Boy wonder

Patrick Mikyles brings a decidedly masculine vibe to S4’s drag stage

NEWCOMER OF THE YEAR | Mikyles raised eyebrows when he was named newcomer of the year, defeating more than half a dozen female impersonators. (Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)

 

DRACONIS VON TRAPP  |  Intern
intern@dallasvoice.com

Patrick Mikyles raises the roof Thursday nights at the Rose Room, but he also raises some eyebrows: Entertainers dressed as men aren’t the norm at the venue famous for its drag shows. But Mikyles has made his way into the ranks of queens and kings as a pioneer in his category.

Originally from Odessa, Mikyles started dancing in a show at Club Sin City there. His break came four years ago when he was supposed to dance back-up for a drag queen. At the last minute, the queen changed routines, so Mikyles approached the show director and asked if he could do a fill-in performance. The director agreed and said he could do the second show for $30. When Mikyles asked if he had to pay before or after he performed, the director gave him an odd look. “No, honey, I pay you $30.”

That was when Patrick Mikyles was born.

Since then Mikyles has performed at multiple clubs from Amarillo to Florida. He refers to himself as a “true male entertainer.”

“I can entertain the crowd with my clothes on,” Mikyles jokes.

While he doesn’t have a classical dance background, Mikyles has a eidetic memory when it comes to dance. He describes his style as “very energetic, go-getter” and says his influences range from Michael Jackson and Beyonce to James Brown. “It’s really eclectic,” he says. “There really is a lot of choreography that goes into it.”

When he first moved to Dallas, Mikyles set as his goal to be the first entertainer to work the Rose Room as a male.

“[The Rose Room] is a staple in drag and performing arts, I think. It’s really big for the LGBT community,” he says.

While he encountered controversy upon winning the newcomer contest, Mikyles soldiered through until he was accepted. He knew it would mean a lot for the drag king community and other male entertainers to become a regular at the club. Since achieving that, Mikyles has opened the door for other male entertainers and drag kings, giving confidence to performers who don’t specialize in female impersonation.

Even though he’s a crowd favorite and gets plenty of tips each show, Mikyles still gets a few odd looks backstage.

“I’ve met a lot of people while in the community,” he says. “Layla LaRue has been a mentor, and I’ve known some of the queens up there for years; they’re not strangers. But some of the up-and-coming girls are kind of uneasy about it. I think it’s just a matter of [them] not knowing me. I’m just an easy-going guy; I’m not here about the drama.”

It’s not just the other performers — sometimes the audience is unprepared for his act. The initial reaction can be something like, “What is this guy doing on stage?”

“By the second number they usually come around,” he says. (The main performers usually do two numbers a night between the amateur acts.)

Even as an experienced performer, Mikyles still gets nervous. How does he get pumped for a show? “I take in plenty of alcohol,” he quips, then adds quickly, “No, I’m kidding.”

He still prays before every show and lets the music move him. Some of the thoughts swirling through his head include, “Don’t fall,” “Are they gonna like me?” and “Am I gonna remember the steps?” And while much of what he does is choreographed, Mikyles still improvises.

Mikyles has also won Mr. Amarillo USofA and hopes to tour while getting a few more titles under his belt before trying an acting career on radio, television, stage and in film.

When he’s not on the dance floor, the 29-year-old works as a loan officer for Cash Store. “Some people say I’m a loan shark,” he chuckles. And when the work-week plods along, he always has Thursday to look forward to.

“Dallas has been great,” he says. “I didn’t think it would open its arms as much as it did. I still feel like a kid in a candy store.”

Mikyles performs at the Rose Room inside Station 4, 3911 Cedar Springs Road on Thursdays. PartyAtTheBlock.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 16, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

Teen gay dream

GLEEK HERO   |  In just four episodes, Criss has become a popular gay on ‘Glee.’ (Photo by Robert Hart)

Darren Criss, the breakout heartthrob from ‘Glee,’ isn’t gay or a teen, but welcomes more romance for Blaine

MARK LOWRY  |  Special Contributor
mark@theaterjones.com

Aside from the hot pink sunglasses, and the assistant who occasionally makes sure that his natural curls fall just so on his forehead, Darren Criss doesn’t come across as the young actor whose star is on a rocket’s upward path.

A new, popular actor on the hit Fox show Glee, Criss possesses an articulate intelligence and level-headedness that belies his age (he turns 24 in under a month). On the show, Criss plays Dalton Academy gay student Blaine, the teenage dream with the glassy brown eyes and plush eyebrows that make Kurt (Chris Colfer) — not to mention the rest of gay America — swoon.

Criss was in North Texas last weekend at the Fort Worth auditions for The Glee Project, a reality show that will debut on Oxygen in June where 12 contestants will vie for a role on Glee. The winner is guaranteed multiple episodes next season. Whether this new character (which hasn’t been written yet, so it’s open to gender and type) becomes a recurring character depends on his or her popularity with audiences.

The winner would be lucky to repeat the feat accomplished by Criss, who in a scant four episodes has already proven so popular that he’s been confirmed as a series regular for the rest of Seasons 2 and 3. The real question that the gay fans of the show — and we hear there are a few — are asking: Will the Kurt/Blaine friendship develop into something more?

“I’m just as curious as everybody else,” Criss says. “Obviously the potential is there. As much as all of us want to see that happen immediately, I think the most important thing to convey between the two of them is that of a support system. It’s really important to show young people especially that there’s a person to confide in, and that friendship is possible. If that does evolve into a romantic relationship, then awesome. But let’s hope that it’s warranted, and real. And there’s no greater way to portray a love story than to prolong it as long as possible.”

Criss knows a thing or two about fictional love stories. The San Francisco native has been doing theater for much of his short life. In high school and as a student at the University of Michigan, he appeared in musicals like the “lost Sondheim” show Do I Hear a Waltz and the Rodgers and Hart classic Babes in Arms.

“I’m a big Rodgers and Hart fan. For my audition for Blaine, I sang ‘Where or When’ [from Babes],” he says. “I was a big musical theater rat. I was just a fanboy who got lucky.”

During college, Criss became a member of the UM alumni theater company Team Starkid, playing Harry Potter in the spoof A Very Potter Musical and writing songs for the original musical Me and My Dick (the recording is available on iTunes). He also released a solo EP called Human, showing off his smooth tenor. (There’s a Facebook group called “I liked Darren Criss before he was on Glee.”)

He landed a few TV roles (Cold Case, the short-lived series Eastwick), but it was with Glee that he became an instant hit singing lead in an all-male a capella version of Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream.” The opportunity is something that the actor, who is straight, doesn’t take lightly.

“It’s incredibly important to me,” he says. “As an actor, you’re always worried that you’re going to be stuck doing ancillary things, like the boyfriend or the cop or the football coach or something. You just hope for something that you feel has some kind of significance. This would be one of those things that has a great amount of value to me personally and, I think, to a greater community.”

As for his rising fame, he’s cautious to use the word “celebrity”(although the screaming fans in Fort Worth on Saturday would argue otherwise). But he’s preparing himself for it.

“Everybody wants to know who you are, which is a very unfair position to be in because all of us are trying to figure that out on a consistent basis,” he says. “So it really forces you to evaluate and analyze yourself. It’s really forced me into really trying to solidify myself because if people are paying attention, it’s important to step up to the plate and make sure that [I’m] representing something positive.”

Millions of Gleeks can’t be wrong.

New episodes of Glee resume with a special Super Bowl Sunday episode.

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

—  John Wright