Celebration of Love Gala raises funds for Lesbian Health Initiative

The scooter's way cuter in pink, sorry Liz

The Lesbian Health Initiative of Houston is celebrating Valentine’s Day a little early with their Celebration of Love Gala Saturday, Feb. 11. at the Double Tree Hotel downtown (400 Dallas Street). The 10th annual gala is the 20-year-old organization’s major fundraiser of the year.

This year the gala features comedienne Susanne Westenhoefer, who claims to be the “first openly-gay comedian to appear on television” (yep, she was out before Ellen).  Dorothy Weston, co-founder and CEO of The Rose (a breast cancer prevention and treatment organization) will be honored  for her years of service. In addition the evening includes dinner, dancing, a silent auction and the raffling of a pink Vitacci 50cc Retro Scooter. LHI executive director Liz James is particularly excited about the raffle even if she didn’t quite get her way on the prize. “I wanted it to be a black scooter, as I’m a bit on the butch side,” said James, adding that more “femme” forces in the organization prevailed and a pink scooter was selected instead.

Regardless of the color of the scooter, the Celebration of Love Gala promises to be a fun filled night, not just for sapphic romantics, but for anyone looking for a valentine’s date night that supports a good cause. Tickets for the black tie affair start at $100 and can be purchased at lhihouston.org. Doors open at 6 pm.

—  admin

Takei, Aiken adding gay fabulosity to new “Celebrity Apprentice”

George Takei

I have sincerely admired George Takei ever since 2005 when he publicly came out as a gay man. And I have been a real fan for the last several months, ever since I “liked” his Facebook page and got the chance to see and appreciate his unique sense of humor.

But I am not a big enough fan to watch George in his new gig, because his new gig is being a cast member of the new season of Donald Trump‘s Celebrity Apprentice. And I hate Donald Trump and I hate Celebrity Apprentice way to much to ever watch the show, even for George T. I made myself a promise after listening to Trump’s “presidential campaign” tripe that I would never watch this show, because I never want to do anything that might even remotely put money in his bigoted pockets.

So, love ya George, but I just can’t watch that show.

There will be at least one other gay in the cast to keep George company: Clay Aiken of American Idol and Spamalot fame. And other “gay interest’ cast members are ’80s pop star Debbie Gibson and equal-opportunity-insult comedian Lisa Lampanelli.

I’m not gonna list the whole cast here. You can go over to FoxNews.com to get that (where, by the way, the describe Takei as “Star Wars actor George Takei”). Let it suffice to say that the cast does include Mafia princess Victoria Gotti and Twisted Sister frontman Dee Snider.

—  admin

DRAG you

Comedian/drag queen P.T. may look like Wendy Williams, but his message to queer youth is no gimmick

Drag-You
HOW YOU DOIN’? | P.T.’s spot-on impersonation of talk show host Wendy Williams got producers’ attention and could be a step toward the comedian’s dreams.

 

RICH LOPEZ  | Staff Writer
lopez@dallasvoice.com

Dallas drag queen P.T. has his sights set on one thing: The Wendy Williams Show. He has a good reason: His spot-on take on the talk show celeb was so successful, Williams’ own TV show took notice, asking him to produce a video of his work as her doing celebrity news. Now, he’s vying to be the first female impersonator on her show.

“That is my goal,” he says. “She’s had gay people on her show, but no drag.

I would love to be the first to sit with her for ‘Hot Topics.’”

P.T. just turned 50, but that doesn’t hold him back from big ambitions.

He’s worked the talk show circuit before, appearing on Maury Povich. His video made it to Williams’ producers, though was not selected. Still, he hopes to use this exposure as a springboard to get his message out.

“I’d love to do radio one day and report celebrity news,” he says. “I could still do it here in Dallas, but if the money and time are right, I’d move as well. I’d love to, even.”

People can see P.T. in action Thursday and Sunday nights at Havana. He’s been the headlining entertainment there for seven years with his sass intact. He threatens to read a queen if they get out of line during his show, but mostly, his act is sort of the Oprah of drag: When people walk out that door, he wants them to feel better inside and leave a bit more educated.

“My job is not to put someone down, but to make them feel good,” he says.

“I use my comedy for that as well as to encourage people to do unto others. I believe in that. And I will try to teach where I can. Every chance I get. So many younger folks just don’t know what gay Pride is about.”

If P.T. has one thing to say, it’s to know your history. And when it comes to Pride, he finds that much is getting lost as younger generations develop into the community. He won’t separate gay Pride from black Pride — which kicks off this weekend in Dallas — because to him it’s all the same: A struggle to be better.

“To see where we come from is to see how our rights developed,” he says.

“Kids don’t know where this Pride came from. Just because we have parties and parades, there’s a reason why I can be a drag queen or why [same-sex couples] can hold hands in public. There’s something to be grateful for.”

He knows Pride will always have the parties to go with it, but the spectacle of celebration, in his eyes, can’t overshadow the mere reason for Pride.

There’s history there, and P.T. wants to talk about it.

“I think it’s sad that some don’t know what Stonewall is,” he bemoans.

“When I went to New York, the first place I wanted to go was the Stonewall Inn — I needed to see that for myself. You only get what you fight for and you only fight for what you know about. We’re all in it for the same thing and we know it’s not gonna come to us easily.”

P.T. expounds on the history of black Pride in Dallas, crediting Ray Dyer as starting the celebration at the old club The Metro, now Club Elm and Pearl Street. This is also where the then-Lady P.T. started his work in Dallas, coming from Austin.

Initially, The Metro wasn’t a hotspot for drag, so he performed more as a host and entertainer, starting in 1994. That changed as Dyer saw the importance of it as well as the revenue it could bring. Lady P.T. was back on track, but it wasn’t until 2001 that he officially incorporated stand-up into his act — in and out of drag. He put in time at the Improv to hone his new skill, but it was also a sort of therapy.

“I had a tragic incident that made me look at life different,” he admits.

He doesn’t go into details over what changed his life so much. But that incident redefined his outlook on life. For P.T., he knows tomorrow doesn’t show up for everyone.

“If I did not have that wake up call, I wouldn’t be reaching for myself,” he says. “I see some gray hairs but life doesn’t feel different. This is the only time I get to do what I wanna do.”

He’s living proof of that. Fifty is a milestone birthday, but P.T. proves that no age is too old to still aim high. Only now, he has the wisdom to be patient.

“It took me about four years trying to get Wendy’s attention and she finally acknowledged me,” he says. “That told me not to give up.  Everybody deserves a chance.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 30, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Tig Notaro tonight at The Kessler

Get Notaro-ized with a few laughs

With a sense of humor so dry, you want to offer her a glass of water, out comedian Tig Notaro knows exactly what to say and how to say it to get a laugh. On her new and aptly named debut comedy disc Good One (Secretly Canadian), she touches on a variety of topics, ranging from Chastity Bono and Taylor Dayne to artificial insemination and babies taking showers.

Read the entire piece here.

DEETS: With Mark Agee. The Kessler, 1230 W. Davis St. Aug. 30. 7:30 p.m. $15. TheKessler.org

—  Rich Lopez

Weekly Best Bets • 07.15.11

Friday 07.15

FIT for a queen
The Festival of Independent Theaters (FIT) returns with an inspired schedule of shows including works by Steve Martin and David Mamet. We’re curious though about The Madness of Lady Bright with Larry Randolph, about an aging drag queen’s descent into madness.

DEETS: Bath House Cultural Center, 521 E. Lawther Drive. Through Aug. 6. $12–$16.
BathhouseCultural.com.

………………………..

Sunday 07.17

Walk this way
Not often do we get to see both men and women compete in drag pageants together, but Miss LifeWalk is different that way. Everyone can make a run for the tiara, but the goal is to raise funds for AIDS LifeWalk and the amazing things they do. But for real, these contestants are still gonna do all they can to snag the crown.

DEETS: Round-Up Saloon, 3912 Cedar Springs Road. 6 p.m.
AIDSLifeWalk.org/Miss-LifeWalk.

………………………..

Thursday 07.21

Givin’ up the Love
We don’t have to rely on Chelsea Lately or America’s Dumbest Criminals to get some Loni Love up in here. The comedian brings the laughs with her signature sass and we’re all the better for it.

DEETS: The Improv, 309 Curtis May Way, Arlington. Through July 24. $17–$20.
Improv.com.

—  Kevin Thomas

Starvoice • 06.03.11

By Jack Fertig

CELEBRITY BIRTHDAYjoan-rivers-pic

Joan Rivers turns 78 on Thursday. The comedian and TV show host seems to be more famous now for her plastic surgery than her punchlines. She scored a hit with the gays though, with her newest show The Fashion Police. She leads a panel of B-listers in catty talk about celebrity fashions and faux pas.

……………………

THIS WEEK

Mars in Taurus aspecting Eris in Aries cranks up competitive urges. Be open and flexible. Goals may need adjusting as conditions change.

……………………

GEMINI May 21-Jun 20
Your friends wear you down. Maybe you’re trying too hard to be the star of the party? Enjoy being on the sidelines now and then, or just take some time out. Your real friends will understand.

CANCER Jun 21-Jul 22
Friends and colleagues are eager to see you succeed, but they push you a little too hard. Keep an eye open to your larger goal, but the trick is still to stay focused on the job at hand.

LEO Jul 23-Aug 22
Use your indoor voice. The smart actor knows that whispers can get attention where screaming gets ignored. You will be noticed no matter what, but what do they see?

VIRGO Aug 23-Sep 22
Long, hard and deep is how you should think about sex. How does it serve in your life? To pursue satisfaction? To forge a deeper bond? The real question: How does it bring you home?

LIBRA Sep 23-Oct 22
You don’t win or keep a lover by being the best in bed. Open communication keeps love alive. Focus on the small details. Being the best mate you can be is not a competitive sport.

SCORPIO Oct 23-Nov 21
Pace yourself with your colleagues, don’t drag it out so far ahead that you pull the team efforts out of whack. Pushing too hard can also be bad for your health.

SAGITTARIUS Nov 22-Dec 20
Pushing too hard at sports or exercise is asking to get hurt. The trick in pushing for a personal best is to expand your limits, not to ignore them. Yes, even you have limits.

CAPRICORN Dec 21-Jan 19
Getting involved helps you clarify where you really belong in the world, what you’ve learned from elders to pass on to future generations, and what you could be doing for the kids.

AQUARIUS Jan 20-Feb 18
Arguments with your family help you plan better for your future. Don’t be shy about speaking up. Sibling rivalry can spur you to better work, but don’t let it affect you too deeply.

PISCES Feb 19-Mar 19
Spending and arguments get out of control. Old habits mire you down, interfering with your success. Keep a clear focus on your goals and act as if your next boss is watching you.

ARIES Mar 20-Apr 19
You make a lot or spend a lot. The competitive urge drags you either way and even making money is more strain than it’s worth. Work as hard as you reasonably can.

TAURUS Apr 20-May 20
It’s not easy being the strong, reliable one. All the more reason why you need to take care of yourself. Take a break. Relax. You’ll hold up better and accomplish more in the long run.

Jack Fertig can be reached at 415-864-8302 or Starjack.com

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition June 3, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

WATCH: Bisexual comedian Andy Dick rubs his last name against a Dallas man who’s suing him

OK, I’ve watched the video and other than being a major train wreck, I can’t quite see the altercation between Andy Dick’s cock and a patron at Trees. During Dick’s show last year, the bisexual comedian in pseudo-drag looks out of it as he pulls down his skirt and almost has his way with one Robert Tucker.

But I don’t think I can report this any better than Michael K did over at dlisted.

—  Rich Lopez

Rocca ages

WAIT, WAIT! DON’T TELL ME! | That nerdy comedian is Mo Rocca!

Need salt? Don’t ask Mo Rocca — but as the Texas vet gets older, he keeps getting better

RICH LOPEZ  | Staff Writer
lopez@dallasvoice.com

You know that man on CBS Sunday Morning who’s really funny and kind of nerdy? That panelist with the nasally voice on NPR’s Wait, Wait! Don’t Tell Me quiz show. The guy you can’t quite describe other than from the kinda geeky-gay vibe he puts out, but in the nicest way. That’s Mo Rocca.

He’s the face you might recognize but not be sure where from. Rocca is everywhere, whether he’s reporting newsy features for CBS in his special snarky way or adding to the fun on Wait, Wait (or maybe you recall him from the heyday of The Daily Show when he, Stephen Colbert and Steve Carell dominated the reports). Now he’s added to his resume as the host for Cooking Channel’s Food(ography) — perhaps the last show he thought he’d be on.

“I was approached to host this and seemed like an odd fit,” he says. “My only experience with cooking food at all is none. I don’t even have salt in my apartment. My kitchen is totally virgin territory. But I needed the work!”

What he didn’t want was to look a fool on camera — although he admits knowing nothing about cooking, he didn’t want to be put in the position of looking like he knew nothing. Instead, the show allows Rocca to use both his comic and journalistic talents to tell the stories of food and its history and how it becomes something else altogether.

“Food has become more the portal into discussing food and history and life. Getting through to people through the stomach because hopefully we all sit down to eat. This is my long way of saying I like talking about history and I get to do it through food.”

He’d dare to call it the best show he’s worked for … this coming from the guy with no salt.

“I went in for a paycheck and have fallen in love with it.”

Rocca juggles that gig using his shtick on the as-fun radio show Wait, Wait! Don’t Tell Me, which covers current topics with a rotating panel of guests (including fellow queermedian Paula Poundstone) as they test their knowledge with hilarious results.

“Oh, it’s both fun and easy,” he says. “I didn’t know the show because I don’t listen to radio, but I’m able to be funny because I don’t have to create the stuff. It’s there already.”

Which means less work for the clever comedian. With his wit, funny would seem to come as second nature. Instead, Rocca makes it sound oh-so-painful.

“Making something funny is hard work,” he says with breathy emphasis on the hard work. “If I do a piece for CBS Sunday Morning, it’s like crapping out a pineapple. It is so hard to get that thing out.  I think President Reagan used that term first.”

With NPR being in such hot water these days, Rocca didn’t pull out the whole pledge plea. He thinks NPR could actually go in a different direction with funding.

“I do feel badly about [the scrutiny] and it is tricky,” he says. “This is a great product, but if it’s so great then why do we need taxpayer money? I am reluctant to say that, but the reality of it is, it sure would be a whole lot more convenient. But if we didn’t have NPR, the void would be filled by more opinion. And that’s just what we need!”

He jests of course.

Rocca will appear in North Texas Monday as part of the Dallas Museum of Art’s Arts and Letters Live series, but he’s no stranger to the area. His first job in television was here, writing and producing for the children’s show Wishbone. The gig was great, but he does have his regrets.

“I used to live in Plano,” he says. “It was such a mistake. I thought I needed to live near work and the studio was in Plano. You know, plano means flat in Spanish, and it was and there were all these McMansions… ugh.”

If only Rocca had gotten the show he really hoped for when he got there.

“Yeah, I didn’t get the gig at co-hosting Plano Tonight.”

He jests again — but who would put that past Plano?

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

—  John Wright

Hey, hey, hey, Paula

IN FOR A PAULA, IN FOR A POUNDSTONE | The queermedian plays the Majestic Theater Friday, Feb. 25.

After 30 years, comedian Paula Poundstone still keeps ’em rolling in the aisles

ARNOLD WAYNE JONES | Life+Style Editor
jones@dallasvoice.com

Paula Poundstone celebrates her middlebrow tastes. It’s probably what has kept her a popular comedian for more than 30 years. While others have crashed and burned with edgy, sometimes alienating humor, Poundstone represents the everyman. Or everywoman.

Take, for instance, that quintessential high-brow cultural undertaking: The opera.

“Just talking to you is the closest I’ve ever been to the opera,” Poundstone says on the phone from her home. “I’m glad it’s there and I feel uplifted by knowing someone likes it, but have no interest in it myself. Like, I find it sad to see a folk art museum close down, but will I go to a folk art museum? I will not. ‘Ooh, look! An entire village constructed of broom straw!’ Not my thing. So, opera is on my list of things I haven’t experienced that I’m not sure I’d like to do — like butter sculpture.”

Butter sculpture? You mean, like what you see every year at the State Fair of Texas? That’s exactly what she is referring to.

“I was just talking to my kids about it yesterday,” says the fair-going veteran. “It’s hard for me to understand why someone would learn that skill. You can’t give it as a gift. How do you make a living doing butter sculpture? With ice sculpture, at least there’s an event and there’s a charm watching it melt.” But who would stick a knife into a gigantic dairy version of Elvis? Not Paula.

These observations are hardly earth-shattering insights into the human condition … but then again, maybe they are. Poundstone’s organic, randomly quaint stream-of-consciousness sense of humor is ticklishly grounded in every life. She talks about being the single gay mom of three kids, ages 12 to 20 — and one with limited domestic skills at that. (“I’m not much of a cook. I can heat water and make salad and it pretty much ends there. I once called my math teacher to ask how to make a baked potato,” she says.) Her jokes are sometimes about the bizarre daily occurrences that make up her life, but they could just as easily make up yours. And there are no gimmicks — it’s just her personality peeking through, a befuddled but optimistic take on life.

“I’m lucky in that everywhere I’ve been, I have a good time,” she says. She even likes coming to Texas, despite its conservative rep. She always seems to find an audience.

“There’s no area that’s entirely one thing,” she says. “Whatever the size of the city, the people who would be amused by my point of view tend to gather on that night.”

That night in Dallas will be Feb. 25, when she returns for a show at the Majestic Theatre.

But Dallas isn’t even a hard market for her. Heck, even in Utah — often regarded as the most conservative state in the union — you can find the gay-friendly crowds. And you don’t even have to look that hard.

“I did an outdoor festival [in Salt Lake City] and they were wild,” she recalls. “A man dressed as a woman presented me with a gold purse filled with items they thought I’d need to survive there. This guy was so flamboyant, it was kinda jaw-dropping. But [the crowd] couldn’t have loved it more.”

Likewise, Poundstone says even gay-accepting communities like Provincetown, Mass., have their pockets of closed-mindedness.

“P’town has an enormous gay community — its like you’re in some sort of a production when you’re there. But it’s still old New England, and there are people who have been there forever but still haven’t caught on, these fisherman who think it’s a coincidence or something gay that a man walking down the street looks like a lady. They don’t seem to realize what’s risen up all around them.”

Poundstone herself is aware of what has risen up around her. She started in standup in 1979 or 1980 (she can’t even recall which), in the heyday of comedy clubs like The Improv. She weathered the circuit, building up a fan base enthusiastic about the observational style of comedy she and others of her era (Jerry Seinfeld, Ellen DeGeneres, etc.) pioneered.

“It was so much about time and place and had nothing to do with me,” she modestly claims. “The fact I did it there and then made a huge difference in what I was able to do. I worked really hard and I still work really hard, but I didn’t plan and make decisions that led me on a certain path. I worry that my kids don’t get that, that my formula won’t work again.”

Maybe not. But as long as it worked once, we’re good.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition Feb. 18, 2011.

—  John Wright

Good question

Lesbian writer Abby Dees wrote her book more for straight friends of gays than for gays themselves

_IMG_3019
Author Abby Dees. (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)

Abby Dees wrote Queer Questions Straight Talk from her own experiences while learning about how others perceived gay people. The book, with “108 frank & provocative questions it’s OK to ask your lesbian, gay or bisexual loved one,” was imagined as a gift from gays to their straight parents, family or friends, to put them at ease about what being gay means — and to see that others have had the same questions. But Dees has also heard of gay people using the book to ask each other questions as a party game. But she can see it used as a part of a sensitivity training session, as well.

While she discusses the topics briefly, the book is a collection of questions, not answers. And she starts out with the basics: “Do you think you were always gay or lesbian or bi?” Comedian Carol Leifer submitted that one; others were collected by e-mail and through Facebook.

Dees found was that virtually all of the questions were things she’d heard before — everything from “Does this mean I’m not going to be a grandmother?” to “Are there any real lesbians like the ones on The L Word?

She mostly avoids sexually graphic questions and steers the conversation to “What’s your perfect date like?” (A response of “Dinner, good conversation and a movie, what’s yours?”) is more likely to help someone understand similarities than vast differences.

“What’s the most challenging thing about having a relationship with someone of the same sex?” she asks. Her own answer is that she would find it more challenging to have a relationship with a member of the opposite sex because of vastly different interests of men and women.

Dees says that her relationship with her mother has always been good and her mom edited the book. But reading the questions prompted them to have more discussions.

“She’s very proud of this book,” Dees says. “She went from ‘happy with you honey’ to a PFLAG mom who outs me every opportunity she gets.”

Dees describes her evolving relationship with her mother as more than a 20-year process. The questions in this 100-page book are meant to start a series of conversations, and were not meant to be raced through in one quick session.

The toughest section of the book to write, she says, deals with religion. She wrote it first and then went back to it last to lighten the tone. She admits that for the person whose only reference is that if you’re gay, you’re going to hell, this book might not help. But for others, “Do you feel you can be [gay] and go to heaven” might be a good starting point for a conversation.

She stressed that there are no right or wrong answers. And you don’t need to be an expert to answer these questions. “‘I don’t know.’ is a really good answer,” she says.

— David P. Taffet

…………………..

Stuff That Makes a Gay Heart Weep: A Definitive Guide to the Loud & Proud Dislikes of Millions by Freeman Hall (2010, Adams Media)
$14; 216 pp.

How many fashion faux pas does someone have to endure before everyone understands that plumber’s butt and muffin tops are not acceptable? Don’t those people look in mirrors before they leave the house? Do you need to rent a plane and sky-write “Wear pants that fit?” It’s enough to make you scream or want to break down in public — but you hate that.

But that’s not the only thing that you hate. There are dozens more, as you’ll see in Stuff That Makes a Gay Heart Weep.

So somebody gives you a bottle of cheap booze or wine. Or you got tacky home décor for Christmas. These kinds of things make you want to simply crawl into a fetal position until it all goes away … and they’re all throughout this book.

Justin Bieber: Now he really makes you want to bawl your eyes out. So does Richard Simmons and a certain Mama Grizzly with lipstick. The Kardashians — sniff. Guidos and Guidettes — pah! And that Angelina Jolie and Hugh Jackman are not gay? Waterworks.

If this book doesn’t make you weep from laughter, there’s something wrong. It’s absolutely hilarious.

With his signature snarky sense of humor and his feel for the absurd, author Freeman Hall pokes fun at kitschy, faddish, everyday things, places and people that practically beg to be ridiculed. There are more than 200 entries so hilariously, awfully tragic that you don’t have to be gay to want to break down in tears, even if you’re a guilty party (though it doesn’t hurt). And once you’re done reading, you almost have to come up with your own “Stuff List.”
Wrap yourself in your Snuggie because you need a good laugh out loud. Stuff That Makes a Gay Heart Weep is an absolute scream.

— Terri Schlichenmeyer

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 17, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas