The Year of the Outhlete

With Dallas Pride just over and the Gay Softball World Series still going strong, it’s difficult not to see thing about how influential the Year of the Outhlete has been in our community. Indeed, tomorrow’s edition of Dallas Voice is even out Sports Issue to mark the occasion. So let’s hoist the rainbow flag, drink a toast (with the alcohol of a gay-friendly sponsor) and honor the LGBT athletes who exemplify Pride.

Toronto Raptors v Brooklyn Nets

The biggest — physically, anyway — is Jason Collins. The NBA player made us proud when he came out as the first active male pro sport athlete. Dozens of former teammates — and many opponents — made us just as proud when they tweeted sincere messages of congratulations the moment the news broke. The Brooklyn Nets made us proud when they signed him to a 10-day contract — not because he was gay, but because they needed a strong, experienced veteran to bring maturity to their locker room. Then the Nets liked him so much, they extended his contract. And NBA fans made us proud by making Jason Collins’ souvenir jersey the best-selling one in all of sports. Let’s go Nets!

Michael-SamAnother big story — physically, too — is, of course, Michael Sam. The University of Missouri star impressed us by coming out publicly a month before the NFL draft. (He’d been out to his team for a long time; they and their coaches made us proud by supporting him strongly, en route to a kick-ass season.) Mizzou fans stood out (and shattered East and West Coast stereotypes) with their fervent embrace of him. ESPN done good by showing him kissing his boyfriend after Sam’s name was called in the draft. And Sam made us very, very proud with that kiss.  It — and his tears of joy — were the exact same reactions as all the other macho, straight NFL draftees have. We are proud that all of America saw it, and prouder still that our own Dallas Cowboys saw fit to recruit him after the Rams cut him in training. Sam even turned up at Dallas’ Red Party last week.

When Robbie Rogers came out, soon after retiring from Major League Soccer, we were filled with pride. (He had a drink of water with the national team, too.) He made us even prouder when he returned to the sport, signing with the Los Angeles Galaxy. And soccer fans around North America — particularly those in the Cascadia region of Portland, Seattle and Vancouver — have made us tremendously proud by their heartfelt, vocal and very clever signs of support not just of Rogers, but of the entire “You Can Play”/gays-in sport movement. It takes a village — or, more appropriately, an entire stadium. And MLS has ’em.

Olympics Day 14 - DivingWe were proud when English Olympic diver Tom Daley came out … except, some of us were not proud because he didn’t exactly come out. He said, “Right now I’m dating a guy, and I couldn’t be happier.” Then he said, “Of course, I still fancy girls.” Of course, there’s nothing wrong with being bisexual … but Daley didn’t use the “B” word either. (Eventually we learned that the “guy” is Oscar winner Dustin Lance Black.) Some members of the LGBT community are proud to have a top-level athlete like Daley in our midst; others wish he’d embrace his sexuality more fully; still others point to his non-disclosure disclosure as a sign that times are changing for the better. Labels don’t matter, they say; just be proud of who you are.

We are proud of Brittney Griner, for sure. One of the greatest women’s basketball players of all time plays on our team. But while part we’re in awe of her talent, her competitiveness and her honesty, we’re saddened by the way female athletes are marginalized. Her coming-out announcement should have been huge news, on par with those of Collins, Sam and Rogers. In her sport, she’s even bigger than they are. But it wasn’t. We’re not proud that female athletes — and lesbians — still have a long way to go.

Mercury Welcomes Brittney GrinerWe are also not proud that the Winter Olympics were held in Sochi earlier this year. Russia’s gay rights record is abysmal, and President Vladimir Putin didn’t even pretend to whitewash it. Instead, he warned gay visitors not to spread “gay propaganda.” We were not proud that governments and Olympic committees around the world did not raise more of a protest. We were not proud that none of the athletes, or their allies, raised a rainbow flag in protest. On the other hand, we should probably be proud that the Russians did not arrest, intimidate or even harass any LGBT folks. Small victories and all that.

But that was winter. With the summer, and Gay Pride Week in Dallas last week, Pride has been busting out all over. Yet with all we have to be proud of, the most Pride-worthy folks are the men and women (and boys and girls) who are out and proud as college and high school athletes. They don’t get nearly as much attention as the Jason Collinses, Michael Sams and Robbie Rogerses. But they are our true, and very prideful, champions.

— Dan Woog and Arnold Wayne Jones

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

‘Rocky Horror’ review review: Mary L. Clark responds

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Yesterday afternoon (Tuesday, Sept. 23), Dallas Voice’s executive editor of life+style, Arnold Wayne Jones, posted this blog criticizing this review, by Mary L. Clark, associate critic for John Garcia’s The Column, of Dallas Theater Center‘s current production of The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Arnold’s blog obviously generated a lot of discussion. It has, as I write this, been “tweeted” nine times and “shared” or “liked” on Facebook 401 times. I was out of the office taking photos of Gay World Series opening day games, so I missed the uproar. But I heard about it this morning.

In my email was a response from Mary L. Clark. I read that, then I started reading Arnold’s review of the DTC production and then his post criticizing Mary Clark’s review. Then I got a call from John Garcia. I don’t think he was satisfied with my response because I didn’t agree to delete Arnold’s blog about Mary Clark’s review. What I am going to do, though, is post Mary Clark’s email here on our blog — find it below — and give folks the chance to see what she had to say. I think that’s fair.

And also in the interest of fairness, let me say these two things: I believe that some of the language to which Arnold objected has been changed in Mary Clark’s review posted online at The Column. And John Garcia stressed that some of the language to which Arnold objected — including the word “lifestyle”—  were, in fact, direct quotes from the production’s director, Joel Ferrell, that Mary Clark found in an interview with him elsewhere.

On a personal note, let me say this: I would not EVER presume to critique a theatrical performance or a movie or a restaurant or a theater/movie/restaurant critic. I would totally suck at that. I mean, I loved Sharknado and potato chips and some beef jerky from the corner convenience store are my idea of fine dining. So I don’t feel comfortable criticizing either Mary Clark’s review of the show, Arnold Wayne Jones’ review of the show or of Mary Clark’s review, nor do I feel qualified to comment on John Garcia’s complaint that it is unheard of for one critic to so publicly criticize another’s work.

Here is Mary L. Clark’s response:

Hey Arnold, I got home late yesterday evening and had a call concerning your commentary on DallasVoice.com and the comments posted afterward. Was surprised to say the least and thought it a good idea to go over some things.

First, I didn’t know you read any of The Column’s reviews, so thank you for reading mine. Yes, I am a true Mrs. Malaprop — I did mean “free love” — thanks for the correction.

As for culling from Wikipedia, well not really, but facts are facts. I read several articles on The Rocky Horror Show and, as you read our reviews, you’ve certainly noticed they often include the history of a play or musical as our readers appreciate some background on a piece.

That you didn’t like my writing style, I can’t help you there. We all have our own opinions and I thank you for yours. You wrote your review on the basis of being a gay man and I wrote mine on the basis of not seeing any labels at all.

Apologies to Foe Destroyer — I have a friend named Zoe, and even after proofing three times, the word just went by me. Even you made the same error Arnold, and that’s all it was, a human error.

But now, to the real reason you wrote your commentary, my using the words “lifestyle” and “choice”.

I can see where you would think I meant being gay is a choice. Of course it’s not.

No, the word “choice” refers to being open to one’s beliefs, sexuality, or anything. The word lifestyle is defined as “the habits, attitudes, tastes, moral standards, etc. that together constitute the mode of living of an individual or group”.

To choose to live your life openly as a gay person is a lifestyle, and that is how I used it. Throughout my adult life I’ve heard many friends and others who are gay talk of it being their lifestyle. I cannot be sorry, as that means that I was at fault. I can, however, apologize if my choice of the words offended you.

The information I got on Joel Ferrell’s vision and choices in directing the musical came from an interview in another magazine where he says, “… we’re going to work to confuse you on gender identity as much and in as many ways as we possibly can”.

Me saying, “I never thought about gender equality when seeing Rocky Horror” means just that. In the 20+ times I’ve watched the film, never once did I view it as a banner for homosexuality. I saw it as a crazy, fun movie about people who weren’t afraid to be who they wanted to be and reveled in their differences. Early college days and being in theatre is a great time to learn about that!

Arnold, you forgot to include that my statement “don’t be worried you are going to be pro-gay rallied or asked to make any choices other than to have a really good time” came AFTER I wrote about the film, and now musical, not offending me, and that we see wilder things on TV, in video games and in magazines. But after my description of the characters, the costumes, and some of the scenes, I did not want our readers to think DTC is rallying around homosexuality any more than they are rallying around heterosexuality . . . and isn’t that the point after all, and what Ferrell was after, to blur the lines?

And here is a good place to note that only you used the phrase “catch gay”. I found it interesting that so many of people that commented jumped on the same phrase, the phrase only you used.

I’m not upset about your commentary. Thank god for free speech. What made me sad, though, were comments made by several people I met after the musical. I’m disappointed that my true self and my beliefs were not reflected in all the fun we were having talking about the show, the clothes everyone was wearing, and the audience reactions. That they met me, hopefully formed some opinion of me, but then made inaccurate decisions about me based on your commentary is truly the saddest part of it all. Oh, what the power of speech can do indeed.

Regards to all,

Mary L Clark

(And yes, Kent Boyer, I worked for Dallas Voice, mainly writing theatre reviews and one huge feature article on being a production assistant for the JFK film while here. So that would be around 1988 – 1990.)

—  Tammye Nash

REVIEW: DTC’s anything-but-rocky, definitely-not-a-horror ‘Show’

Frank (Dan Domenech) and Rocky (Justin Labosco) put on quite a ‘Show.’ Photo by Karen Almond

I have a confession: I was a gay man long before I ever saw The Rocky Horror Show in any of its incarnations, and I intend to remain that way despite the best efforts of The Bachelor. Still, seeing the Dallas Theater Center’s full-on erection of Richard O’Brien’s puzzling, explosive cult classic did not make me more gay … as if that were possible. It’s a musical for people who don’t think of it as musical, a rock opera for those who couldn’t care less about pop music, a drag show for those who don’t know what drag is and a spoof of a genre without a huge following. The Rocky Horror Show is theatrical tofu: All things to all people, if can be almost anything you want it to be.

Except safe. At least, not the way director Joel Ferrell and his team of collaborators at the DTC have turned out this oddly entrenched stage granddaddy, now more than 40 years old but still as relevant (and buoyantly irrelevant) as a piece of witty entertainment can be. The plot — eh; I guess you’d call it that — is about a cross-dressing weirdo with the unlikely name Frank-N-Furter (Dan Domenech) who presides over strange biogenetic engineering that allows him to “create” the perfect mate: a four-percent-body-fat muscle-twink with the haircut of Melchor from Spring Awakening named Rocky (Justin Labosco). Witnesses to all this Tesla-coiled madness are chaste sweethearts Brad (“Asshole!”) and Janet (“Slut!”), played with a look of Wonder Bread by Alex Organ and Morgan Mabry Mason. The sleight-of-hand of the show is: It parodies ’50s-era sci-fi films while undercutting them with the sense of sexual desperation and reckless abandon that you know the actors playing these roles 60 years ago wished they could have imparted.

The intent aside, Rocky Horror has never made clear exactly what universe its spoofiness comes from (though, perhaps, the galaxy of Transylvania). The opening number, “Science Fiction Double Feature,” is a precious “list” song, mentioning old movies like Forbidden Planet, Flash Gordon and The Invisible Man, but the artistic antecedents end there. It has more in common with Kinky Boots than The Day of the Triffids. It’s a musical mashup of the LSD-fueled variety, a trippy, extravagantly tasteless exercise in campy excess. You either get it or you don’t.

I get it — even though I was never one of the teens who traipsed to the mall at midnight on Saturday to throw toast at the screen dressed in fishnets and guyliner. Actually, a lot of the audience members on opening night at the Wyly did just that, and if you had a seat where you could spy the faces of season ticketholders as well as the onstage action, you could tell who was into it and who was flummoxed. Some didn’t get it. But no one was bored.

That’s because Ferrell & Co. have turned a frothy bit of energetic ribaldry into something more resembling a BDSM fashion show. It’s dark and Goth, with Andy Warhol-esque excesses and the punk sensibility of a rave at CBGB, but without the hepatitis and tainted X. The music is provided by the band Zoe Destroyer, in costume and as essential to the show as the actors. Transylvanians dangle from the rafter while a parade of side-show wannabes in Lederhosen, leather and high heels strut around, doing the “Time Warp” while key audience members shout back lines at them. The actors occasional shout back or are caught smiling like Harvey Korman in a sketch with Tim Conway. It’s all very fun. It’s all very funny.

And endlessly entertaining. Heck, you can even buy a goodie bag filled with the accoutrements of interaction — toilet paper, water pistols — to feel like you’re in high school again.

The singing and acting (more about enthusiasm than character development, to be honest) dazzle as the show’s music-box-on-speed style keeps everything moving along like a runaway train. Domenech doesn’t make his entrance until midway into Act 1, and the jolt of electricity he brings almost makes you forget about the plot involving Brad (“Asshole!”) and Janet (“Slut!”), but don’t worry — they take focus back.

Walter Lee Cunningham’s androgynous Columbia is a sly casting choice (it does make Frank seem even gayer) and J. Brent Alford’s Masterpiece Theatre diction turns the role of the narrator into a Stephen Colbert-ish collaborator in the faux duplicity. It’s all raucous and sexy and un-self-censoring — a play that lost its superego when it realized there was fun to be had.

I walked away thinking more about the images — Chamblee Ferguson’s Douglas-Fairbanks-in-Bea-Arthur-drag version of Riff Raff, Liz Mikel’s butch take on Eddie, Mason’s Douglas Sirk-inspired bad girl, Jeremy Dumont’s surefootedness high-kicking in heels and a mane, Labosco’s … well, where do I start? — than the scenes. That makes sense. When you go to the circus, it’s not what ring the acts performed in but the amazement they left you with that matters.

Through Oct. 12.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

An appalling ‘review’ of ‘Rocky Horror’ (not mine)

DTC's-The-Rocky-Horror-Show

Rest assured: Seeing this play won’t make you gay … no matter what The Column says.

OK, I was gonna post my review this morning of Dallas Theater Center’s production of The Rocky Horror Show, but I decided to interrupt that plan to do something I never, ever do: Publicly call out another “review.” (Here’s my review.)

In the theater blog called The Column, Mary L. Clark reviewed the show … at least, that’s what they call it. The first quarter of the nearly 3,000 word piece is culled from Wikipedia, and after that, it delves into press releases and Playbill notes before, somewhere around paragraph 6, finally mentioning the current production.

All of this — and even such cringe-worthy malapropisms are referring to the “free sex generation” (she means, I assume, “free love” — everyone knows, sex is never free) — are tolerable. But as someone who directed my attention to this story pointed out, she refers to out director Joel Ferrell’s “lifestyle choice” being affected by the show.

Ummm…. what?

I really, really thought we had progressed past the point one’s innate sexual orientation was labeled — insultingly, ignorantly, regressively — as a “choice” and a “lifestyle.” She even concludes with this caveat: “I never thought about gender equality when seeing Rocky Horror. … Don’t be worried you are going to be pro-gay rallied or asked to make any choices other than to have a really good time.” OK, poor writing aside, this comes dangerously close to saying, “Rest assured: You can’t ‘catch gay’ watching this show.” It made me throw up a bit in my mouth.

(By the way: I loved the show. And it won’t make you gay anymore than watching Love, American Style as a kid made me straight.)

This weekend, a writer for the New York Times got vilified after referring to TV showrunner Shonda Rhimes (Scandal, Grey’s Anatomy) as an “angry black woman.” At least she didn’t say being a black woman was a “choice” or a “lifestyle.” I guess we still have a long way to go.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Turtle Creek Chorale singing National Anthem at World Series opening ceremonies

world-seriesThe Gay Softball World Series begins today — we have coverage of it here — and the opening ceremonies, already set to have Dale Hansen on hand, will start off with the National Anthem being sung by the Turtle Creek Chorale.

The opening ceremonies will be at Annette Strauss  Square, adjacent to the Winspear Opera House, Sept. 22 from 5:30–9:30 p.m. About 3,000 attendees are expected.

We haven’t heard much from the Chorale since the resignation last spring of artistic director Trey Jacobs, other than the appointment of interim director Sean Baugh. This will be the first public performance from the group since June. The next will be Oct. 17 at the Latino Cultural Center, before the Christmas concert series in December.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Get your collectible Dallas Voice Pride Edition — 3 covers to choose from!

Cover1Cover2Cover3

Here at Dallas Voice, we’ve done something for Pride Weekend we’ve never done before: We are offering readers three versions of the Voice to read in one week.

Now, the content inside is the same. There’s coverage of the upcoming Gay Softball World Series, a calendar of Pride events to take you through the fall, some thought-provoking opinion pieces, telling interviews with musicians Andy Butler and Jennifer Hudson as well as a piece on how Stoli is making a push into the gay market again following its Olympics disaster.

But on the outside? Three different full-color glossy covers reflecting three sides of Pride. Check them all out! Thanks for your support, and Happy Pride!

 

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Cocktail Friday: Vodka drinks for Pride!

Stolichnaya vodka has swung back from a public relations disaster to spirited sponsor of Dallas Pride events from Razzle Dazzle to Black Tie to this weekend’s parade. (We have a story about it in this week’d edition.) They have a few recipes they’ve shared with us. Cheers!

RazLemonade

Stoli Raz Lemonade

One of a handful of flavored vodkas in the Stoli stable, the Razberi adds a fruity flavor with a kick.

1 part Stoli Razberi

2 parts favorite lemonade

Fresh raspberries and mint to garnish

Making it: Muddle fresh raspberries and mint (or simply add to a skewer). Pour in vodka and lemonade. Shake well. Pour into a tall tumbler over ice.

Stoli O Rouge

A citrusy take on a Cape Cod.

1 part Stoli Oranj

1 part cranberry juice

Club soda

Orange slice.

Making it: Shake equal portions of vodka and cranberry. Pour into a highball glass. Splash with club soda. Garnish with an orange wheel.

Mule

Moscow Mule

The popular Moscow Mule gets a real kick from Moscow with this creation, which includes an all-new Stoli-brand ginger beer.

1 part Stoli Elit

2 parts Stoli ginger beer

Lime

Making it: Squeeze lime into a copper cup with ice. Pour over vodka and top with ginger beer. Still. Garnish with lime wedges.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Adam Medrano judges Dallas Salsa Fest

SalsaLast night, I went to the Underpass Tavern in Deep Ellum to watch three folks — food journalist Teresa Gubbins, city councilmember Adam Medrano and occasional Voice contributor Jose Ralat — woof down 28 different salsas in categories from “mild” to “green” to “exotic” (bacon salsa!) to “hot.” I shadow-tasted, picking my own fave among the contenders. Which ones won? Well, you’ll have to go back on Saturday night from 7–10 p.m. to learn, but you can also enjoy the salsas on your own.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Dallas Voice contributor launches Kickstarter campaign

This could be you!

If you’ve read Dallas Voice’s print edition over the last seven years or so, you’ve certainly noticed the work of our regular illustrator, Mark Stokes. Mark draws the Sketches we publish — his latest will be out tomorrow — for what we headline Drawing Dallas. But the work he does for us isn’t all Mark does artistically. He’s also written a comic strip called Zombie Boy. And he’d like to share his creations with a wider audience.

So this week, Mark launched a Kickstarter campaign in order to publish a compilation of his first 200 strips in book form. To get the book published, he only needs about $7,000 and he’s already about $2,000 on his way. As with most Kickstarted campaigns, there are perks to pledging, from a copy and a “thank-you” (by name) printed in the acknowledgements of the book (just 10 bucks!) to original art and having yourself cartoonized as a character in Zombie Boy.

We like Mark around here for his skills and creativity, and you can become a part of it as well. Considering contributing! But hurry up — the campaign has 26 days left, and if he doesn’t raise everything he’s looking for, he gets no pledges!

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

DIFFA donates $428k to HIV nonprofits

DIFFA Grant 2014-076

DIFFA/Dallas awarded $428,000 to HIV/AIDS organizations — include $330,000 18 to North Texas-based groups — at a party on Sept. 11 at Roche Bobois. Among the recipients of funds from the 2013-14 DIFFA season were AIDS Arms, AIDS Interfaith Network, AIDS Services of Dallas, Bryan’s House, Legacy Counseling Center, Legal Hospice, Resource Center and The Greg Dollgener Memorial AIDS Fund.

The 2014-15 season kicks off with Burgers & Burgundy on Oct. 3, followed quickly on Oct. 15 with an announcement party revealing this year’s Style Council ambassadors. Clint Bradley is once again the chairman of DIFFA/Dallas, and the spring Collection will return to the Omni Dallas Hotel.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones