New Dallas Bears president has his paws in many honeypots

gauge-xavierThe last few months have been a whirlwind for Gauge Xavier.

Last summer, he was named Bear of the Year by the Dallas Bears, while simultaneously rising to the position of vice president. Then in November, the president, Ray Farias — who also happens to be Xavier’s best friend — had to step down from his duties for health reasons. Suddenly, Xavier was president of the group.

“I had no plans on being president,” Xavier admits. “I’m trying to respect what Ray started, but also leave my own mark.”

There are big shoes to fill in any case. Before Farias, Wayne Davis had served as president of the Dallas Bears for six years; Farias had been groomed to take over when Davis stepped down. Now Xavier has to take over those duties with little preparation.

“It’s been a challenge, but luckily Wayne and a lot of other legacy members are still involved.  I lean on them for a lot of support. I actually asked Wayne to step in and help run” the Texas Bear Round Up, the Dallas Bears’ big annual convention of hirsute and/or big-bellied men and their admirers. The event, which takes place every March, has grown exponentially in recent years.

“Last year we had 1,708 attendees,” Xavier says. “This year we hope for between 1,800 and 2,000. We’ve actually had to split it into a ‘day host hotel’ and a ‘night host hotel’” to accommodate all the guests.

If that was all Xavier had on his plate, it would still be a lot. But in addition, he recently founded Team Friendly DFW, a group dedicated to “giving a new face to HIV awareness and eliminate the stigma of HIV,” Xavier says. The process started this summer at the International LeatherSir convention in Dallas, when Xavier met with former Mr. Michigan Leather Dave Watt, who founded the Mr. Friendly Project in 2008. The Dallas chapter was established in September — a month or two before Xavier learned he’d also be president of the Bears. (All of these, by the way, are volunteer positions.)

83773703This Friday, Team Friendly DFW holds its inaugural fundraiser — an underwear auction at the Dallas Eagle called The Tug Party.

“We’re just getting started so we can file for our 501(c)(3) nonprofit status. We will start out will grass-roots training — re-teaching people how to approach and talk to people with AIDS and HIV,” Xavier says. “Our base [at first] will be bar outreach, but we want to be more of that. We reach out to the entire community — not just the gay community. We have meetings scheduled with LULAC because [infection] numbers are on the rise in the Hispanic community. We have partnered with the Resource Center to be our testing arm, and the Dallas Bears are already helping out.”

But first there’s Friday’s underwear auction (“we have 14 models, of all different shapes and sizes — even a straight man!”) and on Saturday, the Dallas Bears are hosting their first-ever Casserole Cook-Off at the Round-Up (a twist on the typical chili cook-off). Then it’s hunkering down for TBRU.

Just a typical week lately for Gauge Xavier.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

After 6 years, Dallas Bears pass the honey to new leadership


Wayne Davis has been a member of the Dallas Bears for so long, he easily remembers when they could hold the annual membership meeting in a small room. And then they moved on to a restaurant. And another restaurant. And now, in a room inside the Crowne Plaza Market Center hotel, the same host hotel for the annual Texas Bear Round Up each spring. That’s an indication of growth.

And a lot of that growth took place under Davis, who first became president of the club in 2009 and was repeatedly re-elected — six times, in fact, until this year, when he finally stepped aside. (Davis will remain on the board, in his former position — treasurer.)

At the dinner last Saturday at the Crowne Plaza, at which approximately 100 bears attended, Davis voiced his emotional farewells, bestowed a few awards, gave away money, introduced the new board and— perhaps most predictably — teared up.

The Dallas Bears’ new president Ray Farias, took to the podium to share a few thoughts. the new vice president, Gauge Xavier, stood on the dais twice — once as a board member, and once when accepting the top award of the night: Bear of the Year.

The Dallas Bears have always been a nonprofit charitable group, and this year they gave away a record amount of money — a hair shy of $82,000, including donations to Resource Center ($37,000), the Greg Dollgener Memorial AIDS Fund, AIDS Outreach Center of Fort Worth ($18,500 each) and AIDS Services of Dallas.

This was the 20th annual Dallas Bears celebration; next year, its 21st TBRU event will have the theme Mardi Gras.

Here are some more photos from the event.


—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Compete in Movember moustache contest!

dali_pma_05_17You might think  changing the name of November to Movember was a gay thing — and while lots of ‘mos have ‘mos (i.e., moustaches), the chance to earn money by growing some facial hair crosses lines of sexual identity. The idea is simple: Mo Bros (and allied Mo Sistas) start with a clean-shaven face. Then throughout the month, they add on facial hair, seeking out sponsors to raise money for men’s health issues (especially prostate cancer research). Last year, $147 million worldwide was raised through the Movember campaign.

Including some folks via Last year, yours truly, Alex Young, Richard Neal and Cory Smith all shaved and regrew their beards for money. And you can do the same. In fact, we’re gonna have a bit of a contest. Between now and Nov. 5, take a selfie of your hairless face, and email it to me at Sign up for Movember here. Then, between Nov. 21 and Nov. Nov. 26, email me back your photo with your moustache, chin strap, monkey tail, soul patch, Fu Manchu, Van Dyke — whatever push broom you choose. We’ll post them all on Instant Tea, and the best one will have a contribution made to their Movember account by Dallas Voice. And feel free to keep sending me updated photos with a link to your Movember throughout the month, and we’ll do what we can to get the word out. (Even if you don’t compete, you can help get the word out, especially to your bear buddies — we’ll be posting links to individual Movember contribution pages starting next week.)

Plus, you can attend the Movember kick-off party at the Green Room tonight and other events throughout the month (culminating in a party at Hotel ZaZa on Dec 5). C’mon — be a grower and a shower!

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Resource Center food pantry benefits from emergency food drive


Food donations poured in by the trunkful over the weekend (Courtesy of Roger Lippert)

In response to an urgent appeal for food, community groups rallied to assist Resource Center over the weekend.

Leather Knights, Dallas Bears, The DFW Sisters, Cheer Dallas and Congregation Beth El Binah were among the groups that answered the plea to fill the bare shelves of the Resource Center food pantry.

According to Resource Center spokesman Rafael McDonnell, the food pantry had peanut butter, tomato sauce and beans on Thursday. He said the shortage was due to a number of factors, including a static budget but an increasing number of clients, the economy and cutbacks in corporate donations to the pantry.

Quite a bit of the items stocked by the pantry comes from the North Texas Food Bank, which had equally bare shelves.

“Is this the bottom or is this the new normal?” he asked. He said Resource Center staff was trying to figure that out.

Groups helped fill the shelves mostly through urgent appeals to their members on Facebook. The Dallas Eagle became a collection point for evening and Sunday donations.

Nutrition Center Coordinator Daniel Sanchez became acting food pantry manager after food pantry manager Micki Garrison left Resource Center last week after 10 years. Sanchez said the emergency food drive made a difference.

“The response was incredible,” he said. “It’s going to help us a lot.”

He said clients who took very little last week saw the variety on the shelves this morning and said, “Oh, my god, we’re gonna shop.”

Congregation Beth El Binah was using the center over the weekend for Yom Kippur services. Although the holiday is a day of fasting, members brought cans from home or made cash donations at the door. Because the back parking lot was closed for part of the day for a festival celebrating Resource Center’s 30th anniversary, the congregation hired a valet to park cars. In addition to juggling cars, the valets helped unload food as volunteers drove up with trunk loads.

On Saturday morning, Karen Lukin, community and media relations manager for Whole Foods North Texas division, said she shouldn’t be at work because it was Yom Kippur, but she had to come in to call the center and let them know the store would be donating $5,000 in food items this week. Sanchez said he was expecting those items to arrive later in the week.

Although the immediate crisis was averted because of the weekend collection, McDonnell said people have to eat next week and next month and next year. He asked the community to continue with its generosity until new funding streams and sources of new corporate donations appear.

—  David Taffet

Dallas Bears donate $69K to charities


On Saturday, the Dallas Bears held their annual anniversary dinner and celebration, as well as the installation of the new board of directors (which looks a lot like the previous board), at the Toby Keith Grill … and because they were bears, there was plenty to eat. But in addition to food, fellowship and fondling (well, just a little), they also formalized all their donations from the previous year’s events, including Texas Bear Round Up 18 and food and school supply drives. Among the funds awarded: $33,000 to Youth First Texas, a program of Resource Center Dallas; $16,500 to RCD’s nutrition program; $16,500 to the Sharon St. Cyr Fund (which aids the hearing impaired); and $3,000 in school supplies and food. Add all those up and … hmmmm … that’s $69,000. Repeat: Sixty-nine.

Those bears can even make charity gay.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

TBRU unveils new logo

The next Texas Bear Round Up isn’t for another six months, but you can already get a peek at its new logo, which appeared this morning on the group’s Facebook page. TBRU 18: Casino Bear Royale combines a little 007 theme with Las Vegas … and. of course, a touch of a Colt Video.

We’ve always been a fan of the cartoon artwork for the Dallas Bears’ big event, which has grown from 100 attendees to last last year’s 1,704. (Last year’s art, below, was based around the theme Bears Gone Wild.)  Next year’s event will take place March 14-17.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Saturday night, the Dallas Bears presented community organizations with $58K in donations

Dallas Bears 2011-12 board

Last Saturday, the Dallas Bears convened for food and fellowship at their anniversary dinner at Celebration restaurant. Through the course of the night, announcements were made about the group’s efforts, the new board for 2012-13 and recognition of various individuals who assisted the group throughout the Texas Bear Round-Up. You can see some of those announcements on Twitter here.

The highlight of the evening, though, was certainly the DB’s donation of $58,000 to local charities. The group doled out the bulk of its donations to Youth First Texas ($26,250), the Greg Dollgener Memorial AIDS Fund ($13,125), AIDS Interfaith Network ($13,125), AIDS Services of Dallas ($2,125) and the Sharon St. Cyr Fund ($1,500). Check out the photos after the jump.

—  Rich Lopez

BearDance made Dallas Bears president Wayne Davis tear up with their $30k donation on Sunday

Photos via Facebook.

The guys of BearDance outdid themselves this year. Last year, the nonprofit organization, which hosts its Big D party during Texas Bear Round Up, raised more than $21,000 for Dallas Bears’ beneficiaries. Yesterday, they presented the community group a check for an astounding $30,000 from this year’s March event. The following was posted on the BD’s Facebook page.

Thanks to a great collaboration between the Dallas Bears who put on Texas Bear Round Up and BearDance and all of our volunteers, we were able to make a $30,000 donation to the Dallas Bears which will be passed through 100% to their designated beneficiaries this year including Youth First Texas, the Greg Dollgener Memorial Fund, and AIDS Interfaith Network. And thanks to all the amazing guys who came out to the biggest BearDance we’ve ever had this past March!

Mark Trimble, one of the BD founders (pictured above at far right), said the guys are thrilled at the these level of donations, but had no idea their bear party endeavor would grow to this.

—  Rich Lopez

Mac daddy

BearDance guest DJ Sean Mac keeps the big boys moving


BEAR NECESSITIES | Atlanta-based DJ Sean Mac mixes movie scores with tribal beats for his Dallas debut at BearDance Friday.

The men at BearDance are building a solid reputation for bringing in marquee DJs for their events, as their inaugural 2012 dance proves. Atlanta DJ Sean Mac comes to Dallas with his mix of house music, classic disco and even movie scores.

For someone who got his first (unofficial) gig at a gentlemen’s club at the age of 15, Mac has come a long way — playing the Folsom Street Fair in San Francisco, New Year’s Eve in Sydney and even for Lady Gaga for Wonder World weekend at DisneyWorld. He now tells us what Dallas bears can look forward to as he helms the turntables and assures us that he won’t be distracted by his smartphone while spinning — maybe.

— Rich Lopez

The Loft
1135 S. Lamar St. Jan. 13. 9 p.m. $15.

Dallas Voice:  Have you played Dallas before?  Mac: No, but I’ve met a lot of wonderful guys from there on Facebook and and I attended Texas Bear Round Up in 2007, so I have a sneaking suspicion it’s going to be a fun time!

What are you looking forward to here?  I hear they grow ’em big in Texas!  Seriously, though, I’m looking forward to spinning a really good set. The year started off very well in Denver, where I followed Tony Moran with a set on New Year’s Eve. The guys had the energy turned up to 11 and, knowing the guys with BearDance, I’m sure this event will be awesome.

How did you hook up with BearDance?  Through Facebook. BearDance started with me seeing pictures of friends at one of their events and the conversation started.

Werq it! So what can Dallas bears expect from a Sean Mac set?  My goal is to become one with a dancefloor, so I keep the energy up with stuff that we all want to dance to. I’m also pretty animated. It’s kind of a joke, but I have to dance while I’m DJing. Laugh if you must — it works!

Oh we will laugh … but with you, not at you. What’s this about movie scores in your mix?  Vocal, tribal and disco house are my main genres, but my flavor is cinematic. I collected film scores when I was younger and that seeps into my sets literally and figuratively. My latest Podcast opens with a recent remix of “Pure Imagination” from Willy Wonka, for instance. That’s very much a nerd response, so please print “fun and slutty” instead.

You got it. All right, we have some songs we’ll want you to play…  That’s a tricky one. It’s like flying an airplane with a backseat driver. I take requests under consideration, but I have to worry about keeping everyone happy, not just the person making the request.

Fine. We’ll slip in a phat cash tip. What’s your magic track?  I have a few songs that work particularly well, but it depends on the event as to which one might get played.  There’s a sort of magic associated with the Almighty version of “Perfect Day,” and mine and Bryan Reyes’ remix of Leona Lewis & Avicii’s “Collide” is an audience favorite.

The real question is, do you check your Scruff while DJing?  I try to keep the phone off while DJing. But if you see a hot guy on the floor, there’s that inescapable urge to look him up and message him instantly, so you won’t forget.

You are so right about that.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition January 13, 2012.

—  Kevin Thomas

Deaths • 11.04.11


John "Spanke" Studer

John “Spanke” Studer was born in Beattie, Kansas on April 10, 1955 to Ted and Margaret Studer, and died peacefully at his home on Oct. 31, at the age of 56.

Studer was an active member of the Cathedral of Hope in Dallas, volunteering his services as a docent as well as in the church’s baking ministry.

He was also well known for his significant contributions to AIDS Services of Dallas.  According ASD’s President and CEO Don Maison, Studer served on the agency’s board for several years and over the past 20 years he catered and hosted  Spanke’s Toilet Paper Parties, collecting thousands and thousands of rolls of toilet paper, toothbrushes, soap and other personal items ASD residents and raising between $2,000 to $5,000 twice each year throughout that time.

Studer also served on the boards of of the Dallas Bears, Texas Bear Association and the Resource Center Dallas. In June, Dallas Bears named him Bear of the Year in recognition of his years of service to the community and his work in this year’s successful Texas Bear Round-Up.

He touched the lives of many friends and all who knew him understood he had a heart as big as the gentle man he was.

A memorial service will be held at the Cathedral of Hope, 5910 Cedar Springs Road, on Friday Nov. 4 at 10 a.m., followed by a reception at the church. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be sent to AIDS Services of Dallas

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

—  Kevin Thomas