2011 Readers Voice Awards: Entertainment

<<<BACK TO CATEGORIES

ULTIMATE DRAG DIVA
Jenna Skyy

Hosts monthly GayBingo event at
the Rose Room inside Station 4,
3911 Cedar Springs Road
214-526-7171
Caven.com

Since this was the Ultimate Diva! edition of the Readers Voice, it behooves us to explore that aspect of gay culture for whom divadom seems inherent: The drag queen (of the 10 finalists, in fact, eight were drag characters). A diva certainly has attitude — and smarts, and talent, and personality — all of which describes Jenna Skyy, who in a few short years has becomes an essential part of the Dallas scene. But Skyy (aka Joe Hoselton) has something more still: A philosophy. Drag feels almost like a political statement the way Hoselton does it, an act of defiance. An act of Pride. She represents something great about being gay and out and open, whether she’s powering down the runway like Jan Strimple or revealing a costume of Gagaesque flamboyance — or, for that matter, calling numbers at GayBingo, the monthly AIDS fundraiser she co-hosts in the Rose Room — Jenna Skyy makes us happy to be … well, just to be.

— Arnold Wayne Jones

 

BEST LOCAL ARTS ORGANIZATION
Fahari Arts Institute

214-521-3362
FahariArtsInstitute.com

 

BEST LOCAL SINGER
Anton Shaw

AntonShawMusic.com

 

BEST LOCAL BAND
Anton Shaw and the Reason

AntonShawMusic.com


HORSING AROUND | Uptown Players had a banner season according to Voice readers, having the favorite play, ‘Equus,’ above, and tying itself for best musical.

BEST LOCAL PRODUCTION (PLAY)
Equus (Uptown Players)

Performed Feb. 26–March 21 at the
Kalita Humphreys Theater
214-219-2718
UptownPlayers.org

 

BEST LOCAL PRODUCTION
(MUSICAL) • TIE
Forbidden Broadway’s Greatest Hits (Uptown Players)

Performed Aug. 5–29 at the Kalita Humphreys Theater

Closer to Heaven (Uptown Players)

Performed Oct. 1–24 at the Kalita Humphreys Theater
214-219-2718
UptownPlayers.org

 

BEST LOCAL THEATER DIRECTOR
Harold Steward


BEST MAINSTREAM VENUE PRESENTING MUSIC FOR THE GAY MASSES
Gilley’s Music Complex: The Palladium, The Loft, South Side Music Hall, Jack Daniel’s Saloon

GilleysMusic.com

Thanks to the trio of Kris Youmans, Brad Ehney and Nate Binford, the venues of the Gilley’s Music Complex on the Cedars have been very welcoming to the gays. Once Ehney, who is gay, got on board after his stint at the Granada Theater (another queer-friendly venue), he was intent on bringing a contingent of acts geared toward attracting an LGBT audience. Binford and Yeomans, the straight guys, just wanted a full house. It’s worked out beautifully. Lesbian duo Tegan & Sara filled the huge-ass space of the Palladium Ballroom while Lady Gaga openers Semi Precious Weapons rocked the shit out of the smaller Loft. The gays then came out en masse for Robyn, packing the mid-sized South Side Music Hall. Upcoming acts of queer interest include MEN, Of Montreal and Vivian Girls. (Upcoming non-gay acts aren’t bad, either: The Avett Brothers, George Clinton and Coheed and Cambria.) These guys prove that gays do like their live music and will step out of the gayborhood to get it.

— Rich Lopez

 

OPEN  AIR | Groups like Middle Ground rock the night air at Jack’s Backyard in Oak Cliff, a favorite venue for enjoying live music. (Gregory Hayes/Dallas Voice)

BEST LIVE MUSIC VENUE • TIE

Jack’s Backyard

2303 Pittman St.
Open daily until 2 a.m.
214-741-3131
JacksBackyardDallas.com

Sue Ellen’s

3014 Throckmorton St.
Open daily 4 p.m–2 a.m.
with after-hours dancing
214-559-0707
Caven.com

It’s notable that these two venues would tie for readers’ favorites, because they represent polarities of live music locales. In one corner is Sue’s, the urban Cedar Springs club where the upstairs Vixin Lounge boasts a quality sound system and decent space for an indoor concert. Jack’s, by contrast, takes the music to the outdoors of Oak Cliff, making a nice nighttime event even better, especially in the warms of Texas spring, summer and autumn. Both venues often book gigs for local regulars like Ciao Bella and Anton Shaw, but each has also featured smaller touring artists like Anne McCue and Hunter Valentine.  If the boys want to get it on the live music game, they have lots of catching up to do. The mostly lady-based venues have a lock on bringing the live sounds to the gayborhoods.

— Rich Lopez

 

BEST SMARTPHONE DATING APP
Grindr

Yes, we named this category a “dating app.” Yes, we know for a lot — most? all? — guys who download it, Grindr is more about hookups than long-term relationships. But consider: At one time, admitting you met on Match.com was considered as cringe-worthy as saying you met at a bar while one of you was dancing naked on the pool table. (Oh, right, that’s more a straight-couple thing.) Maybe one day, app-love may become so common it loses any stigma. Anyway, how were we supposed to guess Grindr would win? And truth be told, some of us have found, if not true romance, at least an on-going love connection. And we enjoy chatting with other guys even if we don’t end up as a couple. That’s what dating is, right? Seeing what’s out there and deciding what you want from a partner? Grindr does that. And we’d all be a little lonelier without it.

— Arnold Wayne Jones

 

AIN’T NO BULL | Ragsdale’s standout performance in a one-woman show was enough to win her a lot of fans — enough to name her Dallas’ favorite local actress.

BEST LOCAL DRAMATIC ACTOR (FEMALE)
Q-Roc Ragsdale

Perhaps only Q-Roc Ragsdale could have pulled off her performance in The Bull-Jean Stories last year. Best theater director Harold Steward of Fahari Arts helmed this one-woman show, written by dramatist Sharon Bridgforth. The Bull-Jean Stories takes a look at the struggles of a fictional woman-loving character in the rural South of the 1920s, and her endurance during tough times. Like her character, Ragsdale is a powerful woman using her work as a film director, photographer and actor to stretch the artistic visions of both the black and same-gender-loving communities of Dallas as well as harkening to the strong will and spirit of black LGBTs who have come before her.

— Rich Lopez

BEST LOCAL DRAMATIC ACTOR
(MALE)
Rick Espaillat


BEST LOCAL MUSICAL ACTOR
(FEMALE)
Liz Mikel


BEST LOCAL MUSICAL ACTOR
(MALE)
Cedric Neal


BEST DVD RENTAL

TapeLenders

3926 Cedar Springs Road
214-528-6344
TapeLenders.com

 

BEST ADULT DVD RENTAL

TapeLenders

3926 Cedar Springs Road
214-528-6344
TapeLenders.com

<<<BACK TO CATEGORIES

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition March 18, 2011.

—  John Wright

Sprinkles rolls out 2 new cupcakes for March

You get an abundance of options at Sprinkles this week — more so than even on a usual week. The gourmet cupcakery is revealing two new flavors. The first, available only tomorrow, is a green velvet cupcake, for helping you celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with a little flamboyance. Of course, red velvet cake is merely chocolate cake with tons of food coloring; I’m assuming the same is true for green velvet, although the color takes, uhh, an adjustment.It’s really green.  Really. But tastes just as good as what you’ve come to expect from Sprinkles.

Then later in the month, you can go back to red velvet with a little Red Cross topper thrown in. From March 27 through April 1, 100 percent of the proceeds from this version of the classic go to the American Red Cross.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

STAGE REVIEWS: ‘Simply Etta’ at Tuckers’ Blues, ‘Don’t Dress for Dinner’ at Theatre Arlington

BEDROOM AHHS | Three women play musical beds in Theatre Arlington’s sex farce ‘Don’t Dress for Dinner.’ (Photo courtesy Eric Younkin)

Force vs. farce

Sheran Keyton’s ‘Etta’ is a powerhouse; in Arlington, sex is on the plate

ARNOLD WAYNE JONES  | Life+Style Editor
jones@dallasvoice.com

Sheran Goodspeed Keyton has a voice so big, it not only fills the small space of Tuckers’ Blues in Deep Ellum, it reverberates until you’d swear she’s singing to you in stereo. That she’s belting out the songs of Etta James only exaggerates the sound: There’s nothing quite as unleashed as a diva playing another diva. It’s like getting two performances for the price of one.

All Keyton really needs is more of an audience. Opening night for Simply Etta deserved more patrons, be it lovers of theater or just honkytonk denizens who like to groove to James’ wide-ranging repertoire:  Jazz, blues, pop, standards, rock, gospel. The show — and it is a show, not just a tribute concert, with scripted banter and emotional touchpoints — recounts the life of the woman whose “At Last” will forever leave her in the annals of music.

Simply Etta is one in a long line of jukebox-style cabaret shows of soulful songs — Ella, Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill, Ain’t Misbehavin’ among them  — and like those, it depends on the strength of the performer. Keyton has enough strength to launch the space shuttle. Even referring to her script throughout the performance, she has an ease with the music and the character, from her drug addiction to her education among the gay musicians of her day. (She recounts how Etta’s platinum blonde look was given to her “by a gay boy” and how Little Richard’s fearless flamboyance inspired her with live-and-let-live joy.)

A Broadway showtune from a few years back counseled that the easy way to get patrons on their feet when you had nothing else was to let a “big black lady stop the show.” Good advice. And with Simply Etta, the lady also starts it and carries it through. Hey, you go with what works.

________

Oh, those silly straight French folk: Hopping faithlessly from bed to bed with farcical abandon, always worried that their spouse will discover their infidelities but not so worried they can actually control themselves. (If they really wanna know how to whore it up with an enviable sense of inconsequentiality, they should ask a gay man.)

Theatre Arlington mounts — yes, mounts — Marc Camoletti’s popular sex farce Don’t Dress for Dinner with an admirable sense of naughtiness, something you really can’t get away from in a show that wears its sex so openly.

Or rather, the suggestion of sex. This is more about ribald innuendo that outright humping, with tons of slamming doors and anxious looks. It’s foreplay, without an orgasmic finale.

It doesn’t make sense why four of the half-dozen characters, all of them living in the French countryside, speak with British accents, but the star of this show, as usual, is the saucy chef Suzette. As played by Amber Quinn, she’s edgy and smart with an offhanded tolerance for the sex-starved bourgeoisie. She also gets the biggest laughs, though Jeff Swearingen, small and wiry, gives her a run with his clowning.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition Jan. 28, 2011.

—  John Wright

Why I like Christmastime (other than thinking elves are hot)

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer was on TV last night. It’s a tradition even older than I am to watch this mid-1960s bit of Americana, and it reminded me how much of Christmas is really gay — and also how some of the older shows are quite closed-minded and politically incorrect now. Consider this:

• The story of Rudolph is the story of someone who, because of his flamboyance (literally — he’s a flamer) is immediately ostracized by his family and community, and bullied by not only his peers but adults. Worse among these bigots: Santa Claus, who is portrayed as judgmental and in today’s world would probably have advocated “don’t ask, don’t tell” and would condemn its repeal.

• The Isle of Misfit Toys is a collection of gay-ish creatures, from Charlie in the box, who lisps more than Chris Krok on a rant, to the polka-dotted elephant to Dollie, who seems to have nothing on the surface wrong with her (implying she may be damaged in a deeper way, i.e., she’s lesbian. Read the signs, people!).

• Hermie and Yukon Cornelius are clearly gay lovers. The Abominable Snow Monster strikes me as a sloppy bottom, especially once his teeth are pulled (that’s when he takes up a career as a decorator).

• Santa’s transformation (and that of the others) only occurs once Rudolph proves he has some value — a skill no one else has. This strikes me as having cognates in the stop-loss policy that kept useful gays in the military only until suitable straight replacements could be found.

And this isn’t the only one — don’t even get me started about Snow Miser, Heat Miser and Prof. Hinkle.

Ultimately, I think shows like Rudolph are empoweringly pro-gay, despite employing stereotypes to achieve a message of inclusion. But I worry that the messages may be lost to some. Just remember: You heard it here first.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Review: Elton John in Fort Worth

When Elton John stepped onstage of the big but charmless auditorium that is the Fort Worth Convention Center Arena on Saturday, the near-sellout crowd went crazy. But it would be another half-hour before he played or sang a note. Instead, he introduced his co-headliners for the evening, Leon Russell. And thus began a rollicking and nostalgic marathon of music.

Russell, whose snowy mane and white Resistol made him look like Gandalf interpreted through a western idiom, banged out some piano-based acoustic bluesy folk songs given an acid-electric background — think “Layla.” Or for that matter, Elton himself. Russell has the same nasally wail that Willie Nelson has perfected, and took to five songs in his 20-minute set — including his signature “A Song for You” to a respectful, sometimes enthusiastic audience – before Sir E emerged. Then things went wild.

Elton kicked off, appropriately enough, with “Saturday Night’s All Right for Fighting,” and proceeded through 40 minutes of his classics: “Philadelphia Freedom,” “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road,” “Bennie and the Jets,” “I’m Still Standing,” “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me,” and most impressively, a The Who-length (18-minute by my count) extended version of “Rocket Man” that generated several applause lines. (Watch video below.)

In the current AGE (by which I mean, of course, After the Gaga Era), the two badly placed screens and retro graphics were old-fashioned, even quaint, but not bad. In fact, the images took me back to my early youth during the bicentennial, when Elton reigned alongside The Captain and Tennille and The Carpenters. (Indeed: He is still standing.) It conjured the great ’70s era of what we thought flamboyance and showmanship was — only there were also great lyrics.

There were some great lyrics, too, when Russell joined him for another set off their new T-Bone Burnett-produced album, The Union, which has some beautiful melodies and rockabilly soul, but old or new stuff one thing’s clear: Elton still has it. Sure, he couldn’t hit the highest notes of the register (he didn’t even attempt the “no, no, no, no” on “Rocket Man”), but he looks good (if heavier) and sounds even better than he deserved to. The bitch is back? Damn, seems like he never left.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

That ’70s Show vs. Show

2 music icons who rose to stardom in the disco age — Elton John and ABBA — face off (sort of) with modern takes on classic sounds

In the decade of disco, ABBA was at the top of the charts with hit after hit on the radio and the dancefloor. At the same time, Elton John was making his mark taking glam rock to new levels with his touch of gay flamboyance.

Both have endured — ABBA mostly in nostalgia, John with new albums on a regular basis. And they both hit North Texas this week — in a manner of speaking.
ABBA Mania recreates the live ABBA experience, while John’s tour stops in Fort Worth for his newest album, a collaboration with Leon Russell called The Union.

So which will you lean toward?

In The Union, John teams with Russell, the legendary R&B Okie, and producer-of-the-moment, Fort Worth’s T-Bone Burnett, combining John’s piano boogie and Russell’s bluesy roots — with mixed results. He’s been quoted as saying he’ll make real music now instead of pop fodder. The live show has won raves, with the first half devoted to the new CD and the last filled with John classics.

With John’s new “serious” outlook, will you have as much fun as you could at ABBA Mania? It was hard enough to sit still through Mamma Mia! without singing along while dancing out of your seat. The tribute show has toured the world with the absolute goal of giving the ABBA concert most people under 50 never got to see.

We broke down the best about John and the actual ABBA to see if it could help us make up our minds, but we may just flip a coin on this one. Tough call, for sure.

— Rich Lopez

………………………………

Elton JohnElton John (with Leon Russell)

…. wore outlandish bell bottoms, platform shoes and glittered glasses in the ’70s.

…. won an Oscar for the song “Circle of Life” for the Disney film The Lion King.

…. Does gigs with anti-gay personalities. At the Grammys with Eminem (forgivable) then performing at Rush Limbaugh’s wedding (his $1 mil fee went to his AIDS foundation — still deciding)

…. recorded “Hello, Hello,” a duet with Lady Gaga for the upcoming Disney movie
Gnomeo and Juliet about  garden gnomes in love.

…. conquered Broadway with The Lion King and Billy Elliot; won a Tony for
2000’s Aida.

…. being a gay man, had no ties to disco music during the rocking ’70s, with fellow community member Freddie Mercury of Queen.

…. lost a whole lotta street cred performing a Diet Coke commercial with Paula Abdul in 1990.

…. is a gay icon for being a diva, a legend and even kind of a bitch. He’s not much of an advocate for the community but stands by its side enough.

…. performs at the Fort Worth Convention Center Arena, 1201 Houston St. Nov. 13 at 8 p.m. $53–$173. Ticketmaster.com.

………………………………..

ABBAABBA Mania

…. wore outlandish bell bottoms, platform shoes, but with the occasional ascot and lederhosen. Not cute.

…. had a hit movie with their old songs in Mamma Mia! which turned out to be the No. 1 movie of all time in Britain. Oscar their ass.

…. sidestepped most public drama. Even the marriages and divorces within the band weren’t all that controversial.  Snore.

…. inspired the 1990s clones Ace of Base who subsequently inspired the beat behind Lady Gaga’s “Alejandro.” OK, that’s reaching, we know.

…. had a fling with Broadway when Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus received acclaim and award noms for Chess and Mamma Mia!.

…. were all straight and the epitome of disco alongside the Bee Gees and Donna Summer. So straights do better dance music while non-straights can rock your face off. Who knew?

…. maintained their dignity by rarely, if ever, doing anything outside of performing their music.

…. are gay icons for their work on the dancefloor. All they really had to do to secure a spot in the gay pantheon was release “Dancing Queen.” Yes, ABBA, thank you for the music.

… plays at the Eisemann Center, 2351 Performance Drive, Richardson. Nov. 16 at 8 p.m. $40–$65. EisemannCenter.com/Tickets

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

—  Michael Stephens