UPDATE: Erica Andrews memorial set

Screen shot 2013-03-12 at 3.16.52 PMThe memorial service for former Dallas resident and famed drag diva Erica Andrews has been set.

The service will take place Thursday at ilume on Cedar Springs Road. Although scheduled to take place inside the facility’s Great Room, the candlelight ceremony may expand to the pool area, depending upon attendance. It will begin promptly at 7 p.m.

Andrews died suddenly on Monday night, following a lung infection. Born in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, she long called Texas her home, and frequently performed at the Rose Room. She also appeared in the film Ticked Off Trannies with Knives, pictured right.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

She’s a wonder!

For drag diva Celeste Martinez, Wonder Woman isn’t an act — she’s a way of life

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

……………………

CELESTE MARTINEZ
The Rose Room inside Station 4,
3911 Cedar Springs Road. July 1­3. Shows begin at approximately 11 p.m. and midnight. Caven. com.

……………………

When Michael was a boy, his parents divorced and he went to live with dad, who worked all the time and was seldom home. So little Michael found a role model on TV.

“That’s when Wonder Woman came on television,” he recalls, referring to the CBS series starring Lynda Carter. “Wonder Woman was a second mother to me, one who taught me right from wrong in a way. She stood for something. Plus she was so statuesque and feminine and graceful, but still stern and strong. I watched that show religiously and as soon as the episode was over, I was back outside, reenacting what had just happened.”

The series ended in 1979, but by the time Michael had grown into drag diva Celeste Martinez, the Amazonian princess was still a powerful force. Since 1993, appearing as Wonder Woman has been the hallmark of Martinez’s drag act.

It’s not just a passing fancy, either. Martinez has every single Wonder Woman comic book since 1983. “When I got my first job, the first thing I did with my paycheck was get a subscription to Wonder Woman,” she says.

Martinez’s devotion has also made her a regular at Zeus Comics, the gay-run superhero store on Lemmon. Such a fixture is she there, Martinez even appears in the next episode of The Variants, the web-based comedy series set at Zeus. (See sidebar.)

“I’ve known [store owner] Richard Neal for years,” she gushes. “They are a fun group.”

But before her debut as a Web star, Martinez will show her patriotism this Independence Day weekend with a series of shows at the Rose Room — all in the guise of her hero, whom she sincerely tries to evoke onstage in spirit as much as appearance.

Martinez’s costume — golden lasso, bullet-deflecting bracelets, tiara, cape, boots and star-spangled panties, all in the colors of the America flag — is familiar to fans of the classic character as well as the TV series, but maybe not so much the new generation of comic readers. That’s intentional.

“With issue no. 600 [of Wonder Woman], they were trying to get a bigger audience so they updated her look, but the real Wonder Woman fans were not happy,” Martinez explains. “They are about to do another reboot with all of DC Comics characters, so as to make the original Wonder Woman fans happy.”

The timing of the show is fortuitous: Wonder Woman is a perfect image for the Fourth of July, Martinez affirms.

“She represents the best of humanity in the sense she’s non-judgmental and sees the best in everyone. She’s gracious and empowers strength and the best in all of us,” she says. “And she does it in red, white and blue.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 1, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

2011 Readers Voice Awards: Entertainment

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ULTIMATE DRAG DIVA
Jenna Skyy

Hosts monthly GayBingo event at
the Rose Room inside Station 4,
3911 Cedar Springs Road
214-526-7171
Caven.com

Since this was the Ultimate Diva! edition of the Readers Voice, it behooves us to explore that aspect of gay culture for whom divadom seems inherent: The drag queen (of the 10 finalists, in fact, eight were drag characters). A diva certainly has attitude — and smarts, and talent, and personality — all of which describes Jenna Skyy, who in a few short years has becomes an essential part of the Dallas scene. But Skyy (aka Joe Hoselton) has something more still: A philosophy. Drag feels almost like a political statement the way Hoselton does it, an act of defiance. An act of Pride. She represents something great about being gay and out and open, whether she’s powering down the runway like Jan Strimple or revealing a costume of Gagaesque flamboyance — or, for that matter, calling numbers at GayBingo, the monthly AIDS fundraiser she co-hosts in the Rose Room — Jenna Skyy makes us happy to be … well, just to be.

— Arnold Wayne Jones

 

BEST LOCAL ARTS ORGANIZATION
Fahari Arts Institute

214-521-3362
FahariArtsInstitute.com

 

BEST LOCAL SINGER
Anton Shaw

AntonShawMusic.com

 

BEST LOCAL BAND
Anton Shaw and the Reason

AntonShawMusic.com


HORSING AROUND | Uptown Players had a banner season according to Voice readers, having the favorite play, ‘Equus,’ above, and tying itself for best musical.

BEST LOCAL PRODUCTION (PLAY)
Equus (Uptown Players)

Performed Feb. 26–March 21 at the
Kalita Humphreys Theater
214-219-2718
UptownPlayers.org

 

BEST LOCAL PRODUCTION
(MUSICAL) • TIE
Forbidden Broadway’s Greatest Hits (Uptown Players)

Performed Aug. 5–29 at the Kalita Humphreys Theater

Closer to Heaven (Uptown Players)

Performed Oct. 1–24 at the Kalita Humphreys Theater
214-219-2718
UptownPlayers.org

 

BEST LOCAL THEATER DIRECTOR
Harold Steward


BEST MAINSTREAM VENUE PRESENTING MUSIC FOR THE GAY MASSES
Gilley’s Music Complex: The Palladium, The Loft, South Side Music Hall, Jack Daniel’s Saloon

GilleysMusic.com

Thanks to the trio of Kris Youmans, Brad Ehney and Nate Binford, the venues of the Gilley’s Music Complex on the Cedars have been very welcoming to the gays. Once Ehney, who is gay, got on board after his stint at the Granada Theater (another queer-friendly venue), he was intent on bringing a contingent of acts geared toward attracting an LGBT audience. Binford and Yeomans, the straight guys, just wanted a full house. It’s worked out beautifully. Lesbian duo Tegan & Sara filled the huge-ass space of the Palladium Ballroom while Lady Gaga openers Semi Precious Weapons rocked the shit out of the smaller Loft. The gays then came out en masse for Robyn, packing the mid-sized South Side Music Hall. Upcoming acts of queer interest include MEN, Of Montreal and Vivian Girls. (Upcoming non-gay acts aren’t bad, either: The Avett Brothers, George Clinton and Coheed and Cambria.) These guys prove that gays do like their live music and will step out of the gayborhood to get it.

— Rich Lopez

 

OPEN  AIR | Groups like Middle Ground rock the night air at Jack’s Backyard in Oak Cliff, a favorite venue for enjoying live music. (Gregory Hayes/Dallas Voice)

BEST LIVE MUSIC VENUE • TIE

Jack’s Backyard

2303 Pittman St.
Open daily until 2 a.m.
214-741-3131
JacksBackyardDallas.com

Sue Ellen’s

3014 Throckmorton St.
Open daily 4 p.m–2 a.m.
with after-hours dancing
214-559-0707
Caven.com

It’s notable that these two venues would tie for readers’ favorites, because they represent polarities of live music locales. In one corner is Sue’s, the urban Cedar Springs club where the upstairs Vixin Lounge boasts a quality sound system and decent space for an indoor concert. Jack’s, by contrast, takes the music to the outdoors of Oak Cliff, making a nice nighttime event even better, especially in the warms of Texas spring, summer and autumn. Both venues often book gigs for local regulars like Ciao Bella and Anton Shaw, but each has also featured smaller touring artists like Anne McCue and Hunter Valentine.  If the boys want to get it on the live music game, they have lots of catching up to do. The mostly lady-based venues have a lock on bringing the live sounds to the gayborhoods.

— Rich Lopez

 

BEST SMARTPHONE DATING APP
Grindr

Yes, we named this category a “dating app.” Yes, we know for a lot — most? all? — guys who download it, Grindr is more about hookups than long-term relationships. But consider: At one time, admitting you met on Match.com was considered as cringe-worthy as saying you met at a bar while one of you was dancing naked on the pool table. (Oh, right, that’s more a straight-couple thing.) Maybe one day, app-love may become so common it loses any stigma. Anyway, how were we supposed to guess Grindr would win? And truth be told, some of us have found, if not true romance, at least an on-going love connection. And we enjoy chatting with other guys even if we don’t end up as a couple. That’s what dating is, right? Seeing what’s out there and deciding what you want from a partner? Grindr does that. And we’d all be a little lonelier without it.

— Arnold Wayne Jones

 

AIN’T NO BULL | Ragsdale’s standout performance in a one-woman show was enough to win her a lot of fans — enough to name her Dallas’ favorite local actress.

BEST LOCAL DRAMATIC ACTOR (FEMALE)
Q-Roc Ragsdale

Perhaps only Q-Roc Ragsdale could have pulled off her performance in The Bull-Jean Stories last year. Best theater director Harold Steward of Fahari Arts helmed this one-woman show, written by dramatist Sharon Bridgforth. The Bull-Jean Stories takes a look at the struggles of a fictional woman-loving character in the rural South of the 1920s, and her endurance during tough times. Like her character, Ragsdale is a powerful woman using her work as a film director, photographer and actor to stretch the artistic visions of both the black and same-gender-loving communities of Dallas as well as harkening to the strong will and spirit of black LGBTs who have come before her.

— Rich Lopez

BEST LOCAL DRAMATIC ACTOR
(MALE)
Rick Espaillat


BEST LOCAL MUSICAL ACTOR
(FEMALE)
Liz Mikel


BEST LOCAL MUSICAL ACTOR
(MALE)
Cedric Neal


BEST DVD RENTAL

TapeLenders

3926 Cedar Springs Road
214-528-6344
TapeLenders.com

 

BEST ADULT DVD RENTAL

TapeLenders

3926 Cedar Springs Road
214-528-6344
TapeLenders.com

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

—  John Wright

Your dose of The Lady Bunny

The Lady Bunny was supposed to be at the XLV Party before it was canceled, and frankly, we were all set to see the drag diva spin again. Then nothing.

But we got our fix, anyway. Here’s a little parody song from Buynny skewering Sarah Palin that brought a smile to my face this morning. Even digital Bunny is better than none.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

RuPaul promotes new season with some (unauthorized) help from Cher

The new season of RuPaul’s Drag Race starts next month, and the drag diva isn’t above stealing (pardon, “homaging”) from her target audience’s favorite icon to promote herself. Any similarities to Cher’s Burlesque poster is purely intentional.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Bunny tales

Dallas get a dose (3 doses, actually) of drag royalty with the Lady Bunny

JEF TINGLEY  | Contributing Writer jeftingley@sbcglobal.net

BUNNY, HOPPING | The drag diva makes three appearances during Pride weekend in Dallas, both as a DJ and performer.
BUNNY, HOPPING | The drag diva makes three appearances during Pride weekend in Dallas, both as a DJ and performer.

BUNNY DOES DALLAS
DJing at the ilume,
4123 Cedar Springs Road.
Dish on Sept. 18, 11 p.m.–1 a.m.,
lot along the parade route on
Sept. 19, noon–4 p.m.
Drag show at the Rose Room at Station 4, 3911 Cedar Springs Road. Sept. 19 at midnight.

…………………………………….

A founding foremother of the modern drag scene, Lady Bunny hides some big brains and even bigger ideas in her oversized wigs. Best known for creating Wigstock (a gender-bending drag fest in NYC) and DJing some at see-and-be-seen parties around the country, she has recently taken to the boob tube as the “dean of drag” on RuPaul’s Drag U, exposing a new audience to her machine-gun-style sass.

We caught up with Bun Bun to chat about her upcoming Dallas appearances, as well as some good behind-the-scenes gossip on the set of the Logo hit.

Dallas Voice: Welcome back to Dallas. You’re giving us the whole Bunny: DJ and drag diva. Which is more fun, performing or spinning? Lady Bunny: I like both. Who knows, I might be flipping burgers in the kitchen and checking coats, too. You never get bored if you are constantly changing it up.

You have a rep as a DJ who gives the people what they want, but what song makes you just want to just slit your wrist with a press-on nail? I hate Britney — I think that her music is like nursery rhymes. I’m really glad Gaga has come along. I’m not even Lady Gaga’s biggest fan musically, but at least she’s not some prepackaged dummy. She writes her music and sings it.

Tell us about “West Virginia Gurls,” your send up of the earworm hit by Katy Perry, Once I realized that West Virginia could be substituted for California, the possibilities were endless. It’s all about moonshine, inbreeding and blacked-out teeth. And the video is bound to go viral — every cast member has a couple of viruses.

You serve as dean of drag on RuPaul’s Drag U. If it wasn’t Ru hosting that show, who do you think should have had their name on the marquee? I think Lady Bunny’s Drag U has a nicer ring to it. I’m kidding. Ru is my old roommate — we are thick as thieves.

Why have shows like Drag Race and Drag U developed such cult appeal? This whole nation is makeover crazy. There’s this notion that has been kicking around since Queer Eye that gays have the secret, but now drag queens have it. That’s how Drag U became a show — women loved the transformations on Drag Race. And I have a message for these women: Honey, we will make you over and make you look fabulous, but return the favor. Go home and teach your husbands and your sons that we are worthwhile people — don’t beat us and kill us.

Any good footage of you on the cutting room floor? I got a lot of stuff in there that they didn’t use. There was one episode with a girl who was self conscious about her big nose. I said, “You look great, and I don’t know why you think you have a big nose. By the way, I love those sunglasses. Oh wait, those are your nostrils.” I guess they thought that was too mean.

You’re also profiled in a new series called Queens of Drag. Tell us about that. It’s all about the many wacky queens of New York City. My webisode just came out on Gay.com. You just can’t get away from Bun Bun, she’s everywhere!

If you had the opportunity to create your personae all over again, is there anything you’d changed? The name was like a bad joke that stuck, but by the time I realized it, I was like, “Girl, this is your career.” I was too far in to really change it. In a weird way it does fit: It’s a retarded name, but I guess I’m retarded. Somehow it works. If I changed anything, it would probably the name.

Speaking of names, what’s the best drag name you’ve heard? Suppositori Spelling from San Francisco. That’s a good one.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 17, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas

Sparkle, Sally Sparkles!

Dance instructor Michael Sharp works both sides of the footlights: As choreographer of real-girl pageants and as drag diva Sally

DON MAINES  | Contributing Writer donmaines@att.net

GAY TEXAS AMERICA
The Round-Up Saloon,
3912 Cedar Springs Road. Sept. 28–29 at 9 p.m.

…………………………………….

Some Texans who go overseas get homesick for football or barbecue or country music.

Michael Sharp missed beauty pageants.

While he danced for 2 1/2 years at the Tokyo Disney Resort in Japan, to give him a sense of home, Sharp’s mother sent him videos of all-girl pageants. “I became a big pageant fiend,” he laughs.

Sharp’s fascination grew to the point where he vowed to get involved in pageants when he returned to Texas — and on both sides of the footlights.

“When I got off the plane on July 7, 2006, I was already registered [as a contestant] for Miss Gay Dallas,” he says. “I had ordered all these things and there they were, stacked at my mama’s house: an evening gown, a ton of rhinestones, two separate wigs, makeup and boob pads lying on the bed.”

Sharp had also picked a name for his pageant-girl persona: Sally Sparkles, riffing on the nickname “Sally” given him by fellow dancers. “Then I thought of ‘Sparkles,’” he says. “It’s a word that’s not used enough, and it has a pretty connotation.”

His inaugural competition taught him a lot about the art of pageant drag.

Sharp — Sparkles — won the Miss Gay Dallas contest that year, but the state pageant “was definitely an eye-opener. Talk about being put in your place! I found out that little bitty hip pads weren’t going to do it. My boobs were too small, I needed more makeup and bigger hair.”

As horrible as Sharp remembers it being, Miss Sally Sparkles still placed ninth at the 2006 Miss Gay Texas.

But becoming a successful female impersonator was just half of his wish list. Next, he set out to make his other dream come true: Working behind the scenes on “real girl” pageants. While still in Japan, Sharp had e-mailed the Miss Texas Organization, which runs the Lone Star State preliminary to Miss America, offering to “do anything — be a boy dancer, choreograph, whatever they needed,” he says. The pageant’s response was to make Sharp the assistant to its choreographer, Sunni Cranfill, who had been Miss Texas 2003.

“That made me ecstatic!” says Sharp. Suddenly, he was working side-by-side with some of the beauties he had watched win their crowns, as well as a new line of lovelies vying for the coveted titles of Miss Texas and Miss America.

“Everything he touched became beautiful,” says Cranfill. “He is truly one of the most creative minds I have known.”

In his second year at Miss Texas, with Cranfill busy trying out for the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders, Sharp was promoted to head choreographer. Drawing on his dance education at Stephen F. Austin University, his work as a dance captain in professional productions and his experience as a dance studio instructor (which is still his primary day job), Sharp created three of Miss Texas’ most memorable productions.

“They will give me the music and an idea of what they want on stage, and without knowing the dimensions of the stage I come up with something I know I can place in any situation,” Sharp explains.

“I have watched him turn a mess into something amazing,” Cranfill gushes.

WITHOUT THE GLAM Michael Sharp, in his usual dance instructor garb, is a far cry from the flash of Sally Sparkles. (Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)

He’s worked his magic every year since. The 2008 pageant featured former titleholders performing “Cell Block Tango” from Chicago, with each larcenous character changed to a pageant girl sabotaging another contestant because “she had it coming.” In 2009, Sharp corralled a huge cast to recreate a USO show that spotlighted the tap-dancing talents of the reigning Miss Texas.

Earlier this summer, all 33 “miss” and all 35 “teen” contestants kicked off the show with an energetic Sharp dance number that tweaked Beyonce’s girl-power hit “Single Ladies” by crowing “If you liked it then you should have put a crown on it.” The show also gave Sharp the opportunity to work with dozens of former Miss Texas winners who returned for the pageant’s 75th anniversary, including honorary co-chairs Phyllis George and Shirley Cothran, two Texans who heard Bert Parks serenade them in Atlantic City as Miss America.

The best thing about that experience, says Sharp, was the brunch that George and Cothran hosted, at which each Miss Texas spoke about her reign.

“I took my Miss America lunch box and had Phyllis George sign it,” he beams.

On the heels of that inspirational moment, Michael Sharp hangs up his choreographer hat and dons a crown to become Sally Sparkles again. First, he hopes to perform as a former titleholder at the Miss Gay Texas America pageant, which takes place at the Round-Up Saloon in Dallas Sept. 28 and 29.

Then, with a qualifying finish at Miss Gay Heart of America in hand, Sally heads to Columbus, Ohio, to compete for the title of Miss Gay America next month. He feels like he has something to prove this time. Two years ago, Sharp finished 12th as Miss Gay Texas; last year, he topped out as third runner-up. The latter stung a bit.

“I thought, ‘You called my name too soon,’” he recalls. This year, he’s hoping to be crowned as L&T Entertainment’s national symbol of excellence in female impersonation.

“My goal is to go and do amazing,” says Sharp. “I really want it. But I lost last year. I could lose again.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 17, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens

Denim ’n drag

How do the hyper-masculine world of leather and the camp of female impersonation find common ground at the rodeo? With surprising ease

Robert Cantrell, co-founder of the leather group Firedancers, and Don Jenkins
NOT THEIR FIRST TIME AT THE RODEO | Robert Cantrell, co-founder of the leather group Firedancers, and Don Jenkins, better known as drag maven Donna Dumae, are the seemingly unlikely grand marshals at the TGRA’s Big D Rodeo this weekend. (Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)

In Texas, cowboys are known for their 10-gallon hats. And drag queens are known for the  10-gallon wigs.

The Texas Gay Rodeo Association’s (TGRA) Big D Rodeo 2010 kicks off this weekend in Alvarado, Texas (midway between Midlothian and Cleburne along Highway 67), and as always, there’s a fun mix of boot-stompin’, calf-ropin’ and dress-wearin’ — all in the name of charity.

But the event also highlights a unique confluence of gay culture. This year, the two grand marshals are Don Jenkins (aka drag diva Donna Dumae from the United Court of the Lone Star Empire) and Robert Cantrell (aka Cleo), one of the founders of the Firedancers.
For anyone unfamiliar with the gay rodeo, the mix of drag and cowboys may seem a little counterintuitive, but to co-director Dan Nagel, the Big D Rodeo is the perfect marriage of camp and cattle needed to raise money for local organizations.

“Drag is a huge part of making those charity dollars,” he says. “TGRA is honored to have the support of so many of the other organizations and clubs in Texas, such as the UCLSE. We could not do all the good that we do with the support from our brothers and sisters throughout our communities working together as a team for a common goal: Charity.”

According to Nagel, some of the biggest crowd pleasers at gay rodeo are the “camp events,” which include competition in goat dressing, steer decorating and the ever-popular wild drag race (one rope, one steer and a man in drag — what could possibly go wrong?).

But the Big D Rodeo also features plenty of serious competitive sports you’d find at many traditional rodeos, including bull and steer riding, team roping, barrel racing and calf-roping on foot. And the skills it takes to succeed don’t depend on sexual orientation or dexterity with a curling iron.

In his 13 years with the International Gay Rodeo Association, six of which he’s worked with TGRA as well, Nagel has participated in six to eight gay rodeos per year on both sides of the proverbial fence, with a hand in everything from rough stock and speed events … and his share of camp demos, just for good measure.

“The rush you get is incredible,” he says. “Like any sport, the thrill is to compete and compete well.”

“We have a great lineup of live music, from Nashville and Texas both, a vendor market, great food, beer, and cocktails,” Nagel continues, “and cowboys and cowgirls from all over the country.”

So pretty much, something for everyone.

“It’s a party-like atmosphere with western lifestyle and heritage that come with all the rodeo hype,” he says.
And the fact the leather and drag communities come out for it proves that the stereotype of the dour, hetero Texas cowboy is just that.

Yup.

— Steven Lindsey

……………………………………….

Big D Rodeo calendar of events

Friday
9 a.m, — Horse stall check-in begins
Noon–3 p.m. — Barrel exhibition runs
6–9 p.m. —Registration
6–10 p.m.: Diamond Dash Jackpot Barrel Race
8–11 p.m.: Diamond W Expo; Homo rodeo.com meet and greet; live music and entertainment.

Saturday
9 a.m. — New contestant registration
10 a.m. — Rodeo performance
1 p.m. (approximately) — Grand Entry
Afternoon — Rodeo performances
2–4 p.m. — Expo; entertainment
7 p.m.–? — Expo, with live music by Weldon Henson and James Allen Clark

Sunday
10 a.m. — Rodeo performances
1 p.m. (approximately) — Grand Entry
Afternoon: Rodeo performances
2–4 p.m. — Expo; entertainment
8 p.m. — Expo; dinner and awards.
Diamond W Arena, 8901 E Highway 67, Alvarado. 214-346-2107. TGRA.org

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

—  Kevin Thomas

Peaches teaches

San Francisco drag diva and movie whore Josh Grannell aka Peaches Christ brings ‘4D’ movie experience to Dallas nightcrawlers

LAWRENCE FERBER  | Contributing Writer  lawrencewferber@hotmail.com

 Joshua Grannell as Peaches Christ
HORRORS! | Joshua Grannell (in Peaches Christ drag, above) gives scary-smart actress Natasha Lyonne, above right, a role to sink her teeth into.

ALL ABOUT EVIL
Inwood Theater,
5458 W. Lovers Lane.
Friday and Saturday at midnight. 214-764-9106

……………………

Toss a wig and dress on a grindhouse cinema, add a large popcorn with plenty of camp and fake blood on top and you get Peaches Christ. The San Francisco drag star (alter ego of theater manager Joshua Grannell) is taking the world by storm with a 4D tour of her gory-campy feature debut, All About Evil.

Making a delectable comeback, Natasha Lyonne stars as Debbie Tennis, a mousy librarian who turns crazed, murderous exploitation filmmaker. Evil’s co-stars include established genre icons and young matinee idols alike: The Sarah Connor Chronicles’ hottie Thomas Dekker, Cassandra “Elvira” Peterson and Mink Stole.

Having gained notoriety at legendary S.F. clubs like Trannyshack and her own 12-year-old cult film series, Midnight Mass, Peaches Christ has now embarked on an old-school “William Castle-style” tour of the U.S. featuring live performances and appearances from the film’s stars and local celebs. To get the scoop on what to expect, plus the 411 on this soon-to-be cult-horror household name, we spoke with Peaches/Grannell.

…………………………..

Dallas Voice: First, a couple of questions for Josh. For the uninitiated, who exactly is Peaches Christ? Grannell: Well, Peaches Christ is a deluded fan of all things cult movie and B-cinema, trashy old drive-in fare, and likens herself to being a cult leader: Silly, self-deprecating and a big dorky fan of movies and cult icons.

When was she created? I was at film school at Penn State University and making my senior thesis film, which was called ‘izzmopper: A Love Story, and there was a character in the movie who was a drag queen and ran a porn emporium. I loved drag — Divine, Elvira, Joan Crawford — and I wrote this character and the actor playing her was not really working out, so I was shoved into the wig and costume in order to save the movie. I make it sound like they held a gun to my head but I look back and wonder if I wanted to play this part all along.

Do people from outside of San Francisco get you confused with electroclash musician Peaches? Yes, people get confused. Right now in Germany she is doing a show called Peaches Christ Superstar. As if it was not bad enough! I’ve actually gotten to work with her and she’s awesome. I would love to do a duet someday and actually have a song to pitch to her when she’s ready.

OK, Peaches can come out now. You created and present the film event Midnight Mass in San Francisco, and of course Natasha’s character is movies-obsessed and runs a theater. So is All About Evil autobiographical? Peaches: Well, in a sense, yes. I really believe in doing whatever it takes to save neighborhood single screen movie theaters and this film is a way to describe what length we should be willing to go to save these cinemas — even if it involves criminal activity. You know, murder.

Is this a little like John Waters’ Cecil B. Demented? I think Cecil B. Demented was in line with Patty Hearst’s story, and ours is more like Female Trouble and Serial Mom. Because of the filmmaking aspect people think Cecil B. Demented, but it’s more about ego gone wild and a quest and desire for fame. Where sociopathic behavior seems completely appropriate. I love all of John Waters’ films. I grew up in Maryland, worshipping at the altar of Divine and Mink Stole. They were my heroes. The Dreamlanders and that group of renegade performers I really worshipped.

How did Natasha get involved? I’ve been a huge fan ever since I saw Slums of Beverly Hills. She was always at the top of my list and the film’s cinematographer, Tom Richmond, had shot Slums! The best way [to get an actor] is to go through the back door, especially when you’re a drag queen named after Jesus and a first time filmmaker. She read the screenplay and called me directly and we had a talk.

What was she like to work with? Awesome. She’s really smart. Almost scary-smart, like when someone’s so smart it makes you nervous a little bit? She’s definitely got that wisdom. I told her I was inspired to write this by this filmmaker named Doris Wishman, who was really the only woman making grindhouse movies when Herschell Gordon Lewis and Russ Meyer were. Doris said, Fuck it, I can do what these men are doing and make as much money and exploit women the same way. And Natasha said to me, “I knew her, before she passed away.” Like, who the fuck knew Doris Wishman? That was kismet! I had no idea she loved classic old movies and knew Doris personally. So it’s really a perfect fit. In releasing the film I’m discovering that she has a dedicated fan base and her fans are excited to see her in this movie because it’s the kind of role they love her to play, which is wicked and unhinged.

How about Nightmare on Elm Street hottie, Thomas Dekker? Well, Darren Stein, one of the producers and early champions of me making this movie, is a friend of Thomas. So when I was writing the movie and a part for a young man who loves horror movies and he’s kind of naïve and oblivious to what’s going on around him, but loves all the gore and violence, Thomas was on the Terminator TV show and played John Connor.I went to the set and during lunch in his trailer handed him the screenplay and one of the first things he asked was, “Is it true you know Mink Stole?” I said yeah, and he started quoting lines from John Waters movies and pulled out his DVD collection and it was every horror movie I loved from the ’60s, ’70s, ’80s. He had every David Lynch movie — he is that kid who loves great underground, transgressive art.

What exactly can we look forward to at this 4D experience? Midnight Mass and Trannyshack and the world I come from is about having fun and not taking yourself too seriously, and one of the things I wanted to do as part of this roll-out is to inject a real spirit of having fun and being ready to participate and dress-up in horror and monster costumes and what we’re calling ‘gore couture.’ We’re really there to have a good time and set the tone for enjoying this over-the-top dark comedy.

How gay are horror films? I think people underestimate how many queer people identify with horror movies. I used to think that was so unique — I’m gay and love horror movies. No. A lot of gay people do. It appeals to our sense of … justice? Darkness? Fantasy? People get to act out things they fantasize about but would never do in life. In general horror movies can be homophobic, misogynist, all the things I don’t like, but they can also be so over the top, something to not to be taken too seriously. I don’t understand humorless drag queens or horror movies.

What is your view on the state of horror films today? I think a lot of people are really negative because they’re down on the remakes or focused on what is making the most money but I would say just dig a little bit deeper because there are some incredible things going on in the world of indie horror. One of the things super exciting about the NYC engagement is I’m going to be introduced by Alan Rowe Kelly, who is this truly indie horror filmmaker working out of NYC. Look him up and you will see why I am so obsessed with what he is doing. For one, as far as I know, Alan appears as a woman but goes by the pronoun ‘he’ and makes these fabulous horror movies where the queerness and oddness is not the point. They’re just outrageous and wild and bizarre. He’s filming them in New Jersey for no budget and churning them out year after year.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 6, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens