“Confessions of a Mormon Boy” at Theater LaB

Steven Fales

Steven Fales

Steven Fales (ironically pronounced “fails”) was born Mormon, sixth generation in fact, what he calls “Mormon DNA.” As a good Mormon boy he grew up, became a missionary, went to Brigham Young University, got married and had kids. The only problem being that Fales is gay. After a failed attempt at “reparative therapy” he was kicked out of the Mormon church, got divorced, moved to New York, became a prostitute and developed a crystal meth problem. If the story ended there Fales would be like any number of queer people injured by their intolerant upbringing and lost to a world only too willing to offer alternatives to healing, but the story didn’t end there. Fales, a trained actor, got his life together and started doing a stand-up comedy routine that eventually became his hit one-man play Confessions of a Mormon Boy.

More than just another tear-jerking coming out story, Confessions of a Mormon Boy connects the behaviors learned by growing up in an environment that tells people they will never be worthy of God’s love with the allure of chemical abuse. The play mixes pathos and tragedy with a very healthy dose of comedy (and it doesn’t hurt that former call-boy Fales is quite easy on the eyes).  Fales has written a story not just for the LGBT community, but also for the Mormon community of his youth (it’s played four times in Salt Lake City). For a play about prostitution and drug addiction Confessions of a Mormon Boy is neigh-on family friendly, containing no nudity or cursing.

Fales performs Confessions of a Mormon Boy at Theater LaB (1706 Alamo) Feb. 8-12. Tickets start at $25 and may be purchased by calling 713-868-7516.

After the jump watch Fales perform the opening monologue:

—  admin

Conference on addiction this week in Dallas

The Texas Association of Addiction Professionals presents NOVA 2012 on Jan. 19 and 20, covering topics of alcoholism, drug addiction, eating disorders, sex addiction, HIV/AIDS, sexually transmitted infections and treatment approaches.

Lisa Hinson

The Dallas chapter of TAAP is hosting the event. Chapter president Lisa Hinson LCDC is also a longtime participant in the Lone Star Ride Fighting AIDS, the annual fundraiser for local HIV service providers.

“NOVA 2012 will cover topics relevant to therapists and those living and working within our community,” Hinson said. “Many in our community struggle with these disorders, and this is an amazing opportunity for lay people to get educated and therapists to get the latest information and [continuing education units] in the addictions field.”

Workshops will be presented by nationally and regionally known experts in their fields.

Space is available. The cost is $150 for non-members. Special rates are available for one day and for students and counselor interns. To register, go to the Dallas TAAP website and click on NOVA Conference.

Nova 2012 takes place at the DoubleTree Hotel Valley View near the Galleria.

—  David Taffet

Monster’s ball

Porn star Michael Brandon endured prison and drug  addiction, but his road to recovery — and to Texas — began with an unusual partner named Monster

MAN OF A CERTAIN AGE | At 46, the once-twinky Michael Brandon has embraced his new-found role as a daddy to younger men who were barely alive when he started his porn career.

ARNOLD WAYNE JONES
Life+Style Editor

jones@dallasvoice.com

…………………….

BADASS TEXAS TOUR
Midtowne Spa,
2509 Pacific St.  July 29 at 8 p.m.

…………………….

Porn star Michael Brandon loves the cool weather in his hometown of San Francisco, but he is happily, and voluntarily, giving it up to come to Dallas.

“I actually have family there,” he says. “Legend has it my uncle was the CEO of Texas Instruments back in the day.” Not counting family reunions, the trip will mark the Dallas debut of his live show. So what exactly got him to Texas finally?

“I think I would have to credit Monster,” he says.

Monster, it turns out, is his pet name for his penis. Only if you listen to Brandon talk about it enough, it seems like a business partner rather than a part of his business.
Here’s how it happened.

“One of my fans, Topher, has been on me to come to Texas for years — ‘Bring Monster to Texas!’ he kept saying. For some reason, Texas wasn’t an easy nut to crack for me,” Brandon says. So superfan Topher took it upon himself to meet Monster in person, setting out on a campaign to get someone — anyone — to bring Monster and his owner to the Lone Star State.

“I’ll be damned if he didn’t get Midtowne Spa [on board],” Brandon says still a bit incredulously. “Midtowne doesn’t normally fly people in, but they agreed to this time — and it went from ‘just Dallas’ to a three-city tour.”

Brandon’s Badass Texas Tour — designed to promote the adult performer’s first hardcore sex film in several years, the fetish picture Badass — started in Austin Wednesday, and will bring him (well, them) to Dallas tonight at 8, followed by an appearance in Houston on Sunday.

To hear Brandon talk about it, it really is a collaboration, and one borne unexpectedly from tragedy.

In the 1980s, Brandon was, in his words, “fresh off the bus” when he came out of the closet with a vengeance. He was 24 and quickly got involved in the seedier aspects of gay culture. He was working at a bar when he answered an ad for XXX models. The photographer was impressed by the young man’s member.

“In the gay world, your cock can be your calling card on many levels — especially in the sex industry, and mine is really large,” Brandon quickly admits. But soon after he started doing porn, he developed an addiction to meth. It ruined his life.

TEXAS AT LAST | Brandon’s Texas tour resulted from an email campaign from a superfan.

“I was already 140 lbs. soaking wet without using anything, but I dropped even more — I was skinny as a rail. When I did the speed I stopped doing porn because I didn’t have any confidence in front of the camera. Then I started selling it, then did jail time, then prison time, then living on the streets. From 24 to 34, I saw eight-and-a-half years inside state penitentiaries. But those revolving doors kept me alive. Left to my own devices, I would have been dead. I should be dead. Dead! I’m talking skull-and-crossbones chemicals being shot into my veins. I’ve known people who did less than I did and can barely put two sentences together. Staying as strung out as I did, I would have been so out of it I would have walked in front of a bus.”

He spent 18 months in rehab, and it was really after that when “Michael Brandon” was born.

“’Michael Brandon’ was just my stage name but I started cultivating it as an entity and business,” he says.

Brandon won back-to-back performer of the year Gay VN Awards in 2001 and 2002 — the only porn actor to do so — and Monster was a big part of it.

“Part of the process [of recovery] is to learn who you really are, so I was reading reviews of me on an [escort evaluation site]. One review, the client was saying how nice my eyes were and called my cock a ‘monster.’ I thought, ‘Why don’t I give it an identity and take mine back? And it’s been a hit. Working together has been huge for my career. Monster gets his own birthday wishes, own emails, his — ‘can Monster come out and play?’ It’s been such a big marketing tool. No pun intended.”

Brandon took a break from porn and escorting when he met his true love, Marcos, “and in order to cultivate a healthy personal relationship, I stepped out from in front of the camera and basically had a monogamous relationship with him.”

That relationship ended after five years “in a blaze of glory” last October; in December, Brandon went back in front of the camera to make Badass. He was already 45 years old. But apparently as in-demand as ever.

“People ask me, ‘How long have you been in your industry?’ I sometimes answer, ‘How old are you?’ I get a lot of emails saying, ‘I have watched you since I was 12 years old.’ I wanna ask, ‘How old are you now, 15?’ Our community is youth-obsessed but I find the youth is obsessed with the papis and the daddies. I get these random emails that say, ‘I really like having sex with older men.’ When did that happen?”

But Brandon isn’t complaining. Despite a drug relapse — he has been clean for a second time almost three years now, following a nine-month binge that nearly destroyed him again — he’s as happy and focused and well-adjusted as he’s ever been. And like Lady Gaga, he credits his little — well, not so little — Monster.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 29, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

RCD, AIDS Arms among United Way beneficiaries

United Way of Metropolitan Dallas voted this week to disburse $25 million to 78 nonprofit organizations in the Dallas area.

Because of new criteria that emphasize improving education, income or health, some new agencies received money and others lost their United Way funding.

Among the regular recipients are Resource Center Dallas, which will receive $383,409, and AIDS Arms, which will receive $772,548. Bryan’s House is one of the new agencies receiving United Way funding and they will get $315,106.

Another new beneficiary is Turtle Creek Manor, a residential program in Uptown for people with co-occurring disorders of severe mental illness and alcohol or drug addiction.

Among those losing funding because they no longer fit the organization’s mission are two local Boy Scouts councils. In the past, some members of the LGBT community have chosen not to make  donations to United Way because of the funding of groups like the Boy Scouts that proudly enshrine discrimination into their mission and policies. Donors to the United Way can designate beneficiary organizations so that specific agencies of interest will receive the money.

—  David Taffet

STAGE REVIEWS: ‘Simply Etta’ at Tuckers’ Blues, ‘Don’t Dress for Dinner’ at Theatre Arlington

BEDROOM AHHS | Three women play musical beds in Theatre Arlington’s sex farce ‘Don’t Dress for Dinner.’ (Photo courtesy Eric Younkin)

Force vs. farce

Sheran Keyton’s ‘Etta’ is a powerhouse; in Arlington, sex is on the plate

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

Sheran Goodspeed Keyton has a voice so big, it not only fills the small space of Tuckers’ Blues in Deep Ellum, it reverberates until you’d swear she’s singing to you in stereo. That she’s belting out the songs of Etta James only exaggerates the sound: There’s nothing quite as unleashed as a diva playing another diva. It’s like getting two performances for the price of one.

All Keyton really needs is more of an audience. Opening night for Simply Etta deserved more patrons, be it lovers of theater or just honkytonk denizens who like to groove to James’ wide-ranging repertoire:  Jazz, blues, pop, standards, rock, gospel. The show — and it is a show, not just a tribute concert, with scripted banter and emotional touchpoints — recounts the life of the woman whose “At Last” will forever leave her in the annals of music.

Simply Etta is one in a long line of jukebox-style cabaret shows of soulful songs — Ella, Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill, Ain’t Misbehavin’ among them  — and like those, it depends on the strength of the performer. Keyton has enough strength to launch the space shuttle. Even referring to her script throughout the performance, she has an ease with the music and the character, from her drug addiction to her education among the gay musicians of her day. (She recounts how Etta’s platinum blonde look was given to her “by a gay boy” and how Little Richard’s fearless flamboyance inspired her with live-and-let-live joy.)

A Broadway showtune from a few years back counseled that the easy way to get patrons on their feet when you had nothing else was to let a “big black lady stop the show.” Good advice. And with Simply Etta, the lady also starts it and carries it through. Hey, you go with what works.

________

Oh, those silly straight French folk: Hopping faithlessly from bed to bed with farcical abandon, always worried that their spouse will discover their infidelities but not so worried they can actually control themselves. (If they really wanna know how to whore it up with an enviable sense of inconsequentiality, they should ask a gay man.)

Theatre Arlington mounts — yes, mounts — Marc Camoletti’s popular sex farce Don’t Dress for Dinner with an admirable sense of naughtiness, something you really can’t get away from in a show that wears its sex so openly.

Or rather, the suggestion of sex. This is more about ribald innuendo that outright humping, with tons of slamming doors and anxious looks. It’s foreplay, without an orgasmic finale.

It doesn’t make sense why four of the half-dozen characters, all of them living in the French countryside, speak with British accents, but the star of this show, as usual, is the saucy chef Suzette. As played by Amber Quinn, she’s edgy and smart with an offhanded tolerance for the sex-starved bourgeoisie. She also gets the biggest laughs, though Jeff Swearingen, small and wiry, gives her a run with his clowning.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition Jan. 28, 2011.

—  John Wright