Cassie and her ‘Freaks’ make Christmas merrier for Sam Houston students


Let’s hear it for Cassie Nova and her cast of fellow freaks who raised more than $7,000 for the students of Sam Houston Elementary School with the second annual “Cassie’s Freakmas Christmas Show” on Monday night, Dec. 5, at JR.’s Bar and Grill.

The record-setting total happened thanks to donations from Caven customers and local businesses — including a $5,000 check from Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban to cap off the evening.

Caven Enterprises, JR.’s parent company, adopted Sam Houston Elementary School, the poorest school in the Dallas Independent School District, more than 20 years ago. During those 20-plus years, Caven and its employees have been able, thanks to the generosity of the LGBT community and businesses who donate, to provide money to help with the school’s fall and spring carnivals, the Reading is Fundamental program, field trips and the annual Secret Santa program.

Thanks to the Caven Secret Santas, each child at Sam Houston Elementary receives a gift of their choosing, a goody bag full of fresh fruit and other snacks and some special surprises. The program also brings Santa in to visit each class, and it provides every teacher and faculty member with a gift card, too.

“I have to say that last night’s Freakmas Show was a huge success,” Cassie wrote this morning (Tuesday, Dec. 6) on her Facebook page. “We raised $2,265, and then at the end of the show Chad Mantooth handed me a check from the very generous Mark Cuban for $5,000 [for a] grand total of $7,265.

“I am so proud of last night and want to thank all of my girls that performed. It was an amazing show,” Cassie added. “Thank you to anyone that bought a raffle ticket. Thank you to anyone that donated any of our fabulous prizes.”

She also thanked audience members who showed up in their “cutest onesies,” and the “JR.’s crew.”

Among the local businesses and organizations donating prizes to be raffled off were Street’s Fine Chicken, Ojeda’s, Cedar Grove, Hard Rock Cafe, Hash House A-Go-Go, Hollywood Feed, Italia Express, Original Market Diner, Spunk Lube, Hair Today Gone Tomorrow, Toni & Guy, 18th and Vine Barbecue, Vertigo 12, ATT Performing Arts Center, Dallas Summer Musicals, Uptown Players and North Haven Gardens. More than 15 entertainers also donated their time and tips to effort.

“I want every child that goes to that school to wake up on Christmas morning with at least one present under the tree,” Cassie said.

—  Tammye Nash

Review: ‘Elf The Musical’

Networks--Elf (Boise)     011 copyThe Will Ferrell movie comedy Elf is a shortish, silly, but frequently funny trifle about a human, raised at the North Pole, who returns to civilization to see out his father and bring the Christmas spirit to a cynical world. It’s a corny story, made palatable by Ferrell’s guileless performance as a 30-year-old man still captivated by the ridiculously of the holidays.

I went into the stage musical, now at Fair Park, with a fair degree of skepticism. Elf-the-movie rested on Ferrell’s shoulders; how would Elf The Musical fare without him? Actually, quite well. Unlike the disappointing slate of other recent stage adaptations of Christmas movies (White Christmas, A Christmas Story), Elf maintains the perfect amount of whimsy, buoyed by Daniel Patrick Smith’s infectiously joyous performance as Buddy, the puppy-dogish pest with a heart of candycanes.

The book, by Bob Martin (The Drowsy Chaperone), adds just the correct amount of knowing winks to the audience — about the inanity of the plot, of current society, even of musicals themselves (also a trait of Chaperone) — and the score, although not peppered with tons of memorable earworms, is jaunty and fun. It’s a delightful theatrical trifle, all warm-hearted energy and family-friendly messages.

Now through Sunday at Fair Park Music Hall.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Wednesday Wine Walk and holiday festivities on The Strip tonight


Santa has made it to Cedar Springs in years past. Maybe he will be there tonight for the CSMA’s Wine Walk.

If you are looking for a good way to get in the holiday spirit — while at the same time imbibing a few spirits — head down to Cedar Springs tonight for the Holidays on Cedar Springs Wine and Cider Walk, brought to you by the Cedar Springs Merchants Association.

The event starts at 6 p.m., and the DWF Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence will help out with the Christmas tree lighting ceremony at 7 p.m. There will be live entertainment on the patio at TMC: The Mining Co., including the Oak Lawn Band. Purchase your wine glass or mug from the tent in front of Salon Aura to enjoy the wine or hot cider offered by participating merchants, and get some of your Christmas shopping done by taking advantage of the Wine Walk discounts.

—  Tammye Nash

Christmas is another reminder I was switched at birth

4879419_f260[1]I was switched at birth. I’m certain of it, and each time I attend one of those torturous  rituals some people call family reunions, I become more convinced there is no possible way I could share any genes with the people who mysteriously share my last name. Nope. No way. Not even a shared ancestry as far removed as Adam and Eve. Impossible. And I don’t care if I do look like my mother. Jay Leno looks like Dudley Doright, but that doesn’t mean he’s related to a cartoon character.

I’ll share with you some of the happenings at the last Christmas gathering, and you’ll understand. It was a psychiatrist’s dream.

No one knew if Aunt Charlotte would be there because her wrestling match in Dallas was scheduled for the same day. She was pitted against Two Ton Tina, a frightening creature, but Aunt Charlotte was favored to win. Folks who follow the wrestling circuit, and there are a few, have nicknamed my aunt The Aztec Princess. Why, you ask? Because she has been known to try and rip out the beating hearts of her opponents. Grandma said Aunt Charlotte never did know how to play nice.

She finally did arrive, a couple of hours late, with her family, in tow.

“Where’s Emma?” I asked when I didn’t see her daughter with her. “Oh, she had to stay,” Aunt Charlotte explained. “If I had known she needed a travel permit to leave the county, I would have gotten it last week. But you know how those probation people are. I’m just worried we won’t get to take her to Disneyland for her 12th birthday next month.”

That would certainly be a sad thing, I agreed.

Aunt Tonie was already at Grandma’s holding court. When my mother arrived, it was all-out war between them to prove whose kids are the best looking, most successful, have the most hair — you name it. Aunt Tonie makes it a point to ask me when will I get married and have kids, noting all her children have committed themselves to that hallowed partnership. I tell her I would rather pass kidney stones the size of basketballs than get married, and she laughs and gives me that little pat people reserve for orphans and three-legged dogs.

“Well, it’s just that I don’t see you with any girls,” she said sadly. “You do like girls, don’t you, honey?”

Of course, I would be the only one in my family going bald. Aunt Tonie’s boys have more hair than all of Dolly Parton’s wigs put together, and I have to endure a stream of bald jokes from my cousins whose only contributions to society were when they got vasectomies. Aunt Tonie dotes on them and their no-neck children, addressing them as sweetie pie, pumpkin, angel and an assortment of other nauseating terms.

She slings around enough sugar to endanger any diabetic living nearby. I’ve thought about choking her, but that wouldn’t be a Christmassy thing to do, and, besides, Aunt Charlotte would be on me, and I’d be pinned to the floor before the water could get hot.

My sister, Donna, also was there with her husband, Bobby Wayne. Yes, she married one of those men whose first name is two words. Their child, a darling boy whose behavior would be tremendously improved by an exorcism, worked his way around the living room like the Tasmanian Devil. The little angel’s name is Buck. Yes, that’s what I said. Buck.

Buck is 5 years old, and his daddy, you remember Bobby Wayne, has him wearing ankle weights so his legs will develop the appropriate muscles to kick the you-know-what out of anyone who gives him any you-know-what. At least that’s what Buck told me, except he filled in the blanks. Donna thinks it’s “real cute,” but then she rides bulls as a hobby.

Now picture in this room an assortment of other aunts, uncles and cousins. Fifteen children under the age of 5 are running around kicking, fighting, spitting, tattling and wailing at a decibel people flying overhead at 30,000 feet can hear. My grandma retreats to the kitchen, mumbling something about why wasn’t the pill invented in the 1930s.

I’m right behind her, saying, “Grandma, Aunt Tonie’s being mean to me again. Did you hear what she said? Grandma, I like the sweater you gave Paul better than this one. Grandma, why do you have your head in the oven?”

—  Steve Ramos

WATCH: Gay hockey players go musical

The Chicago Gay Hockey Association warmed up the ice with their rendition of “All I Want For Christmas Is You.” Hunks who sing. We’ll take two, Santa.


—  Steve Ramos

Youth First Texas’ most popular event of the year, Thanksgiving dinner, is tonight

Thanksgiving dinner at Youth First Texas is usually the busiest day of the year at the agency serving LGBT youth.

The 13-year tradition takes place this year on Thursday, Nov. 15 — which is this evening — at the YFT center at 3918 Harry Hines Boulevard.

“Alumni, youth and volunteers come out the of the woodwork for it,” said YFT board President Chris-James Cognetta.

Doors open at 4 p.m. for food preparation. Dinner begins at about 6:30 p.m. and runs until close at 9:30 p.m. The dinner is free and is donated and cooked by volunteers.

“This may be the only Thanksgiving they have,” Cognetta said of the youth who attend.

He said a number of youth have aged out of the foster system and have no other family.

YFT is also looking for a volunteer to open the center on Thanksgiving night — Thursday, Nov. 22. (If you’re at least 25 and interested in volunteering call 214-879-0400 ext. 203.)

Cognetta said he also plans to have the center open at least part of the day on Christmas.

“Some of our youth get very depressed that day,” he said.

—  David Taffet

Santa vs. homophobes?

OK, so I know Christmas is over now— even if you celebrate all 12 days of it, Christmas is over. And I figure there are at least some folks who don’t want to hear another word about anything to do with Christmas for at least another 10 months.

But when I got an email this morning promoting a new book called Santa Claus Conquers the Homophobes, I decided that a little more Christmas would be ok. Because I had to find out what this was all about. Well, one of the things I quickly discovered is that Santa Claus Conquers the Homophobes is the second book in a series by fantasy/horror fiction writer Robert Devereaux. The first one is called Santa Steps Out: A Fairy Tale for Grown-Ups.

First, a little bit about Devereaux: He has written eight novels, one collection of works that includes a novella and several shorter works, and scads and scads of short fiction. His first novel, Deadweight, has been described by a critic as “Stephen King meets splatterpunk” and “American Psycho with a heart.” And goth horror writer Poppy Z. Bright — a trans man whose name is now Billy Martin and a writer whose works often include LGBT characters — said of Devereaux, “I wish I could hope to ever attain one-thousandth the perversity of Robert Devereaux’s toenail clippings.”

For someone like me who is a Poppy Brite fan, that is high praise indeed for Mr. Devereaux.

Then I started reading summaries of Devereaux’s Santa books, both of which are available on

Now, here’s the quick summary of Santa Steps Out: One day Santa starts remembering that in a past life he was the Greek god Pan, famous for his sexual powers. That leads him to revive his lusty ways, and he ends up having a fling with the Tooth Fairy, who apparently has also been involved with the Easter Bunny. I think that the Easter Bunny gets jealous and tattles to Mrs Claus and things end up with a big showdown between Mrs. Claus and the Easter Bunny.

Then there’s book two, Santa Conquers the Homophobes. In this one, Santa has a new step-daughter, Wendy, who can see the future of specific children, and share with them her visions of what’s to come. Santa and Wendy team up, with a little help from God the Father, to try and prevent the suicide of Jamie Stratton, a gay teen growing up in a homophobic environment who is bullied by homophobic classmates. Apparently, that effort includes Santa and Wendy visiting the bullies to try and get them to mend their bigoted ways, and also to eradicate homophobia entirely

Santa and Wendy also enlist the aid of the “persuasive” Easter Bunny to accomplish their goal, but the Tooth Fairy and her “loathsome imps” are on the other side of the battle, trying to keep Santa and Wendy from saving Jamie while also trying to make homophobia even worse than ever before.

OK. So those books both sound like something I would enjoy reading. And if the plot summaries weren’t enough to convince me, there’s the cover art for Santa Conquers the Homophobes, pictured above left, which depicts a hot, naked woman literally pooping gold. I think that may be the Tooth Fairy. Why are the hot girls who can poop gold always evil?

Anyway, both books are available at, and both books have downloadable Kindle versions. I think I’ll buy them and read them this weekend. If I do, I’ll let you know if you should read them, too.

But there’s one thing I am sure of, even before I read the books: This ain’t your grandma’s Santa Claus!

—  admin

BACH for the holidays …. and beyond

Volunteer Wanda Brown helps get ready for the Breakfast at Cathedral of Hope on Chirstmas Eve

I have been out of the office, on vacation, since Dec. 22, and when I got back to work today and started wading through the thousands of emails in my inbox, I found one from Hank Henley, asking if we could include some information in Dallas Voice about BACH, the weekly Breakfast At Cathedral of Hope program in which church volunteers prepare and serve breakfast to the homeless.

So I am including Hank’s write-up about BACH’s Christmas Eve event here on Instant Tea, just as he sent it to me:

Use the words “Bach” and “cathedral” in a sentence this time of year, and most people will picture the “Christmas Cantata” or “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring.” But at a certain church in Dallas, BACH stands for “Breakfast at the Cathedral of Hope,” a program that just celebrated its four-year anniversary in November. On Christmas Eve morning, while most of Dallas was nestled all snug in their beds, a small army of volunteers was in the kitchen at the Cathedral of Hope whipping up a hot and hearty breakfast for the homeless and needy that would be coming through their doors by 7:30 a.m. Under the direction of Rev. William Baldridge, Associate Pastor for Community Outreach, this weekly breakfast has grown from serving just 11 guests at the first meal to an average of 200 guests each Saturday morning.

And guests they are: receiving a hot meal served on china plates and with silverware and glasses. The guests may also receive a haircut after they eat, if they so chose.

This week, in addition to the usual food and drink, each guest received a bag with a blanket, hat, gloves, toiletries, water and food coupons. The gift bags were the result of the generous work of Jan Okerlund and Leslie Frye.

Leslie Frye, one of the volunteer coordinators, when asked how the volunteers feel about the work they do, said, “The real blessing is in the cooking for and serving those less fortunate, not only during this Season, but all year long.”

This Saturday’s volunteers included members of the church community of the Cathedral of Hope, members of the Turtle Creek Chorale and a group of 14 students from “I-CERV,” the “Ismaili Community Engaged in Responsible Volunteering.” They are here once a month, all year long. Kenneth Campbell, the Interfaith Services Director Volunteer Coordinator of the Memnosyne Foundation, brought these energetic and focused youth.

The Memnosyne Foundation is a wonderful organization whose mission is “to help a diverse people of the world consciously encourage an evolution of themselves and for future generations by providing the means to encourage positive, peaceful global collaboration.” The diverse crowd of leaders, volunteers and guests were certainly doing that on this morning.

And one guest, who guest shared his story quietly and privately with tears streaming down his face, personifies the spirit of sharing and giving. This time last year, he was on the street, living under a bridge and depending on the generosity of others to survive. He told me he could always count on a hot meal and being treated with respect when he came to BACH. This year, he is able to draw social security and is donating $25 a month to BACH. “They always fed me and helped me get through. Now I want to give back whatever I can. God blessed me and it’s what I want to do.”

Across the room, his hands deep in a bucket of soapy water, volunteer Jamie Rawson, spent the morning scraping plates and glasses, getting them ready for the dishwashers.

“There a few things a person can do which so clearly put Christmastime in perspective as doing something to help others. It is has been said so often as to become a cliché — but it is no less true for being a cliché. It is heart-warming to see so many people gathered to help provide for those in need. It is especially affirming to see so many young people from such a diversity of backgrounds. This has been the most fitting and rewarding way to truly start my Christmas.”

When the guests were finished with breakfast, finished visiting with friends and volunteers, finished with their haircut, and picked up their bag of supplies for warmth and comfort, they left the cathedral and headed back into the rain and the street.

As they left, Richard Boule greeted each of them and wished them a Merry Christmas.

“As I watched those people leaving the Cathedral after breakfast this morning, I could not help wondering where they were going and what each one of them had to look forward to this Christmas time. But I had the feeling that they were grateful for the humanity they were shown, so many left with a smile. May they be blessed.”

If you would like to help with BACH, please call Rev. Baldridge at the Cathedral of Hope at 214-351-1901.

You can see more photos from the Christmas Eve Breakfast at Cathedral of Hope after the jump.

—  admin

Twelfth Night celebration is in the pink

In the liturgical calendar of the Christian church twelfth night is the last day of the Christmas season. (Remember the 12 days of Christmas? They start on December 24 and end December 5) Twelfth night also kicks off the carnival season that culminates in the celebration of Mardi Gras. The Krewe of Olympus, Houston’s own predominately gay Mardi Gras Krewe, welcomes the season in style with “Pretty in Pink:” a twelfth night fundraiser benefiting the Montrose Counseling Center. The festivities are Saturday night, January 7 (’cause who wants to party on a Thursday?) starting at 7 pm at the Counseling Center (401 Branard) and include traditional king cake as well as an open bar, hors d’oevres and a Mardi Gras mask auction. In keeping with the theme guests are invited to wear their best outfits in shades of pink (be it blush or bashful).

The Krewe of Olympus started in New Orleans in 1970 before moving to Houston. According to their website:

We are one of the largest predominately gay Krewes in the United States, although our membership is open to all. Our principal aims are to present theatrical and educational events that perpetuate and continue Mardi Gras traditions and to raise money for community charities. Since moving to Texas, we’ve donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to Houston and Dallas Charitable Organizations. We are a 501(c)(3) non profit organization.

Tickets for the event are $35 and are available at the door.

—  admin

Merry Christmas and happy holidays from Dallas Voice

We wish you…

—  Rich Lopez