Lone Star Ride hires new event manager

Jerry Calumn

Calumn returns to Dallas to raise money for three ASOs including one he once worked for

DAVID TAFFET | Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

Officials with Lone Star Ride Fighting AIDS announced this week that Jerry Calumn has been hired as the new LSR event manager. He replaces Dave Minehart, event manager since 2007, who resigned to move closer to family in Iowa.

Calumn worked for the Resource Center Dallas from 1990 to 1998. He was hired as one of the first employees at the center’s current location on Reagan Street where he headed the education department and served as clinic manager.

Since then, he has lived in Los Angeles and New York where he had a varied career.

He helped create the American Academy of HIV Medicine in Los Angeles, which turned that area of medicine into a recognized specialty. The organization has since moved to Washington, D.C.

Calumn has also worked in marketing and communications and done consultation work for both private and non-profit industry.

In addition, he began a comedy career in L.A.

“I built a show around a word-of-mouth campaign,” he said, adding that he performed in a coffee shop. His show combined improv and stand-up. He said one day Margaret Cho showed up and they developed the first gay and lesbian comedy festival, which was filmed for Logo.

He left comedy for several reasons.

“The entertainment industry is the hardest, meanest industry,” he said. “Touring is hard. It’s a difficult lifestyle.”

Before leaving the Resource Center, Calumn rode in the first Tanqueray Texas AIDS Ride in 1998 that lasted seven days. That ride began in Austin and traveled through Houston before ending in Dallas.

“It made me an avid rider,” he said.

Calumn was living in New York doing consulting work and saw an ad for the event manager position with Lone Star Ride. He said he knew then it was time to come home.

“I was looking for an interesting opportunity,” Calumn said, adding that he knew he wanted to return to non-profit work.

“I love the energy and the focus of people who work in non-profit,” he said. “It’s about the connection and altruism.”

When he was in Dallas to interview for the position, Calumn had an opportunity to connect with a number of people he had worked with in the past. He said that under the leadership of Cece Cox, he saw vitality at the Resource Center that he hadn’t seen since John Thomas led the organization.

For his first year as event manager, Calumn said he plans to concentrate on the riders. He would like to give riders the tools they need to raise money and to enlist more people to participate in the ride.

“There’s lots of room for growth,” he said.

To accomplish that goal, he has already spoken to more than a dozen riders.

Last year, much of the fundraising was done using tools associated with new media.

“Having worked in so many different kinds of media,” Calumn said, “I bring that skill set to the table.”

Not only has Calumn been a vocal advocate for people with HIV for more than 20 years, he has lived with the disease himself for the past 17 years. It is that background and personal experience that LSR board members believe make him especially well-suited for the job.

“We’re sure Jerry will bring a renewed passion and focus to fighting the stigma HIV positive men and women face in all communities,” Ride Co-Chair John Tripp said.

Tripp said that Positive Peddlers, HIV positive Ride participants, had grown over the past two years and that he expected the group to have an even stronger presence under Calumn’s leadership.

Tripp complimented Minehart and everyone who worked on the 2010 ride. He said that non-profit agencies considered it a successful year if their fundraising broke even with the year before. Lone Star Ride has a 50 percent increase in the amount distributed last year.

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

—  John Wright

A guy walks into a bar…

Del Shores, Texas’ funniest chronicler of angry gay survivors of Christianity, begins a new chapter in his career: Standup

ARNOLD WAYNE JONES  | jones@dallasvoice.com

lead
SORDID LAUGHS | Del Shores has transformed his one-man act about the fiasco following ‘Sordid Lives: The Series’ into the hilarious grist for his new standup routine. (Photo courtesy Brian Putnam)

SORDID CONFESSIONS
The Rose Room in Station 4,
3911 Cedar Springs Road. Jan. 14 at 8 p.m. $15.
Caven.com

…………………………

Stop me if you’ve heard this one: A guy walks into a gay bar. …

Actually, that’s not the beginning of a joke — it’s the beginning of a new comedy career for Del Shores.

“I know, 52 years old and starting a standup career,” Shores sighs. But like his entire professional life, what’s happened now was never what he expected anyway.

The Baylor grad and (in)famous native of Winters, Texas, headed for L.A. in 1980 intent on becoming an actor (which he did, mostly through voice-overs and commercials but some daytime TV). It was only after his 1987 play Daddy’s Dyin’, Who’s Got the Will?, with its title of pointed Southern Gothic style, that he quickly established a reputation as a writer.

“I quickly started getting writing jobs, so I just put [acting] away and never went back to it, though everything I do is from an actor’s point of view,” Shores says. Plays (Sordid Lives, Southern Baptist Sissies, Trials and Tribulations of a Trailer Trash Housewife) led to episodic TV shows (Ned & Stacey, Queer as Folk) and eventually directing.

But as with most the major life-changing stages in his career, there was a tortured backstory that got him there.

Shores’ works may be the foremost examples of laughter through tears. His outrageous, broadly drawn characters — one-legged cheaters, cross-dressing uncles, libidinous psychiatrists, sexually promiscuous grandmas … and that’s just 10 minutes from the pilot of Sordid Lives, the Logo TV series based on his hit play  — mask (or perhaps reveal) genuine pain underneath but close to the surface of Shores’ life.

Sordid Lives deals with the shameful way people (who have no business judging anyone) can behave toward gays (Shores was married to a woman and had children before he came out in his 30s); Sissies tracks how destructive religion can be under the guise of serving God; and his current standup routine, Del Shores: Sordid Confessions (which plays at the Rose Room on Jan. 14), arises from his exasperating struggle to gain control over Sordid Lives: The Series after being cheated by his producer.

“I don’t regret any of it,” he says of his decision to put his life on hold while pursuing legal action to recover the $1.6 million in residual payments owed him and his cast from the series; the litigation put his career on hold for two years and cost him and his husband, Jason Dottley, their home. But it also opened the door on his current gig.

“I love my life — I’m not on the streets and my husband is wonderful,” he says. “I would not be coming to the Rose Room if [all that] hadn’t happened. It’s so healing [to know] that I continued to fight the good fight and not feel pitiful.”

Originally, Shores wrote My Sordid Life (which premiered in Dallas) as a one-man show about his experiences.

“Jason said, ‘You tell all these stories when you’re sitting at the table drinking wine — do a show of that,’” he explains. “I said, ‘How do I weave them together?’ I did the first show and talked about the stories. I did a lot of my mother because she was a huge influence. And I was very influenced by [longtime friend Leslie Jordan].”

After several good reviews, his friend, comedian Caroline Rhea, suggested he convert it into a standup act, which keeps it both topical and fresh. But the best part is how freeing the experience has been.

“I just don’t give a shit anymore,” Shores says. “I say whatever I want.” In his previous show, that meant stories about his racist upbringing, his real full name, how much he hates Judge Reinhold (and others) and his fondness for Rue McClanahan. The new routine follows down those rabbit holes.

“After I went after [Queer as Folk star Randy Harrison], I started getting hate mail from his fans — both of them,” he says with a wink.

“I’m the kind of celebrity who will write anybody back, so I read their letters onstage.”

Despite all the hardship that has fueled his comedy, things are looking up now for Shores. He won the rights to do all-new webisodes of Sordid Lives, which he will fund through his fans (“It will be more like sketches, like the ‘Mama’s Family’ segment on the old Carol Burnett Show, so ‘Ty’s World’ will probably be just boys fucking,” he says); My Sordid Life was filmed just this week as a direct-to-DVD comedy special; and he’s days away from securing funding for the film adaptation of Trailer Trash Housewife.

But if things are going so well, will Shores run out of material? Not likely. He is a queer Texan, after all — there’s always something to bitch about.

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

—  Kevin Thomas