News: Juan Williams, eBay, Bob Guccione, Glee, Barney Frank

Road NPR's Juan Williams fired for Muslim remarks; Palin, Huckabee want NPR funds stripped.

Guccione RoadPenthouse founder Bob Guccione dead at 79.

RoadNancy Pelosi expects to keep the House: "'Well let me say why I believe that would be very difficult for the Republicans to takeover the House of Representatives,' Pelosi said on the "Charlie Rose Show,' according to a transcript released by Bloomberg. 'Let me tell you right here and now that I would rather be in our position right now than theirs. In order for them to win, they have to win around 38 seats and we’ll win some, and so they’ll have to win in the 40s.'"

RoadJames Franco, author.

RoadTyson Beckford has a man crush on Russell Simmons: "You look at him and you can't figure out his age. He's like the angel of hip hop, the angel of doing right. … Whether you're gay, straight or black or white, it don't matter … you just can't resist him."

RoadFolks are apparently outraged at the "racy" Terry Richardson photos of the Glee cast in GQ.

Road21 portraits of Luke Perry at Dragoncon.

RoadA teaser trailer for Scream 4 has hit the web.

Hartzler RoadIs this the most anti-gay House candidate in America?

RoadBarney Frank loans 0K to his own campaign: "Frank, 70, usually wins re-election by wide margins, but is being pressed enough by Bielat that he has cut down on contributions to colleagues. Normally a generous giver, he has donated only ,000 to 12 Democratic hopefuls this cycle, compared to 8,000 to 86 candidates two years ago, according to the Center for Responsive Politics and the Wall Street Journal."

RoadGeorge W. Bush misses certain aspects of the presidency: "I miss being pampered; I miss Air Force One; I miss being commander in chief of an awesome group of (people)."

RoadA Serbian doctor's cure for homosexuality is identical to the prep work done by Circuit Boys before the White Party: "Patients must cut out junk food from their diet, 'drink a lot of water,' 'reject anything that is diarrhetic, alcohol, caffeine,' engage in 'physical activity,' 'rest [at] appropriate times.' Plus, one 'must think about good things.' Oh, and receive regular enemas."

Galaxy RoadNASA identifies most distant galaxy yet observed in the universe. "This collection of stars is so far away its light has taken more than 13 billion years to arrive at Earth."

RoadKanye West unveils his diamond teeth on Ellen.

RoadFrench eBay website bans gay couples from competition: "The auction website is offering two people the chance to live rent-free in a 50m² central Paris apartment for a year to celebrate its tenth anniversary in France. The winners will be given 8,000 Euros and ten weeks to kit out the unfurnished flat with items from eBay. However, the rules state: 'The game is open to any couple composed of a male adult and a female adult.'"

Towleroad News #gay

—  admin

Cher and share alike

Local female impersonator Wayne Smith and floral designer Shane Walker have at least one thing in common: A fascination with Cherilyn Sarkasian Bono

ARNOLD WAYNE JONES  | Life+Style Editor

GYPSIES, TRAMPS AND THIEVES  |  Shane Walker, center, successfully bid on the two Bob Mackie originals worn by Cher — and lusted after by Cher impersonator Wayne Smith. (Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)
GYPSIES, TRAMPS AND THIEVES | Shane Walker, center, successfully bid on the two Bob Mackie originals worn by Cher — and lusted after by Cher impersonator Wayne Smith. (Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)

Shane Walker remembers the first time he ever saw Cher in concert: He was 16, and went with a family member to a show in Houston.

His life hasn’t been the same since.

More than 20 years later, Walker, a floral designer and event stylist, has one of the most extensive collections of Cher memorabilia around. He’s been collecting so long, he can barely remember the first piece he bought.

“Probably one of the Bob Mackie dolls,” he posits, referring to the fashion figurines dressed in recreations of costumes from Cher’s favorite designer.

But if he cannot recall for sure the first item he purchased, he certainly knows the most recent: Two Bob Mackie gowns — and not miniature knock-offs, either. These are originals, worn by Cher herself.

“If you look in the collar of the print dress, you can see a little bit of makeup. That’s makeup Cher wore!” Walker says. He almost swoons just thinking about it.

Despite his eye twinkling and his voice softening when he talks about her, Walker braces at the suggestion he is “obsessed” with Cher. (Billy Fulmer, his partner of nine years, smiles; he loves Cher, too, though he admits Walker’s enthusiasm out-distances his own.) In fact, while Walker says he’s been collecting the Oscar winner for about 18 years, it’s only been in “the last five that it has grown:” He admits to buying a Cher doll about once a week now. “She makes me very happy on the inside, and her music’s wonderful,” he says.

“When he gets down, he just buys something of Cher on eBay,” Fulmer says. “And her music is always playing at his studio.”

His newest acquisitions, though, are already among his most cherished. Not only were they donated to an auction house directly from Cher herself, but being actually Bob Mackie creations sweetens the enjoyment.

“Bob Mackie is my favorite designer,” Walker explains. “It’s just a legend — when you think of Cher, you think of Bob Mackie. They have been together for years, and she helped build his empire.”

That’s one of the things that got Walker to Las Vegas last month for an auction. He had already purchased third-row seats to see Cher perform at Caesar’s Palace (not his first time — and he plans to see it again before she ends the run in October). Then he heard about an auction that included several Mackie designs. He had bid on many in the past, but never successfully. But one of the gowns, a Pucci-style print, is the original of a dress worn by a Cher doll Walker bought ages ago.

“I had no idea it was all happening the same day. But when I saw the dress in the auction, I said ‘My God, I have to get that.’” This time,he was resolved: He would get something. Anything.

He walked away with two gowns and other swag.

Then less than an hour later, he was in his premium seats watching Cher perform.

And a few hours after that, he was back stage, visiting with her privately for the first time.

It is a day he’ll never forget.

BLING BANG BOOM  |  Walker, left, and his partner Billy Fulmer the day they met Cher. The performer spotted their bling from the stage and invited them back for a meet and greet after the show.
BLING BANG BOOM | Walker, left, and his partner Billy Fulmer the day they met Cher. The performer spotted their bling from the stage and invited them back for a meet and greet after the show.

“I always buy premium seats. We were sparkling in our bling and she said, ‘Come here, shiny boys.’ The looked incredible: Perfect face, smooth. She for sure does not look her age. And she loves her gays.”

It may sound silly, but for Walker — and countless others, many gay men — it is anything but. Cher represents something special, unique. Tell someone you own a dress once worn by Meryl Streep and an eyebrow might raise in interest; say you have one of Cher’s, and people’s minds race toward the outrageous. Because she means something as an icon, not just as a celebrity.

“Everyone associates with Cher,” offers Wayne Smith, a local legend himself for his decades-long impersonations of Cher. “The gay community goes through a lot of bullshit, just like her. She is the most honest person you’ll ever meet, and sometimes honesty hurts. She has been through everything you can imagine and she does not give a shit. She really doesn’t care if they make fun of her.”

Smith speaks from experience. Although Walker only recently met her, Smith has known Cher for years. In the ‘80s, Smith worked in the beading department for Bob Mackie’s prêt-a-porter line, where he met Cher (along with others, like Diana Ross, about whom he has far less flattering things to report).

“When she’s on tour, she’ll ride [in the bus] with the dancers. She loves board games and bowling and old movies,” he says. And he thinks people respond to that realness.

Smith didn’t begin performing as Cher until many years after he worked for Mackie, although Mackie did get him involved in drag in the first place.

“He gave me the idea to dress up. He asked me what I was going to do for Halloween and said ‘I think you should do Marilyn — if you do, I’ll help you with you costume.’” The next day, Smith was offered a spot in the La Cage aux Folles drag show as a Marilyn/Dolly impersonator. It was six years before he tackled Cher. Now, he does no one else in his act.

“You give the people what they want,” he says.

Shane Walker can surely relate to that.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 13, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas