Miss LifeWalk 2014 is …

Miss LifeWalk contestants 2014

Heidi Liqueur, left, and Siena Silver, Brianna Michelle and Rosio Bencos.

… Heidi Liqueur!

Last night in the Rose Room, the LifeWalk Green Team contestant  faced off against three other awesome drag divas to take the crown at the 11th annual fundraiser preliminary for October’s walk, which benefits AIDS Arms. Heidi’s dazzling beaded gown, in the same red-and-white colors as her Chick-Fil-A dress (which she performed to the “Hold On” parody “Chow Down”) while serving chicken tenders to the audience, won over the judges (and I was one of them!) in a satisfying finale. But all four entrant were insanely talented and impressive, from Siena Silver’s rainbow-accented dress following a champagne accented evening-wear gown, to Rosio Bencos’ back-up dancers and elaborate costume, to Brianna Michelle’s pink-and-emerald palette.

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The winner being cheered

Heidi won individual awards for Spirit of Miss LifeWalk and for evening wear and talent in addition to the overall prize, while Siena took Miss Congeniality and Brianna won Miss Moneybags for raising the most for AIDS Arms — $7,400! In total, the event took in a staggering $21,628 — $4,000 more than last year.

The show was a hoot, with primary host Heather Thomas bullying the crowd into donating more and more money, and five former Miss LifeWalk winners performing, with all money going to the charity. Victoria Weston wowed the audience with two live performances. Outgoing Miss LifeWalk Vida Chardonnay did a tribute to Elaine Stritch that stunned everyone. View pictures in our full slideshow here.

LifeWalk takes place Oct. 5, and it’s never too late to volunteer or participate.

 

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

WATCH: Michael Sam accepts the Arthur Ashe Award at the ESPYs

“I had a lot of experience living something bigger than myself,” Michael Sam says, choking back tears as he accepted the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage at the ESPYs last night, honoring him for coming out prior to NFL draft earlier this year. It’s a beautiful speech, including another on-air kiss of his boyfriend and a special thank-you to him. You can watch it in full after the jump. Try not to cry. You won’t succeed, but try anyway.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Broadway legend Elaine Stritch has died at 89

Stritch2It was just a few months ago that I got to interview Elaine Stritch, the Broadway legend whose irascible nature and coffee-stained voice made her a one-of-a-kind star. That was the second time I interviewed her, which I did for the documentary about her life that came out earlier this year. Both times were high-water marks in my career.

But I also got to do more than just talk to Elaine: I got to see her — onstage (in her acclaimed, Tony Award-winning one-woman show At Liberty and most recently on Broadway with Bernadette Peters in A Little Night Music) and once you’ve seen the old broad perform, your life is forever transformed.

She was a marvelous performer, a prickly human being and an unforgettable character … as well as a true friend of the gay community. The footlights are dimmer with her passing.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Our pets are our family

Me with Banjo, in the last minutes of his life two weeks ago.

Tomorrow’s edition of Dallas Voice is called The Pet Issue, but the timing for me is bittersweet. Two weeks ago, I had to put down a cat — my pet grimalkin Banjo — when he became inexplicably ill and stopped eating and drinking. I took him to the vet and spent a small fortune without ever learning what was wrong with him, other than he was shutting down. I tried injecting water down his throat with a syringe, but he fought me — he cast a look that seemed to say, “What are you doing? I’m trying to die and you’re messing me up.”

We communicate with our pets in a series of largely non-verbal ways. We cluck our tongues and whistle and stroke their fur. We play with them and walk them and get them worked up and excitable because it makes us happy to see them happy. We feed them and nurture them and, when the time comes, we lead them out of this world — the hardest thing, and the one that requires the most love.

Gay folks often talk about our pets as if they were our children. In many ways, they are, at a minimum, members of our families. A lot of LGBT are used to “making” family — a word we have co-opted to mean who we choose to form a bond with instead of those we are born to. No pets are “born” to humans, so of course they are all adopted. And all are “made” members of our family.

Banjo left this life too soon. At 12, he still should have had a few years left in him. But I adopted him from the SPCA to give him a life rather than having him destroyed. He had a good life, and I miss him every day … even as I have three dogs remaining to keep me company.

Anyway, I hope you will pick up the paper tomorrow, or read the stories online, because even though we call it The Pet Issue, it’s really something else. It’s The Love Issue. Because that’s what our pets are.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Gay Pulitzer Prize-winner detained in McAllen

joseantoniovargasJose Antonio Vargas, whom we interviewed last fall, is a gay journalist with a Pulitzer Prize, but he gained his greatest fame when he “came out” … not as gay, but as an undocumented alien, which he did in an op/ed piece in the New York Times Magazine three years ago.

Now Vargas finds himself on the receiving side of the I.N.S. Earlier today, Vargas flew to McAllen, Texas, to raise awareness for the plight of minor-aged illegals. After completing his visit, he prepared to fly back to Los Angeles, but was detained by border control for not having proper documentation.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Fort Worth chef Tim Love, on his new reality show

Tim Love and Joe Bastianich

Restaurant Startup, a new reality series airing its second episode tonight on CNBC, is kind of a culinary version of Shark Tank, where two famed restaurateurs decide whether to invest their own money in a particular concept. But rather than featuring Dallas’ Mark Cuban, this show stars Fort Worth chef Tim Love, alongside Joe Bastianich. Each episode begins with two teams pitch their ideas and possibly launching a pop-up  version of their concept.

Tim and Joe sat down for a joint interview, and here’s some of what they had to say.

Question: You guys can be pretty rough sometimes. What was it about the premise of the show that appealed to you, made you want to be involved? Did CNBC basically come to you and pitch the show to you similar to the way the wanna-be restaurants did and if so did you make the people at CNBC cry or stammer during the negotiations?

Joe Bastianich: I think it’s an opportunity to take an inside look at a very unique business that not many people understand it and combine a lot of things that people are very passionate about: great hospitality, food, money in the restaurant business, what it takes to be successful in the hospitality industry [and] show the inner workings.

Tim Love: The show itself is really a completely different look at a food show, which is really what interested me. I have a big passion for the business side of the food and wine world and I spoke with Joe about doing the show and he has the same kind of outlook. There’s a lot of shows out there that talk about the drama of whether or not you can make a blah-blah. But really, this show is about whether or not you can build an actual restaurant and the inner workings of how that even happens.

So we feel like this show is going to really expose a new material to people and understanding of really the start to finish of how you might operate a restaurant and how that comes to fruition because, quite frankly, these days it’s almost impossible to have a restaurant without getting an investor, and this gives us an opportunity to show people that not only works but also gives Joe and I an opportunity to maybe invest in something we feel like can be really great.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Uptown Players adds Dan Savage to Pride Fest

Dan Savage for Intiman by LaRae Lobdell | PhotoSister.comUptown Players has added queer advice/sex columnist Dan Savage’s one-man show Savage Love Live to the lineup of its fourth annual Pride Performing Arts Festival, which runs in September. In addition to his column and books, Savage is best known as co-founder of the It Gets Better Project.

UP had already announced several of the shows, but today came out with the full schedule, which adds Savage and Steven Jay Crabtree’s Dysfunctional Divas.

Opening the festival on the Kalita Humphreys mainstage will be the concert version of The Last Session, a revival of a show first produced in UP’s inaugural season. It will kick off the fest Sept. 12 at 8 p.m. Savage Love Live will bring up the rear, closing the festival on Sept. 20 at 8 p.m.

Here’s a list of the rest of the shows, including performance dates. You can get more information and purchase tickets here.

Mythical Beastie. Former college roommates Mark (a gay architect) and Greg (his straight friend) find themselves living together again after years of estrangement. Greg, a serial womanizer, invites his latest crush Wendy home to meet his best friend and to make an announcement that throws everyone and everything into a tailspin. Written by local playwright Bruce R. Coleman. Performances: Sept. 13 at 5:30 p.m., Sept. 14 at 7:30 p.m., Sept. 16 at 8 p.m. and Sept. 20 at 2 p.m.

From White PlainsA 2013 Off-Broadway hit, it  follows four men, straight and gay, as they attempt to take responsibility for past actions and move beyond them, aided and frustrated by celebrity, social media and viral videos. The play examines how male relationships change as boys grow into men and asks who speaks for a victim of bullying when he is no longer here to speak for himself. Performances: Sept. 13 at 3:30 p.m., Sept. 14 at 2 p.m., Sept. 19 at 8 p.m. and Sept. 20 at 4:30 p.m.

CommencingThe beautiful Kelli can’t wait for the blind date her friends have set her up on, until it turns out to be one very disappointed lesbian named Arlin. Mutually appalled, yet appallingly intrigued, they proceed to pull the screws loose on both straight and gay women’s culture, to find the common ground beneath in the search for love and self. Performances: Sept. 13 at 2 p.m., Sept. 15 at 8 p.m. and Sept. 20 at 6:30 p.m.

Falling Man. This play examines the lives of a diverse group of gay men from various backgrounds. Join Brandon Simmons in a tour-de-force performance as we meet a former drag queen, a young hustler who is taken over by the spirit of Tennessee Williams, the infamous Jeffrey Dahmer, and a former cha-cha champion who just wants to be remembered. Performances: Sept. 13 at 8 p.m., Sept. 14 at 6 p.m. and Sept. 18 at 8 p.m.

Dysfunctional Divas. Steven Jay Crabtree presents yet another evening in the lives of his outrageous characters: the drama queen of lip-sync, Trayla Park; the superhero, Warrior Woman; the bombastic screen vixen, Martini Glass; plus other of Steven’s weird, wigged alter egos! Crabtree switches from boy to girl and boots to heels while playing his collection of kooky characters.  Rated R for adult language and humor. Performances: Sept. 13 at 9:30 p.m., Sept. 14 at 4 p.m. and Sept. 17 at 8 p.m.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

RC announces 5 Factor honorees

dalehansen

Dale Hansen

The sixth annual 5 Factor — the celebration of those in the North Texas community who work for gay rights and HIV activism — returns in September, but we already know who the Resource Center has tapped to honor.

The event identifies people and businesses in five categories – Media, Government, Commerce, Culinary and Philanthropy — who have made a difference. Here are this year’s selections:

Media: Dale Hansen, the WFAA sports director whose commentaries about gays in sports, especially his defense of Michael Sam coming out prior to the NFL draft, made him a national icon.

Kingston.Philip

Philip Kingston

Government: Philip Kingston, the Dallas city councilmember who quickly became a friend of the gay community.

Commerce: Whole Food Market, which donates food to the Resource Center and other charities.

Culinary: Abraham Salum, the award-winning out chef-owner of Komali and Salum restaurants who often donates his time to culinary and charitable events.

Philanthropy: DIFFA, the charity whose annual fundraiser is one of the highlights of the social season and which contributes many thousands to HIV/AIDS research and treatment.

Admission is $50/person to the event at 7 for Parties, 150 Turtle Creek Blvd. on Sept. 26. You can obtain tickets and more information here.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

A very gay Emmy slate

Laverne Cox

NOTE: Edited to reflect more gay characters.

When the Emmy Award nominations came out yesterday, it was nice to see some gay-popular nominations of the list. But when you counted through all of them, an amazing eight LGBT actors were nominated. There are 96 acting categories (more if you count the variety category), so that’s not exactly a majority, but if you add in those who appeared in “gay” shows, or played gay characters, it goes up.

Laverne Cox, of course, became the first (known) trans performer to be nominated for an Emmy (and for guest actress, which is awesome) for Orange is the New Black. But other openly gay performers include Sarah Paulson (best actress in a miniseries, American Horror Story: Coven), three of the five performers from the movie The Normal Heart (Matt Bomer, Jim Parsons and Joe Mantello), plus a second nomination for Parsons as lead actor/comedy for The Big Bang Theory; Jesse Tyler Ferguson, best supporting actor from Modern Family; and Nathan Lane, for his guest appearance on Modern Family. And wanna add Kevin Spacey for House of Cards? Let’s go ahead and call it nine.

JESSE TYLER FERGUSON

Jesse Tyler Ferguson

Performers playing LGBT characters include Taylor Schilling, Natasha Lyonne and Uzo Aduba, Orange is the New Black; Mark Ruffalo, The Normal Heart; Andre Braugher, Brooklyn Nine-Nine; Fred Armisen (for some of the many characters he plays in Portlandia); Beau Bridges as the closeted provost as guest actor in Masters of Sex; Spacey also had a three-way in House of Cards which you can count if you wanna (I wanna). That gives 17 gay actors or gay characters in the race. Congrats!

And congrats especially to former Dallasite Allison Tolman, nominated for supporting actress in a miniseries for Fargo.

After the jump are the major nominees.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

DTC is looking for gender-benders for ‘Rocky Horror’

lipeJoel Ferrell, who will be directing the Dallas Theater Center’s upcoming production of The Rocky Horror Show, needs your help.

Part of Ferrell’s concept for the show calls for “living set decorations” — gender-benders, elaborately tattooed and/or surprisingly pierced men and women, or those with special skills (think circus sideshows: sword swallowers, snake charmers and the like) to add atmosphere to the show. You don’t need to know how to sing, dance or act — just be fun to look at. (And, FYI, there’s no remuneration involved, it’s just for your own pleasure.)

To track down those who’ll fit, the DTC is hosting an open casting call at the Rose Room on Saturday, July 26. There are 50 audition slots open, which you can apply for my email to Laura.Colleluori@DallasTheaterCenter.org. Just send her your name, age, phone number and brief description of your talent. Auditions will start at 3:30 p.m. The production of Rocky runs Sept. 11–Oct. 19, and those selected will be expected to appear at about half of the performances.

Good luck!

—  Arnold Wayne Jones