RuPaul voted ‘Best Reality Host’ in TV.Com poll

RuPaulAfter an intense week of voting, the world has finally declared what we all already knew: RuPaul really is the best host of a reality television show there is.

The Supermodel of The World beat out the likes of Adam Levine, Demi Lovato, Blake Shelton and Howard Stern to take the crown for “Best Reality Show Judge Or Host 2013” in this year’s annual TV.com poll, The Huffington Post reported.

In fact, RuPaul didn’t just win — he slayed the competition with over 30,000 more votes than Shelton, who nabbed second place, topping the charts with 104,871.

As if that wasn’t enough, “RuPaul’s Drag Race” also snatched the wig title of “Best Reality Competition Series 2013” from big names such as “Face Off,” “Survivor,” “The Voice” and “American Idol.”

ConDRAGulations, Mama Ru!

—  Steve Ramos

College offering course on RuPaul’s Drag Race

rumain-1

RuPaul

You won’t find a class that analyzes RuPaul’s influence on culture at Bob Jones University, but head over to Occidental College, and you will.

The liberal arts institution in Los Angeles is offering a new course in the spring called “Reading RuPaul: Camp Culture, Gender Insubordination, and the Politics of Performance.” The class will study the LOGO television series from a gay and feminist perspective.

The course description notes:

While RuPaul’s show brings the art of drag performance and gay subculture issues to a wide audience, the course will consider how it addresses the history of drag and U.S. gay culture, as well as a broad range of issues such as transgender identity, HIV/AIDS, bullying and violence, racial identity, gender identity, body size, and LGBT political activism.

RuPaul’s Drag Race season 6 is months away, but you can see a short trailer here:

 

 

 

—  Steve Ramos

Queer at the movies

Gay-themed art house films dominate the movie landscape in Dallas this week: ‘Gun Hill Road,’ ‘Toast,’ ‘Weekend’

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

It somehow seems appropriate that  in the middle of October — Gay History Month — a trio of gay art films arrive simultaneously on movie screens in North Texas…. And there’s not even a film festival in town. From a youthful coming-out comedy-drama to an intense story of a trans kid in the barrio to oversexed gay men in Britain, the slate shows a panorama of gay experiences — all compelling in their way.

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BOYS FITTING IN | A trans Latino teen (Harmony Santana, above left) worries about coming out to her violent dad (Esai Morales) in ‘Gun Hill Road

Gun Hill Road

Enrique (Esai Morales) has just been released from a three-year stretch in prison, planning to reconnect with his wife Angela (Judy Reyes) and teenaged son Michael (Harmony Santana). But much has changed since he was sent up. Angela has been emotionally if not physically unfaithful, taking comfort with a neighbor much more stable and affectionate than Enrique. Michael is terrified that his macho Puerto Rican father will discover that on the side, he identifies as trans; as Vanessa, he even performs in the local drag show.

Gun Hill Road is the kind of movie that, even as you are watching it, you cannot help but think, “How did this film get made?” I mean that in the best sense. With a cast of well known if not exactly bankable stars, it has some mojo behind it. But trans teens in Hispanic culture? This doesn’t exactly scream “box office bonanza.”

Which is part of what makes it so daring. Most coming out movies are distinct for being (a) silly comedies that are (b) about middle-class white folk. A drama set among Latinos, and one dealing not just with cross-dressing but a transgender teen protagonist? Well, such things are rarer than a cogent sentence out of Sarah Palin’s mouth. The scenes where Vanessa recklessly explores transitioning with untested drugs and procedures will make you squirm; it’s like pre-Roe v. Wade abortion movies, where people forced into shame become so desperate they put themselves in danger.

So much of Gun Hill Road is on the fringe, it is slightly disappointing that the story ultimately follows a well-worn path of discovery, recrimination, reconciliation. Last year’s La Mission with Benjamin Bratt trod similar ground, and was equally lacking in humor. La Mission was also more brightly lit and briskly paced.

Still, despite a few shortcomings, Gun Hill Road delivers a lot of what it promises, thanks to sincere performances by the three principals in telling a story with insight and understanding.

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In ‘Toast,’ a British lad (Freddie Highmore, above far right) takes solace from his miserable home life in the kitchen on his way to fame as a chef.

Toast

There’s an unmistakable connection between love, sex and food in the mind of young Nigel Slater (Oscar Kennedy). His mother is not the best cook — indeed, she seems to barely understand the concept at all. She has never purchased fresh produce (“You don’t know where it’s been!” she clucks) and cooks canned goods by dropping the sealed cans in a pot of boiling water. Nothing ever turns out as anything close to edible, though Nigel’s dad (Ken Stott) doesn’t seem to notice. Most meals end with mom slathering some butter on toast and calling the effort a success. (“It’s impossible not to love someone who makes toast for you,” Nigel observes, though I’m not quite sure I see the connection.)

It’s become almost clichéd that great chefs grew up with mothers’ who couldn’t boil water; former Gourmet magazine editor Ruth Reichl documented her own mom’s incompetence in memoirs like Tender at the Bone. So it is no surprise that Nigel would grow up to be one of Britain’s most respected food writers and TV cooking show hosts.

But Toast — the film adaptation of Slater’s memoir of growing up in 1960s England with a distant father, a loving but unadventurous mother and, eventually, a blowsy stepmom who happens to be an expert cook — is more than a whimsical comedy about a kid’s love of food. Indeed, aside from the overriding tone, it’s not much of a comedy at all. There’s death, parent-child abuse, homophobia and assorted feelings of anguish heaped on young Nigel, who even at age 9 is beginning to realize he’s attracted to other boys and feels just as lost in those feelings as he is in his love for duck a l’orange.

Some of the comic tension comes about halfway through in the form of Helena Bonham Carter as Nigel’s lower-class stepmother, a cleaning lady who woos his dad with her unrivaled lemon meringue pie. As the two jockey for the dad’s affection, the kitchen becomes a sort of battleground of wills.

Kennedy plays Nigel in the first half with guileless charm; Freddie Highmore (Finding Neverland, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) takes over as the teenaged Nigel, showing tenderness as he gets his first kiss from a puppy love crush. It’s portrayed as something as delicate and sweet as a caramel tuile — a fitting metaphor for a film that gorges you on its beauty and fondness for food. That’s something to raise a toast to.

Weekend

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YOU GOT THE HOOK UP | A one-night-stand becomes something more for Russell (Tom Cullen, left) and Glen (Chris New) in the raw English drama ‘Weekend.’

You get a very different view of Britain and the gay experience with Weekend, an edgy, almost shapeless gay romance that crackles with familiarity even as it paints a detailed, specific portrait of average men trying to connect.

Russell (Tom Cullen) is a crack-smoking, working class English bloke hangin’ and drinkin’ with his straight mates before hitting a gay bar for some quick action. He meets Glen (Chris New), an otter whom he assumes will be a one-night stand before heading off to work on Saturday morning.  But Glen wants to turn the hook-up into an art project, asking Russell to record his experience. When Glen’s probing questions make Russell uncomfortable (“Are you completely out? Do you wish my dick was bigger?”), Russell’s bourgeois sensibilities emerge.

Writer-director Andrew Haigh has captured an authenticity of the modern gay experience with an off-handed, sharply observed eye. He shows an extended segment of Russell toying with texting Glen to apologize, feeling pangs of guilt but also curiosity and self-reflection — a process that will strike a note of familiarity with anyone on the dating scene today.

Weekend conjures moments of early Gus Van Sant, like My Own Private Idaho and Drugstore Cowboy: It’s full of textures and naturalistic moments that feel unforced. Haigh is a master of long takes that are voyeuristic without seeming prurient. When Glen and Russell meet up again, their banter is both meaningless and confessional, which creates a palpable tension. Their body language points to hormones racing, but they are determined not to make this relationship only about sex, even though the sexual energy is undeniable. This makes the scenes romantic and erotic, and when they explode with passion, you don’t feel like the director has inserted a de rigueur sex scene, but encapsulated the dynamics of the hookup-turned-real-relationship dance (including the slightly scary obsessiveness of “Is this the one?” angst).

Cullen and New have great chemistry and an easy way with the rambling dialogue, but this is Haigh’s movie. Because it’s fairly raw (there’s lots of casual frontal nudity), it’s not the kind of film likely to be a crossover hit with straight audiences, but neither does it ooze “gay-ghetto movie,” the kind that assumes a small, lemming-like audience who can get titillated and forget about it. Like the Irish romance Once, it rings truth out of every frame.

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• online exclusive

For more reviews of more films opening this weekend, including The Thing, pictured, and Incendiary, visit DallasVoice.com/ category/Screen.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 14, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Starvoice • 07.22.11

By Jack Fertig

CELEBRITY BIRTHDAY

Kevin Spacey turns 52 on Tuesday. The two-time Oscar winner battled gay rumors by blatantly not talking about his personal life. Apparently he had enough when he told both Playboy and Gotham magazines that he is not gay. Currently starring in Horrible Bosses, his latest cause is fighting for freedom for the people of Belarus with fellow celebs Mick Jagger and Jude Law.LEO  Jul 23-Aug 22
What’s most important to you? Being fabulous only works when it serves a deeper purpose. That’s what you need to get clearer on. When it’s all over, what do you want to be remembered for?

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THIS WEEK

Mercury and Neptune are in opposition, creating a struggle between rationality and irrational, artistic passions. Religion and atheism are articles of faith that cannot be explained or proven. Artistic appreciation is subjective. You can explain and describe how you feel about all those things especially well now, but there’s no winning any arguments there.

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VIRGO Aug 23-Sep 22
Self-criticism promotes self-improvement. Taking to heart every negative piece of crap around you is another thing. Filtering is your forte. Consider the intent behind remarks aimed at you.

LIBRA Sep 23-Oct 22
Let friends distract you from your worries, but let a few help you sort out the real problems from the pointless head trips. Helping others worse off also helps you keep perspective.

SCORPIO Oct 23-Nov 21
As your artistic vision turns to deeper directions, friends lead you to new possibilities. Let go of logic. Inspirations for your career also defy logic, but think ahead before acting on them.

SAGITTARIUS Nov 22-Dec 20
To know where you’re going you need to know clearly where you’ve been. Deep affection and new understandings are great, but don’t lose perspective.

CAPRICORN Dec 21-Jan 19
Nothing is quite right. Some mad, flashy display like a drag show or surrealist art exhibit should put you in the state of acceptance to make more intuitive connections.

AQUARIUS Jan 20-Feb 18
Sometimes you can’t even connect with your most beloved, adoring partner on what’s sexy. Relax and hold on to your self-confidence. It will pass.

PISCES Feb 19-Mar 19
When you lose track of yourself, trust your partner to tell you. Throw yourself into your work. The tasks you take greatest pride in will get you back on track.

ARIES Mar 20-Apr 19
Pay attention to details. Don’t obsess. When you find yourself losing perspective, stop and breathe. Take your work seriously, but not morbidly so. A little fun and relaxation is necessary.

TAURUS Apr 20-May 20
Change a few things around the house. If you don’t live alone, your frenetic aesthetics could be disrupting. Talk with your roommates or family members. They help you develop a plan.

GEMINI May 21-Jun 20
Family chats get very dramatic. Is your sibling helpful or a provocateur? You do need to talk, but be more careful about what you actually say. Also, be very careful to listen.

CANCER Jun 21-Jul 22
Remember what’s important. Advance ideas to provoke discussion to learn from others. Facts and figures aren’t everything, but when using them, make sure they’re accurate.

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

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 22, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

‘Get Lucky’ with Q Cinema and great drag talent

The 4th annual Miss QCinema Pageant — “a movie-themed drag pageant extraordinaire” — is being held tonight, beginning at 8 p.m., at Best Friends Club, 2620 E. Lancaster in Fort Worth.

Paul J. Williams

The event, benefiting Fort Worth’s top-notch, year-round LGBT film organization (QCinema — duh!), will feature local — and gay cruise circuit — favorite Paul J. Williams as host and emcee, along with performances by last year’s Miss QCinema Jessica Paige-Jennings and other former Miss QCinema titleholders. Plus, there will be some “sneak peeks” of the film line-up on tap for QCinema’s 13th annual film festival set for June 2-5.

Pageant coordinator Stuart Himmelstein says this ain’t gonna be your typical drag show: With our giant screen projecting each of the performers and contestants, amazing special guests and a terrifically funny host, this promises to be the best show in town.”

Admission to the pageant is free, but seating is limited. So you will want to get there early to get a good seat and enjoy the show in comfort.

—  admin

Will we let our gay language die off?

Polari — a mixture of Italian, Romany and Yiddish with some backward-spelled English sprinkled in — is a unique piece of the history of LGBT culture

Hardy Haberman Flagging Left

CAMP
DOLLY OMI PALONES | The Austin Babtist Women know how to camp it up. Have you ever told someone about the “campy” drag show you saw at the club? Or maybe you recommended that “butch” lesbian mechanic who did such a great job repairing your car? If so, then you have spoken Polari.

It almost knocked my ogle fakes off my eek when I aunt nelled that the bona omis and palones at Cambridge University reported Polari was in danger of dying out. Without Polari, cackle about that fantabulosa trade you vardered — you know. the omi with the vogue in his screech and the bona basket? — would never be the same.

Before you go blaming the editor for that previous unintelligible paragraph, I assure you it was mostly proper English with a smattering of Polari sprinkled in to make it understandable only by those in the know.

Polari (from the Italian parlare, “to talk”) is an old slang language that was used by actors, circus and carnival folk and the gay subculture of Brittain. It comes from a strange mix of Italian, Romany and Yiddish, with a few odd backward-spelled words added here and there.

Though it started in England, many words color the vernacular still used today in our own LGBT culture.

The term “camp” is Polari for “exaggerated.” Our expression “rough trade” also descends from this slang.

It was a colorful way for gay people to communicate without being overheard in potentially unfriendly surroundings.

But why should I care if this archaic slang dies out or not? Well, Polari is part of our heritage, every bit as much as the Stonewall Riots and Harvey Milk.

Next time you hear someone use the terms “chicken” for a younger man, or “butch” for a masculine woman or man, they are using elements of Polari. If you have ever admired a “basket” or “zhooshed” your hair, you are using remnants of that near-dead language that have seeped into our daily lexicon.

It might seem like a small thing, but I find myself fascinated with it and feel the LGBT community and culture will be a little poorer if it fades away.

So in the interest of proving the linguists at Cambridge University wrong, I offer a compiled list of useful Polari words:

Ajax — close by
Aunt nells — ears
Auntie nelly fakes — earrings
Basket — the bulge of a man’s crotch
Batts — shoes
Bijou — small
Bod — body
Bona — good
Bungery — bar, pub
Butch — masculine
Camp — effeminate or exaggerated
Capello — hat
Carsey — toilet
Chicken — young boy
Charpering omi — policeman
Cottage — public restroom
Cottaging — do the math!
Crimper — hairdresser
Cove — friend
Dish — attractive male backside
Dolly — pretty, pleasant
Drag — clothes, esp. women’s clothes
Eek — face (abbreviation of ecaf which is face backwards)
Feele — young
Feele omi — young man
Naff — bad
Ogle — eye
Ogle fakes — Glasses
Omi — man
Omi palone — effeminate man
Palone — woman
Palare — to talk
Riah — hair (backwards)
Slap — makeup
Troll — walk or wander or cruise
Vada — to walk or wander
Vogue — cigarette
Walloper — dancer
Zhoosh — fix or tidy up.

Now go out and troll off to some bona bijou bungery and palare with your coves.

If you are interested in more details on Polari, check out Paul Baker’s book, Fantabulosa: A Dictionary of Polari and Gay Slang.

Hardy Haberman is a longtime local LGBT activist and a member of Stonewall Democrats of Dallas. His blog is at http://dungeondiary.blogspot.com.

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

—  Kevin Thomas

Dallas Black Pride: Pride by the Lake at Bachman

Expect more to this than just food

Bachman Lake

Black Pride weekend begins to wrap up with this fourth annual event. Pride by the Lake AKA the Him4Him and Her4Her picnic not only serves up the food, but it also might be the only time you’ll see a drag show outdoors at a lake. The Legends of Dallas will give a mini-drag show. Then get ready to battle with the j-setting competition, play some games and just chill out.

DEETS: Bachman Lake, 3500 Northwest Highway. 1 – 5 p.m. Free. DFWPridemovement.org or DallasSouthernPride.com.

—  Rich Lopez

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.

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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

Here’s your chance to be ‘Something Fabulous’ as performance troupe holds auditions

GayBingo entertainment
Something Fabulous

Something Fabulous, the performance troupe that performs monthly at Resource Center Dallas’ GayBingo, will be holding auditions to add members on Sunday, Oct. 3, from 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. in The Rose Room at Station 4. But audition forms must be completed and turned in, with a photo, at  RCD, 2701 Reagan, by Sept. 26. Audition applications will be accepted after that date, but those who get everything turned in on time get priority treatment.

Audition forms and more information are available here.

Dancers have to be at least 21 and comfortable working in an LGBT atmosphere. They must also be prepared to rehearse every Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., and to perform in monthly shows.

GayBingo is now in its 10th year, and Something Fabulous has been part of the fun for more than three of those years. The performance troupe — dedicated to education and activism through dance — is “not just a drag show,” but “a full-scale production that includes choreography, illusion, costumes, theatrics, and humor,” group leaders say.

The troupe started out with two drag queens, Jenna Skyy and Patti Le Plae Safe, who performed during intermission at the monthly GayBingo events. Then they added a drag king (Johnny Big) and a divette (Brandi Amara Skyy). The group now has more than 10 members including drag queens, drag kings, belly dancers and hip-hop artists.

—  admin

Gay nurse loses job over drag show from the ’70s

According to SouthFloridaGayNews.com, a 61-year-old gay man who has been a licensed practical nurse in South Florida for 40 years, recently lost his job at an assisted living facility after a routine background check turned up a misdemeanor lewdness charge against him in 1976.

Ray Fetcho used to perform as drag queen “Tiny Tina.” On March 31, 1976, Fetcho was arrested on misdemeanor lewd act charges in connection with a “Wet Jockey Shorts” contest he was emceeing — as “Tiny Tina” — at a local bar. Apparently, his lewd act was throwing a bucket of water on the line of contestants standing their in their tighty-whities.

So now, 36 years later, the state has decided that he is unworthy of working as a nurse because of that. In fact, SouthFloridaGayNews.com reports, unless he gets an exemption, the Florida Department of Health can keep him from working anywhere in the state as a nurse.

Fetcho had worked at the assisted living facility for the past 15 years, and had been honored for his “compassionate service to the elderly.” His former employer and supervisors there had nothing but good things to say about him, as did relatives of many of the patients he has helped through the years.

John Castelli, former co-owner of The Copa — the bar where Tiny Tina worked — sold the news site: “Oh my God! What century are we living in? It was such an innocent situation. The boys always wore briefs. No one was exposed. That was during the Anita Bryant era, a lifetime ago.”

Fetcho has retained a law firm to help him appeal the decision and get the necessary exemption so he can go back to work, and his attorney, Norm Kent (who also happens to be SFGN publisher) has promised that the situation will be remedied and Fetcho will be able to work as a nurse again.

But even if that happens, Fetcho’s story serves as proof positive that no matter how far we as LGBT people have come, we still have a long way to go. And our past can come back to haunt us.

—  admin