The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier at the DMA

Gaultier gets his proper due

The world has ooh-ed and ahh-ed over designer Jean Paul Gaultier’s striking fashions for years, but from afar. The Dallas Museum of Art brings the designer’s work up close in the highly anticipated exhibit The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk. The exhibit includes not only his fashions, but an animatronic mannequin of the designer. And it talks!

DEETS: DMA, 1717 N. Harwood St. Through Feb. 12. $16–$20. DallasMuseumofArt.org.

—  Rich Lopez

The good, the bad & the ‘A-List’

These arts, cultural & sports stories defined gay Dallas in 2011

FASHIONS AND FORWARD  |  The Jean Paul Gaultier exhibit at the DMA, above, was a highlight of the arts scene in 2011, while Dirk Nowitzki’s performance in the NBA playoffs gave the Mavs their first-ever — and much deserved — world title. (Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)

FASHIONS AND FORWARD | The Jean Paul Gaultier exhibit at the DMA, above, was a highlight of the arts scene in 2011, while Dirk Nowitzki’s performance in the NBA playoffs gave the Mavs their first-ever — and much deserved — world title. (Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)

A lot of eyes were focused on Dallas nationally in 2011 — for good and bad — but much of what made the city a fun place last year has specific queer appeal. CULTURE The rise of the reality TV star. 2011 was the year Dallas made a big splash across everyone’s television sets — and it had nothing to do with who shot J.R. (although that’s pending). From the culinary to the conniving, queer Dallasites were big on the small screen. On the positive side were generally good portrayals of gay Texans. Leslie Ezelle almost made it all the way in The Next Design Star, while The Cake Guys’ Chad Fitzgerald is still in contention on TLC’s The Next Great Baker. Lewisville’s Ben Starr was a standout on MasterChef. On the web, Andy Stark, Debbie Forth and Brent Paxton made strides with Internet shows Bear It All, LezBeProud and The Dallas Life,respectively.

‘A’ to Z  |  ‘The A-LIst: Dallas,’ above, had its detractors, but some reality TV stars from Big D, like Chad Fitzgerald, Leslie Ezelle and Ben Starr, represented us well.

‘A’ to Z | ‘The A-LIst: Dallas,’ above, had its detractors, but some reality TV stars from Big D, like Chad Fitzgerald, Leslie Ezelle and Ben Starr, represented us well.

