Chaz Bono attacked for inclusion on ‘DWTS’

Earlier this week I reported that Chaz Bono, the transgender child of Cher and Sonny Bono, was a contestant on Dancing with the Stars. What a great bold move for ABC, I thought. Well, apparently a lot of people think differently. is reporting that ABC’s message board lit up with hostile, hateful comments about Chaz. “How low can this show sink” was one comment. Others suggest that is was “sickening” and simply a media conspiracy to “flaunt” gay culture.

Maybe we need to stick up for our community. If you’re so inclined, you can go here to the DWTS message board and post your own comment. Don’t let the haters win.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Chaz Bono among the celebs on next ‘DWTS’

Chaz Bono, the transgender son of gay pop icon Cher and the late Sonny Bono, is one of the new contestants on the upcoming season of ABC’s Dancing with the Stars. He becomes the first trans person ever on the show. The season will also feature one of the few other gay competitors on the show, former Queer Eye style guru Carson Kressley. (Several seasons ago, Lance Bass made it to the finals of DWTS.)

Chaz and Carson join a (typically) quirky lineup that also includes goofy actor David Arquette (Scream),  shrill conservative talking head Nancy Grace, singer Chynna Phillips and famous-for-nothing celeb Rob Kardashian.

The season premieres Sept. 19.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

10 singers, 3 groups make Voice of Pride finals

Yesternight at the Round-Up Saloon, 10 vocalists and three singing groups made it through to the Voice of Pride finals. Dallas Tavern Guild Executive Director Michael Doughman said this is probably the best crop of talent to come through VOP, and he was pretty much on target. As one of the judges, it was tough to whittle the list down to 10.

Five groups competed, but Steelos, AMPH (pronounced “amp”) and Spare Parts made the cut and will compete Aug. 14 in the finals at the Rose Room.

The 10 singers to move on were Dru Rivera, Angie Landers, Joel Canales, Vanessa Guzman, Juliana Jeffery, Blake Askew, Steven Patterson, Carlos Saenz, Christine Pradia, Kristen Philips. They ranged from classic rock to American standards and everything in between. Just like last year, the field is split evenly with five ladies and five gentlemen advancing.

Perhaps a surprise to some — and definitely to his fan club on hand (with T-shirts) — was the omission of Robert Olivas. Having been named a finalist the last two years, Olivas’ supporters were brought to tears by him not advancing. However, he does still get to compete with Angie Landers as Spare Parts in the group category, and with a solid performance last night, they could be the one to beat.

Now a note to the contestants: I get it – black is slimming and easy, but after the first, oh, like 10, it got really  tiresome. Color isn’t a bad thing. Don’t be afraid of it. Or bedazzle the heck out of those black shirts and pants.

There were some pretty great voices and personalities on stage last night, along with host Victoria Weston, pictured, but dare I say this couple stole the show during the tallying of scores? They pretty much got a 10 from everybody. When they guy pulled her hair (I KNOW!), and dropped her to the floor only to catch her it was better than anything on Dancing With the Stars. I’m hoping fellow judge Gary Floyd will share some of the video he caught of the two wowing us during Donna Summer’s “Last Dance.”

—  Rich Lopez

O’Hurley gives ’em the old razzle dazzle

Don’t toss the term “Renaissance man” at John O’Hurley. He may be an actor, singer, writer and composer, but he just won’t have it. Though maybe he’ll at least have a sense of humor about it.

“Oh, do people still say that?” he asks with a laugh.

O’Hurley is the man you know, but name you can’t quite recall. Most famous for his role as adventurer-businessman J. Peterman on Seinfeld, he’s actually an experienced song-and-dance man, which he gets to remind people of when he returns to the role as Billy Flynn in Chicago, which settles in for five performances at Bass Hall this weekend.

Although he has an extensive stage background, he’s content that many people may only be familiar with the musical through the movie.

“That’s fine, because it rekindled interest in the show,” he says. “The movie was imaginative but the [stage] show is much more. Sets are minimal and in your mind more. It’s such an innovative presentation.”

As with Anderson Cooper and his Chicago predecessor Richard Gere, O’Hurley embodies the silver fox — sexy but mature. His sophistication, good looks and humor are what also prompted People magazine to name him one of their sexiest men alive in 2006, when O’Hurley was a sensation for his appearances on Dancing with the Stars. (He was the runner-up, but later won a celebrity re-match.) The honor, though, was short-lived.

“It was very funny to hear that news. It was during that swirl right after” DWTS, he says. “I remember rolling over with my hair messed up and sleep in my eyes and my wife saying, ‘Look at you, Mr. Sexy.’ She brought me back down to earth then.”

O’Hurley seems to be everywhere — and he prefers it that way. When not touring with Chicago, he hosts the National Dog Show on NBC every Thanksgiving Day, is finishing his third book and composes music.

“I enjoy moving from thing to thing,” he says. “My mind moves in lot of different directions anyways, so I like to do that a lot.”

That keeps his acting chops in tip-top shape.

He’s played Billy Flynn before, but he tries to avoid repeating himself. Each performance is a new adventure.

“I made a promise to myself back in 1984 that I would surprise myself every night,” he says. “Something new will happen or an idea occurs to me and it keeps me fresh and present. The role gets deeper, so it changes every night for me.”

He did appear in the promo video for The Charles Schulz Celebrity Golf  which shows O’Hurley at his best: Dry humor. He endorses Rangé Golf Balls and guess what he invites people to play with? The video is now on YouTube.

—Rich Lopez

Chicago at Bass Hall, 525 Commerce St., Fort Worth. Through June 19. $38–$88.

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

—  Michael Stephens

ABC gets some more gay, loses some

ABC releases its new fall schedule at their “upfronts” this afternoon, revealing which shows have been canceled, renewed or added.

Back again are gay faves Desperate Housewives, Modern Family and Dancing with the Stars, as well as the new sitcom Happy Endings, which has one of my favorite gay characters on TV; gone is that tired soap Brothers & Sisters, which I quit watching more than a season ago.

But there’s some new gay, too. Darren Star, gay creator of Sex and the City, has a new mid-season replacement series, Good Christian Belles, set in, of all places, Dallas. It stars Kristen Chenoweth, and I expect plenty of closeted gay guys somewhere.

CBS, the least gay of the broadcast networks, has its upfront tomorrow.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

George Hamilton joins DSM’s tour of ‘La Cage’

George Hamilton

The national tour of the 2010 Broadway revival of the Jerry Herman-Harvey Fierstein musical La Cage aux Folles, which comes to Dallas Fair Park next year via the Dallas Summer Musicals, has added George Hamilton to the cast. Hamilton will play Georges, the owner of the drag nightclub where his cross-dressing partner, Albin, is the headliner.

Georges was originally played in the current revival by Kelsey Grammar; the part is currently played by Christopher Seiber.

Hamilton is best known for his impossible tan, as well as the movies Where the Boys Are, Love at First Bite and The Godfather Part III. He also appeared in Zorro, the Gay Blade, which as considered a stereotypical portrayal of a gay character, and was a contestant on Dancing with the Stars.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Top Republican TV shows are also gay favorites

‘Modern Family’ was No. 3 on the Republicans’ list.

A new study of TV viewing habits of Republicans vs. Democrats reveals something not surprising — that the two groups like completely different shows. What is surprising is that on the Republican list are more shows that are popular among the LGBT community than on the Democratic list.

Most glaring is the No. 3 Republican show — Modern Family. That program features one of the best portrayals of a gay family ever seen on television. And Ed O’Neill, the patriarch of the family, is married to a woman from Columbia who has moved to the United States with her son. Immigration is not usually a popular Republican theme.

At No. 12 is another very gay show, Desperate Housewives. Bree’s son is gay. There’s a gay couple living on Wisteria Lane. Marc Cherry, the show’s creator who earned his TV cred as a writer for Golden Girls, is gay. Gay, gay, gay. But it’s on the Republican favorites list, not the Democrats’.

Coming in at No. 2 on the Republican side is yet another gay favorite, Dancing With the Stars. I guess that explains Bristol Palin’s continued appearance. Next season there’s talk of a gay couple. The Israeli version of DWTS tried that this year and it’s become the most popular show in that country this season.

And No. 1 is Amazing Race, which usually features gay contestants. The winner of the fourth season was Reichen Lehmkuhl and his partner at the time Chip Arndt. Mel White has appeared. Are Republicans watching to root against these players?

On the Democratic side, the No. 1 show is something called Flashpoint. Really? It’s a CBS show apparently. No. 2 in popularity is a PBS show called Hometime. OK, did Democrats answer this poll seriously?

About the only two shows on the Democratic list that would also be up there on the LGBT list are Brothers and Sisters (No. 10), which features a gay couple living in a family of Democrats with the exception of one progressive Republican sister, and Palin-impersonator Tina Fey’s 30 Rock (No. 15).

Law and Order? Good show but sounds perfectly Republican, right? Nope. Democrats prefer that show. America’s Most Wanted on FOX? Democrats. Really?

Republicans prefer The Mentalist. Democrats prefer Medium. There’s a difference?

Glee? Not on either list.

Only one show made both lists — Friday Night Lights. Great choice by both sides. Republicans rate the show one notch higher than Democrats. The writing is smart, although I’ve never seen anyone actually stick to the script. It’s something other than a police or hospital procedural show. Great character development. Interesting plot. And I’m on the show. (I play a Dillon, Texas reporter on the sidelines of the football games and at press conferences on the show. It’ll be back for its final season in the spring.)

—  David Taffet

Broadcast TV getting gayer, GLAAD says

Every fall season, GLAAD issues a report about LGBT characters on the main networks’ scripted series, and whether that indicates an improvement from years past.  This year’s report notes a “significant increase” in gay characters, according to the study — the most, in fact, ever.

ABC leads the pack with 11 of 152 lead or supporting characters (7.2 percent), helped by shows like Modern Family and Brothers & Sisters. Fox has  5 of 100 (5 percent), including Kurt from Glee, pictured, animated character like Smithers on The Simpsons. NBC marked a decline from last year (only three of 143) and CBS was again in last place with one of 125 (Emmy winner Archie Panjabi from The Good Wife).

The study has its flaws. For instance, the report claims zero gay characters on Fox in 2007, yet one listed now includes Smithers, who has been on the show since 1989 but is considered “recurring” (the study doesn’t including recurring characters in the main figures). And it doesn’t account for, frankly, qualityBrothers & Sisters has never been good, but this season has swan-dived into especially odious melodrama with gay stereotypes.

A separate report counts basic cable series, where gay characters (often with more interesting and frank storylines than on broadcast) are more common and realistically portrayed. I mean, True Blood: Who doesn’t watch that for the hot bodies? The study also doesn’t include reality shows, which really dominate the TV landscape. With Dancing with the Stars judge Bruno Tonioli swishing up the most popular show on TV right now, as bisexual comedian Margaret Cho dances, you’d think that would warrant a mention, as would Jeff Lewis, Jackie Warner and half the contestants on Bravo’s competition series. That would paint a fairer picture. But it’s still nice to see progress.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Lady Caca

Ribald as ever, on-again/off-again bisexual comedian (and lately ‘DWTS’ contestant) Margaret Cho takes on a new passion: Her music

LAWRENCE FERBER  | Contributing Writer

Margaret Cho
DIARY OF A CHO-GIRL | Margaret Cho is having some year with a new album ‘Cho Dependent,’ her North American tour and her enlistment on the new season of ‘Dancing with the Stars.’

Verizon Theatre, 1001
Performance Place, Grand Prairie
Sept. 11 at 8 p.m. $39–$55.

After belly-dancing across the country with her burlesque variety show The Sensuous Woman, Margaret Cho is ready to get back to her first love: standup comedy. Having just kicked off a national tour and a new album, Cho Dependent, this time she’s doing it with a slight modification: An electric guitar slung around her shoulder and some songs to sing.

The album marks her first foray into music: 14 tracks of what she calls “songs that are jokes yet have musical value to them.” Indeed, renowned indie heavyweights like Ben Lee, Tegan & Sara, Jon Brion (Aimee Mann, Rufus Wainwright), Ani DiFranco, Fiona Apple, Grant Lee Philips, Andrew Bird, Garrison Starr, Patty Griffin and others joined her as collaborators. And as for the guitar? At age 40, inspired by the sight of Madonna working an ax, Cho learned to play.

Always a risk-taker, Cho signed on last week to be on Dancing with the Stars (the season begins Sept. 21 on ABC), where she’ll share the floor with Sarah Palin’s daughter, teen mom Bristol. That will no doubt be a source of great standup material on Cho’s next tour.

Until then, we’ll just enjoy having Cho discuss provocatively titled songs like “Lesbian Escalation” and “Eat Shit and Die,” her open relationship with husband Al Ridenour and the unrequited love she later discovered was a murderer.

Dallas Voice: How did you come up with the Cho Dependent project? Cho: I wanted to make a record, but a comedy album that had really great music, so I enlisted some of the greatest musicians out there to help me. Some I met through the process of making the record and others I’ve known forever. It gave me a chance to hang out with people I love like Ani DiFranco. I’m really proud of the record.

Let’s talk about your collaborators. Which twin is hotter: Tegan or Sara? They’re both beautiful. They’re great musicians and so fun to be with. I love them both. What’s interesting is I think they look really different from each other and have such different personalities.

Did you tell your collaborators that you wanted particular songs to have a specific sound or vibe? Like, “I want this to sound like Pet Shop Boys?” There’s a song called “Eat Shit and Die.” I hired the same engineer who works with Aimee Mann, then her entire band, and then I went to where she recorded her albums in Santa Monica and said, “I’m going to be Aimee Mann all day.” I have her band, her collaborators. I was Aimee Mann all fuckin’ day. It was the best feeling.

Do you think fans be surprised to hear you actually sing? You’re pulling a bit of a Sandra Bernhard here. I love Sandra Bernhard. To me it’s really a comedy album because it’s super jokey — something that could be played on Jersey Shore. I never would want to transition completely into a singer. I always want to stay a standup comic. I’m like Lady Caca.

Did you ask Lady Gaga to be on this? No. I never got around to her. I’m a big fan so I’m going to go for her for the next project. She’s amazing, and a very gifted musician, which people don’t really talk about. She’s not just a cultural icon. She’s a talented musician. I’m inspired by her.

Why is Justin Bieber not on here? Well, he should be. Maybe next time. Him and the Jonas Brothers and Miley Cyrus.

What’s the story behind the hidden 14th track, “Lesbian Escalation?” That’s a very common happenstance for most lesbians and also a trend with younger gay men, too: They act like lesbians and move in together real fast. Bringing U-Hauls to their dates, they move in fast, and almost immediately stop having sex and it becomes something else. I’m trying to encourage women not to do that. Take it slowly. I’ve been in a lot of relationships with women where it just escalates and then we can’t have sex and it gets boring. Keep the mystery alive.

When was the last time you had a girl-girl thing? Not long ago. There’s always something going on.

Is Al liberal about you having same-sex “side dishes?” Yeah, that’s totally fine. I can do whatever I want. Men and women, it doesn’t matter. We have like an old gay man’s Palm Springs relationship. Whatever the other person does is fine. It’s don’t ask don’t tell. We just don’t talk about it.

But it’s fine.

What about having sister wives? Yeah, I think that would be great. With that braid. That horrible Nicky braid? That would be really great.

Although it’s a comedy album, do any songs have their roots in a serious issue? “I’m Sorry” does. That’s a country song with Andrew Bird, and it’s inspired by something horrible. I was in love with this guy who worked on All-American Girl and he didn’t like me back. When I turned 40 I was still in love with him and I Googled him, and on Wikipedia it said: “American screenwriter, producer, worked on All-American Girl, and in 2007 was convicted of the murder of his wife. Bludgeoned her to death and stuffed her body in the attic for a month until it had partially mummified.” And I was so horrified. It could have been me. But it couldn’t have been me. I had so many complicated emotions about it and really didn’t know how to deal with it and thought I should try and write a song about domestic violence and the crazy shit people do.

So I wrote that song and in a sense it’s a very traditional “murder ballad” — it’s a country music staple, that kind of song. It helped me to make sense of how I was feeling and sometimes dark humor is the only way to approach horrible things like murder.

I understand that Bitch recorded a duet with your parents, but I can’t find that track on the album. That track will be on the next one. It’s really hard to schedule my parents into the studio. They’re real prima donnas. It takes a lot. Bitch did a great job, we wrote a great song with my family, but that will be recorded for the next album.

So you already have a sequel in mind? I don’t know what it will be called but I have quite a few songs I recorded that have to wait. More with Ben Lee, Garrison Starr and Jay Brannan, who is an amazing singer-songwriter. Those will be on the next volume.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 10, 2010

—  Kevin Thomas