Starvoice • 02.03.12

By Jack Fertig

CELEBRITY BIRTHDAY

Kathy Najimy turns 55 on Monday. The actress has been making us laugh since her role as Sister Mary Patrick in Sister Act to appearances in gay-friendly fare such as Ugly Betty, Drop Dead Diva and Desperate Housewives. She appeared in the Jennifer Aniston-directed TV movie Five last year and is set to appear in BearCity 2, touted as a hirsute Sex and the City.

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THIS WEEK

Venus is entering Aries, good for sports and trashy fun, not so much for emotional and financial investments. But then she aspects Uranus and Jupiter, so be open for some very fun surprises.

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AQUARIUS  Jan 20-Feb 18
Your dazzling brilliance may offend some. Don’t hold back. Just be sensitive and ready to apologize if necessary, or just politic. It doesn’t have to be a big deal, but arguing will make it one.

PISCES  Feb 19-Mar 19
It’s too easy to say much and give away the store. Let people wonder how much you do know makes you look wiser. Set aside some money for an impulse purchase.

ARIES  Mar 20-Apr 19
A new you will break into the open. It could be a daring new look or a talent that refuses to be hidden If you worry about that disrupting your relationships, holding it in will be even worse.

TAURUS  Apr 20-May 20
Trust those instincts and intuitions. That voice inside has important messages. Friends will disappoint you. They’re only human, but are they really friends? Keep a shrewd eye on their motives.

GEMINI  May 21-Jun 20
Showing off your intellectual brilliance can cause more trouble than it solves. If you want to shake things up, you could be very effective, but the only way you can make peace is to stay quiet.

CANCER  Jun 21-Jul 22
Remember the soul is eternal. Attend to material realities. Success pulls you away from home and family, but is that so bad? A little separation there doesn’t need to be a complete break.

LEO  Jul 23-Aug 22
Winning arguments by intimidation costs you. Gaining allies takes effort and attentive listening. You can change your mind about strategy and details without sacrificing principles.

VIRGO  Aug 23-Sep 22
Be very careful of nervous inflammations, as they may impact the bowels. Cleanliness, relaxation and a healthy sex life are the best care. Improving the work process will irritate colleagues.

LIBRA  Sep 23-Oct 22
Efforts to start or refresh a relationship will open surprises that take you in directions you’re not ready for. Being a control queen will backfire horribly. Just roll with it and see where it goes.

SCORPIO  Oct 23-Nov 21
Nobody can be right all the time, but correct your own mistakes. Did your friends really screw up, or were your expectations unfair? What’s right is more important than who’s right.

SAGITTARIUS  Nov 22-Dec 20
You can’t hold back your rebellious streak, but channel it creatively to boost your standing at work and invigorate your partnership. Go ahead and take a chance.

CAPRICORN  Dec 21-Jan 19
Confusion is good for the soul, provoking you to examine yourself deeper. Changes should feel uncomfortable if they provoke real opportunities. Stay focused on the long haul.

Jack Fertig can be reached at 415-864-8302 or Starjack.com

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition February 3, 2012.

—  Kevin Thomas

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

‘Desperate’ food: Longoria gets cookin’ in Dallas

When you think of the domesticity of the various Desperate Housewives, Gaby is hardly the first one that comes to mind. But the actress who plays her, Eva Longoria, has  come out with a cookbook called Eva’s Kitchen: Cooking with Love for Family & Friends. The Texas native will actually be back in her home state on Sunday, signing copies of the book at the NorthPark Center location of Williams-Sonoma. The event begins at 11 a.m. — just in time to get it, meet Longoria and get back home to make dinner.

—  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

Beautiful day in the neighborhood • Defining Homes

Neighbors in Oak Cliff’s Kessler Park talk about why their ‘hood is the best ever

By Steven Lindsey

Stewart Street residents
Stewart Street residents from left to right Jerrett Morris, Alan Stolleis, Clyde Greenhouse, Michal Taylor, Darrell Ward and Linda Ronk come together often for neighborhood block parties, planned or impromptu, within their classic homes and lush greenery of Kessler Park. Photos courtesy of Jef Tingley.

There’s a little group of homes on Stewart Street in the Kessler Highlands neighborhood of Oak Cliff in Kessler Park that may be just about the gayest block in town — and not just the homosexual kind of gay; the happy kind, too. The neighbors who live here are closer than the pals on Friends, more into each other’s business than a season finale of Knots Landing and their parties have a higher production value than anything Bree’s ever done on Desperate Housewives.

The quiet, tree-lined street is filled with quaint bungalow-style homes from the ’20s and ’30s and over recent years, several gays and lesbians have chosen to put down roots on this one particular block, one which throws out the welcome mat any time somebody new moves in.

“We first met all the gays and lesbians on our block the same way we met all of our neighbors — through a welcome party,” says Jef Tingley, an eight-year resident. “Who knew that years later so many of these people would not just be neighbors, but individuals that I consider dear friends.”

The neighbors gather for two major events a year: Blocktoberfest, a yearly bratwurst cookout held in a neighbor’s yard where everyone brings a dish to share; and a progressive holiday event, where everyone moves from house to house for food and drinks. Halloween is also quite a production with an estimated 1,500 trick-or-treaters each year snatching up 60 to 70 pounds of candy per house in the process.

“It turns out to be one of the most fun events of the year for me and my friends,” says Alan Stolleis, who’s lived on the street for nearly 13 years. “We do tend to go a little crazy with fog machines, huge spiders and scary music.”

But the neighbors on Stewart don’t need a bold-font holiday on the calendar to have reason to celebrate.

“One of the first things we learned when we moved on to the block is that if someone is on the porch, there’s a good chance that you can stop on by for a glass of wine. Many a dog walk has ended with an impromptu porch party,” Tingley says. In fact, everyone interviewed said the same thing about the frequent porch parties and how often they pop up.

Clyde Greenhouse and Michal Taylor, co-owners of the Oak-Cliff-based Kessler Cookie Company, have been on the block for 12 years and have the newest home in the neighborhood. It was built in 1942.

The character of the neighborhood is what initially interested Taylor and Greenhouse, as well as most other people who found Stewart by chance. But for at least one neighbor, buying a home here took a village.

“We had the opportunity to have our best friend buy the house next to us, and when the house went up for sale, while our friend was negotiating his contract for purchase, some of the neighbors would take the ‘for sale’ sign down every day,” says Jerrett Morris, Tingley’s partner. “And whenever a prospective buyer might even give the hint of interest, they would wander out in their boxer shorts and generally try to look like nightmare neighbors any way they could to drive the prospect away.”

It must’ve worked, because Keith Murray closed the deal, quite possibly not realizing the extent to which the neighborhood had helped make it happen.

“At the time I wasn’t looking to buy a home. It was by chance that the house next door to my best friends went up for sale.  It was in complete disrepair, but with the encouragement and help of friends and neighbors, I bought it and we collectively rehabbed it. It was a lot of work, but looking back on it now, it was completely worth it,” Murray says.

It’s just one of many examples of the ways neighbors here look out for one another.

“This neighborhood will definitely take it upon itself to investigate anything that seems suspicious,” Morris says. “It’s like a block full of good Gladys Kravitzes [the nosy neighbor from Bewitched].”

“We know almost everyone by name. It’s not uncommon to see a gay couple standing out in the front yard talking with a straight couple and their children. I even loaned a pair of cuff links to a neighbor’s daughter’s boyfriend for prom one year when he needed them in a pinch,” Tingley says.

Linda Ronk, who has lived on Stewart for 16 years, believe the neighborhood transcends any sort of labeling.

“To be honest there is no gay or non-gay. We are just Stewart Street folks,” she says. “We have keys to each other’s homes and we watch out for each other.”

“Not everyone believes me, but our street is like something out of Leave It To Beaver,” Tingley says. “All the neighbors are really vested in making it a great block, but it’s also not a creepy police state where you have no privacy. I tell everyone to move to Oak Cliff. It’s like a small city in a big town. And if you can find a place on Stewart, you’re even luckier.”

“We didn’t know it going in, but it would be impossible to recreate the mix of neighbors we have on our block,” Morris says. “They’re absolutely priceless and will keep us in our house for a very long time,” says Morris.

Or at least until the city starts requiring liquor licenses for these very busy porches.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition of Defining Homes Magazine October 8, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas

Dixie Carter is dead

Designing Women: Dixie Carter in center rear
Designing Women: Dixie Carter is rear center

Dixie Carter, best known as Julia Sugarbaker on “Designing Women” died this weekend. She was 70.

“Designing Women” was a breakthrough series that staunchly stood for gay rights and for people with AIDS. At a time when the Reagan and first Bush administrations were refusing to even use the word AIDS, this show portrayed a person with AIDS as a loving, caring person and even staged his funeral.

Julia was known for her sharp tongue. When confronting someone who was disgusted by her friendship with the gay man with AIDS, she minced no words. She said:

Alma Jean, get serious! Who do you think you’re talking to? I’ve known you for 27 years, and all I can say is — if God was giving out sexually transmitted diseases to people as a punishment for sinning, that you would be at the free clinic all the time!”

Today this clip appears somewhat dated. But at the time it was groundbreaking to portray someone actually touching someone with AIDS and explaining that sexually transmitted diseases cannot be caught this way. Here’s a clip from that show:

That series only received an Emmy for hairdressing. However, Carter also had a recurring role on “Desperate Housewives” as Bree’s mother-in-law for which she was nominated for an Emmy Award in 2007.

She was married to actor Hal Holbrook. Cause of death is not known.

UPDATE: Carter died of endometrial cancer in Houston.

—  David Taffet