Spirit of Giving: Linze Serrell’s Toys for Tots Show

EDITOR’S NOTE: As the holiday season kicks into high gear, the LGBT community of North Texas once again is responding in a variety of ways to help out those who are less fortunate.

This week Dallas Voice profiles five events intended to raise funds or other donations for a number of different causes. But the community’s good will doesn’t end with these events.

If you know of an individual, business or organization that is holding or participating in a charitable holiday event or effort, email the information to editor@dallasvoice.com.

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Linze-Serrell

Linze Serrell

Saturday night, Dec. 10, Garlow’s in Gun Barrel City will play host to Linze Serrell’s annual Toys for Tots fundraising show, to gather donations of cash and toys for the U.S. Marines’ Toys for Tots program.

Brian Paris, show director at Garlow’s, said that this is the second holiday season since the bar opened, and the second year that the club has hosted the event.

Paris explained that the annual Toys for Tots benefit show was started more than 25 years ago by Bill Lindsey, known across the Metroplex as Linze Serrell, a female impersonator who sings live and focuses his efforts on charitable events.

“This is Linze’s baby, her pet project, on top of everything else that [Lindsey and his partner Michael Champion, aka Sable Alexander] do,” Paris said.

For Lindsey, the annual show is a way to give back and say thanks for the blessings in his own life.

“My mom was a single mom who worked three jobs. There were times growing up that we wouldn’t have had Christmas without the support of the church and organizations like Toys for Tots,” he said. “I know what it feels like to be without, and I want to do something to make sure other kids don’t have to go without.”

Despite a recent stroke, Lindsey said he would definitely attend the event at Garlow’s. “I’d have to be six feet under not to be at this show! And even then, they’d dig me up and put me in the corner! I even plan on singing a song in the show.”

Paris said the show will be “really just a regular drag show,” except that all the performers are donating their time and all the tips go to help buy toys for Toys for Tots.

“Last year, we had a stage full of people participating, and we raised about $2,000. And we had a lot of fun doing it. And all the people participating do it on their own dime. No one receives a penny of compensation.

“These entertainers, we all travel thousands of miles each year, whether it’s to participate in a pageant system for the Home for the Holidays [a program that raises funds to send people with HIV/AIDS home]. But there is nothing in this show that has any personal benefit for the performers, in terms of winning a title or anything. They just do it for the fun of it and for the chance to make Christmas a little bit better for some children who might not have had Christmas otherwise.”

He said that this show is also the only time that Garlow’s ever charges a cover charge, and that the suggested donation of $5 or a new, unwrapped toy at the door will also go into the Toys for Tots total.

But Paris said he knows that a trip to Gun Barrel to attend the show may be out of the question for some. “If someone wants to help but can’t make it down here to Gun Barrel City, then they should find someone where they are who needs help,” he said. “It doesn’t even have to be doing something for kids.

There are lots of people in nursing homes who need a hug. Just go and sit and spend some time with someone who needs your company.”

Linze Serrell’s annual Toys for Tots benefit show begins at 10 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 10, at Garlow’s, 308 E. Main St. in Gun Barrel City.

— Tammye Nash

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 2, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Resounding Harmony performance benefits Make-A-Wish Foundation

Rene Syler to narrate stories of children whose wishes have been granted in ‘Wishes from the Heart’

Syler.Rene

Rene Syler

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

Resounding Harmony presents its first concert of the season on Nov. 22, called Wishes from the Heart, to benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

The Make-A-Wish Foundation works to grant the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions, and through its chapters around the country has granted some 250,000 such wishes since it was founded in Phoenix in 1980.

Resounding Harmony Artistic Director Russ Reiger said the benefit show was birthed out of the chorus’ admiration for the foundation.

“We held our retreat at the Make-A-Wish facility and it’s a magical place,” he said.

Resounding Harmony Board Chair Mark Knight said that children’s wishes are divided into categories: “I want to go…,” “I want to be…,” “I want to do…” and “I want to have… .”

So Resounding Harmony used that as a structure for the concert, basing the program on the idea of children being taken into the wishing tower.

Narrator Rene Syler will introduce some children whose wishes have been granted and tell a number of their stories. Syler is the author of the book Good Enough Mother.

Before moving to New York to host The Early Show on CBS, Syler was known to North Texas audiences as anchor of the Channel 11 news in Dallas. While in Dallas, she was active in fundraising activities for Resource Center Dallas.

Syler has worked with Resounding Harmony before. She narrated the 10th anniversary production of Sing for the Cure in Dallas and at Carnegie Hall in New York.

“I love Resounding Harmony,” Syler said. “Any time I can pair with them and a great group like Make-A-Wish, I’m glad to come to Dallas.”

She said she’d be doing some things on her website, GoodEnoughMother.com, before and after the concert to promote Make-A-Wish and hopefully raise additional funds for the organization.

“Rene is an old friend and we were thrilled she said she’d come,” Rieger said.

Rieger said that many of the songs during the concert will revolve around the wishes that have been granted.

“‘New York, New York’ is associated with one wish-kid’s story,” he said.

Resounding Harmony will also perform ‘Joyful, Joyful’ from Sister Act, ‘You’ve Got a Friend Indeed’ from Toy Story and ‘Out of My Dreams’ from Oklahoma.

“The first act will end with a gospel roof raiser,” he said.

Sheran Keyton, a popular Fort Worth singer, will be the guest soloist. Keyton appeared in Casa Manana’s production of Hairspray this summer.

Artwork from some of the Make-A-Wish kids will be for sale in the Meyerson lobby.

“One special piece created just for the concert will be auctioned during the show,” Knight said.

This is Rieger’s first full season with Resounding Harmony. He joined the chorus last year for the June concert after founding Artistic Director Tim Seelig moved to California to head the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus.

Rieger said money raised at the concert would be distributed in December at an end-of-year celebration.

Each Resounding Harmony concert benefits a community organization. Proceeds from the spring concert Songs for the Heart will support the Dallas-based American Heart Association. Next season’s beneficiaries will be announced at the upcoming November concert.

On Saturday, Nov. 12, Resounding Harmony will also perform for the second time at Cancer Support Community, formerly known as Gilda’s Club, for its annual service of remembrance.

Resounding Harmony at Meyerson Symphony Center, 2301 Flora St. 8 p.m. $25–40. ResoundingHarmony.org.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 11, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

PHOTOS: Christian music duo (and partners) Jason & deMarco Saturday at MCC

I don’ t know how this show snuck in, but I found out about it late last week. Fortunately, one of our photographers got out to the show and snapped a few pics of the night.

The gay Christian pop duo Jason and deMarco came to Dallas for a benefit show Saturday at the Metropolitan Community Church in Carrollton. They headlined a night that also included Ray Norris, Buddy Shanahan and Kim Wisdom among others. The show was a fundraiser for AIDS Interfaith Network.

“Every dollar raised from the concert will go directly to help homeless clients with HIV/AIDS,” said Steven Pace, executive director of AIN. “We are so grateful to MCC-GD for their unwavering support.”

View more of Eric Scott Dickson’s photos from the event after the jump.

—  Rich Lopez

Rockin’ bowl

Super Bowl weekend brings more than athletes to town — like, gay musicians

concert-2-1For those music fans who aren’t quite sports fans, the Super Bowl may not seem like such a big deal (unless you want to find a parking space in Arlington that weekend). But don’t worry — the biggest football weekend of the year has just as much for you.

A slew of big-name artists will be in town performing throughout the Metroplex that week; here’s a quick breakdown of some of the bigger shows on the calendar.

concert-2-2
SPORT TUNES | Cazwell, above, and The Village People, top left, bring gay flair to Super Bowl concerts while Prince adds royalty to the weekend.

The XLV Party at the Cotton Bowl spans three days and hits all the marks — even the gay ones. The lineup on Thursday, Feb. 3, is especially targeted to gay sports fans, with the Village People, Lady Bunny and Cazwell. Indie popsters Passion Pit perform a DJ set Friday, Feb. 4, and rockers Sublime headline the final party on Super Bowl Sunday. Visit XLVParty.com for more information.

DirectTV hosts its Celebrity Beach Bowl V on Feb. 6, turning Victory Park into a sandy oasis. After the celeb-game, pop rockers Maroon 5 perform a free post-game show. Visit DirectTV.com for more information.

The Pepsi Super Bowl Fan Jam hosts a random lineup at Verizon Theatre on Feb. 3. Duran Duran, Kid Rock and Jason Derulo offer a schizophrenic roster of music. Visit Ticketmaster .com to purchase tickets.

Headlining the benefit show theEvent, Prince brings his purple reign back to the old Reunion Arena site where he performed in 1984 — only this time, it’s in a big-ass tent complex. For $1,500, you can see him live and support the Goss-Michael Foundation, which provides scholarships for students pursuing the arts. Visit Twitter.com/theEventDallas for more information.

— Rich Lopez

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition January 7, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Local briefs • 12.10.10

Minehart leaves Lone Star Ride after three years as event manager

Lone Star Ride Event Manager Dave Minehart has announced he will leave the ride at the end of this month. He has accepted a new position as development director for a nonprofit organization in his hometown, Iowa City, Iowa. He has been in Texas for the past 28 years but over the past seven, his goal has been to move closer to family.

Minehart participated in all 10 Lone Star Rides, the last three as event manager.

Laura Kerr is the incoming board chair. Co-chairs of the ride are John Tripp and Danny Simpson. Tripp co-chaired the ride this year and Simpson has been responsible for fundraising events outside the ride and participated in it for a number of years.

GAIN holding holiday social, taking up donations for Silver Star Room

GAIN, an organization for mature LGBT people, will hold its annual December Social Event Thursday, Dec. 16, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at Resource Center Dallas, 2701 Reagan St. Those attending are asked to bring canned food items and personal car items to donate to those at the Adult Protective Services Silver Star Rooms, a facility specifically for people over 65 who have been abused or neglected in their homes. A list of needed items is available online in the GAIN section at RCDallas.org.

GAIN is a program of Resource Center Dallas.

TGRA, UCLSE joining to host Hard Candy Christmas benefit

Texas Gay Rodeo Association of Dallas and the United Court of the Lone Star Empire will host the annual “Hard Candy Christmas” benefit show and auction Saturday, Dec. 11, at Dallas Eagle, 5740 Maple Ave. The evening begins with Christmas Cocktails at 6 p.m., followed by the show and auction at 7 p.m. MCs are Donna Dumae and Trisha Davis.

Broadway star Sam Harris performing benefit concert at CoH

Sam Harris will peform a benefit concert Sunday, Dec. 12, at 7 p.m. in the sanctuary at Cathedral of Hope to raise money for the church’s Interfaith Peace Chapel. Tickets are $20 and are available at the church. For information call 214-351-1901.

Consultant seeking LGBT coming out stories for upcoming anthology

Consultant Sonia Friedrich is looking for LGBT people to contribute their personal coming out stories to the anthology Coming Out: Personal stories that will make you smile, laugh, shudder and cry.

Ideally, stories should be between 300 and 1,500 words, with the maximum length being 3,000 words. Those who haven’t come out can also submit their stories on why they haven’t.

Stories will be edited and can be anonymous.

For more information or to submit a story please contact soniafriedrich@virginbroad- band.com.au.

Friends nightclub hosting ‘Toys for Tots’ benefit in Gun Barrel City

Friends Nightclub, 410 S. Gun Barrel Lane in Gun Barrel City, hosts “Reva’s and Rusty’s Annual Toys for Tots” benefit show Saturday, Dec. 11, beginning at 9 p.m.

The event is held in conjunction with the Family Resource Center and the Gun Barrel City police and fire departments and helps raise money and collect toys for underprivileged children in the Cedar Creek Lake area.

Suggested donation at the door is $5 or a new, unwrapped toys. Tips given to performers during the show will be used to purchase toys to donate as well.

Tarrant County Gay Pride Week holding membership meeting

The annual organizational meeting for Tarrant County Gay Pride Week Association will be held Sunday, Dec. 19, beginning at 3 p.m. at Best Friends Club, 2620 E. Lancaster Ave. in Fort Worth. Topics for discussion include closing out business for 2010, voting on new officers and advisory council members, proposed rules and regulation changes for 2011 and an overview of Prideevents planned for 2011.

The meeting is open to all interested people and everyone signed in at the meeting is eligible to vote. The Miss, Mr. and Ms. HoHoHo contest will be held at 8 p.m. that evening, also at Best Friends. Packets for anyone interested in competing are available at the bar.

Tickets on sale now for Women’s Chorus of Dallas concert at Wyly

Tickets are now available for The Women’s Chorus of Dallas’ first performance of its 22nd concert season, “Love & Light,” being held Sunday, Dec. 19, at 7 p.m. at AT&T Performing Arts Center’s Wyly Theater.

In addition to the children’s choir from Good Shepherd Episcopal School, the concert will also fearture Tony-Award winner Victoria Clark.

Tickets are on sale now from the AT&T Performing Arts Center. To charge by phone, call 214-880-0202 purchase tickets online at attpac.org. Tickets are also available for the after-party with Clark.

Johnson, West co-hosting town hall on upcoming legislative session

State Rep. Eric Johnson and state Sen. Royce West will co-host a Legislative Town Hall Meeting Tuesday, Dec. 14, beginning at 6:30 p.m. at Juanita J. Craft Recreation Center, 4500 Spring Ave.

The purpose of the meeting is to discuss the upcoming 82nd session of the Texas Legislature and how the two lawmakers will work together to address the issues facing their constituents. In particular, their remarks will focus on the process of drawing new Congressional and state legislative districts following the decennial United States Census and the impact of the Texas’ expected budget deficit on services provided by the state.

Following their remarks, the floor will be open for questions and comments.

Additionally, a representative from Baylor’s Diabetes Health and Wellness Institute will present information on community resources available to help fight diabetes. Juanita J. Craft Recreation Center is home to Baylor’s Diabetes Health and Wellness Institute.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 10, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens