Inaugural Open Mic Night at BJ’s

Trial by fire

Local musician Rusty Johnson has been handling the live entertainment offerings at BJ’s (and no, not the dancers), but tonight he does it a little bit different. He’s hosting the club’s inaugural Open Mic Night tonight and with a full on backup band. How’s that for a kicker? So bring your original music, spoken word or even your favorite cover song. Johnson is calling tonight the trial version, but by the enthusiasm of his Facebook invite, we think he wants it to be a lasting thing. Hey, we’re down.

DEETS: BJ’s NXS!, 3215 N. Fitzhugh Ave. 8 p.m. BJsNXS.com

—  Rich Lopez

Fahari’s Queerly Speaking tonight at South Dallas Cultural Center

Celebrating the Harlem Renaissance

Fahari moves up its monthly Queerly Speaking a week to celebrate the 85th anniversary of Fire!!, the publication that featured several queer icons from the Harlem Renaissance. The literary publication was started by Wallace Thurman, Zora Neale Hurston, Aaron Douglas, John P. Davis, Richard Bruce Nugent, Gwendolyn Bennett, Lewis Grandison Alexander, Countee Cullen, and Langston Hughes. And Fahari honors all of those tonight.

DEETS: South Dallas Cultural Center, 3400 S. Fitzhugh Ave. 8 p.m. $5. FahariArtsInstitute.org.

—  Rich Lopez

Defining Homes • Peak pocket

An eclectic community finds solace in a tiny East Dallas ‘hood

Charlie Jenks, above left, and Eric White enjoy their front porch in the East Dallas neighborhood of Mill Creek. Sprawling back yards and Victorian homes such as Mack Anderson’s, previous page, dot the Peak Suburban district within Mill Creek. (Photos by Rich Lopez)

By Rich Lopez

On the whole, East Dallas has a solid reputation as the quirky part of town. Artists and musicians find cheap properties to rent and homeowners find a sort of refuge that’s not like any other. But look a little closer and the area is divided into several neighborhoods such as Munger Place and Junius Heights. As historic districts, they keep up the heritage of the area, but a street over and the denizens of Peak Suburban and Mill Creek do their own thing.

“We’re all a little off-kilter here,” Charlie Jenks laughs.

Jenks lives in a patch of neighborhood called Mill Creek with his partner of 25 years, Eric White. Sectioned off between Fitzhugh and Haskell avenues, the tiny area has been both a haven for Jenks and White as well as quite a find. The couple moved here from Baton Rouge and was intent on finding an older neighborhood. A friend told them to go east.

“It took a while to find this part of town,” Jenks says. “We knew we wanted to an old part of town. We had gone to Oak Cliff, looked in Oak Lawn because of the community, but we finally came to look here. This house being larger, we knew this is the one.”

That was 21 years ago. Beginning with what White describes as a teardown that was boarded up with no plumbing or even doorknobs, they have now renovated into exactly the home they wanted.

“When we moved in, there was lots of sketchy people around,” White says. “We couldn’t afford to buy this house now.”

The old neighborhood that was once spotted with substance abusers, homeless drifters and prostitutes evolved into an attractive area. With yuppies jogging in the streets and same-sex couples walking their dogs, Mack Anderson now sees a small utopia, but without the invasion of big stores and McMansions.

“It hasn’t really gentrified through the years here,” he says.

Anderson lives in the micro historic district of Peak Suburban within Mill Creek. A street away from friends and neighbors Jenks and White, Anderson revels in the overall feel of the magnificent trees, the different people and the big porches.

“Sometimes I just take my dinner out there and see what’s going on,” he says. “It’s better than TV.”

His Victorian home, which was also renovated, is thought to have been build in the 1880s.

Now retired, Anderson liked that his commute downtown was only five minutes. That factored big into his day-to-day living, but the texture of the area was a big selling point when he bought in the early ’80s.

“You don’t find that kind of diversity anywhere else, we all get along,” he says. “Here you have Irish, German, Hispanic and everyone gets along fine. It’s like the way the world should be.”

Add to that a bustling number of gay residents. The diversity and eclecticism of the area resonates with LGBT homebuyers and owners for similar reasons Oak Cliff does.

“I think we’ve always been here,” Anderson laughs. “I think us gay people want projects, want big houses and we’re the only ones willing to get things started. That makes a statement to others who follow the risk to bring up the neighborhood.”

Jenks and White feel good about being able to fit in and be proud.

“The flag goes up twice a year,” Jenks says. “There are several gay people around and the neighborhood associations and straight friends are all gay friendly, we’ve never not felt comfortable here.”

But while buying a home is not impossible in this is East Dallas pocket, Anderson makes a point about how great his spot is.

“If it has a good feel, it doesn’t matter where it is,” he says, ”so I found that the people who move here, stay here.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 7, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

BJ’s NXS! opens new VIP Nightspot Lounge tonight

Club evolution

BJ’s NXS! is far more than a bar with hot dancers in it. At least that’s becoming clearer as they open the next phase of the club. Not only are they opening their Nightspot Lounge, the new private VIP area, they are also adding 16 new beers to the bar. That alone is reason to check it out. For tonight, they’ll offer complimentary tastings as well as keep the hunky dancers close by. Invitations are required but they make it easy for you. Just pick one up from the bartender.

DEETS: BJ’s NXS!, 3215 N. Fitzhugh Ave. 7 p.m. BJsNXS.com.

—  Rich Lopez

Fahari’s lecture series brings in Kenyon Farrow tonight

Ushering in a new queer agenda
Kenyon Farrow is a man the LGBT community needs to get to know and the Fahari Arts Institute is doing just that with its (Queer)note Lecture Series. Farrow comes to speak to Dallas in the presentation Moving Toward a True Black Queer Liberation

DEETS: South Dallas Cultural Center, 3400 S. Fitzhugh Ave. 7 p.m. FahariArtsInstitute.org.

—  Rich Lopez

Weekly Best Bets

Saturday 04.16

No, the jacket won’t make you look fat
DIFFA’s back in a big way this weekend. The event promises to be off-the-charts fabulous, but we can’t wait to see the designer jean jackets. Pretty much our eyes are set on this cotton candy fur-sleeved one. Almost makes us want winter to come back quick. Oh, and we feel sorry for the person who bids against us. You’ve been warned.

DEETS: Hilton Anatole, 2201 Stemmons Freeway. 6 p.m. $300. DIFFADallas.org.

 

Sunday 04.17

Dog days are just beginning
You think you know what your dog thinks and says? You will when you head to the 5th Annual Dog Bowl. Sipping pools, dog games and the Cotton Bowl as the largest dog park for them to run around in will make them happy as clams. And give you some good karma in the doggie-verse.

DEETS: Cotton Bowl Stadium at Fair Park. 1 p.m. Free. FairPark.org.

 

Thursday 04.21

Ushering in a new queer agenda
Kenyon Farrow is a man the LGBT community needs to get to know and the Fahari Arts Institute is doing just that with its (Queer)note Lecture Series. Farrow comes to speak to Dallas in the presentation Moving Toward a True Black Queer Liberation

DEETS: South Dallas Cultural Center, 3400 S. Fitzhugh Ave. 7 p.m. FahariArtsInstitute.org.

—  John Wright

Weekly Best Bets

Friday 03.18

Footes won’t fail you now
Honoring the Texas playwright, the theater community unites for the first Horton Foote Festival. The fest kicks off with DTC’s Dividing the Estate. but even a touch of gay can be found with The Young Man from Atlanta, which Uptown Players will perform in April.
DEETS:
Various theaters and venues. Through May 1. Visit HortonFooteFestival.com for details.

Friday 03.18

When wine strolls attack
Savor Dallas is upon us again, filling the weekend with food, wine and fabulosity. The event starts off with an Arts District Wine Stroll within the museums and venues. Just don’t get tipsy and spill the wine on the art. That’s a whole lot of bad karma. And look for local celebrichefs like Stephan Pyles and Blythe Beck. Bon appetit!
DEETS:
Various venues. 5 p.m. $35. Through Saturday. Visit SavorDallas.com for schedule.

Saturday 03.19

Hey, why don’t you go take a walk
Designer Anthony Chisom took issues into his own hands starting the Anthony Chisom AIDS Foundation and creating the inaugural South Dallas AIDS Walk. Seeing the impact of AIDS beyond the gayborhood, Chisom’s foundation strives to expand the city’s vision of where AIDS impacts. After all, it is the same fight for the cure.
DEETS: South Dallas Cultural Center, 3400 S. Fitzhugh Ave. 8 a.m. SouthDallasAIDSWalk.org.

—  John Wright

DPD officers won’t clean up horses’ poop

The horses may be pretty to look at, and their presence is a sign of spring, but not everyone is thrilled to see mounted DPD officers in the area of the Katy Trail this year.

Earlier today the proprietor of the 7-11 on Fitzhugh told me the horses make a mess in his parking lot, and the officers refuse to clean it up, leaving him to do their dirty work.

As you can see in the above photo, two mounted officers were hanging out in the 7-11 parking lot earlier today, and not surprisingly, one of the horses dropped a deuce in a parking space. I watched the officers leave without cleaning it up.

“If anyone else did that they’d get a ticket,” the 7-11 proprietor told me. “Just because they’re police doesn’t mean they should be able to do whatever they want.”

It’s unclear why the police horses aren’t equipped with bags that catch their poop, but they’re not. Budget cutbacks?

In any case, this is clearly horseshit! Just wait till some queen from one of the nearby gay bars steps in that stuff. Then you’re really gonna have a problem.

—  John Wright

Proprietor of Tin Room, Drama Room says he hopes to reopen Bill’s Hideaway in March

The proprietor of the Tin Room and the Drama Room says he’s signed a lease on the building that housed Bill’s Hideaway and hopes to reopen the legendary gay piano bar by the end of March.

The Hideaway, on Buena Vista Street near Fitzhugh Avenue, has been sitting vacant since mid-2009, when it shut down after 26 years.

Lonzie Hershner, who took over management of the Tin Room and the Drama Room after his brother Marty died last year, said he signed a lease on the Hideaway building last month.

Lonzie Hershner said he plans to call the new bar Marty’s Hideaway as a tribute to his brother. Crews have already gutted the building and begun landscaping the trademark patio, he said.

“We’re going to start actual construction on it in two weeks,” Hershner said. “We’re fixin’ to completely restore it. It’s taken forever and a day, but we finally got the lease signed on it. … I want to get it back to what it used to be, because everybody loved it.”

—  John Wright

Fahari Arts presents Queer Film Series today

The weather for shorts

Today, the Fahari Arts Institute screens two short LGBT films. First, If She Grows Up Gay, pictured, is a 1983 short about an African-American mother talking about life with children, her lesbian lover and blue collar job and directed by Karen Goodman. That is followed by Brooklyn’s Bridge to Jordan, directed by Tina Mabry. Brookyn’s tells the story of a woman who loses her partner in an auto accident only to fight to rebuild her relationship with an estranged son as well as her own life. Filmmaker Charles Bennett Brack will be in attendance.

DEETS: South Dallas Cultural Center, 3400 S. Fitzhugh Road. 6 p.m. $5.

—  Rich Lopez