“Confessions of a Mormon Boy” at Theater LaB

Steven Fales

Steven Fales

Steven Fales (ironically pronounced “fails”) was born Mormon, sixth generation in fact, what he calls “Mormon DNA.” As a good Mormon boy he grew up, became a missionary, went to Brigham Young University, got married and had kids. The only problem being that Fales is gay. After a failed attempt at “reparative therapy” he was kicked out of the Mormon church, got divorced, moved to New York, became a prostitute and developed a crystal meth problem. If the story ended there Fales would be like any number of queer people injured by their intolerant upbringing and lost to a world only too willing to offer alternatives to healing, but the story didn’t end there. Fales, a trained actor, got his life together and started doing a stand-up comedy routine that eventually became his hit one-man play Confessions of a Mormon Boy.

More than just another tear-jerking coming out story, Confessions of a Mormon Boy connects the behaviors learned by growing up in an environment that tells people they will never be worthy of God’s love with the allure of chemical abuse. The play mixes pathos and tragedy with a very healthy dose of comedy (and it doesn’t hurt that former call-boy Fales is quite easy on the eyes).  Fales has written a story not just for the LGBT community, but also for the Mormon community of his youth (it’s played four times in Salt Lake City). For a play about prostitution and drug addiction Confessions of a Mormon Boy is neigh-on family friendly, containing no nudity or cursing.

Fales performs Confessions of a Mormon Boy at Theater LaB (1706 Alamo) Feb. 8-12. Tickets start at $25 and may be purchased by calling 713-868-7516.

After the jump watch Fales perform the opening monologue:

—  admin

A Del in concert!

(And he won’t cancel!) Shores returns to his native Texas bruised but busy

Del-Shores-32

NATIVE SHORES | Winters provided the backdrop for Del Shores’ comedy, but his Hollywood connections include directing Oscar hopeful Octavia Spencer in her next film role. (Photo courtesy Alan Mercer)

RICH LOPEZ  | Staff Writer
lopez@dallasvoice.com

Already, 2012 looks to be a busy year for Del Shores. That wasn’t among his New Year’s resolutions, but it has ended up being a blessing for him right now. Having something to do distracts him from those empty moments. After separating less than two months ago from his partner of almost 10 years, singer/actor Jason Dottley, spending quiet times alone was the last thing Shores wanted.

“With something this tragic, I have to stay busy,” he says. “This is a huge tragedy in my life. The depression comes in so I’m taking care of myself by writing or preparing other works. Just keeping occupied is so important. I couldn’t survive otherwise.”

As irony would have it, 2012 could end up being Shores’ biggest year yet. The Winters, Texas, native kicks it off in the Rose Room with a standup performance Jan. 27. For this show, he specifically returned to Dallas to film his performance for an upcoming DVD release. And for good reason: He feels the love here.

“I’d rather just go to Dallas,” he says. “I have the hugest fan base there and I should go back to the city that loves me the most to film the show. I love it so much.”

Just a year ago, Shores started a new phase of his career by adding “standup comedian” to his resume with a performance of his new act, Sordid Confessions, at the Rose Room. In fact, he’s less a comic than whip-smart storyteller, but he acknowledges that audiences who saw him last year should expect new stuff this time.

Does that mean he’s adding some of his recent personal drama to the bit? Not just yet.

“I haven’t yet put anything about it in my show,” he admits. “I can’t pretend that the elephant isn’t in the room, but I don’t plan to disrespect what we had … not yet at least!”

The closest he plans to get right now is reciting some letters of support he received after he announced his divorce publicly last November.

They were genuinely heartfelt, but hilarious enough to add to the show.

Shores is also writing the screen adaptation of his play Yellow, and is completing a new play about four women called This Side of Crazy. He’s also collaborating with his Sordid Lives star (and long-standing best friend) Leslie Jordan on the mockumentary The Happy Hullisters, about a gospel family hanging onto their last shred of fame. The plan is to begin shooting it in Dallas starting in June; Tony Award-winner Levi Kreiss and comedian Caroline Rhea (who MC’d this year’s Dallas Black Tie Dinner) attached to the project.

“I’m getting my acting company back together for this. And I’ll be in the Hullisters!” Shores beams. “I am embracing the actor in me. I’m still in negotiations to do one more Sordid Lives film that would be a sequel to the movie, but a prequel to the series. And I’m hoping to open [the play] Yellow in Dallas as well. Maybe I’ll be busy for the next two years!”

Shores is also in post-production of his play-turned-movie The Trials and Tribulations of a Trailer Trash Housewife starring newly-minted Golden Globe winner and likely Oscar nominee Octavia Spencer. Spencer is reprising her role she originated onstage for the play as LaSonia (pronounced “lasagna”) Robinson. Shores admits that if she wins an Oscar it could help his movie, but he was already suitably moved by her Globes win.

“This couldn’t have happened to a better person,” he says. “When she won, my daughter and I were sobbing like Mexican women at a funeral.”
When Shores posted a note on his Facebook page last November (it began, “It saddens me to inform you that Jason Dottley and I are divorcing”), the obvious question among his friends was, “What happened?” But even Shores doesn’t quite seem sure. Soon after his announcement, Shores received notes of support, but also some not so friendly. That added to the shock of his marriage ending. (Dottley was contacted for this piece but declined to comment.)

“We were this couple held up to the light as an example of gay marriage in a working relationship,” he says. “I had no idea this was coming.

My marriage ended, just like straight people. I had to start a process of healing.”

But were there no signs, no inkling of what was to happen? Shores searches for the words, but stammers as he decides whether to answer and what to say. And then finally:

“Let me put it this way,” he begins, “I’ve been working in the entertainment business for a really long time, I get a lot of actor-auditions. For some, I come up with reasons I don’t cast certain ones, but the bottom line is, ‘I don’t want you to play this role.’ And so no matter what was said or the reasons behind it, the bottom line was Jason said, ‘I don’t want to be married to you anymore.’ And there was no negotiation on any level.”

For a moment, he pauses. That inevitable lump jumps into his throat and one of Texas’ funniest funnymen all of a sudden isn’t laughing.

“There is never a great day,” he admits, choking up. “There are partial good days but good days … not yet. It happens.”

Creative types have the luxury of turning pain into their art and it’s easy to imagine Del Shores turning this pain into a comic masterpiece. He insists he’ll heal and move on. Eventually. Born gay into a Southern Baptist family in Texas, life hasn’t always been the easiest. And at the very least, he may take the advice of one fan, a straight woman, who wrote him.

“She told me there was one thing good about a breakup,” he says, “New dick!”
Badum-bum.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition January 20, 2012.

—  Kevin Thomas

Best Bets • 10.14.11

Friday 10.14

A dose of art history
Did you know that there are less than a 100 surviving Caravaggio works out there? Good thing the Kimball snagged the exhibit. Caravaggio and His Followers in Rome displays more than 50 of the painter’s works, one of the largest exhibitions of his work in North America.

DEETS: Kimball Art Museum, 3333 Camp Bowie Blvd, Fort Worth.
Through Jan. 8. $14.
KimbellMuseum.org.

…………………..

Sunday 10.16

Let your rock ‘n’ roller out
This isn’t the priest you kneel down to and make your confessions. Judas Priest demands that you stand up, raise your arms and rock the hell out. Especially now as they hit the road on their Epitaph Farewell Tour. What will we do without our original leather daddy and out lead singer Rob Halford to scream into our ears?

DEETS: With Thin Lizzy, Black Label Society.
Allen Event Center, 200 E. Stacy Road, Ste. 1350, Allen. 7 p.m. $40–$130.
Ticketmaster.com.

…………………..

Sunday 10.16

Just Chill, yo
Chill Sunday returns with a very special edition. Going old school, it’s an EdgeClub reunion afternoon with veteran DJs Jeff K. and Redeye. Forget the ’80s, we want our ’90s indie alt-pop. And so do you.

DEETS: Zubar, 2012 Greenville Ave. 2 p.m.
Facebook.com/SxSProductions

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 14, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

‘Bedpost Confessions’ tonight at The Kessler

‘Bedpost Confessions’ moves sex talk from the closet into Oak Cliff

What would you do if your friend admitted to  being a prostitute? Or if your sister talked about having sex outside of her marriage with a 21-year-old virgin? Sexual talk outside of the bedroom can still be taboo, even in today’s desensitized world of fast hookups and Showtime melodramas. Bring up intercourse (or something far more intense), and most people will cringe or shy away.

Tonight, it all comes out. The Austin-based stage show Bedpost Confessions features performers talking up their sexual adventures out loud all in good fun. Trying to break away from the taboo of talking about sex, co-founder Sadie Smythe and company bring their show to Dallas. Local writer and Dallas Voice contributor Jenny Block, pictured, gets in on the action which makes perfect sense. As the author of Open: Love, Sex, and Life in an Open Marriage, she’ll have ideal material for the night.

Her thoughts on tonight’s show.

“It’s just sex. It’s supposed to be this happy, fun, sometimes even spiritual experience. It’s all gotten so twisted and tangled when really it should be so simple. Consenting adults doing something that our bodies were built to do. But somewhere along the line, people got confused. Outwardly we are this over-sexed society. But behind closed doors we don’t talk to our kids, we don’t communicate with our partners, and we’re lost when it comes to all things sex. The funny thing is, the fix is an easy one. We have to talk to one another and to our kids and to our partners. We have to strangle the taboo. We could have solved all of the world’s ills by now if we stopped worrying so much about such a natural thing and started putting our brain power to better use.”

We couldn’t have said it better ourselves! Block will also be signing copies of her book after the show. Along with Block, Smythe and the other performers, the audience gets to play as they are encouraged to write their sexual confessions to be read aloud. Don’t worry, it’s all anonymous. Read the original article here.

DEETS:


—  Rich Lopez

Sex in the city

bedpostladies
TALK DIRTY TO ME | Three of the four creators of ‘Bedpost Confessions,’ including Sadie Smythe, far left, are bisexual, giving a ‘pansexual’ bent to many of the sexy admissions.

‘Bedpost Confessions’ moves sex talk from the closet into Oak Cliff

RICH LOPEZ  | Staff Writer
lopez@dallasvoice.com

What would you do if your friend admitted to  being a prostitute? Or if your sister talked about having sex outside of her marriage with a 21-year-old virgin? Sexual talk outside of the bedroom can still be taboo, even in today’s desensitized world of fast hookups and Showtime melodramas. Bring up intercourse (or something far more intense), and most people will cringe or shy away.

Not Sadie Smythe. She says that such fear stems from shame, and she’s on a quest to change that.

“We do it because there’s this puritanical mindset pervading our culture,” Smythe says. “We want to start a conversation about sex and sexuality. It’s a pleasurable experience for people and that’s part of why we do it.”

Smythe is co-creator of the Austin-based show Bedpost Confessions, a sort of Vagina Monologues series of admissions and detailed sexual experiences featuring a roster of participants. Bedposts’ first- ever performance outside of Austin comes to Oak Cliff July 21.

“I thought Dallas should be our first stop as a good jumping off point,” says Smythe, a Dallas native. “Depending on how many people show up, we’ll be in the upstairs room at the Kessler. That’s such a great place and right in the middle of all that cool stuff.”

She could be surprised. Although current RSVPs are modest, if it plays out like her first show, that could change dramatically. Smythe expected about 20 people to Confessions’ debut and 60 showed up, crammed into a small space. Now the monthly event brings in close to 400 people — all there to talk about (and listen to others talk about) sex. With such a growth, the show plans for events in San Francisco and Boston.

Does that mean America is ready to shout out their sexcapades to the masses? Smythe hopes so.

“The more sex is taboo the more shame that surrounds it. I see that as a problem,” she says. “My feeling is that kids have a hard time understanding what sex and sexuality is about. Parents don’t feel comfortable because of the shame so kids go into their formative sexual years inadvertently hurting each other. Shame creates harm and we aim to take that harm out of the picture. So we just talk about it.”

She describes Confessions as pansexual because all perspectives are reflected and embraced. Local performer Roy G. Bivs is a gay man who talks about a time in Japan when he partook in prostitution to pay the bills. Smythe, who is bisexual, has publicly discussed her open marriage in her book Open All the Way. She’ll “confess” to her 21-year- old virginal conquest.

“My mother will be at this show so she’s gonna get an earful,“ Smythe laughs. “But it’s educational. That’s part of the beauty of it. Confessions takes you out of your own experience and other people can encourage flight.”
The audience can even confess their own sins, er … “experiences.”

“The hallmark of the show is the confessions,” she says. “Although we highly curate these shows and make sure they are smart, funny and entertaining we add an element of interaction that’s unpredictable.”

Those that go to a Confessions show are given a card to come clean about that which gets them off. Without names, the cards are read aloud during the show. (A sampling are on the show’s website.) Smythe says there’s a cathartic element to opening up.

“The audience notes are usually funny, but it also unifies the group as they all engage in it,” she says. “Sometimes they’ll even inspire discussion and ultimately, it’s a really fun and sexy show.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 15, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas