonight’s reception, the exhibit runs until Feb. 19.

States of the Union: Highlights from the TCU Permanent Art Collection opens tonight (Tuesday, Jan. 20) at 6:30 p.m. in the Moudy Gallery, Moudy North, 2805 S. University Dr., Fort Worth and runs through Feb. 19. Hours are Mon-Fri., 11 a.m.–4 p.m. and Sat. 1–4 p.m.


WATCH: Mike Diamond on gay cartoon characters

Posted on 20 Jan 2015 at 12:13pm

amDad_Roger_Gen2012_R4Flat_hires1Earlier this week, gay producer-directed Lee Daniels said he was doing everything he could to make his new Fox show, Empire, the gayest thing on the network. I applaud that. But he actually has some competition from other Fox shows, as well as, surprisingly enough, the Cartoon Network. As my pal Mike Diamond (and his pal Matinga) note in this video, the airwaves (and toy boxes) of America have been cluttered for decades with gender-bending cartoon characters, from He-Man to Bugs Bunny to Fox staples Patty Bouvier, Waylon Smithers, Roger the Alien, Stewie Griffin and everyone on Glee (c’mon … it’s basically a live-action Archie Comic).

Watch the video below. (P.S. Episode 3 of Empire airs tonight.)


Robbie Rogers: The gay interview

Posted on 20 Jan 2015 at 8:27am

Robbie Rogers Celebrates The Release Of His Memoir "Coming Out To Play"Out soccer star Robbie Rogers on sports homophobia, closeted players and ESPN’s ‘ridiculous’ locker room coverage

By Chris Azzopardi

Ever since Robbie Rogers came out in early 2013, the soccer player has been intent on changing sports culture the best way he knows how: by being himself.

Rogers shares his story in Coming Out to Play, a book co-written with Eric Marcus (Breaking the Surface, co-authored with Greg Louganis) on the L.A. Galaxy player’s journey from closeted Catholic to barrier breaker. The first openly gay male athlete to win a big-time team pro sports title in the U.S., Rogers talks being “sad” about the lack of out athletes, homophobia in sports and how stories on LGBT-focused locker room behavior set the gay community back.

Dallas Voice: What was the most rewarding thing you learned about yourself while writing this book?  Robbie Rogers: I learned a lot about myself writing this, but I don’t know what the most rewarding is. When I wrote about my childhood, and just talking about how closeted I was, how things really scarred me and, obviously, being very afraid to be open with people, I think I learned from all that that I needed to be more open with people and learn from all those experiences. Without working through all those stories and writing all that down, I don’t think I would’ve been as aware of it. So, while I was writing the book, I realized, “Gosh, I need to share things more often with people and talk about things and be open,” which doesn’t come naturally to me. I’m a very shy, quiet person, actually. The most rewarding thing for myself, I think, was to just realize that and try to work on it during this past year, and to continue to work on it.

In the book’s prologue, you say, “I’ve been uncomfortable with the shorthand versions of my life that I’ve seen and read.” What do you hope to clarify?  When I came out, there weren’t details: all the struggle, why it took me so long and what was going on behind the scenes in the soccer locker room. And there are a lot of gay men and women around the world who know how tough it is — it’s very difficult to be closeted, and then to open up and be honest with people, and then to come to terms with yourself. So, I just wanted to add all the details of the story and talk about why it was so difficult for me. There were articles written like, “Oh, he’s out, he’s happy, he’s playing, everything’s good,” and it’s like, “No — there’s so much more to the story.”

There’s an assumption that men’s sports are not welcoming to LGBT athletes, or even threatened by them. Is this due to the fact that people didn’t know what would happen until someone came out?  Yeah, that’s the big thing: People don’t know what’s gonna happen. People are afraid, obviously, that things might change for them. I don’t necessarily think that the majority of athletes are homophobic, but I think there’s that mentality in the locker room.

From my experience, all the guys that I heard homophobic things from growing up were the first ones to call me, text me and support me [when I came out]. Athletes themselves are not homophobic; the sports culture is. As an out professional soccer player, people are sensitive. They know there’s a gay guy in their locker room and they’re not saying homophobic things. Instead, we’re discussing marriage equality. But when there isn’t an out soccer player — a guy that they know is gay — in the locker room, I’m sure things are being said that are homophobic. Again, I know it’s ridiculous for me to say, but it’s not necessarily because [players are] homophobic, but they’re not educated to be sensitive to what they’re saying. Someone might argue that that’s homophobic, but these guys are very loving and supportive of me, and I think if anyone in the locker room did come out; [other players] would be very supportive of them. But it’s that lack of knowledge and education about the LGBT community, and about mental health and just being sensitive to other people, that I think is the issue.


And the (Miss Gay Dallas State) winners are ….

Posted on 19 Jan 2015 at 4:37pm

Victoria Weston

On Saturday night, I was honored to be one of the judges at the 2015 Miss Gay Dallas State and Miss Gay Dallas State At Large pageants, held at The Brick as a preliminary in the Miss Gay Texas State Pageant System.

The very talented Victoria Weston won the title of Miss Gay State, and Basha Nicole, another very talented performer, won the Miss Gay Dallas  State At Large title. First runners-up were Natasha Alexander Parson for Miss Gay Dallas State, and Kenya Rider for Miss Gay Dallas State At Large. Vanity Rains, second alternate to Miss Gay Dallas State, did an excellent job as well.

I have to mention the other judges, Sabrina Starr and KamRun Hunter, who were great to work with, all the special entertainers and especially the 2015 Miss Gay Texas State and Miss Gay Texas State At Large titleholders, Sapphire Ray Brooks and Onyx Anderson, who both did a great job performing and especially in emceeing the show. They kept me laughing all night.


Basha Nicole

Michael “Sable Alexander” Champion owns the Miss Gay Dallas Texas State prelims, and he and his husband, Bill “Linze Serrell” Lindsey, own the Miss Gay Texas State pageant system. I have known Michael and Bill for about 24 years or so — since way back in the Glitz-n-Glitter days — and I have known few people ever who are as committed and dedicated to their community.

So again, thanks to Michael and Bill for asking me to be a judge, thanks to the performers for entertaining me, and congratulations to the winners. And oh yeah, big thanks to Brick bartender Netta who served up my bottled water with a smile!


Tickets to see Laverne Cox at UNT go on sale tomorrow

Posted on 19 Jan 2015 at 8:45am

Laverne-CoxLaverne Cox, the first transgender person to be nominated for an acting Emmy Award and a vocal advocate for LGBT issues, will present her talk “Ain’t I a Woman: My Journey to Womanhood,” at the University of North Texas Super Pit coliseum in Denton on Feb. 24. A Time magazine cover model, Cox is a co-star on the Netflix hit series Orange is the New Black, and will discuss the racism, classism and gender bias she have dealt with. She’s being presented through the Mary Jo and V. Lane Rawlins Fine Arts Series of UNT.

Tickets go on sale Tuesday: $10 for the general public, $5 for UNT staff, and free for UNT students. Go here to get yours.


Stephen Fry married the man of his choice, and the haters still hate … sometimes even the gay ones

Posted on 18 Jan 2015 at 4:55pm

Fry and Spencer, with mini Wilde attending

Stephen Fry, the openly gay and truly important comedic actor (he and former comedy partner Hugh Laurie are superstars in their native England), married his fiance, Elliott Spencer, over the weekend. They are British, where same-sex marriage is legal, and has been for a while. So basically, this should be one of those “oh-is-that-so-how-nice-for-them-what’s-for-dinner” moments. Only it’s not, and often as not those expressing their disapproval are as likely to be gay as straight.

They aren’t upset two men are marrying. They object to the age difference — Fry is 57, Spencer is 27.

And it pisses me off.

One very progressive friend of mine went so far as to cluck “It’s practically pedophilia!” Another said “The boy looks like he’s 17!” Well, guess what? Even if he was 17, he would be “legal” (in Texas, at least) and that’s not exactly pedophilia when you marry someone of age, now, is it?

When Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson starred in Lost in Translation, he was 53 and she was 18, and Sofia Coppola won an Oscar for her “charming” screenplay. Where was the outrage then?

It’s an infuriating double standard when old men date fully of-age but young-looking boys; the tongues begin wagging. What could they possibly have in common?

I wrote something about this phenomenon and few weeks ago, in my piece about being considered a daddy, but the point still has to be made: People of different ages can fall in love, and we should celebrate it as much as we do when two octogenarian lesbians tie the knot. How do you dare to know their love and relationship?

Spencer isn’t exactly my type, but then again, Fry isn’t either. But they seem happy, and that’s what marriage equality should be about — not just the right to marry someone of whatever sex, but whatever age, race, background, etc., we choose. When we impose judgments (“He’s too old for him!”) on people whose private lives we know positively nothing about, how are we being any better than the homophobes who oppose same-sex marriage?

We all need to get on board and support marriage whatever form it takes. Even if it fails. Even if we roll our eyes in private. Because criticism based on ages only fuels the culture that says others should be able to decide the rightness of our relationships, which is what we have spent decades fighting against.