There were downsides, though. Drew Ginsburg served as the token gay on Bravo’s teeth-clenching Most Eligible: Dallas, and the women on Big Rich Texas seemed a bit clichéd. But none were more polarizing than the cast of Logo’s The A-List: Dallas. Whether people loved or hated it, the six 20somethings (five gays, one girl) reflected stereotypes that made people cringe. Gaultier makes Dallas his runway. The Dallas Museum of Art scored a coup, thanks to couture. The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk not only featured the work of the famed designer, but was presented the designs in an innovative manner. Nothing about it was stuffy. Seeing his iconic designs in person is almost a religious experience — especially when its Madonna’s cone bra. Gaultier reminded us that art is more than paintings on a wall. (A close runner-up: The Caravaggio exhibit in Fort Worth.) The Return of Razzle Dazzle. ­­There was speculation whether Razzle Dazzle could actually renew itself after a near-decade lull, but the five-day spectacular was a hallmark during National Pride Month in June, organized by the Cedar Springs Merchant Association. The event started slowly with the wine walk but ramped up to the main event street party headlined by rapper Cazwell. Folding in the MetroBall with Deborah Cox, the dazzle had returned with high-profile entertainment and more than 10,000 in attendance on the final night. A Gathering pulled it together. TITAS executive director Charles Santos took on the daunting task of producing A Gathering, a collective of area performance arts companies, commemorating 30 years of AIDS. Groups such as the Dallas Opera, Turtle Creek Chorale and Dallas Theater Center donated their time for this one-of-a-kind show with all proceeds benefiting Dallas’ leading AIDS services organizations. And it was worth it. A stirring night of song, dance and art culminated in an approximate 1,000 in attendance and $60,000 raised for local charities. Bravo, indeed. The Bronx closed after 35 years. Cedar Springs isn’t short on its institutions, but when it lost The Bronx, the gayborhood felt a real loss. For more than three decades, the restaurant was home to many Sunday brunches and date nights in the community. We were introduced to Stephan Pyles there, and ultimately, we just always figured on it being there as part of the fabric of the Strip. A sister company to the neighboring Warwick Melrose bought the property with rumors of expansion. But as yet, the restaurant stands steadfast in its place as a reminder of all those memories that happened within its walls and on its plates.  The Omni changed the Dallas skyline. In November, The Omni Dallas hotel opened the doors to its 23-story structure and waited to fill it’s 1,000 rooms to Dallas visitors and staycationers. Connected to the Dallas Convention Center, the ultra-modern hotel is expected to increase the city’s convention business which has the Dallas Visitors and Conventions Bureau salivating — as they should. The hotel brought modern flair to a booming Downtown and inside was no different. With quality eateries and a healthy collection of art, including some by gay artists Cathey Miller and Ted Kincaid, the Omni quickly became a go-to spot for those even from Dallas. SPORTS The Super Bowl came to town. Although seeing the Cowboys make Super Bowl XLV would have been nice for locals, the event itself caused a major stir, both good and bad. Ticketing issues caused a commotion with some disgruntled buyers and Jerry Jones got a bad rap for some disorganization surrounding the game. But the world’s eyes were on North Texas as not only the game was of a galactic measure, but the celebs were too. From Kardashians to Ke$ha to Kevin Costner, parties and concerts flooded the city and the streets. The gays even got in on the action. Despite crummy weather, the Super Street Party was billed as the “world’s first ever gay Super Bowl party.” The ice and snow had cleared out and the gays came out, (and went back in to the warmer clubs) to get their football on. The XLV Party at the Cotton Bowl included a misguided gay night with acts such as Village People, Lady Bunny and Cazwell that was ultimately canceled. The Mavericks won big. The Mavs are like the boyfriend you can’t let go of because you see how much potential there is despite his shortcomings. After making the playoffs with some just-misses, the team pulled through to win against championship rivals, Miami Heat, who beat them in 2006. In June, the team cooled the Heat in six games, taking home its first NBA Championship, with Dirk Nowitzki appropriately being named MVP. The Rangers gave us faith. Pro sports ruled big in these parts. The Mavericks got us in the mood for championships and the Texas Rangers almost pulled off a victory in the World Series. With a strong and consistent showing for the season, the Rangers went on to defend their AL West Division pennant. Hopes were high as they handily defeated the Detroit Tigers in game six, but lost the in the seventh game. Although it was a crushing loss, the Texas Rangers proved why we need to stand by our men.

— Rich Lopez

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition January 6, 2012.

—  Michael Stephens

Spirit of giving

2011 Toy Drive for children with cancer

Dr. Christine J. Coke of Allen is once again collecting new, unwrapped toys and gift cards from Toys R’ Us, Target or WalMart to donate to the Children’s Cancer Fund to benefit children undergoing treatment for cancer.

Donations can be dropped off at Dr. Coke’s office, 107 Suncreek Drive, Ste. 200 in Allen by Saturday, Dec. 17. You can also arrange to have donations picked up by calling Dr. Coke’s office at 214-383-1380, or by calling Linda Lucky any time at 214-632-9271.

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Cocktails for a Cause Red Ribbon Bash

The Cocktails for a Cause Red Ribbon Bash, benefiting Resource Center Dallas, begins at 6:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 9, at Central 214 at Hotel Palomar, 5300 E. Mockingbird. Admission is $25.

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Hardy Candy Christmas benefit show and auction

Miss IGRA Victoria Weston, Trisha Davis and Donna Dumae host the 25th annual Hardy Candy Christmas benefit show and auction, presented by TGRA-Dallas and the United Court of the Lone Star Empire on Saturday, Dec. 10, starting at 8 p.m., at Dallas Eagle, 5740 Maple Ave.

Proceeds benefit TGRA and UCLSE and the organizations they have chosen as beneficiaries.

Other events coming up at Dallas Eagle include the Stocking Stuffers Auction benefiting PPF on Dec. 16 and UCLE’s Jingle Ball Golden Rings 5 benefiting Youth First Texas on Dec. 17.

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Christmas Stocking Auction at The Round-Up

The Round-Up Saloon, 3912 Cedar Springs Road, will hold its annual Christmas Stocking Auction on Sunday, Dec. 11, at 7 p.m. Doors open at 6 p.m., and preview baskets will be on display in the bar on Saturday, Dec. 10.

Proceeds benefit Legacy Counseling Center and Legacy Founders Cottage.

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Black Tie Dinner check distribution party

The Black Tie Dinner committee will distribute checks representing proceeds from its 30th annual dinner, held last month, to the Human Rights Campaign and the dinner’s 17 local beneficiaries on Thursday, Dec. 15, at 6 p.m. at the Dallas Museum of Art, 1717 N. Harwood. Those attending will also have the chance to visit the exhibit The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk, now on display at the museum.

Go online to BlackTie.org for information.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 9, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

Art attack

Dallas gets a dose of queer and queer-friendly art options this month

Maybe the holiday season inspires artists or inspires buyers, but whichever the reason, Dallas’ art scene is in full bloom with openings, closings and anniversaries. These galleries are ready to introduce you to a world of art in your own backyard.

Local queer artist Robb Conover closes his pop art extravaganza Sweet Bullets at Kettle Art Friday. Conover curated the show with fellow artist Corey Godfrey, which includes work by Tony Reans, Nix Johnson, Daniel Birdsong, Conover and Godfrey and more. Expect an explosion of bold colors and pop culture references in this eclectic exhibit. Upon the closing of the show, the gallery will celebrate its seventh anniversary. Kettle Art, 2714 Elm St. KettleArt.com.

Local funny gay guy Dave Cudlipp debuts as an artist in Fresh Faces 2 x 2. Curator Rita Barnard’s goal of the show is to highlight local and regional artists both discovered and yet to be. Cudlipp, who we featured before as a writer for Dallas Comedy Conspiracy, shows his other talents in the exhibit where artists are required to get creative in a two by two inch space. Bath House Cultural Center, 521 E. Lawther Drive. Through Jan. 28 with an artists’ reception Dec. 3 at 7 p.m. 214-670-8749. BathHouseCultural.com.

The Dallas Museum of Art continues it’s stunning exhibit The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk, featuring the designer’s edgy clothes over the years as well as added elements such as animatronic mannequins — including one of Gaultier himself. Dallas Museum of Art, 1717 N. Harwood St. Through Feb. 12. $16–$20. DallasMuseumofArt.org.

Alison Jardine displays her work, pictured, in PixelNation at Ro2 Art gallery at the Aloft. The digital art works are the result of Jardine creating through her iPad for 365 consecutive days. With such a modern approach, Jardine ironically takes on nature as her theme with a pixel motif. Ro2Art at Aloft, 1033 Young St. Through Dec. 29 with an artist’s reception Dec. 2 at 7 p.m. 214-803-9575. Ro2Art.com.

The Downtown gallery of Ro2Art will simultaneously feature Dallas-based artist R. Mateo Diago’s work in Every Then … and Now. The exhibit includes works from an array of media such as photography, painting, found objects and even letters and notes. Diago’s work is described as giving weight to themes of lost loves, self-identity, dreams and sexual compulsion. Sounds like his work speaks to everybody. Ro2 Art, 110 N. Akard St. Dec. 17–Jan. 28 with an artist’s reception Dec. 17. 214-803-9575. Ro2Art.com.

Applying math and musical concepts in his work, Dallas-based Rusty Scruby takes his photographic work to a new level. In Memory Bytes, Scruby hand cuts and reassembles his works into constructions of hexagons and circles in a simulated knitting style. Taking the seemingly mundane, he transforms family photos, yearbook pictures and more into further dimensions that demand a deeper look. Cris Worley Fine Arts, 2277 Monitor St. Through Dec. 22. 214-641-9266. CrisWorley.com.

The works of British artist Nigel Cooke can either bring forth a sense of renewal or evoke a feeling of dread. Either way it can be fascinating in his art currently on display at the Goss-Michael Foundation. 1405 Turtle Creek Blvd. Through Feb. 18. 214-696-0555. GossMichaelFoundation.org.

— Rich Lopez

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 2, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

The Rachofskys make Poz magazine’s 100 list

The December issue of Poz reveals the Poz 100 list featuring those who have made a difference in the fight against HIV/AIDS. Dallas made the list through the work of Cindy and Howard Rachofsky and their Two X Two for AIDS and Art benefit. From Poz.com.

The key to how we do this is, in part, the POZ 100. This year’s list celebrates 100 people, things and ideas that reinvent—and improve—how we tackle HIV.

We would need tens of thousands of pages to celebrate all the wonderful people and organizations bravely and effectively fighting the virus. The purpose of the POZ 100 is to highlight some of those who are making big splashes right now. This year’s list is a little top heavy. By that we mean there are a lot of big names in government and global AIDS on it. But the reality of today’s pinched economy means that all AIDS funding is under heavy artillery fire. And the folks on this list have been taking the hits while defending the perimeter. They have gone to bat for our community when others would like us just to go away. And without leadership on global and domestic AIDS at the highest levels, the money expires—and so could we.

79. The Rachofskys 
Cindy and Howard Rachofsky, superstars in the world of AIDS fund-raising, bring fresh dollars to the mix. To date, their annual “TWO X TWO for AIDS and Art” event has raised more than $29 million jointly benefiting amfAR (of which Cindy is a trustee) and the Dallas Museum of Art. They get art donated to save people from AIDS. Each year, Dallas’s high society scrambles to secure tickets to this event.

—  Rich Lopez

Holiday Gift Guide 2011 • Online Exclusives

LOOK BOOK

Spanning the glamour of the 1930s to the pop culture extremes of the 1980s, the new 600 page book Decades of Fashion is ideal for any lover of couture. The pictorial review of fashion through the 20th century covers corsets to kaftans and so much more. Decades of Fashion is priced at $14.99.

Available at Barnes and Noble locations and Amazon.com.


 

 

STAY!

These dogs will easily take to the stay command because they are made with iron. The taller dog is created from an acid wash iron that sits on wood. And its smaller cohort is bronze-finished on iron atop a marble base. The best part is — they don’t shed.The statues are priced at $120 and $95 respectively.

Nuvo, 3900 Cedar Springs Road.
214-522-6886. NuvoDallas.com.

 

NEVER GO SLEEVELESS

These iPhone sleeves come in bold colors that will make the phone an easy find when it slips out of sight. The sleeves are made of German merino felt with logo embossed leather detail. They are priced at $24.

Dallas Museum of Art Museum Store, 1717 N. Harwood St.
214-922-1255. ShopDMA.org.

 

 

DIVINE DISC
Taped before thousands in The Colosseum at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, the 70-minute cavalcade The Showgirl Must Go On features many of Bette Midler’s colorful and classic stage and screen characters.  Joining her on the gargantuan stage is an energetic corps of talented performers, including the staggering Harlettes, twenty dazzling dancers she calls The Caesar Salad Girls and a 13-piece band.  Ms. Midler’s superstar power shines in renditions of her immortal songs including “The Rose,” “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy,” “From a Distance,” “Hello in There” and “Wind Beneath My Wings.” The Showgirl Must Go On comes in DVD and Blu-Ray and priced at $19.98 and $24.98 respectively.

Available through Amazon.com.

 

HELLO CUPCAKE!

Whether serving them at a holiday party or giving as a gift, these are baked fresh upon order and delivered to your door. How easy is that?  And the tiny ones are like little stocking stuffers for your mouth. Dee-lish!

214-718-5814. MostlyCupcakes.com.

Don’t think that’s all there is. This year we’re doing something a little different. From Nov.  25 (Black Friday) to Dec. 16, we’ll be posting a gift-a-day to help with your holiday shopping decisions. From stocking stuffers to high-tech gadgets and everything in between, we’ll have gift ideas for everyone on your list.

—  Rich Lopez

SEX… in a fashion

The DMA’s exhibit on the fashions of Jean Paul Gaultier exudes sex appeal with a big dose of flamboyance

Fashion-1

DRESSED TO KILL IT | Gay fashion pioneer Jean Paul Gaultier oversees his own exhibit (Below) as an Animatronic mannequin, a fascinating technology that only accentuates the brilliance of the designs. (Photography by Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)

 

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

For a man best known for creating the Valkyrie-like conical breastplate that shot Madonna into the pop culture stratosphere, Jean Paul Gaultier is a surprisingly humble person. While he’s clearly delighted to have his fashions on display — as they are at the Dallas Museum of Art in the traveling exhibit The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk, which runs through February — he makes one thing plain: He does not consider fashion “art.”

“My work is not art,” he says flatly. “My job is to make clothes that have to be worn. My role is not to create in the abstract but to be inspired by the needs and desires of the people. So I am in service to that. Art is art — it is a personal vision of the artist.” He pauses, then adds with a smile, “My collections are my babies, though.”

While the designer himself may not consider his work product “art” in an academic sense, there are probably few who would agree with him. More so than most fashion designers, Jean Paul Gaultier’s style is instantly recognizable, even without seeing the label.

He almost single-handedly moved the bustier from the boudoir to the arena stage, cladding Madonna in a corset for her Blonde Ambition tour in 1990, immediately making legends of them both.

It’s not just brassieres, but lace bodysuits, silk leotards, men in skirts — Gaultier takes fashion rules and sets them on their heads, turning out wearable art (there, we said it) that is both old-fashioned, even classical, and futuristic — but always oozing sex.

“My love for fashion belongs to the fact I saw a movie from the 1940s when I was 12,” he says. “In the movie, they did a beautiful description of couture.” (Now, when he works with a film director — as he did recently with Pedro Almodovar on The Skin I Live In, or Luc Besson on several films — “it is like I return to that [moment]”.)

But really, the germ of his style was started by what a pre-teen Jean Paul found in his grandmother’s wardrobe.

“I was fascinated by the whole world of my grandmother’s closet — it was beautiful and different,” he says. “It was underwear that could be worn as outerwear. I stole my ideas from her.”

Though not just her. Gaultier was inspired by television, by old movies, by showgirls — anything that offered a view of beauty he could re-imagine on the runway.

“My definition of beauty — there’s not one type. Beauty is beauty — you can find it in different places,” he says.

It’s a keystone not only of his design style, but of the DMA’s astonishingly exciting exhibit. (Anyone who doesn’t think a Gaultier gown deserves formal museum treatment obviously hasn’t seen the show.) In just a handful of rooms, we move from camp to punk — with many, many visits to edgy haute couture.

In the first gallery, visitors are introduced to Gaultier himself, talking about his fashions via a quasi-Animatronic mannequin that captures his actual face and voice, projected with unnerving authenticity. That happens with a lot of the mannequins, some of whom seem to look back, even judge you. (One Mohawk’d man in tights and a codpiece seemed to be flirting with me; I bet he does that with all the boys.) Lanky sailor boys in striped Apaché T-shirts look as if they leaped from a Tom of Finland drawing; that cone bra is also unmistakable.

Walk further, and the second room oozes the dark romance of a bordello, approximating (with its window-like display cases) the red-light district of Amsterdam. “I think when you exit this room, they should give you a cigarette,” I told another patron. She didn’t disagree.

Another room shows the movement of the pieces, sort of, with a moving catwalk that is like a time machine of Gaultier runway fashions, including representative designs from his famous Men in Skirts that took MOMA by storm some years ago. That’s only the most obvious example of the genderbending that is a Gaultier hallmark — and a central theme of the sexual forthrightness of the DMA’s exhibit.

“Androgyny is part of the thing that interests me,” he says, “that moment when the young can pass to adolescence [and] their beauty is between feminine and masculine at the same time. I use it to show in reality how [both sexes] can assume [the identity of the other sex]. In Scotland, you will see me in kilts and they are very masculine — it’s not feminine to wear a skirt [in that context].”

That, Gaultier says, is the essence of freedom, showing that “men can cry just as well as women can fight.”

And this exhibit shows that a designer can be an artist with a bold sense of sex — even if he doesn’t think so.

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ONLINE EXCLUSIVE

Visit DallasVoice. com/ category/ Photos to see more of the Jean Paul Gaultier exhibit at the DMA.

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

—  Kevin Thomas

Best Bets • 11.11.11

Saturday 11.12IMG_1929

We’ll fall for these Con men
With more than 150 artists auctioning off their art and for cheap (opening bid is still $20), Art Con 7 is both the best place for snagging original art and a flat out blast. With live music by the Hope Trust, KERA’s Rawlins Gilliland as auctioneer and all of it benefiting Musical Angels that provides free piano lessons to hospitalized children, it’s unparalleled in offering a fulfilling night.

DEETS:
511 W. Commerce St.
7 p.m. $10.
ArtConspiracy.org.

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Sunday 11.13

Gaultier gets his proper due
The world has oohed and ahhed over designer Jean Paul Gaultier’s striking fashions for years, but from afar. The Dallas Museum of Art brings the designer’s work up close in the highly anticipated exhibit The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk. The exhibit includes not only his fashions, but an animatronic mannequin of the designer. And it talks!

DEETS: DMA,
1717 N. Harwood St. Through
Feb. 12. $16–$20.
DallasMuseumofArt.org.

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Thursday 11.17

The man still is a “Work of Art”
Even with more than 30 years in the music industry, Morrissey still retains an air of mystery. That’s part of his mystique. Sure we’ve discovered tidbits about the former Smiths singer, but his hidden side is part of his allure and odd sex appeal.

DEETS: 
McFarlin Auditorium,
6405 Boaz Lane.
8 p.m. $40–$50.
Ticketmaster.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 11, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Saturday fundraiser raises close to $5 mil for DMA and amfAR

Untitled (In and Out of the Darkness Face 43.01) by Mark Grotjahn

The star-studded Two x Two for AIDS and Art benefit dinner  and art auction reached a record with an astounding $4.8 million sold in art and other items. The money raised will benefit amfAR, the Foundation for AIDS Research and the Dallas Museum of Art. Not too shabby. And neither was the event.

Held at the Rachofsky House, the night included appearances by actor Stanley Tucci, singer Patti LaBelle and emceed by Tony-winner John Benjamin Hickey, also a 2011 Two x Two co-chair. Designer Kenneith Cole and amfAR chairman offered remarks. The Saturday event was a sell-out.

“This record-breaking year is testament to the generous donations by artists and dealers worldwide,” Howard Rachofsky said in the press release.  “The artwork by Mark Grotjahn and its $1 million selling price in the live auction took us over the top. Both Cindy and I are speechless. The audience and bidders continue to recognize the outstanding work of both these important institutions and put their hearts and money into this event.”

The $1 million bid for Grotjahn’s Untitled (In and Out of the Darkness Face 43.01), pictured, was the highest on any one piece in the history of the event.

—  Rich Lopez

There’s no place like home

With the Mavs’ victory and the Super Bowl, all eyes are on Dallas lately. But many locals don’t know just what Uptown has to offer

CLANG CLANG CLANG WENT THE … | Uptown’s trolley service has a history and plans for expansion. Best of all, it’s free. (Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)

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

Every year, when they bring in travel journalists from all over the world to promote Dallas as a gay destination, the Tavern Guild shows them everything the city has to offer a visitor. (See sidebar.) Just this week, all eyes were on Victory Park as the Mavericks won their first NBA championship title. In other words, lots of people from outside have had Uptown Dallas on the brain.
So let me ask: Where, exactly, is Uptown?

There’s a lot even Dallas natives don’t know about the Oak Lawn-adjacent neighborhood. And that’s something the local association is trying to change.

Uptown, officially, is just a single square mile, bordered roughly to the south by Woodall Rodgers Freeway, to the west by the Katy Trail, to the east by North Central Expressway and to the north by Haskell Street. But they’ve packed a ton of stuff in that district: Five hotels, all pretty high end (the Stoneleigh, the Ritz-Carlton, the Crescent Court, Zaza and the Hotel St. Germain); 90 bars and restaurants; three live theaters … and tons of gay folks, of course.

Uptown didn’t used to be “up;” it used to be “low.” When the plans were drafted in the 1980s for construction on the Crescent, the area was described as “Lower Oak Lawn,” which is how many in the gayborhood still see it. But Uptown has some attractions unique to it.

Not the least of these is the McKinney Avenue Trolley system, which circles Uptown before crossing over the Woodall canyon and dead-ending on St. Paul Street between the Dallas Museum of Art and the Fairmont Hotel. That’ll change soon; plans are underway to extend the end of the line and make it a true loop. That should add to the 390,000 riders who hopped one of the three trolleys in 2010. And best of all, they rode them for free.

If you haven’t ridden the trolley yet, it merits your time. Because they are antiques, these are not cookie-cutter light rail trains but variously sized, one-of-a-kind streetcars loaded with history. One of the cars is 101 years old; one has distinctly European styling; they come from as far away as Australia, and run on tracks that won’t need to be repaired for decades.

One trolley trip can take you from right next to Stephan Pyles Restaurant back up McKinney Avenue, where you can grab a cocktail at Sambuca and an appetizer from Fearing’s across the street; up toward State-Thomas, which hides some hip bars like The Nodding Donkey; and past the West Village where Cork has a variety of wines. And you’re just a few paces from the Cityplace DART stop, so you don’t have to drive home after indulging.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition June 17, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens