USA Film Fest opens with history of AIDS, Q&A

This week, I reviewed How to Survive a Plague, a fascinating and emotional documentary from journo-turned-filmmaker David France about the early days of the AIDS crisis, especially as it relates to the founding of ACT-UP. The screening kicks off this year’s 42nd annual USA Film Festival.

David France, pictured, will be in attendance, and yours truly will be moderating the question and answer session immediately following it, and bring your questions for David!

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Today is the 25th anniversary of ACT UP, which was predated in Dallas by activists with G*U*T*S

Members of ACT UP hung a banner on the Cedar Springs Tollway overpass in 1991 for Pride Week.

AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power, or ACT UP, turns 25 today. In the early days of the AIDS crisis, the group was known for civil disobedience to obtain funding for research into the epidemic and care for people with the disease. The group was created by playwright and activist Larry Kramer in New York.

In an ACT UP demonstration marking the anniversary today, JoeMyGod reports that nine members chained themselves to the entrance of the New York Stock Exchange at the opening bell.

Dallas had its own version of ACT UP prior to the formation of the national group. The Dallas version was known as G*U*T*S, or Gay Urban Truth Squad.

G*U*T*S staged a number of demonstrations including chalking outlines of bodies in front of Dallas City Hall — and outside the Convention Center as President George H.W. Bush spoke inside. An earlier protest involved staking an empty field on Carlisle Street with crosses honoring the fallen.

Another ACT UP demonstration in front of Parkland Hospital called on the facility to prescribe AZT, the only known drug at the time that helped combat the HIV virus. The hospital claimed it didn’t have enough money to give the drug to everyone who needed it.

In most cities, ACT UP demonstrators and those working with local governments to provide resources for people with AIDS were different people. Not in Dallas.

John Thomas, executive director of the AIDS Resource Center (now Resource Center Dallas), was among the ACT UP demonstrators at Parkland. He met with city and county officials and told them he thought he could call off the demonstrators if money was appropriated to get AZT to people who needed it.

When John got the money, John stopped demonstrating.

Most of the founders of G*U*T*S/ACT UP Dallas, including John Thomas, Bill Hunt, Mike Richards, Bill Nelson and Terry Tebedo, died of AIDS in the 1990s.

This evening, USA Film Festival screens How To Survive A Plague that includes the story of ACT UP. Arnold Wayne Jones moderates a discussion after the film.

—  David Taffet

AIDS funding pioneer Pallotta to speak Friday

No one disputes that Dan Pallotta was a pioneer in raising awareness about AIDS and HIV, organizing the California AIDSRide from 1992 to 2002, as well as North Texas’ AIDS ride from 1999 to 2001. It was around that time Pallotta started taking flak for not spending resources well; he was roundly criticized for spending $400,000 to raise $1 million, a ratio most contributors to charity found off-balance. But while Pallotta stopped fundraising for those organizations, he didn’t exactly take the criticism lying down. In 2010, he published Uncharitable, a book that argued there are two rules (those for charities, and those for businesses) and that non-profits should be more entrepreneurial in order to be more competitive … and, presumably, bring in more capital. In short, he says the question “What percentage of my contribution goes to charity?” is outmoded thinking. He’s speaking about this divisive issue at Dallas Social Venture Partners’ Social Innovation Luncheon Series, which will be held at the Tower Club inside Thanksgiving Tower on Friday, April 13. The lunch begins at 11:30 a.m. Tickets cost $50 and can be purchased at DSVP.org.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

National Association of People with AIDS brings Healthy Living Conference to Fort Worth this week

The National Association of People with AIDS holds its national Healthy Living Summit, previously known as “Staying Alive,” from Tuesday, April 10 through Friday, April 13 at the American Airlines Training and Conference Center in Fort Worth.

The conference empowers those living with HIV to become better advocates for their own health and for that of the entire community. Founded in 1983, NAPWA is the oldest national AIDS advocacy organization in the U.S.

“HIV rates are exploding in the Southern United States,” NAPWA President and CEO Frank Oldham Jr. said in a press release. “As the largest and oldest patient advocacy group for PLWHA, NAPWA is proud to have the opportunity to bring the National Healthy Living Summit to the heart of the South to educate about the steps that can be taken to reduce transmission of the virus and promote healthier living with HIV.”

The National Healthy Living Summit will help promote interventions for the HIV epidemic, with a unique lineup of speakers, including leading medical experts who will share the latest on Treatment as Prevention, Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP), Hepatitis and HIV Co-Infection, and more.

The cost of the conference is $525, which includes hotel, meals, NAPWA membership and the conference. To register, visit the NAPWA website. A full list of speakers and award recipients is below.

—  David Taffet

Woman, 71, arrested for anti-gay hate crime

Wanda Derby

A 71-year-old woman is facing hate crime charges after she allegedly beat and choked her neighbor with her cane, called him a “faggot” and said she thought he had AIDS and would give it to her son, officials said.

Wanda Derby and her son were “having issues” when he decided to move in with the family next door Wednesday night in the 3200 block of Ash Park in Richland Hills, Detective Tye Bell with Richland Hills police said.

When a 25-year-old neighbor came over to help her son move, Bell said she allegedly struck him several times and choked him.

“I guess she got enraged and she just started whooping him with a cane,” Bell said.

Bell said the man suffered bruises to his body and neck but was treated at the scene by Richland Hills police.

Derby allegedly struck the man’s mother when she came to help him and tried to call police. Bell said the man did not fight Derby because she is 71 and he did not want to harm her.

She was arrested for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon that could be enhanced as a hate crime because she called the man “faggot” several times when talking to police and told them that he had AIDS and would give it to her son, Bell said.

“Her statements were very biased toward sexual preference and that gave us the probable cause to file that as a hate crime,” Bell said.

—  Anna Waugh

Dallas Purple Party recruiting volunteers for its May event at Saturday mixer

The Dallas Purple Party, an annual fundraiser for AIDS Services of Dallas now in its 12th year, will hold a volunteer drive … er, reception … at Sue Ellen’s on Saturday from 2 to 4 p.m. Executive director Blake Baker will give a primer to those who want to help put on the party, which takes place at a variety of venues across Dallas the weekend of May 4–6.

The all-volunteer Purple Party Foundation needs all kinds of assistance in putting on the event, from those who can help set up and decorate in the daytime hours to those who can assist with the after-hours events to those helping with clean-up. They even need folks to man their booth at the Easter in Lee Park Festival on April 8 and at the Cedar Springs Arts Festival the Saturday before the event.

“Last year, we had 70 volunteers, which was a lot — the most we’ve ever had — but we could still use more,” says executive board member Chris Huffstutler.

If you can’t make the mixer at Sue Ellen’s, visit PurpleFoundation.org to learn more or sign up for shifts at your convenience.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Defining Homes • How Swede it is

Gay agent Fredrik Eklund is a shark above the rest in Bravo’s new ‘Million Dollar Listing: New York’

By Rich Lopez

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With European charm and no-holds-barred ambition, Eklund swoops in on competitors’ clients and cleverly negotiates the right price for his own in the cutthroat market of New York City.

Turning its eye to the high-rise luxury space of the Big Apple, the Bravo network premieres its latest entry into reality programming with Million Dollar Listing: New York. Three hungry young agents navigate through myriad clients looking to unload jaw-dropping apartments with three floors, major closet space and automatic toilets, and buyers willing to throw down millions for them.

But Fredrik Eklund might just be the show’s breakout star with his good looks, major ambition and a slightly checkered past he has no shame about. Really, he’s a softie at heart with fond nostalgia for the TV show Dallas.

“I was so obsessed with that show when I was growing up in Sweden,” he laughs (and hums the theme music). “But I’ve never worn a cowboy hat. Do they wear those in Dallas?”

He talks with a sincere and almost childlike interest, but he’s anything but when it comes to competing in the intense market of New York City. In MDL: NY, he’s one of three young bucks with one thing on their minds: closing the deal. And Eklund is quick to boast his billion dollars in sales to impress potential clients and make his mark.

“You just have to work harder at [real estate]. Even after eight years of doing this, I am still obsessive about it. I eat and breathe it,” he says.

We see his handiwork when he slyly negotiates offers to his clients’ advantage and will even take a cut in his commission to get it done.

But with commissions running in to the tens of thousands of dollars, he’s hardly missing out. While the money is nice, Eklund says this isn’t what drives him to be the best.

“This fits my brain really well and there’s always something new,” he says. “The number one thing I want to put my mark on is new developments here in New York. Any agent can put up a website and wait for the phone to ring, but with new buildings, I can create a brand for that. That is something I’m very proud of for the future.”

On paper, Eklund has had a privileged life. A successful father provided a blueprint for the success he wanted and ultimately achieved. He studied economics in Stockholm, owned an Internet company by the age of 23, he managed a cadre of music producers to churn out Billboard charting songs in Singapore and Latin America.

Now, at 34, he’s the youngest managing director for Prudential Douglas Elliman, the largest real estate company on the East Coast. Even with his golden career in his hands, the decision to add the show into a busy life was only a positive one — as well as advantageous.

“I knew it was going to be a lot of fun and I have some vanity, but to go so deep into your own life, it does become comical,” he laughs. “But the more serious answer is the international outreach is so important. Everyone wants to own something in New York and so the power of TV is unparalleled. For me, this is an opportunity to showcase my business.”

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The new kids on the Bravo block include, left to right, Ryan Serhant, Michael Lorber and Eklund.

A priceless moment in the pilot comes out of nowhere when cast mate Ryan Serhant outs Eklund’s work in gay porn to a client over lunch.

Without batting an eye, Eklund owns it and swoops in on Serhant’s guest to deliver his card. Eklund is an open book without faulting any past decisions or experiences.

“I’ve always been open about it, but it has never affected my business,” he says. “When people hear me talk about it, I hope they can see in my eyes that it’s nothing. It was a short period of my life, but it’s helped make me who I am and I’m proud of who I am.”

Fortunately for local Realtors, he doesn’t have his sights set on conquering Dallas anytime soon, but if he did …

“I would do what I did in New York and walk around open houses, scan all the top brokers,” he says. “I used to pretend to be a buyer to note who the big brokers are. Every top broker has something that makes you want to really work with that person.”

But his plans right now only include taking over New York, celebrating his engagement to his partner he met during the season and making time to enjoy his whole new life in front of the camera.

“The world s very big and our lives are pretty short. Before we know it, it’s over,” he says. “I want to do so many things and even though I’m calmer about things, I still have that urge.”

Million Dollar Listing: New York premieres March 7 on Bravo. For more information, visit BravoTV.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition March 2, 2012.

—  Kevin Thomas

NAPWA brings AIDS summit to Fort Worth

The National Association of People With AIDS (NAPWA) presents the National Healthy Living Summit, formerly known as “Staying Alive,” the only national AIDS conference exclusively by and specifically for people living with HIV/AIDS. It takes place at the American Airlines Training and Conference Center in Fort Worth, from April 10 through 13.

The Healthy Living Summit will host a Skills Building Institute to introduce community coalition mobilization models to individuals and organizations in Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas, Texas, Florida and Georgia.

The theme of this year’s Healthy Living Summit is “Prevention with Positives.”

Institutes and workshops will include Women and HIV; Positive Youth Institute; Men and HIV; HIV and Hepatitis C co-infection and treatment options; and HIV/AIDS public policy and the implementation of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy. Speakers will include Christopher Bates, Richard Wolinsky, Ernest Hopkins, Robert Greenwald, Dr. Marsha Martin and Catherine Hanssens.

Scholarships to attend the conference are available. For people wishing to attend from out of the area, those scholarships include travel. Apply on the NAPWA website.

—  David Taffet

Business Briefs: AssociaTitle names Mark Sadlek director of business development

AssociaTitle names Mark Sadlek director of business development

Mark Sadlek

AssociaTitle announced it appointed Mark J. Sadlek director of business development at its corporate headquarters in the heart of Uptown Dallas at Crescent Court.

“We are thrilled to be adding Mark Sadlek to the AssociaTitle team,” said AssociaTitle President Paul Reyes. “He is a seasoned real estate professional in the Dallas area with a track record of proven success and will serve both our clients and our company well.”

Sadlek joins AssociaTitle from Republic Title of Texas, where he served as vice president of business development and director of coaching services. He worked to build and promote the company externally with Realtors, developers and lenders. His focus also included business coaching and training.

He has also served as vice president of business development for American Title and as home mortgage consultant for Shelter Mortgage & Wells Fargo Home Mortgage. Previous to his work in the North Dallas real estate industry, Sadlek worked in marketing and sales for almost 20 years and was intimately involved in the start-up of two companies, VerCeram and Velux-America.

For the past nine years, Sadlek has worked in the North Dallas real estate industry, building positive relationships with local Realtors and lenders. He was awarded the 2010 Affiliate of the Year Award from MetroTex Association of Realtors, served on the MetroTex Board as an affiliate appointee board member, and chaired the Affiliate Forum Committee of MetroTex.

He was a co-founder and co-chair of Leadership Lambda Inc., an LGBT leadership development organization. He was also a board member of Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS (DIFFA) and has chaired the Heart Strings Fundraiser at the Majestic Theatre. Additionally, Sadlek served on the Board of Governors for the Human Rights Campaign, as well as a co-chair of the Dallas-Fort Worth Federal Club.

Ernst & Young Announces Gross Up for Jan. 1

On Jan. 1, Ernst & Young joined more than 30 major U.S. employers that are equalizing the pay for gay and lesbian employees by covering the cost of state and federal taxes for domestic partners.

Employees enrolled in domestic partner benefits incur additional taxes as the value of those benefits is treated as taxable income under federal law, while the value of opposite-sex spousal benefits is not.

Federal law treats domestic partner benefits differently from federally-recognized spousal benefits.

—  David Taffet

Eighth annual Starbucks auction supports AIDS Foundation Houston

Love it or hate it Starbucks is an ubiquitous fixture of urban life, combining the “where everybody knows your name” charm of the local bar with the “first taste is free” seediness of the corner drug pusher. For the Montrose at Hawthorn Starbucks (3407 Montrose) that position at the intersection of community and addiction carries with it a major social responsibility. Which is why for the last eight years the employees of Montrose’s most fabulous Starbucks have sponsored a silent art auction to raise funds for AIDS Foundation Houston.

This years auction is March 2 from 5-9 pm. The organizers  are still seeking donations from local artists and businesses to help round out this year’s selections. Visit sbuxauction.weebly.com for more information on the auction and how to donate.

—  admin