Best bets • 11.12.10

Friday 11.12

Rivas makes ‘Faces’ picture perfect
You might have seen the gigantic portraits of community figures during this year’s Pride parade. They were shot by photographer Jorge Rivas who has been busy with sessions for people wanting their photos taken for his Faces of Life exhibit. The opening reception with Rivas benefits AIDS Arms, Inc. and features some pretty amazing portraits.

DEETS: ilume Gallerie, 4123 Cedar Springs Road.  7 p.m. Through Dec. 15. ilumeGallerie.com.

Saturday 11.13

Dance the night away – three nights
The gay run Beckles Dancing Company participates in the South Dallas Dance Festival 10. The South Dallas Cultural Center hosts three days of dance and education with both a master class and performance on Saturday. Beckles is one of 17 companies included in the festivities.

DEETS: SDCC, 3400 S. Fitzhugh Ave. 8 p.m. Nov. 12–14. BecklesDancingCompany.org.

Thursday 11.18

Be the envy of your neighbors
You won’t get the boys with it, but you can bid on evergreen fabulosity at DIFFA’s Holiday Wreath Collection Event. Vie for that wreath your neighbors will all be jealous of. Unless they’re bidding with you. Which is good, because the auction benefits North Texas AIDS services organizations.

DEETS: Ritz-Carlton Dallas, 2555 N. Pearl St.  6 p.m. $50. DiffaDallas.org.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 12, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens

Best bets • 10.22.10

Friday 10.22

Speaking out on arts and AIDS
This month’s Queerly Speaking event brings in rapper, author, poet (and more) Tim’m West in this special Arts and AIDS edition. West uses hip-hop, spoken word and performance art in selections of “Ready Set Grow” where he takes on coming out, race and sexuality and his triumphs and travails in his battle with AIDS.

DEETS: South Dallas Cultural Center, 3400 S. Fitzhugh. 8 p.m. $5. RedDirt.biz.

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Saturday 10.23

These are the good kind of Con men
The Art Conspiracy people call what they do street-level philanthropy. We call it greatness. The annual event raises money for nonprofits with this year’s proceeds going to Today Marks the Beginning which educates children on non-violence through art. If that’s not enough, then the reasonably priced art and local live bands will make the night more worthwhile.

DEETS: Art Con Warehouse, 511 W. Commerce St. 7 p.m. $10. ArtConspiracy.org.

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Wednesday 10.27

Hump day with a major hottie
Mozart’s Don Giovanni still gets us verklempt thanks to hottie baritone Paulo Szot. He plays the legendary Don Juan in this Dallas Opera production following his Metropolitan Opera debut. And he’s a Tony award winner. He’s got major cred to go with those swoony bedroom eyes.

DEETS: Winspear Opera House, 2403 Flora St. 7:30 p.m. Through Nov. 7. $25–$400. ATTPAC.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 15, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas

Fahari Arts Institute tells the Bull Jeans story

Fahari introduces you to Miss Bull Jeans

Harold J. Steward directs Q-Roc Ragsdale in this one-woman multi-media show about Bull Jeans and her life in the rural South of the 1920s. Her story of survival, love and lesbianism is told in the bull-jean stories based on the book by Sharon Bridgforth.

DEETS: South Dallas Cultural Center, 3400 S. Fitzhugh Ave. 8 p.m. Sunday at 3 p.m. $15. Q-Roc.tv/Bull-Jean.

—  Rich Lopez

Best bets • 10.08.10

Friday 10.15

No need to ask where the beef is
Burgers and beer is a primo combination, but with wine, it’s a step up. Especially if they are made by 11 local celebrity chefs, then it could just be heaven. The second annual Burgers & Burgundy hosted by Chef John Tesar puts it all together for your pleasure while raising funds for DIFFA. Who said eating burgers could ever be bad for you?

DEETS: The House in Victory Park, 2200 Victory Ave. 6 p.m. $75. DiffaDallas.org.

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Saturday 10.16

Never cross a gay vampire at bingo
The last thing you want to do is piss off Miss True Blood by yelling “bingo” before her. The last thing you need is a big bite mark on your neck before it’s truly scarf season. Put on your fangs, widow’s peaks and capes for this month’s GayBingo Vampire. Just watch out for those real ones blending in. Garlic should keep you safe — alone, but safe.

DEETS: The Rose Room (inside Station 4), 3911 Cedar Springs Road. 5 p.m. $25. RCDallas.org.

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Sunday 10.17

Fahari introduces Miss Bull Jeans
Harold J. Steward directs Q-Roc Ragsdale in this one-woman multi-media show about Bull Jeans and her life in the rural South of the 1920s. Her story of survival, love and lesbianism is told in the bull-jean stories based on the book by Sharon Bridgforth.

DEETS: South Dallas Cultural Center, 3400 S. Fitzhugh Ave. 3 p.m. $15. Q-Roc.tv/Bull-Jean.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 15, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas

Another gay bar patron robbed at gunpoint

The robbery occurred in this area of Travis Street near Fitzhugh Avenue, according to one of the victim’s friends who witnessed it. Dallas Voice offices are in the background.

A group of three gay men who attended the Adam Lambert concert on Tuesday night were thrilled that they also got a chance to hang out with the young pop icon when he showed up at BJ’s NXS on Fitzhugh Avenue after the concert.

But they weren’t so thrilled when one of them was robbed at gunpoint on Travis Street about a block from BJ’s — and less than a block from Dallas Voice offices — as they were returning to their car.

According to Dallas police reports, the 23-year-old victim was running down the street at about 2 a.m. because it was raining heavily. As the victim neared some  bushes, the suspect jumped out, grabbed him by the hair and slung him to the ground, putting a gun to his head. The suspect, a Latin male, was accompanied by four other Latin males who were standing near a cream-colored, four-door, older-model Cadillac.

The suspect told the victim to empty his pockets and put his hands up, police reports say. The victim gave the suspect his cell phone and chapstick, and the suspect pulled off his ring and bracelets.

When one of the victim’s two friends came running up from behind yelling at the suspects, they jumped in the car and took off.

The victim’s other friend, who’d run ahead of him at the time of the robbery, contacted Dallas Voice on Thursday. In the wake of a shooting the week before in Oak Lawn, he said he wanted to remind people to be aware and travel in numbers when visiting the gay bars. The witness said he felt like his friend may have been targeted because they were leaving a gay bar. In addition to BJ’s, Zippers and Pub Pegasus are in the immediate area. The victim’s friend noted that parking is sometimes difficult along Fitzhugh on busy nights, which is why their car was a few blocks away.

The victim’s friend said the suspects yelled at him and tried to chase him as he ran past. When he realized they were robbing his friend, he came running back. The third friend, who was running behind the victim, ran up at about the same time. As the victim’s two friends converged, the suspects took off.

The victim and his two friends quickly got in their vehicle and drove away from the area. The victim was unhurt, but his friend said it took him about 15 minutes to calm down and stop crying. They reported the crime the following morning. A Dallas police spokesman couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

“We were lucky — we are very, very lucky to be alive,” the victim’s friend said. “I think it’s important to know that it’s still going on out there.”

UPDATE: Sr. Cpl. Kevin Janse informs us that no further suspect information is available. Janse said the suspect was wearing a mask. Anyone with information about the case can call DPD at 214-670-4414.

—  John Wright

Sly Foxy

From famous bedmates as a ’70s icon to her gay awakening on ‘The L Word,’ Pam Grier is still one foxy mama

MARK LOWRY  | Special Contributor marklowry@theaterjones.com

Pam Grier
STRAIGHT NOT NARROW It took ‘The L Word’ to open Pam Grier’s eyes to gay issues — now she’s a tireless advocate for LGBT rights.

Leaders for Literary Luncheon
at Fort Worth Events Center
2100 Evans Ave., Fort Worth. July 30, Noon.

The Dock Bookstop
6637 Meadowbrook Drive,
Fort Worth. July 30, 7–9 p.m.

South Dallas Cultural Center
3400 Fitzhugh Ave.
July 31, Noon–2 p.m.

She might have kicked some drug-dealer booty as the title character in each of three iconic blaxploitation films of the 1970s — Coffy, Foxy Brown and Sheba, Baby — but Pam Grier wonders what might have happened had she picked a different career path.

“If I hadn’t done some nude scenes, I’d be running for president,” she said in a phone interview from her Colorado home. “And my black ass would win.”

She’s not kidding. Well, not that much. By the end of our hour-long conversation, which of course covered the films that made her a ‘70s icon, and her experience with the Showtime series The L Word, Grier is talking about sustainable farming, Wall Street corruption, Nietzsche, political analyst Fareed Zakaria, recently ousted Agriculture Department staffer Shirley Sherrod and her love of Thomas L. Friedman’s Hot, Flat and Crowded.

In talking about America’s political climate, her passion is evident. “People ask me, ‘How do you know this stuff?’“ she says. “Because I read. I want to improve myself so I can vote better.”

She’s also hoping that in encouraging others to read, that their material includes her new memoir, Foxy: My Life in Three Acts. She’ll make three appearances in North Texas this weekend to sign and read excerpts from it, beginning with a speech at the Leaders for Literacy Luncheon in Fort Worth.

Grier has also become a fierce advocate for LGBT equality, thanks to her full run in the six seasons of The L Word, which she considers one of two major life-changing events in her life; the other was surviving cervical cancer.

“I loved doing that show,” she says. “It could have gone another two years, because we were just getting into the juicy meat of humanity.”

In her memoir, the chapter on The L Word discusses how the drama opened her eyes and heart to a community that she never knew much about, mainly because she didn’t have any gay people in her circle of friends or family. Although she, like Kit, her character on the show, is straight (she talks about her relationships with men, famous and not, in the book), she now sees the world through rainbow-colored glasses.

“I don’t gamble but I bet you the gay population in this world is one-third. OK? And in America, if there’s 300 million people, then it’s at least 100 million,” she says, no waver in her voice. “I’m not kidding. They might be in the closet or people who are out. When you see gay Pride week in San Francisco, and half a million people show up, that’s incredible.”

That she was never exposed to the gay community in this way is a bit of a surprise, considering that Foxy Brown is, by now, a gay heroine. In that role, as well as Coffy and Sheba, she karate-kicked her high-heeled gams through clusters of bad guys — and to a memorable backdrop of funk and soul music. She was, indeed, “a chick with drive who don’t take no jive!”

She also performed all of her own stunts (“I have the wounds and broken bones to prove it”), having always been a thrill-seeker. “They were surprised I could handle a gun. All the women in my family can shoot and bring home supper. We’re from Wyoming and Colorado — we have to. And you have to be able to change tires and get the tractor going, or you die.”

Grier is now acutely aware and appreciative of her gay following, who love her for that sexy, black and powerful vibe she sends out to the universe. “I love the emergence of the wonderful drag queens who look better than I did, who come to my book signings. When I see them I’m always like, ‘Wow, who does your hair, who does your makeup?’ It’s fabulous.”

But her book isn’t all about her time as a seminal ‘70s film star or her “comeback” as the title character in Quentin Tarantino’s Jackie Brown (although she never stopped acting, in film and TV). In the memoir, she’s confessional, revisiting secrets in her life that took her years to face.

When she was 6, Grier was gang-raped by a cousin and his friends, and was rescued by a telephone repairman who just happened to show up at the right time. It caused her to be a shy kid with a stutter. She didn’t talk about that incident until the memoir.

“It took to me four years to come to the determination to write about it,” she says, “but I knew it would be very healing for my family and friends to know that there were certain things about me that weren’t just a phase. I see people passing on their abuse and dysfunction in their families from generation to generation, when it can be addressed. Now, because I talk about it around the country, men and women come forth and talk about their encounters and issues. They don’t feel alone, when there’s this strong, vibrant icon before them who’s not swimming so deeply in despair.”

Perhaps the biggest surprise of the book is that in the ‘70s and ‘80s, as she had this bitchin’ Hollywood career and dated men with drug habits, including Richard Pryor, she never became involved in all those things that drag so many celebrities down.

“I was a good girl because I couldn’t afford to be a bad girl,” she says, laughing. “It costs to be a bad girl, to have expensive cars and wreck them, to go to jail. I had family to support, my mom was ill, I had relatives who needed water heaters and tires. I worked.”

Indeed, Pam Grier knows how to work and work it. If she ever appears on a political ballot, she has our vote.

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The Tell-All Word

Foxy: My Life in Three Acts, by Pam Grier with Andrea Cagan (Springboard Press, 2010), $24.99

Pam Grier’s memoir is a breezy read, unfolding in short chapters that follow the chronology of Grier’s amazing career, beginning with surviving a car crash when she was only three weeks old. She doesn’t remember that, naturally, but considers it the reason she was able to do her own stunts.

Grier also discusses her romances with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (his conversion to Islam, with its treatment of women, was the reason that ended) and comic greats Freddy Prinze Sr. and Richard Pryor, and to a few not-famous men whom she wishes she could have held on to. The book is a fascinating look at black Hollywood in the ’70s and the blaxploitation movement, but more importantly, her search for love and her journey of self-discovery as a strong, black, woman.

Mark Lowry

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 30, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas