If you read the non-fiction best seller Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil — gay author John Berendt’s telling of the murder of a gay hustler in sleepy Savannah, Ga. — you certainly walked away being gobsmacked by the presence of The Lady Chablis, a central figure and a popular drag queen who knew all the principals. When director Clint Eastwood turned the book into a movie, he mucked up the story with stupid subplots and sluggish pacing, but he had the good sense to cast Chablis as herself in the film — when she didn’t receive an Oscar nomination, many heads were scratched.
I’ve both met and seen Chablis perform, so I was saddened to read today in Variety that she had died, at age 59. Honestly, I would have guessed older, because her sassiness was well-honed. Savannah will not seem the same without her.
Every two minutes, someone in America is raped. In Texas, one in every five women and one in every 33 men are victims of sexual assault.
It is true that most rape victims are women, but rape also affects every person who loves someone who is raped — their families, their friends, their coworkers, their entire communities. And yet, too often people tend to try and turn a blind eye. We don’t want to see that pain in others. We don’t want others to see that pain in us.
The main idea of this event — in which men literally walk a mile in high heels — is to raise awareness of all the issues surrounding rape, and specifically to engage men in being part of the solution to ending sexual violence. It is sponsored by the Dallas County Sexual Assault Coalition, which brings together law enforcement, the District Attorney’s Office, social service agencies, medical and mental health professionals, and concerned community members to work towards creating a more coordinated community effort to address sexual assault and victim services.
Talk about an event custom-made for the drag community! You guys know you could show ’em how its done!
Walk a Mile in Her Shoes will be held Saturday, April 9, from 9 a.m. to noon. The walk begins and ends at the Continental Pedestrian Bridge, 109 Continental Ave., in Dallas. Registration is $30 for men who need to rent high heels (limited numbers of shoes are available for rent), and $25 for the guys who can bring their own. Teams of four men can register for $100. Women and children under 13 can participate, too, registering as “supporters” for $20. (Registration prices go up for those to wait to register at the event.) Register online here.
The guys walking in the event are also eligible to compete in the Shoe Decorating Contest, with cash prices for first, second and third place finishers. So get out the rhinestones and the hot glue gun and get busy glittering up those stilettos!
Asia T. O’Hara of Dallas has been crowned Miss Gay America 2016. The pageant was held this past weekend, Oct. 7-11, at the Holiday Inn Memphis Airport Hotel in Memphis, Tenn.
A lifelong Dallas resident, O’Hara was also Miss Gay USofA 2007 and All-American Goddess 2012. This was her first time to compete in the Miss Gay America Pageant, and she is only the second first-time contestant to walk away with the title.
Asia T. O’Hara is on the cast of The Rose Room in S4 in Dallas, and when she isn’t performing, she operates her own business, Antwan Lee Designs, which designs and creates costumes for high school dance and drill teams and for other drag performers.
In August, a new drag show — called My Oh My — will launch, and every Monday night, you can jaunt on down the House of Blues for a live performance. But before that happens, there’s casting to be done! Local drag performers (and hopefuls) are invited to audition tonight starting at 7:30. But these are open auditions, which means you don’t have to have an act get get into the act. Members of the public are free to attend and watch the talent. And it’s free.
The very talented Victoria Weston won the title of Miss Gay State, and Basha Nicole, another very talented performer, won the Miss Gay Dallas State At Large title. First runners-up were Natasha Alexander Parson for Miss Gay Dallas State, and Kenya Rider for Miss Gay Dallas State At Large. Vanity Rains, second alternate to Miss Gay Dallas State, did an excellent job as well.
I have to mention the other judges, Sabrina Starr and KamRun Hunter, who were great to work with, all the special entertainers and especially the 2015 Miss Gay Texas State and Miss Gay Texas State At Large titleholders, Sapphire Ray Brooks and Onyx Anderson, who both did a great job performing and especially in emceeing the show. They kept me laughing all night.
Michael “Sable Alexander” Champion owns the Miss Gay Dallas Texas State prelims, and he and his husband, Bill “Linze Serrell” Lindsey, own the Miss Gay Texas State pageant system. I have known Michael and Bill for about 24 years or so — since way back in the Glitz-n-Glitter days — and I have known few people ever who are as committed and dedicated to their community.
So again, thanks to Michael and Bill for asking me to be a judge, thanks to the performers for entertaining me, and congratulations to the winners. And oh yeah, big thanks to Brick bartender Netta who served up my bottled water with a smile!
Fernando Gomez, 36, was known on stage as Mercedes Demarco and was known as a role model. A number of younger performers in El Paso have taken Demarco as their last name in her honor. She competed in the Miss Texas at Large pageant.
Another performer described her as trans.
Demarco performed Saturday night at Club Prism in Downtown El Paso. At 4 a.m., police were called about someone screaming outside a motel in the sunset Heights neighborhood.
A witness saw Demarco trying to get into the motel office, which was locked, and screaming for help.
An officer arrived and tried to subdue and cuff Demarco. After a struggle, four more officers arrived. Demarco, who was described by a witness as hysterical, was Tasered, cuffed and put in the squad car. While being transported, Demarco became unresponsive and did not respond to first aid. Paramedics were called but she was pronounced dead at the hospital.
Police said they are waiting on an autopsy and toxicology test to determine the cause of death.
Before Jamie Morris started writing a series of plays — cross-dressing send-ups of campy films and TV shows like The Facts of Life, Mommie Dearest and The Silence of the Lambs — he was an actor. So it has not been unusual for him to perform, even in his own shows. Still, it was a shock to him when he realized, during pre-production on his latest spoof — Re-Designing Women, which Uptown Players is producing in the Rose Room at Station 4 starting Friday — that he would be in it.
“We were casting the show and they said to me, ‘How would you like to play Julia?'” he recalls over lunch at the Black-eyed Pea on Cedar Springs. “I texted my boyfriend that night and said, ‘I think they want me to play Julia.'” When he woke up the next morning, he was pretty sure they weren’t just joking.
The most peculiar thing about doing the show is that he hadn’t even finished writing it when he took it on. Morris, who lives in Las Vegas with his partner, didn’t complete Act 2 until a few weeks before rehearsals began. But, he says, serving as writer and star doesn’t make it any easier to perform.
“The rest of the cast assume I know every line, but I don’t,” he says.
He, like most of the rest of the all-male cast, still has to learn his lines under “about a pound of makeup.” Indeed, you’d probably not recognize Morris, with his scruffy grey beard, as the patrician Julia Sugarbaker from the sitcom. But hey, that’s why it’s being done in the Rose Room — it’s all about the illusion.
Re-Designing Women, presented by Uptown Players, opens Friday at the Rose Room inside Station 4 and runs through May 19. For tickets, visit UptownPlayers.org.