Mason, ajar

Gay novelist Richard Mason likes doing things the hard way

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CLARK KENT OR SUPERMAN? | Despite techno aspects of his new novel that include an upcoming smartphone app, Richard Mason wrote ‘History of a Pleasure Seeker’ in longhand. (Photo courtesy Michael Lionstar)

RICH LOPEZ  | Staff Writer

The charm that novelist Richard Mason exudes is undeniable. Words fall from his South African accent crisply, enunciated to perfection even as he talks rapidly. Rarely at a loss for words, ideas seem to flow in his head at a river’s pace and while he brushed on myriad topics, including his just-released fourth novel, History of a Pleasure Seeker, and his plans for his already-plotted next book. Yeah, he’s that guy — the overachiever we all want to be.

But Mason’s personable aura instead makes you root for him. And it’s refreshing to know the handsome gay writer isn’t Superman … despite an unavoidable resemblance to Clark Kent.

“Well, it is hard to juggle while doing this and researching a new book,” he admits. “You really got to keep on putting creative energy to the new book, but then I struggle to read whatever everyone else thinks and do these sorts of interviews. Both are distracting.”

Mason was 18 when his first novel, The Drowning People, was published during his first year at Oxford. Rave reviews and bestseller lists cemented his place in pop-lit, so he took his time with his follow-up, 2005’s Us, which continued his winning streak.

Mason’s complexities may lie in his being bipolar; his heart is set on the memory of his sister Kay, who died when he was a child. With that and an exposed life to arts and literature across Europe, Mason has created a universe of characters in his rich, sophisticated novels.

With Seeker, he’s set the scene in bourgeois Amsterdam, centered on the handsome Piet Barol and his foray into the upper classes. Mason will discuss the book Friday in Dallas as part of the Arts and Letters Live series at the Dallas Museum of Art.

“I really want to create this constellation of novels in that you could read my first six books in any order,” he says. “This character demanded a book of his own. I made him Dutch, because I wanted to write about Holland.”

Mason is glad to have an audience, though on his Twitter feed, he confessed disappointment that people weren’t getting the true point of the book. “So far no one has noticed that History of a Pleasure Seeker is a story about God,” he tweeted, and not just the tale of a social-climbing Dutch boy. Mason makes the strong point that to create a fictional world without the notion of God or spirituality, a chief element of humanity would be missing.

lead-02“Every character relates to God quite strongly, they’ve made pacts with God,” he says. “Nobody seems to notice that. They think it’s about sex. You can’t create a fully dimensional character without talking about their spiritual life, but it’s the same about talking their erotic experiences. All that is what it means to be human.”

Mason moved to New York City in 2010 with his partner of 12 years. The demands of the city didn’t offer him much quiet time to write, but at the same time, he thrives in the artistic atmosphere and excites over the endless collaborative possibilities. He says the jury is still out on his living there because he finds himself yearning for his tent in South Africa, where he did research.

But his collaborations paid off for Seeker — this will be the first novel to have its own smartphone app (it comes out in May). Mason researched certain sounds he imagined while writing or even songs playing in the background. He worked with artists and developers to create a full-on interactive reading experience.

Ironically, despite a technological approach to literature, he sat and wrote Seeker by hand.

“Writing it was a profoundly different mental process to write out, but with a computer, you never see the architecture of the text,” he says. “The app came about having spent a year in that tent. The way I write has real buildings, things to see and hear. When you’re reading where Piet says goodbye, a man playing music in the back. You can set the level of your own imaginable engagement to the book. I think it’s an inspired new way of telling a story and I got to work with terrific artists to make it exciting.”

Mason doesn’t write gay books per se, but he applies his same philosophy to queer characters as he does the notion of God.

“It’s important to give the exposure of gay characters,” he explains. “Once you’ve written a number of novels, you can’t create a world without them. There is a more profound truth from that now. I don’t know how you can avoid writing about gay experience.”

For an international, jet-setting author, Mason leads a very normal-sounding life. He and his partner recently celebrated their 12-year anniversary but they don’t “do” Valentine’s Day. He complains about the emails he has to trim down which is an ongoing saga on his Twitter feed and he’s prefers a healthy and Zen way of life over “the raunchy gay scene” of New York as the London Evening Standard described in an interview with Mason last year. He cleverly responded, “You can throw yourself into a life of debauched hedonism or you can live a sober life of self-improvement, meditation, personal trainers and 12-step programs. I’m trying to stick to the second, with just a little bit of the first for fun.”

But first he has to concentrate on his next novel.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition February 17, 2012.

—  Kevin Thomas

Joan of Snark

Comic icon (and queer fave) Joan Rivers is (gasp!) a Republican … but only when it comes to her money

Joan-Rivers

RIVERS RUNS THROUGH IT | The comedienne has long been a ‘friend of the gays.’

RICH LOPEZ  | Staff Writer
lopez@dallasvoice.com

There is something fascinating about Joan Rivers eating a sandwich on the phone during an interview. She’s demure about it and never talks with her mouth full, but she acknowledges its existence. Is it a ham sandwich? With pickle? Celebrities eat sandwiches?

“They just brought me my lunch,” she says,” Hope you don’t mind.”

Of course not — it’s fucking Joan Rivers!!!

While she’s never fully on the road anymore like she was in her heyday, the comedy icon (and celeb-basher) can’t help but return to her standup roots — even if her shows are in glamorous venues (like Fort Worth’s Bass Hall, where she’ll be Wednesday) instead of dank comedy clubs of one-liners past .

“I love to get out there and do it,” she says. “And those gays better show up.”

Rivers knows she can count on her gays. And with her foray into fashion and celebrity dish, well, what self-respecting gay man could resist? Her show on E!, The Fashion Police, has become a huge hit since she and her daughter Melissa (who produces the show) took over, with Rivers’ fashion shtick both hilarious and spot-on. But with such gay appeal, many of her fans are surprised to learn that Rivers is (cue the collective gasp) a Republican. (It’s no secret — she’s mentioned it in previous interviews.)

“Yes, I am,” she says. “I am a Republican who believes in gay marriage, is pro-choice … all that stuff. My assistant once said that I’m only a Republican when it comes to my money. I’ve already paid my taxes so shut up, people. Don’t touch my money!”

As Rivers comes to Texas, she isn’t all that impressed with Gov. Rick Perry who has been sliding in recent polls for the Republican nomination to vie for the presidency. But really, she’s not impressed with anyone on either side.

“Ugh, that Rick Perry is hideous,” she says. “Everyone [on the GOP front] is a moron in this race, but so is Obama. Plus, I wish I could fix his teeth. I can’t stand that whistle.”

Rivers isn’t optimistic about the direction the next election will take. For her, it’s not about which party comes out ahead, but if there will ever be the right person (or people) in charge. But she keeps trying when it comes to heading to the ballot box.

“This country is in such trouble, there’s nobody out there you want,” she bemoans. “They are all liars and cheats and stupid and they only vote on the party lines.  I feel sorry for the person behind me at the booth because I vote all over the place. My ballot looks like a drunk driver going, from person by person.”

But fans tune in and turn out, not for her punditry, but for her outlook on celebrities. Lately, she’s been hammering at Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher’s marriage and Christina Aguilera’s … um, curvier lines. Rivers takes to Twitter to unleash her comic bullets that are both scathing and hysterical, which sometimes come back to bite her in the ass. She tweeted recently after running into Demi Moore on a flight: “Now for the awkward moment! After joking about Demi on last week’s Fashion Police I hid under a blanket for the entire flight.” Awkward moment indeed, but Rivers doesn’t shy away from them.

“Those come with the job,” she says. “What I really am is a critic and I think that’s what makes the show so good. We tell the truth, but it’s fun for people who like fashion.

We have a good time, we gossip. It’s not for the uptight.”

What people might forget is the number of hats Rivers wears. Besides hosting Fashion Police, she designs jewelry and fashions for QVC, she’s a radio host, she has the Joan and Melissa: Joan Knows Best show on WE, in addition to her occasional live performances. At 78, not much is stopping her.

“Well, at this age, it does take careful planning,” she laughs. “But you know, I love what’s happening around me. I do it with fun and it’s not always easy but I love my work.”

Rivers is almost as famous for her plastic surgery as she is for her comedy. She knows the gay boys have their narcissism and offered these tips for those considering going under the knife or sticking a needle in their forehead.

“Oh, do it while you’re young,” she insists. “That’s the trick. And just do it a little bit at a time. The thing is, you don’t want anybody to think that you’ve done anything.”

Rivers doesn’t mind so much what people know about her. She’s willing to head into TMI territory and proudly proclaims she’s been sexually active recently, even if it’s been a few years.

“It was about three years ago the last time I got laid,” she admits. “That’s why I’ve gained a little weight. Anyway, this hotel is now closed.”

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

 

—  Kevin Thomas

‘4’-telling

In her latest, Beyonce tries on new hats while relying on old tricks

RICH LOPEZ  | Staff Writer
lopez@dallasvoice.com

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3 out of 5 stars
“4”
Beyonce
Columbia Records

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Fans might be scratching their heads with Beyonce’s new album, 4. Where is the explosive power? What is it with all these ballads? But she might be having the last laugh. Her fourth solo album (duh) might not have as many potential hit singles, but by dabbling with different formulas she delivers a respectable package — or at least a fascinating one.
Beyonce has proved she can churn out major pop and R&B hits that are smart, fun and have a certain sass, but she holds back big time on 4, setting a mellower tone with a collection of slower tempo tunes.

She croons old-school on the opener “1+1,” her foray into deeper soul. The song is elegant and a surprise, but the second track, “I Care,” makes a far stronger impression. The more mid-tempo ballad is restrained in her verses, but goes way lush in her chorus. The build-up to an emotive guitar solo feels a tad Michael Bolton-ish, but pulls back to a definitive groove.

DROP DEAD DIVA | Beyonce channels ‘80s adult contemporary in ‘4,’ but delivers impressive surprises.

Beyonce slyly fuses her R&B vocals over an ambient electronica beat on “I Miss You.” Is it weird this recalls Haddaway’s 1993 song by the same name? She smartly works with the tune to offer the song as a package rather than showing off her voice and results in a lovely moment. Why she has to rhyme I miss you/like every day/wanna be wichu/but you’re away is beyond me. We get it, B — you’re street and glam.

We’re already getting the impression that she’s given the album a top-heavy atmosphere of ballads that might lose listeners, then comes “Best Thing I Never Had,” co-written by Babyface, which doesn’t dispel this. The pace is picked up slightly but the song recalls those overly polished ‘80s “soul” hits found on lite radio stations (echoed later with “Rather Die Young” and “Love on Top”). She’s channeling her Patti Austin-Regina Belle with cheesy background choruses and keyboards. Let’s not discuss the Dianne Warren penned “I Was Here,” which is ready for movie montages and hackneyed trailers.

Sometimes I wondered if Beyonce was trying to get into some serious soul a la Leela James or Sharon Jones, but kept missing the mark with these smoothed-out tunes that don’t lend much to her attempts. With previous ballads like “Halo,” “Listen” or “Irreplaceable,” we could hear her distinct voice — literally and figuratively. Here, she gets lost and although she’s co-written most of her songs, there’s not a unique sense of the diva.

As if she realized that, she pumps up the jam in the final quarter of the 12-song collection. There’s a relief when the beat-heavy “Countdown” hits at track no. 9. Although disjointed, it’s a welcome reprieve from all her emoting. She does far better with her immediate follow-up “End of Time,” by which time she seems obsessed with drumline beats. She’s pulled it since Destiny’s Child with “Breathe” and most recently with “Single Ladies,” but the horns and that Beyonce swagger we’re used to recall the infectious sounds of Michael Jackson’s “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’.”

She weirdly placed “I Was Here” in between the happening upbeat songs and kills the mood. But she closes out with her misfired hit “Run the World (Girls).” Again with the military beats, the song didn’t take the world by storm like she probably hoped, but it puts the energy of the album in overload. I couldn’t stand hearing it at award shows or Oprah’s farewell, but after mellowing out for over half an hour, the song saves the album, ending it with a bang. The girl-power message seems passé but that doesn’t make it less fun.
I applaud Beyonce’s efforts not to deliver the obvious. Face it: We all want another “Crazy in Love,” but instead, she opted to stick to her guns and try something new, even if some of it sounded like it was three decades old. Despite its stumbles and confusing paths, 4 could be the one album we look to as her most daring.   •

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 8, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

Cook Tesar

The Commissary, John Tesar’s foray into burgers and fine-dining, is as bipolar as it sounds

DER  COMMISSARY | In the main dining room, the Tandoori lamb lettuce wrap burger, above, is do-it-yourself; in the chef’s table, burgers are replaced by foie gras and lobster, below. (Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)

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

My foodlationship with John Tesar is long and largely accidental.

He first cooked for me back when he worked at Rick Moonen’s restaurant in Las Vegas, about six months before he took over the kitchen at the Mansion on Turtle Creek. I last ate his food at the Mansion about a week before his infamous, sudden departure a few years ago. He then turned up last fall at DIFFA’s “Burgers and Burgundy” event; among a slate of excellent chefs, he made one of the top hamburgers there.

He “accidentally” cooked for me again at a soft opening for The Cedars Social last February, after the chef scheduled to cook got snowed in and he stepped up. That was soon before he opened his latest venture, The Commissary — really, the first resto that has been truly his: Not Moonen’s, not a hotel’s, not at a one-time charity benefit.

It’s a puzzling name for any restaurant aiming for high-end status, sounding, as it does, like a functional, personality-free grocery store on a military base, or a lunchroom where the daily special is apt to be creamed beef on toast, popularly called shit-on-a-shingle by all my Air Force family members. It doesn’t really evoke fine dining.

Of course, the answer is that Tesar isn’t trying to do anything high-end. Like the folks who started Twisted Root Burger Company — Cordon Bleu-trained chefs who just wanted to open a burger joint they’d eat at — he wants mass appeal, not critical cred.

Why, then, take over a space in One Arts Plaza vacated by Dali, a delightful wine bar that oozed sophistication? Tesar has changed the interior only slightly: The clear polycarbonate countertops with sunken cork remain, as do the artsy chairs; an oversized decorative clock looms over the dining room. (The bathrooms have been updated, artwork replaced by black slate on which are written rotating chalk drawings and sayings — “Go Mavs!” or “America Rocks!” … stuff like that. I guess some could call it art; looks more like colorful toilet graffiti to me.)

And more to the point: Tesar likes the serious-chef mantle. He’s reserved the chef’s table, in a narrow, separate room along the main dining hall, for fancy, multi-course prix fixe meals, featuring foo-foo reductions and sous vide techniques and hoity-toity ingredients.

If a restaurant could be diagnosed as bipolar, The Commissary would be in the DSM IV. The food certainly is good, sometimes great, but that schizophrenia dominates your opinion of it. At one dinner, two different folks took our drink order, only to deliver our table-neighbors’ drinks to us. Later, long after my flatbread had been ravaged clean and my cocktails and water glasses were as dry as British wit, no refills were forthcoming.

It’s not just dinner. At a recent lunch, our waitress was smart, informed about the menu and polite. She (or rather, the kitchen) also forgot our appetizers (both of them), which we only received after the entrees were well on the way to completion. Though we ordered the deviled eggs with caviar, they arrived without. We got a ramekin of caviar after two of the three eggs were gone; we were charged full price for it.

That doesn’t breed loyalty, even when the food is excellent.

And there is definitely excellence on the menu, mostly made up of gourmet burgers and foodie-targeted sides, with a sizeable alcohol selection. (The Commissary seems to have inherited much of Dali’s wine list along with its décor.) The chips-and-salsa with guacamole ($7) was serviceable enough, with a thick, potent salsa that was almost heavy enough to be a pasta sauce. Even better are the avocado fries ($7), so thick they looked like fossilized raptor claws, until you bite into the soft, fleshy avocado strips, as buttery as a chardonnay.

Avocado makes its way onto a lot of dishes, including the Big-Tex burger ($9), though it was the salsa cruda that supplied the hearty punch to the taste buds. Like all the burgers, it came with a side of matchstick fries that you gotta love: Crunchy, thin, un-greasy and addictively salted. They really do call to mind commissary food, like something in a junior high cafeteria… which I mean in the best way. Comfort food expressed as a fried julienne potato. Sweet potato tots ($4) make for a fun substitute.

The star of the burger menu, however, is The Farmer ($9): 8 oz. of grass-fed medium rare beef topped by a perfectly poached duck egg, white cheddar and a thin membrane of speck. You stare at it longer than seems Christian, admiring the beauty of the tuft of albumen, strained by gravity on the yolk to burst before your eyes. Before that happens, your hands grip around the brioche bun, jauntily astride the burger like a sporty tam-o’-shanter, breaking the seal; the yellow goo that doesn’t make it to the back of your throat streams down your sleeves and onto the plate. It’s a black hole of cholesterol from which pulses only waves of flavor and fat, but I’m not complaining. Eating it is a sensual food experience, and like most sensual things, messy. I’ve never had a burger here that didn’t look like surgery after I’d finished.

Lower-cal versions (“super model” they call them, though I can’t imagine seeing Kate Moss within a catwalk of a sloppy burger bar) are available, supposedly with lettuce wraps. The one I ordered, the Tandoori lamb ($8; also  available on pita) was less wrapped than do-it-yourself ready. The tzatziki sauce was mild, though it blended well with the Tandoor spices.

In the private dining room, you sense the schizoid aspect even more prominently. Tesar is a self-confessed seafood chef, which makes the decision to do a burger joint puzzling in the first place. When he gets to stretch culinary muscle with a chef’s tasting menu, it’s heavy on scallops, oysters, cuttlefish; even a lobe of foie gras is undergirded with a piece of lobster.

The tasting menu, different each meal, is a fabulous affair, but even still, not really white-glove star treatment (maybe he’ll come to the room to introduce each dish, maybe not), though unassailably well-conceived.

Some of the minor touches impress more than the big ones. The locally-made pickles are to-die-for yummy, and the pecan pie with housemade vanilla ice cream (even though I ordered it without; ah, well) chunky and rich.

Still, the Commissary’s duality — high-end and down-home; exquisite presentation but only when they get the order right — taxes your patience. Service needs to improve, and the fennel/artichoke salad should be 86’d (it’s flat and flavorless), but I’d go again just to gaze upon that duck egg, dirty thoughts entering my head. Let it stain my shirt; true love always leaves scars.

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OVERALL RATING: 3 out of 5 stars

The Commissary, at One Arts Plaza, 1722 Routh St. Open Daily for lunch and dinner, 11 a.m. No reservations except for chef’s table. TheCommissaryDallas.com.
Excellent burgers compete with a vague style and spotty service. The chef’s table is fine and reasonable.

Food: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Atmosphere: 2.5 out of 5 stars
Service: 2 stars
Price: Moderate

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This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition June 17, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

Trans fit

Chris Bruce proudly and bravely went from 230-lb. male bodybuilder to 180-lb. female fitness guru Chris Tina Foxx

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

A?MODEL?OF?HEALTH  |  Chris Bruce went from hulking male bodybuilder, inset, to proud trans trainer Chris Tina Foxx, above.
A MODEL OF HEALTH | Chris Bruce went from hulking male bodybuilder, inset, to proud trans trainer Chris Tina Foxx, above.

Chris Bruce has always been the kind of person who takes chances.

When he was still in his teens, he knew he could sell ice to an Eskimo and began his foray into entrepreneurship. After college, he established himself as a salesman, then took a big risk by investing a sizeable chunk of money into a start-up; a few years later, he was co-owner of a multi-million-dollar wholesale business, which he later sold for a handsome profit.

At the same time, he married his high school girlfriend, had two kids and pursued his interest in fitness and bodybuilding, eventually achieving 230 pounds of muscle over his 6-foot-1 frame.

Today, at 41, Bruce weighs in at 180 pounds, though often standing 6’3” — that’s when she’s wearing heels.

That’s because, over the last year, Chris Gary Bruce has transitioned into Chris Tina Foxx Bruce, a male-to-female transgender.

It hasn’t been easy. But Bruce has rarely taken the easy path, and her trans identity is something she is proud of.

As a boy, Bruce knew he was different. He cross-dressed for years, but discretely. His work in sales meant he traveled extensively, which allowed him to wear women’s clothes while on the road. Like many transgenders, he’d go through a “purge” phase, where he’d toss all his women’s clothing, vowing never to do it again.

But it wasn’t just the clothes; Bruce identified as a woman.

What at one time was a shameful secret is now a proud part of her identity. She no longer hides in hotel rooms, but lives openly as a woman.

“My purpose is to let the world know who I am and being transgender is nothing to be hid,” she says. That’s one of the reasons for her campaign for transgender equality: “Be Bold. Be Proud. Be Yourself.”

It has been a long, difficult process, though. Bruce’s cross-dressing led in part to a divorce in 2007, though her ex-wife didn’t find out he was trans until earlier this year.

“She hates it,” Bruce says. She worried about how her children — a boy, 12, and a daughter, 8 — would react, but so far they have adjusted well.

Bruce’s transition began in earnest about four years ago, after separating from her wife.

“I went out dressed as a woman for the first time in 2005 when I was in Houston,” she says. A mentor helped her; she has since passed away. She went to New Orleans for Halloween with a then-girlfriend, both dressed as sex dolls, though the girlfriend left when she began taking female hormones.

Bruce first stepped out in female dress in Dallas in January 2009, and found the experience liberating.

“[Trans people] need the gay area of town for training wheels,” she says. “We have it so good here. Cedar Springs is a consolidated, well-structured safe zone for us.”

It’s slightly odd, though, as Bruce never identified as gay — although, technically, would now identify as lesbian.

“People don’t realize: Transgender has nothing to do with sex,” Bruce says. “I’ve never been attracted to guys, but that’s the first assumption many people make.”

It doesn’t bother her, though. Bruce has felt largely embraced by the Gs, Ls and Bs as well as the Ts of the community. Some of her best friends now are gay men.

“More girls ask me out now than when I was a man,” she says. As pictures can attest, Bruce was a handsome man and never had trouble getting dates. Now, she mostly dates bisexual women and some lesbians. “I think women are very open-minded,” she says.

Bruce had her first surgery — some face work and breast implants — on Dec. 26. From there on, there’s been no turning back.

“I just started telling my family about this last Christmas. My mom and sister have been so supportive. I said, I’m not asking for your permission or your acceptance — this is just how it is.”

She’s even reconnected with old high school friends on Facebook. Her father, though, has not spoken to her since she came out, and she quit her corporate job in March once she couldn’t hide as a man anymore.

Bruce has continued to follow her bliss. She has worked part-time as a personal trainer for years, and continues to do so; she estimates losing very few clients since transitioning.

As enthusiastic as Bruce is about her fitness career, even more motivating is her quest for equality.

“People have said to me, ‘You’re not real …’ Real what?” she asks. She also finds it puzzling that she can legally marry a woman while gay men can’t marry their partners. There’s still a lot of work to so.

That’s OK, though. Chris Bruce has never shied away from a challenge. It’s what made her the woman she is today.

Learn more about Bruce by visiting DiscoverHealthandFitness.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 29, 2010

—  Kevin Thomas

Real(ity) estate • Defining Homes

A Dallas couple’s adventure in house selling becomes an episode of HGTV’s ‘My First Sale’

By Arnold Wayne Jones

Keith Yonick, left, turned Dallas couple Troy and Cindy Hughes on to the idea of being on TV. But their youngest child, opposite, might steal every scene.

Although they live cosmopolitan lives — she’s a lawyer; he works for FM 105.3 with Chris Jagger — and count many gay neighbors in their gate East Dallas community among their friends, Cindy and Troy Hughes both grew up in small towns and craved the pace and benefits of the suburbs: lower taxes, good schools, safe streets. With a 4-year-old and a new baby, they figured next year would be a good time to look for a new home.

But the house-hunting started earlier than they expected. And more dramatically.

The Hugheses got a call from their real estate agent, Keith Yonick, with a proposition: Would they be interested in trying to sell their house now and have their experience filmed for the HGTV series My First Sale?

“When Keith called us and told us about the show, we went for it,” Cindy says.

“I think it’s great they chose Dallas for the show,” Yonick says. “I asked them why and they said because the houses are so different — they could film a townhouse in the city and a farmhouse in Forney or a suburban house.”

Yonick submitted four applications, and the network jumped at following the Hugheses. Still, it wasn’t the couple’s first foray into a reality series.

When Troy worked with Kidd Kraddick, he was recruited to be the “bachelor” in a radio rip-off of The Bachelor TV series. He was just supposed to chronicle his dates with several dozen women and invite one to a gala event. The one he selected was Cindy; they married three years later.

Still, a radio date is one thing; having yourself photographed 24/7 during a stressful process — the first sale of your home — was more pressure. Cindy even knows that on one day of filming, she came across as bitchy. (She’s hoping they edit that out, but Troy has forgiven her in any event.)
“We never treated it like a reality show but as a way to document this part of our lives,” Cindy says. “It was like making a home video.”

Knowing that “most houses take a year or more to sell” — Yonick says 370 days on the market is not unusual — they expected the process to stretch on for months, just in time for the next school year. So they were astonished that their house sold so quickly. In less than two months, they had a buyer.

Even so, the sale caught them so by surprise that they hadn’t even decided for certain where they would move.

“Our friends have all moved on to their next chapters — they were moving to Frisco and Rockwall.  They were always saying to us, ‘You have to move to Frisco!’ But we started looking in Wylie.”

It isn’t as far as it may seem. Troy leaves for work at 3 a.m. for his radio show (“I share the road with cops, construction workers and drunks,” he says) and Cindy’s job in Arlington meant she had a hike anywhere east of I-35.

“We thought we would move to Rockwall, but Wylie reminds me of what McKinney looked like when I came here in 1999,” Troy says. “We get more for our money out there, and there’s still a mall within four miles.”

Rather than buying an old house or going with a foreclosed property, they decided to build. Since the house won’t actually be ready until after they close on their sale, they’ll have to rent back their current house for a month. But as far as hardships go in real estate, that’s one they can live with.
“We got really lucky,” Troy says.

The Hugheses close on their sale on Oct. 29; their episode of My First Sale will air in the spring.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition of Defining Homes Magazine October 8, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens