Identity Festival today at Gexa

What’s your identity?

Identity Festival, the first-ever exclusively electronic music tour, hits the Big D including queer faves Hercules and Love Affair, pictured, the neo-disco project from New York backed by gay DJ Andy Butler. Steve Aoki, The Crystal Method and Nervo also perform at the all-day event.

DEETS: Gexa Energy Pavilion, 1818 First Ave. 1 p.m. $35. Ticketmaster.com..

—  Rich Lopez

Drawing Dallas

Texas native Zjon Roberts returns to his home state — hot (Van) Damme!

MARK STOKES  | Illustrator
mark@markdrawsfunny.com

Name and age: Zjon Roberts, 19

Spotted at: Buli

Virginia slim: With his sparkling eyes, lithe frame, and smooth gait, it’s hard to miss gorgeous Virgo, Zjon Roberts. Born in Fort Hood, Texas, Zjon spent most of his formative years in Virginia Beach, Va. A few months ago he followed some friends to Dallas and is now settling in and making Big D his new home.

This quiet, unassuming, brown-eyed beauty hails from a large family; his mother named him Zjon after her favorite actor, Jean-Claude Van Damme. His hobbies include music, dining (vegetarian dishes are a favorite), socializing and when the mood strikes, dancing (he can stop a room when he gyrates).

He enjoys an active social life here in his new hometown; and you may occasionally spot him at the Drama Room, and occasionally at the Tin Room. Wherever he goes you can be sure he won’t blend in with the crowd!

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 26, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

Mr. & Miss Big D Continental at the Brick

Pageant with a heart

This year’s Mr. and Miss Big D Continental isn’t just a pageant. The event will also offers proceeds from the night to the Resource Center of Dallas. Of course, it’s big bang for your buck. Check out the entertainment on hand for Sunday night. Impressive, huh? It’s gonna be like Draga-palooza up in the Brick house tonight.

DEETS: The Brick, 2525 Wycliff Ave. 8 p.m. $15. BigDContinental.com.


—  Rich Lopez

Road Trip: Zeb Atlas in San Antonio

Need a break from Big D? San Antonio might be your answer. That is if you’re into hunky porn stars. Zeb Atlas comes to Texas for a one-night stand at Bonham Exchange for the club’s 30th Anniversary. He gives two performances for the night. Although I’m never quite sure what porn stars perform outside of a camera not being present. But remember, Atlas is straight. He said so himself, so don’t go getting any wrong ideas. I mean, unless your wallet’s stacked, but just sayin’.

—  Rich Lopez

WATCH: Bob Mould on Fallon last night

If you were at the Big D Bear Dance this past spring, you got to bathe in the greatness that is Bob Mould. He’s one half of the Blowout DJ team that spun the tunes for all those grizzlies and polars and what not. But he’s more famous for his role in alt-rock bands Husker Du and (a personal fave) Sugar, as well as his solo career. On top of that, with all that he’s done in music in a variety of guises, he’s also the least affected music star I’ve ever had the privilege to chat with.

He tells all about his life in music and coming out in his brand new autobio See A Little Light: The Trail of Rage and Melody released just last week.

Anyway, he seemed to randomly appear last night on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. He and The Roots (Fallon’s house band) performed a cover of Sugar’s “If I Can’t Change Your Mind.” Mould has a husky voice to begin with, but I was bummed that he sounded a bit off yesternight.

—  Rich Lopez

Drawing Dallas

Cosmopolitan designer Douglas Allen is always a stranger, yet always at home

MARK STOKES  | Illustrator
mark@markdrawsfunny.com

Name and age: Douglas Allen, 48

Spotted at: Carlisle and Knight, walking his beagle, Belle

Occupation: Designer

Dallas is the landing pad for this world-traveling designer, who splits his time between the Big D, San Francisco, Chicago and London. This grey-topped quadragenarian certainly doesn’t blend in with his heavy black frames set against thick salt-and-pepper hair.

Born in Alabama, at 14 Douglas moved with his family to Saudi Arabia — the first leg of a life-long journey that has led him across the globe and back, and continues today. He speaks Arabic, French, Italian and a bit of Swedish. His trek continues next month, when he leaves for Cartagena, Colombia, where he’s designing a home interior. As soon as it gets hot, he’s off to London.

Definitely a character, for three months in London he only wore pajamas. “I threw a proper English summer jacket over them when I went out. I got some interesting looks.”

Grey hares: Inspired by Bugs Bunny, Douglas’ musical instrument of choice is a ukulele. He began playing on a whim. His favorite tunes include “Aba Daba Honeymoon” (a turn-of-the-century musical composed by Arthur Fields) and Hawaiian medleys.

Social currency: Douglas doesn’t take much of an interest in money, fancy clothes or the trappings of excess. He uses what he calls “social currency,” a value that is unquantifiable. With roots everywhere and friends scattered all over the far-flung corners of the world, Douglas says, “I’m always a stranger, yet always home.”

His philosophy: “There is only one person, one power, one life, and each of us is a finger puppet on a big hand. Don’t freak out over the journey or circumstance of your finger puppet identity because in reality you are the big hand. Accept 100 percent where you are. Don’t resist. Accept and let go. That is the only way forward and out.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition June 17, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

Ex-Dallas Star Sean Avery comes out for marriage equality — but Big D doesn’t make his gay list

While he was with the Dallas Stars in 2008-09, Sean Avery was quick to make gay friends in Big D and even took his teammates to a Nieman Marcus fashion show.

Now that Avery is with the New York Rangers, he’s gone a step further — speaking out in favor of marriage equality in the video above.

In an interview about the video with The New York Times, Avery doesn’t reference his brief, controversial stint in Dallas:

“The places I’ve played and lived the longest have been in West Hollywood, Calif., when I played for the L.A. Kings, and when I moved to New York, I lived in Chelsea for the first four years,” Avery said in a phone interview. “I certainly have been surrounded by the gay community. And living in New York and when you live in L.A., you certainly have a lot of gay friends.”

—  John Wright

TBRU XVI: Big D Bear Dance

—  Rich Lopez

Put your claws up

SMARTER THAN YOUR AVERAGE BEAR DANCE Mould, left, and Morel like to blowoff some energy with Blowoff — and being at a bear event only makes it better. (Photo courtesy Jeff Smith Photography)

Mixing dance tracks and rock, DJ team Blowoff serves the beats to the bears

RICH LOPEZ  | Staff Writer
lopez@dallasvoice.com

When the beat drops Friday night at the Big D Bear Dance, expect the furry men attending this year’s Texas Bear Round Up XVI to pack the dance floor tightly (the only way, actually). That’s because the beefy bearish tag team of Bob Mould and Rich Morel debut their popular event Blowoff in Dallas, merging rock and electronica. Oddly enough, they didn’t start out as the go-to guys for ursine events — but they sure fit in.

“We fit the demographic,” Morel laughs. “But really, it just sort of happened.”

“We became this music event that the bears found,” explains Mould. “They liked us and it was a natural fit. There was no adjusting that we made from just DJing initially, but I do think it’s more of a dance night than music night. I play less indie rock than I would.”

The team had met in music circles before, but teamed up in Washington, D.C., back in 2003 for their first gig together. Their musical philosophies merged nicely, but Mould had ulterior motives for the union: The party was really just a way for Mould to meet people in his new hometown.

“I didn’t have any friends and I just had this idea that if we threw a party, I’d meet more people,” Mould chuckles. “I made flyers and just started passing them around.”

What? Mould needs friends? This is the same guy who helmed such bands as Husker Du and Sugar. But he was alone in a new city, and did something about it.

“I knew Rich was there and we got together to write music,” he says. “But now it’s taken on this life of its own. We worked really hard at it and have taken chances with music by mixing rock and low-fi with electronica and progressive house. I think that has been setting us apart.”

The team credits some of their success to their sound. Their newer trance and vocal mixes are less hyper. Sometimes the chill lo-fi indie rock stuff doesn’t go over well, but bears especially those like Mould and Morel are willing to dance to their beat.

“We’re a bit audience specific,” Mould says, ”because people our age like to dance to it, too.”

Mould hasn’t left his rock roots behind. He’s recently performed surprise shows with the Foo Fighters at the request of Dave Grohl and appeared with Death Cab for Cutie’s Ben Gibbard onstage. Before he became an iconic beardaddy DJ, Mould was already an icon for a new generation of alt-rockers.

“It’s very flattering when they ask for me,” he says. “It’s nice to know people like them are influenced by my stuff. But really, we’re all storytellers, we reinterpret them and the stories get passed on. It’s the legacy of music.”

Mould’s own story will be put to print this summer when his autobiography, See a Little Light: A Trail of Rage and Melody, rolls off the presses.

“It was quite a trip to relive everything, “ he says. “Readers will see an interesting life. It’ll touches on public and private stuff, but no animals were harmed in the making of this book — except me. “

Where Mould ends with rock, Morel would seem to start with dance, but that’s not the case. Morel was kind of a rocker as well and applied his remixes to less dance driven bands like The Killers and The Doors. What Morel did find as that the space where they play is dependent on the tone and with bigger rooms (such as Station 4), certain records are just going to work better.

“Our goal is to get them there on the dancefloor,” Morel says. “Different stuff works, but really, you just can’t make everyone happy. At a certain point, it’s fine.”

Morel thinks what sets them apart, besides the music, is their set up. The team play in hour chunks, tag-teaming every 60 minutes. This gives them time to socialize and get a drink — and the mix-and-mingle contributes to their success.

“We strive for a friendly club experience,” Morel says. “We don’t have a separation from the crowd while playing.”

They’ve done bear events around the country including New York, Provincetown and Chicago, so Mould’s feeling confident that they will tap into the right musical nerve for this crop of Dallas bears.

“I’m planning on doing what I do best,” Mould says. “I hear this is one of the more fun bear events so I can’t wait. I’ll be staying Saturday night so I’ll get to hang out.”

But Mould lives in San Francisco now and Morel resides in D.C. So how do they get ready?

“We show up!” Morel laughs.

This article appeared on the Dallas Voice print edition March 18, 2011.

—  John Wright

Drawing Dallas

With interests ranging from science to hip-hop to cross-dressing, Anthony Ray is a study in diversity

MARK STOKES  | Illustrator
mark@markdrawsfunny.com

Name and age: Anthony Ray, 19

Spotted along: Buckner Boulevard and Military Parkway, Pleasant Grove

Occupation: Food industry; student

Nature and nurture: A lively and vivacious Aries, Anthony is the baby in his family, and made the courageous and life-changing decision to come out at 15. His nurturing nature, along with an interest in math and science, has lead Anthony to pursue a career as a medical assistant, for which he is currently studying. This Dallas native has spent his entire life in the Big D and loves to hip-hop dance and sing R&B.

Budding Drag Racer? Anthony is in touch with his feminine side and occasionally likes to dress in women’s clothes and paint his toenails. “I couldn’t wait to get out of my mama’s house to put on girl clothes.” His two best girlfriends, Trice and Red, support him fully, often helping him do his hair and providing fashion assistance.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition March 4, 2011.

—  John Wright