Brian Mooney has lived on a North Texas dairy farm and in La-La-Land. Newly back to Dallas, the burly boy returns to his bear roots for TBRU
Brian Mooney’s life is a tale of two cities.
Actually, several cities and one podunk burg.
Mooney grew up so secluded on the family dairy farm in Decatur — he proudly calls himself "Wise County trash" — that "we considered Denton the city, Fort Worth the big city, and Dallas … well, I had no idea it was so close." But he always had a taste for the bright lights.
That’s why, while still in high school, he joined the Navy. In fact, he joined up for one reason: He wanted to see Rome.
"Me and my best friend since the crib were really into the Pagan thing — Greek gods and Roman mythology," he says. "We played Dungeons & Dragons all the time. [My friend] even calls Decatur ‘the new Athens:’ It’s on a hilltop, has a few monolithic buildings, there’s lots of religion but lots of funkiness [like him!] as well."
Which sort of brings this weekend’s Texas Bear Round-Up full-circle. The 15th annual gathering brings bears from 40 states and seven countries out of their hibernation for three days of fun-filled furry fellowship. And the theme? "Pantheon." As in the Roman palace of the gods.
It’s perfect timing for Mooney. After being honorably discharged from the Navy, he moved to Oak Lawn for five years before trying his luck out in Los Angeles. He returned to the Metroplex earlier this year.
And while he has always identified as a bear — even while in the Navy, where he met plenty of other salty seamen — he fell out of the scene while in L.A.
"I used to be part of Dallas Bears, but I didn’t do it in California. Out there, you get skinny and you starve, and then you meet an Arab and you get fat because that’s how he likes ya."
But he’s excited about bear-ing himself this weekend. (He started a new job at the Dallas Eagle just this week — again, perfect timing.)
"I’ve been to TBRU before. It’s fuuuunn!!" he says with a randy grin. "The bear scene has a lot more momentum than I remember it. I see so many more people being comfortable with themselves. It’s just good to get back. I went to a couple of bear pool parties last summer, [but this weekend] I want to lose myself in the crowd. The more that you’re not seen, the more they can’t see what you’re doin’!"
But while you can take the bear of out the country, you can never take the country out of the bear. Mooney divides his time between Dallas and Decatur right now; he’s currently renovating his parents’ farm, "trying to turn the barn into a place to live — an urban loft in the middle of a pasture," he says.
After all, even a gay bear likes a cave with track lighting.
Dallas Bears president Wayne Davis calls this year’s Texas Bear Round-Up XV: Pantheon, the biggest yet, with more than 1,100 registrants from all over the world. With the Texas-sized hospitality room and vendor market, bears of all kinds will be welcome with open paws.
There’s a hefty weekend schedule centered at the host hotel (Crowne Plaza, 7050 Stemmons Freeway), but here are some events not to miss.
For a complete list of events, visit TBRU.org.
Game shows: "Newly Bear Game" followed by "Are You Smarter than a Dallas Diva?" at the hotel, 2 p.m.
Big D Bear Dance with DJ Ted Eiel, pictured, at the Palladium Ballroom, 1135 S. Lamar Blvd., 8 p.m. (Shuttles available.)
Cigar Deck Party at the Dallas Eagle, 5740 Maple Ave., midnight.
Excursion to Midtowne Spa, 2509 Pacific Ave., noon.
Pool party at hotel pool, noon.
Mr. TBRU Contest. Open to registrants. Awards given to categories of bear, cub and admirer. Mr. IML Jeffrey Payne hosts. The Round-Up Saloon, 3912 Cedar Springs Road, 8 p.m.
Underwear auction, hotel hospitality room, midnight.
Barbecue and closing ceremony with dance lessons to follow, the Round-Up Saloon, noon.
Church ("a Dallas institution," according to Davis), at the Hidden Door, 5025 Bowser Ave., 2:30 p.m.
After-party and T-dance at the Dallas Eagle, 9 p.m.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition March 19, 2010.