HOLIGAYS ON ICE

Remembering-Christmas-scan

Remembering Christmas by Tom Medicino, Frank Anthony Polito and Michael Salvatore (Kensington, 2011). $15, 250 pp.

It happens every year. First you start seeing Christmas decorations. Then you notice yourself mouthing the words to carols while shopping. You start to get nostalgic, missing family and remembering this gift and that holiday dinner through rose-colored glasses. It’s ho-ho-horrible, a homesickness for something you never really had — who ever had a perfect holiday, anyhow?

In Remembering Christmas, three authors use three gay-themed novellas to show the only things perfect are the ghosts of Christmases past.

It’s funny how we remember special things we got for Christmas at the same time we remember things we didn’t get. In “Away, in a Manger” by Tom Medicino, middle-aged James is empty-handed and empty-hearted. Life as a gay man in New York was good once. There was always another party, another summer on Fire Island, another trip with Ernst, James’ lover and mentor.

But Ernst is now an old man with fusty habits, the summer house is a tired tradition that needs to be retired and James wants … something. Then, while on his way to spend Christmas with his family, car trouble strands him in a tiny town where his future is hiding, covered in snow.

Remember wishing for that one special thing to show up beneath the tree? No matter how old you are, it’s hard not to have a specific gift in mind when you see piles of gifts, and in “A Christmas to Remember” by Frank Anthony Polito, all Jack Paterno wants is a boyfriend — specifically, Kirk, his pal from high school. There’s much history between them, many mutual friends and boyhood memories in common, but even though Jack is pretty sure Kirk’s gay, Kirk isn’t so sure himself.

Sometimes, lost love feels keener at Christmastime. When Neil broke up with Theo just before the holidays, Theo decided that he might as well do what he said he’d never do, and go home for Christmas. But in “Missed Connections” by Michael Salvatore, a chance encounter with an old love becomes an odd gift.

Though my mother told me not to judge a book by its cover, I have to admit that I did. This book looked like it was going to be a fun read.
I should’ve listened to mom.

Remembering Christmas is fatally dark-mooded. It pouts and mutters, feels sorry for itself, gets morosely introspective and wallows in pity page after page after page. There are occasional bursts of good tidings of great joy, but the melancholy and angst overpowers them. I think I could have handled that in one story, but the similar theme of all three tales made me want to drown my sorrows in spiked egg nog.

If you’re single, hating it and want some paper commiseration, then this book will be good company this season. But if you’re looking for a holiday book that makes you feel all Christmas-y, this one is a perfect disaster.

— Terri Schlichenmeyer

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 9, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Fire Island reality series seeks gays to audition

If you think reality TV has made gay Dallas look a little crazy lately, well, here’s you chance to bring a little Texas-crazy to New York.

You have until Friday to apply to become a cast member of the Fire Island Summer Project (a working title, we’re assuming), a new series from the producers of RuPaul’s Drag Race. And here’s the best part: You don’t need to be from the NYC area — they want folks from all over to apply!  Filming begins this summer, probably in a beach house the Pines (despite a fire recently that scorched parts of the island).

The application has some pretty straightforward questions, plus a few that indicate the casting agents’ interest in seeking diverse and charged action on the show, such as “What do you think makes you stand out from the crowd?,” “What role do you play in your social circle?,” “Do you have any quirks or strange habits? and “What is your craziest Spring Break story?” And you never have to have vacationed on Fire Island before to be eligible.

If you think you might be interested, click here. And if you end up getting cast and turn out to be the asshole villain on the series, do us all a favor — say you’re from San Antonio!

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Mix Master

Blaine Soileau brings old-school philosophy to modern DJ techniques

IMG_0406
HE GOT THE BEAT | Dallas’ Blaine Soileau has perfected his DJ style after years of practice, but spinning still challenges and interests him. (Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)

RICH LOPEZ  | Staff Writer
lopez@dallasvoice.com

Blaine Soileau wouldn’t say that his DJing is about his image. The beefy arms, scruffy good looks and shirtless spinning, however, don’t hurt one bit when he’s at the turntable. If being a muscle daddy gets him a few fans… well, there are worse fates.

Soileau has been a staple in the Dallas DJ scene for years, but don’t mistake his image for his talent. He’s been mixing music since well before he had hair on his pecs.

“I started [DJing] in high school, which was 1979,” he says. “I feel like I’ve gotten where I’m at not because of any image. I just knew how to market myself.”

Soileau (pronounced “swallow”) knows the P.R. game well, owing to a stint in Los Angeles when he pursued an acting career. Having to get his name out as much as possible was the game then and it continues to be now. It’s just a different arena.

He’s fared much better on the DJ path than acting. Soileau has built himself into a marquee name even outside Texas. With bookings in D.C., L.A, Phoenix, Fire Island and more, he’s not only put his name into a national spotlight, he’s also bringing something back to Dallas each time with some specific hope and with his regular gig at the Dallas Eagle.

“The gay scene here is finally graduating to what’s going on now,” he says. “I never really had good things to say about Dallas’ music scene because of my travels. The music I would experience in other cities was always livelier and happening.”

He’s changed his mind now that he senses Dallas audiences aren’t “stuck in the ’80s and ’90s” anymore. It’s taking a while, but the sounds of Los Angeles, New York and even Eastern Europe are making way here. And Soileau sees audiences responding.

“For a while, all of us [DJs] here had to spoon-feed the crowd, but I think it’s moving into a good direction,” he says. “The stuff I’m playing at the Eagle, and the other DJs, we have a much more progressive sound.”

He brings that sound to Release, the club night he hosts at the Eagle twice a month. As Soileau infuses a cosmopolitan, modern sound to his party, he’s still a purist about technique.  He’s embraced digital music over vinyl, but in a time when people can call themselves a DJ and program their mixes to autopilot, Soileau still brings some of his old skills to the proverbial turntable.

“There is definitely so much more you can do with digital music, but I don’t agree with the programs some are using,” he says. “I’m so thankful I learned how to beat-mix. I can manipulate a song just as I would a piece of vinyl and line up the beats old school. Programs that sync songs for you, that’s not DJing.”

Sometimes Soileau sounds like he misses the club environs of years before. He enjoyed playing the anthems of disco divas like Kristine W and Deborah Cox, but he finds that sound isn’t happening right now. His focus was on house music with vocals, but trends now lead to more instrumental tracks. But an unlikely tool now works in his favor.

“The good thing is that radio has become more dance oriented,” he says. “There are no remixes needed so when people go out to clubs, they wanna hear stuff on the radio. That gets them on the floor dancing. When it gets packed, then I can give them what I want but maintain the energy of it.”

Soileau doesn’t worry about setting himself apart from other DJs; he just wants a flawless night. So if that means playing music from the radio in order to have a happy dance floor, he’s on board with that.

“If I have to bite the bullet and play Britney, am I selling out? No,” he says. “My goal is to make people have a good time. I’ve never thought about being different from other DJs.”

Which perhaps makes him different after all.

But we still like it when he takes his shirt off.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 19, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas