The Pretty Things Peepshow tonight at The Kessler

Sword swallowing, fire eating and burlesque dancing, oh my

The Pretty Things Peepshow recalls old-timey circuses or better yet, the HBO show Carnivale, which really left viewers hanging. This vintage vaudeville sideshow packs in a whallop of acts into two and a half hours. For a hump day, acts that include electric chairs, animal traps and whip cracking might even outdo the Dallas Eagle. We’re kinda looking forward to the special burlesque dancing which includes a fan dance and spinning fire tassels. For real! You won’t see that on the dance floor at S4.

The show even features the “Midget of Mischief” Lil Miss Firefly who stands just over two feet and performs as the night’s glass walker and straight jacket escape artists. Yeah, there’s too much to miss to not make this show tonight.

DEETS: The Kessler, 1230 W. Davis St. 9 p.m. $15. TheKessler.org.

—  Rich Lopez

Son of a beach

A family vacation proves unexpectedly gay as Myrtle Beach, S.C., gets Pride

RAINBOW TOUR | Nearly 200 beachcombers — including the author (dark green, just right of center) — stepped away from the surf and gathered in a field to form a human rainbow flag.

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

The trip to Myrtle Beach, S.C., had more to do with a family reunion than finding a good destination for gay travelers. After all, Myrtle Beach is a pretty lazy, conservative town in the perennial Red State, one where teenaged spring breakers and families gather to enjoy the warm surf and the resort-town appeal of seafood and beachcombing and overpriced cocktails. Queer travelers can hit one of the three gay bars, all within blocks of each other — Club Traxx, Time Out! and the Rainbow House (a lesbian club).

But the weekend I arrived , just by coincidence, it turned out to be Gay Pride.

Keep in mind, the gay community in Myrtle Beach is small, so “Gay Days,” plural, felt more like Gay Day, singular: One major event and then life as usual in Coastal Carolina.

The major event, though, was an ambitious one: Gathering members of the LGBT community and their allies to form a “human rainbow flag:” People signed up to wear a pastel-colored T-shirt and arrange themselves in the traditional configuration. A few others wore black, forming the flagpole.

The entire event was threatened by showers late Friday and early Saturday, but despite a slightly muddy field, nearly 200 people turned out, huddled closely on a muggy afternoon, while a photographer flew above in a helicopter.

Numbers weren’t uniform; there were too many reds and too few purples; but the effect was one of a flag waving in the breeze.

In order to do the shoot, members faced each other before bending forward to allow the broad field of their shirts to form the colors. Directly across from me stood Elke Kennedy, a resident of Greenville in the Upstate. Elke and her husband established SeansLastWish.org, raising awareness of anti-gay violence, after their gay son was beaten to death and his killer spent less than a year in jail.

Elke spoke at a rally following the photoshoot, and dozens in attendance listened to her recount her  son’s harrowing attack and death before two drag queens performed and a DJ spun dance hits. People started to file out after a while, off to the beach, or the clubs, or even the boardwalk, where the Texas Star-like Skywheel gives great views of the beach … and sits next door to the campily named souvenir shop the Gay Dolphin.

The latter was always may favorite place when I was growing up; you’d think my parents would have caught on sooner.

Click here for additional photos.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 26, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

The lost art of cruising

‘Electro-tricks’ may be quicker and easier, but half the fun of the hook-up was working at it

Hardy Haberman | Flagging Left

I don’t get out much — at least to the bars. First of all I don’t drink anymore, and second, I am not really looking to hook up with anyone since I am in a very nice relationship.

I do, however, occasionally meet friends out for the evening or for a special event.

When I do go out, it is most often to our local leather bar, the Dallas Eagle, and I often indulge in a little people watching. I like to watch the crowd, the way people interact with one another, the ebb and flow of what was once a favorite past time of gay men: cruising.

What surprised me was the lack of that particular gay art going on.

First, let me say this is not a reflection on the Eagle; it’s a fine, first-class leather bar. What I noticed is something I have seen in other cities as well, and it bothers me a bit.

Now for those who might not know, cruising is a delicate dance men used to perform when looking for a partner, playmate or just trick du jour. It usually began with some long, slow looks, occasional subtle signals like a nod, the touch of the brim of a cap, a purposeful second glance or even just a slight change in body language.

If two people read the signals, and actually respond, it might proceed to sending over a drink — or a more direct approach. Often before actually making contact, you would ask a few friends if they knew the man in question, and for the leather scene that would also entail asking if anyone knew more intimate details: Was he a safe player? What was he into?

Of course, we also had the hanky code. It was a more direct and cut to the chase way to let folks know what you were seeking.

I won’t go into the details here, but the basics were: Hanky in the left pocket meant you were a top, and hanky in the right pocket meant you were a bottom.

Still, even with outward signs, there was an art to the whole endeavor. If done correctly, it had an element of seduction in it and all the sexual energy that went with it.

Sadly, I don’t see much of that going on anymore.

What I do see is guys checking their smart phones. Looking a little closer, I see them using Grindr, checking Recon and texting.

That’s when I realized what happened to cruising: It has gone the way of the dodo.

What was once a face-to-face encounter that actually took some time and energy is now a fast, down-and-dirty, “check a few profiles and text enough contacts until you pull a winning number” routine.

The whole cruising experience has become an electronic booty call with no mystery, no romance and no effort.

Oh yes, it is much more efficient. You can select from the variety of “neck-down pictures” and body statistics, like you were choosing a download on Amazon.

Find Mr. Right or at least Mr. Right Enough for Now, text a few lines, set a time and bingo! Insta-trick!

All very high tech and painless. No face-to-face rejections, no appallingly awkward moments. Just on-line chat and, essentially, “booking.”

It would seem to me that applications like Grindr and sites like Recon and CraigsList have replaced the whole cruising experience, and though it might be much more efficient, it really changes to atmosphere in the bars.

The heady sexual tension that used to permeate gay bars has given way to guys and gals on their smart phones texting or cruising — the web. One bar in Florida even has a screen where patrons can text directly to the screen, sort of a visual “shout out” for all to see.

Inevitably, the whole electro-trick phenomenon has spawned something totally unexpected. My partner commented on the subject of this column and suggested there should be an Angie’s List for Grindr.

I was surprised this morning when, while researching this piece, I found something very much like that.

Douchebagsofgrindr.com may just be a parody, but if not it offers some insight into the whole process. Personally, I find it kind of crass, but then I find the whole “electro-trick-speed-dating-booty-call” app thing crass.

It makes me long for the days of actually having to spend a little time to pursue and attract and seduce someone you were interested in. Try that now and I suspect you’d just get accused of being a stalker.

Hardy Haberman is a longtime local LGBT activist and a board member of the Woodhull Freedom Alliance. His blog is at DungeonDiary.Blogspot.com.

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

—  Kevin Thomas

Cazwell headlines a full day of Razzle Dazzle today

Bedazzled

Once you recover from last night’s MetroBall, then you have a full day of Razzle Dazzle with today’s street festival. The day starts with the Sidewalk Sale and Fair where merchants once again offer discounts on your shopping excursions. The cool part will be the vintage auto show.About 50 autos from Classic Chassis Car Club will be parked along Cedar Springs Road until 4 p.m.

The night picks up when the Street Festival gets underway featuring live performances by Cheer Dallas, The Bright, Uptown Players, Chaz Marie, the Gary Floyd Trio and more. DJs Mickey Briggs and Tim Pfleuger provide dance music all night. All that will be highlighted by the return of Cazwell on the mainstage. And there is still all the goings-on in the bars and Midway of carnival games, a mechanical bull and an obstacle course. This could be like gay Wipeout.

DEETS: Cedar Springs Road and Throckmorton Streets. Sidewalk sale 10 a.m.–4 p.m., Street Festival 7 p.m.–1 a.m. Free. RazzleDazzleDallas.com.

—  Rich Lopez

Memorial Weekend dance party at old Club One

So you think you can dance?
You’ll have the opportunity to show off those dance moves at the star-studded Memorial Weekend party with DJs Seth Cooper, pictured, and Roland Belmares spinning out the night at the old Club One spot. It’ll be just like old times. The two will deliver the beats, while you boogie on down.

DEETS: 3025 Main St. 10 p.m. PaulKraftProductions.com

—  Rich Lopez

LOCAL BRIEFS: HRC and LULAC hold Cinco de Mayo

The Human Rights Campaign will partner with the local LGBT chapter of LULAC — The Dallas Rainbow Council to celebrate Cinco De Mayo.

The annual Salsa Cocktails event —featuring dancers, food and high-energy music — takes place at Havana, 4006 Cedar Springs Road, at 7 p.m. on Thursday, May 5.

“We have already confirmed Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez as one of our speakers,” said Kimberly Williams, HRC event coordinator. “Our dance group will also offer free salsa dance lessons for our guests.”

HRC and LULAC will talk about recent national and local successes. The public is invited to attend. The event is free, although a $20 donation to HRC at the door will get two free cocktails and hors d’oeuvres.

“Both HRC and LULAC will have information about membership and ways to get active,” said Jesse Garcia, president of LULAC 4871. “We have great projects coming up this summer. We invite community members ready to get involved to come learn about opportunities to further equality.”

—  John Wright

Cedar Springs Art Festival today

Street art a different way

Before celebrating Easter in the Park, check-in to the Cedar Springs Art Festival. Local art, food booths and snowcones make this a must. Plus, it’s probably the only art fest with dance music.

DEETS: Cedar Springs Road and Throckmorton Street. 10 a.m. Free. ShopCedarSprings.com.

—  Rich Lopez

Weekly Best Bets

Friday 04.22

Life is a … oh, you know it
This doesn’t look like your usual Liza version. The Dallas Theater Center stages the Kander and Ebb musical Cabaret, and by the looks of their ad campaign, it’s going to be sizzling. Sure Sally Bowles is the central character, but weren’t you always intrigued by the mysterious master of ceremonies? We’re even more so now.

DEETS: Wyly Theatre, 2400 Flora St. Through May 22. $10–$80. DallasTheaterCenter.org.

 

Friday 04.22

La vida out and proud
Not only did Ricky Martin come out in one of the most eloquent ways ever, he took to using his celebrity in advocating for LGBT rights. That only made him sexier than he already is. As if he needed to add to his hotness, he’s been baring a whole lot more skin lately — and we likey.

DEETS: Verizon Theatre, 1001 Performance Place., Grand Prairie  8 p.m. $40–$126.
Ticketmaster.com.

 

Saturday 04.23

Street art a different way
Before celebrating Easter in the Park, check-in to the Cedar Springs Art Festival. Local art, food booths and snowcones make this a must. Plus, it’s probably the only art fest with dance music.

DEETS: Cedar Springs Road and Throckmorton Street. 10 a.m. Free. ShopCedarSprings.com.

—  John Wright

Interpretive Dance

On the BBC’s Fast And Loose, panelists wearing noise-blocking headphones must discern the title of the song being acted out by comedian David Armand. Sort of like ASL for the hearing. Previous installments of this bit are here.

Joe. My. God.

—  David Taffet

Dance Of The Sugar Plum Lesbians

This story makes its seventh annual appearance on JMG….

Grand Central Terminal functions as the mechanical heart of midtown New York City, pumping out several thousand workers and tourists on one beat, then sucking in several thousand more on the next.

The rhythms of the terminal are fascinating.

Beat. Four thousand, inbound from New Haven.

Beat. Three thousand, outbound to Westchester.

Worlds collide on the main floor.

The tourists gawk up at the gloriously ornate ceiling and uselessly flash their digital cameras at objects hundreds of feet away.

The commuters rush up to the track displays to determine their track number, then dart across the terminal floor, dodging the milling tourists, heads down, like running backs heading for the end zone.

It’s mesmerizing. It’s majestic.

And sometimes, like tonight, it’s magical.

I’m walking through the massive main room just as the holiday laser show begins on the ceiling. To the tune of Take The “A” Train, the laser depicts two trains arriving from different directions. The trains stop opposite each other and a reindeer leaps out of each one and crosses over to the opposite train.

The laser traces the outline of one of the zodiac constellations painted on the ceiling. The Cancer crab leaps to life and becomes the Crab Conductor, waddling down the center aisle of the car, punching the reindeers’ ticket stubs with his claws.

I move over to the edge of the room, near the entrance for Track 25, so I can watch the reaction to the show. As usual, I’m more entertained by watching the audience than by watching the actual show.

At the ticket windows, standing in front of signs that say “Harlem Line” or “Hudson Line”, commuters tilt their heads painfully back to view the show directly overhead. The tourists cluster in delighted circles, holding each others’ elbows for balance as they nearly bend over backwards.

Some people move to the edges of the great hall, as I have, to remove themselves from the traffic flow while they watch. Among those that come to join me on the perimeter of the room is a lesbian couple. They stand quite close to me, the taller woman behind the shorter one, with her arms wrapped around her, supporting her a bit as they both lean back on the marble wall.

The shorter woman is stout with a large firm chest. Her hair is short and brushed back into what might have once been called a ducktail. She has an ornate tattoo on her left forearm and she has a leather wallet protruding from the rear pocket of her jeans, attached to her leather belt by a short silver chain. She has more than a passing resemblence to Tony Danza, her big boobs notwithstanding, so naturally (in my head) I name her Toni.

Toni’s girlfriend is blond and her short ponytail dangles just above her collar. She is wearing long Christmas tree earrings which nearly brush her shoulders. Her lanky, sinewy limbs are bound in a tight running outfit, over which she is wearing a school athletic jacket. I imagine that she might be a coach at Yale or Harvard, perhaps a girls lacrosse coach, or maybe track and field.

Coach is squeezing Toni tightly and they bounce together to the music a bit. Coach looks over at me and catches me smiling. She nudges Toni, who looks over at me too, and we all grin goofily at each other for a moment.

Overhead, a new show begins. The familiar opening notes of Tchaikovsky’s Dance Of The Sugar Plum Fairies ring out as the Empire State and the Chrysler buildings sprout arms, bow to each other, and begin waltzing across the ceiling.

I look around the room and it’s as if time was frozen for just a second, every person stopped in mid-stride, eyes cast upward, mouths open in silent joy.

Toni pushes away from Coach, turns around and delivers her a bow as deep and as elegant as the one just depicted overheard.

“Madame, may I please have this dance?” she asks Coach.

Coach looks around a bit awkwardly. “You are TOO much!” And she giggles.

“Madame, I must insist!” says Toni, as she takes Coach’s hands into hers.

Coach relents and she and Toni begin a beautful, slow waltz, moving in half-time to the music. As you might have guessed already, Toni leads.

As they dance, their eyes remain locked on each other. Toni is giving Coach an intense look, her lips tightly curled into a satisfied smile. Coach is grinning from ear to ear and again, she giggles.

All around Coach and Toni, the tourists, the businessmen, the students, the conductors, even the guy with a broom…they’re all watching. Some are expressionless, but more are smiling, and some of them…some of them are frantically fussing with their cameras, eager to capture this magical New York Moment.

Serendipity prevails, the tune ends, and Toni dips Coach backwards with a dramatic upsweep of her free arm as a firestorm of camera flashes erupt around them. Toni pulls Coach up and close to her and they hug. There’s another camera flash and the crowd begins to move along.

Then.

“Hey, look!”

The laser show is being concluded with giant sprigs of mistletoe appearing over our heads. This time it’s Coach who bends down and plants a long tender kiss on Toni’s non-lipsticked mouth. There’s another flash of cameras from the delighted audience.

Toni takes Coach’s hand and they begin to move off towards the exit.

“Oh, don’t stop!” says a disappointed woman, still rummaging for her camera.

Toni looks back over her shoulder and says, “I never will.”

Grand Central Terminal, the mechanical heart of New York City, beats again. But this time I hear a different rhythm. This time I hear a double beat.

HAPPY HOLIDAYS EVERYBODY!

Joe. My. God.

—  admin