No more Drama, just a Zoo

DramaRoom.web

Dallas Voice Associate Advertising  Director Chad Mantooth brought this news into the office today: The space on Cedar Springs formerly occupied by The Drama Room has been taken over by a new enterprise.

Liquid Zoo, now at 3851 Cedar Springs Road, will feature a stage with drag shows and live music, and is set to open in mid-November. Renovations are underway now.

Stay tuned to DallasVoice.com for more.

—  Tammye Nash

WATCH: Teaser for gay documentary ‘Upstairs Inferno’

DSC_6813For the past year, Dallas-based filmmaker Robert L. Camina — who came to prominence with his documentary about the raid of the Rainbow Lounge — has been working on another doc, about an arson case in 1973 New Orleans that killed more than two dozen gay people, yet is barely known today. Camina has released his first teaser trailer for Upstairs Inferno, which he hopes to premiere this fall, which you can see below. And there’s still time to contribute to his fundraising campaign to get the film completed.

UPSTAIRS INFERNO – Teaser Trailer from Camina Entertainment on Vimeo.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Gay documentary wins award at AFFD

PJ_RAVAL-headshotThe Asian Film Festival of Dallas continues through tomorrow, and they’ve just released the jury award winners. Among the honorees is Before You Know It, which screens tonight at 5:30 p.m. and won best documentary feature. (And congrats to our winners of the ticket giveaway to attend the screening!) The film is about three gay seniors, including the owner of Robert’s Lafitte gay bar in Galveston, and how they cope with retirement and aging in the gay community. The filmmaker, PJ Raval, pictured, will be in attendance tonight.

Other award winners:

Shorts

Narrative short: Sahasi Chori (Brave Girl)

Documentary short: Han Rock

Animated short: Couch & Potatoes

Special jury mention: Stronger

Features

Narrative feature: Ye-Zai

Animated feature: Block C: The Last Dark

Special festival prize for acting: Guo Shu-yao, Step Back to Glory

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Percussions Lounge closed until further notice

We’re sorry to hear that Fort Worth club Percussions Lounge closed its doors last Wednesday. This was posted on the club’s Facebook page. However, owner Randy Norman says that it really was just a matter of location.

“People didn’t really want to walk that far out and it never has really taken off,” Norman said.

Instead, Norman is focusing on his two more popular spots — Rainbow Lounge and Best Friends. That was part of the deal when he took over most of the gay bar scene in Fort Worth.

“I wanna get those built up, but we are also looking for another location for Percussions and we’re trying to see what we can find, but yeah, the focus now will be on Rainbow and Best Friends.”

—  Rich Lopez

READ: Vice’s Etiquette Guide for Straight People at a Gay Bar is kind of a must-read

Brian Moylan posted this slightly funny, but oh-so true guide for all the straight people who must hang out at gay bars. I agree with him that we enjoy having them there for the most part, but yeah, there are unsaid rules that the Vice contributor pretty much said out loud. Especially this one that reminded me of all the bridal parties I saw one night in the Rose Room. Although Moylan approaches it from a different perspective. From Vice.com.

No Girls Allowed

Ladies, we don’t mind going to your bachelorette parties, because we love and support you as friends even if we find it a little insulting (and genitally incorrect) that you keep calling us “one of the girls.” However, if we don’t know you, we have no interest in being at your party. That means keep them out of gay bars. We know you want to look at strippers, but you have to find somewhere for women to do it. Go to Chippendales or Thunder from Down Under or some strip night called Danglers that’s meant just for you ladies. Do not show up at a gay go-go bar and screech and squeal and push all the other patrons out of the way so you can drunkenly slip a $20 in a tiny sliver of spandex stuck up a plump, oiled backside. To you it might be one night of misbehaving, but this is our life. Please respect that, and take your high-decibel revelry somewhere that will cater to your “big day.”

‘Nuff said. Now I’m deciding whether to go down the gay rabbit hole when I saw the link to this story: Gays or girls: Who ‘s better at giving head?

—  Rich Lopez

A conservative radio host walks into a gay bar…

Michael Berry

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. Conservative talk radio host and former city council member Michael Berry has been implicated in a hit and run accident outside of T.C.’s show bar last month. Berry has not been charged with a crime. In Texas leaving the scene of an accident is a misdemeanor.

KPRC reports that a bouncer for the gay bar witnessed a hit and run collision on Jan. 31st. The bouncer, Tuderia Bennett, wrote down the license plate of the vehicle and later identified Berry, the owner of the vehicle, as the man he had seen driving. Since then video of Berry inside the bar has been released.

And then the blogosphere exploded…

Houston Chronicle Newswatch blog: Michael Berry accused of ramming vehicle at gay club

Perez Hilton: Um, Oops? Conservative Radio Host Accused Of Hit-And-Run After Visiting Gay Bar

Texas Observer: Homophobic Radio Host Busted at Gay Bar

Towleroad: Conservative Talk Radio Host Michael Berry Was Definitely At That Gay Bar In Houston …

The site gayhomophobe.com even added Berry to their listing of famous homophobes later caught up in gay sex scandals.

The only issue with all this schadenfreude is that, as far as I can tell, Michael Berry isn’t particularly homophobic. The radio host has criticized other right-wing personalities for their homophobia. I’ve spent a considerable amount of time listening to old episodes of Berry’s show over the last few days (a painful experience) and I’ve yet to find anything hateful towards the LGBT community (please correct me if I’ve missed something).

Controversial black-face drag character Shirley Q. Liquor is a regular guest on Berry’s program which would seem to indicate that Berry at least has no issue with drag  queens (nor, would it seem, does Berry have any issues with astoundingly racially insensitive performances that rely on the most vulgar of African-American stereotypes).

I’m not saying that Michael Berry’s good guy (he once advocating bombing a proposed mosque in lower Manhattan), but I have to question why the media in general, and the LGBT media in particular, have been so quick to paint him as a homophobe caught with his pants down.

Perhaps after decades of Sen. Larry “wide stance” Craig and Rev. George “luggage lifter” Reker it’s an easy narrative to latch on to. But it’s concerning that this story has become about Michael Berry being the sort of person who (allegedly) visits gay bars instead of being about Michael Berry being the sort of jerk who (allegedly) hits a parked car and then drives off.

A conservative radio host walks into a gay bar, walks out, gets into his car, hits another car, and drives off… and what we find shocking isn’t the crime, but that he was in a gay bar.

What a joke.

—  admin

Saying goodbye to Friends

Nationally known Cedar Creek Lake bar closes after 15 years

Friends-001

BUSINESS DRIES UP | Owner Leo Bartlett said low lake levels caused by the ongoing drought resulted in fewer visitors to the area, forcing him to shut down his club for good. (David Webb/Dallas Voice)

DAVID WEBB  |  Contributing Writer
davidwaynewebb@yahoo.com

GUN BARREL CITY — For 15 years Friends was the little gay bar that did it all in the most unlikely of settings, but it came to a sad end just before Christmas.
Friends owner Leo Bartlett sent out a message on Facebook Dec. 20 saying he was closing the iconic gay bar, and he never unlocked the doors for business again. Situated in the middle of one of the most conservative areas of the state, the humble little private club had featured charity drag shows and raised many tens of thousands of dollars — benefiting homeless animals, the elderly, the poor and HIV patients — for years.

Known not only throughout Texas but literally around the world, Friends often saw visitors from far away who had read or heard about the bar. Reporters for major mainstream U.S. newspapers like the Washington Post contacted the bar’s management for comments on LGBT issues. In 2007, Out magazine named Friends one of the top 50 gay bars in the world, saying the atmosphere was the friendliest in the state, the fish tank was filled with well water and the drag queens’ hairdos tended to be big, much like they were.

In a clever complement to the drag shows, a local theater group known as Friends Players put on variety shows that were well attended by the lake’s gay and straight residents alike. The entire cast, including performers in full drag, traveled down the road to the American Legion Club a couple of times each year to put on performances.

But now, the music, acting, dancing and laughing are just memories for Bartlett, who opened the bar door late one afternoon this month to allow a few customers to retrieve several pieces of personal property. The walls that once were covered with pictures of bewigged drag queens wearing tiaras are now bare.

“It’s all over,” Bartlett said as he stood in the sunlight flowing through the open door into the dark bar. “I said my goodbyes on Facebook. It’s all there to read. I’ve thanked everyone. There’s really nothing else to say.”

Bartlett said sending out the Facebook message was painful for him, and he didn’t want to have one last party in the bar to mark its closing, although many former customers had hoped he would.

Bartlett.Leo

Leo Bartlett

“It would just be a funeral for me,” said Bartlett, who noted the bar’s net revenue had been on the decline for about three years, just as with many other lake businesses. “I didn’t see any point in that. I’ve already said my goodbyes.”
Bartlett said economic conditions on the lake led to Friend’s closing, and he didn’t blame it on the competition from a new gay bar, Garlow’s, that opened nearby two years ago.

He disputed the popular opinion among some members of the lake’s LGBT community that there weren’t enough customers on the lake for two gay bars, and that the newer, more attractive Garlow’s had stolen his customers.

“There were enough customers,” Bartlett said. “There just wasn’t enough participation. If you talk to the owners of the straight bars, you will hear the same thing from them. Everybody is having trouble.”

The lake has a sizable LGBT community made up of retirees, Dallas commuters and natives, but many just don’t enjoy the bar scene. The gay and lesbian population increases greatly on weekends, holidays and during the summers when LGBT second-home owners are in residence, but many of them also prefer not to go out to the nightclubs.

Last summer’s drought — which caused the lake to drop almost 8 feet, leaving boat docks sitting in sand and beaches where water once stood — finished Friends off, Bartlett said. People avoided the lake, and that made all of the lake’s businesses suffer, resulting in several businesses shutting down in 2011, he said.

“It was time for me to close,” said Bartlett, who also separated this year from his longtime life partner who had helped him run the bar. “It was 15 good years. That’s what is important.”

For many customers though, the closing has left a void, and some seem almost resentful about it. Many of Bartlett’s customers would not go to Garlow’s out of loyalty to Friends, but others who went to both bars are also disappointed. And some who didn’t go to Friends at all also expressed dismay.

Friends’ closing is a loss to the lake’s LGBT community, said Troy Luethe, who with his life partner owns a bed and breakfast in nearby Ben Wheeler. The couple once participated in the Friends Players productions and visited the bar socially as well.

“I think it is sad,” Luethe said. “I never like to see a business fail, and it was part of the history of the area and held a lot of memories for me and others.”

For Jennie Morris, another former member of Friends Players, it is more personal. She also went there socially to meet with her friends.

“I feel like I lost a good friend, really, and one of my major connections to the community,” Morris said. “As a member of Friends Players it has left a pretty big hole there, too.

Friends was my Cheers, I guess — a place where everybody knows your name. Friends was safe, comfortable and like an old flannel shirt — just home.”

Several former customers of Friends declined to comment for the story, saying they had mixed emotions. Some people complained that Bartlett ran the bar too much like a nonprofit organization rather than a business, and blamed its closing on that.

Michael Slingerland, owner of Garlow’s, said he was shocked when he first heard about Bartlett announcing the closing of Friends. Slingerland formerly worked part time at Friends as a bartender before opening his own business, which appears to be doing well.

“We’ve talked about it a lot here,” Slingerland said. “It’s really sad.”

Slingerland said he had hoped for a cooperative effort between the two bars that would have helped both prosper, but that never happened.

“We could have helped each other out a lot,” said Slingerland, who envisioned back-and-forth traffic between the two clubs.
Regardless of what factors led to the closing of Friends, it is now a reality that the bar is gone for good. Although Bartlett has said he has no plans to return to his nativeArkansas, he is exploring other options for his future life in the Cedar Creek area.

“I’m thinking about a number of things,” said Bartlett, who acknowledged being a “hermit” since he announced the closing.

In the meantime Bartlett has listed the building for sale or lease with a gay Cedar Creek Lake real estate agent. The ad might run something like this: “Little private club with an unusually intriguing past available for new operator and members.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition January 20, 2012.

—  Kevin Thomas

Drawing Dallas • 12.16.11

From coffeehouse to gay bar, Taylor Hartman has a lust for new experiences

SketchesMARK STOKES  | Illustrator
mark@markdrawsfunny.com

Name and age: Taylor Hartman, 18

Spotted at: Buli Cafe

Occupation: Barista at Buli Café, Dancer at BJ’s NXS!

Wanderlust: This sweet, blonde Gemini was born in Tampa, Fla., but has moved around his whole life. Taylor’s family has an inherent restless spirit, having settled in Florida, Texas and Missouri. A hands-on guy, Taylor knows how to rope cattle and work as a ranch hand — he is good with animals and can even build fences. He came to Texas with his family but moved to Dallas on his own to begin a new life in the big city.
Taylor say his parents always knew he was gay, so coming out was no big deal. He is a fast learner, and has become an experienced dancer in a few short months. He plans to become a professional dancer or a business owner. He has also inherited his family’s wanderlust and has plans to travel to Paris and then see where he can go from there. Until then, he plans to spend Christmas in the gayboorhood with his “second family.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 16, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Taylor Dayne can’t stop the music

Taylor Dayne can’t stop the music

More than 20 years after she packed the gay bar dance floors with her debut hits, the songstress is still going strong, and says her performance at Black Tie is a ‘win-win’ for her and her fans

Dayne.TaylorRich Lopez  |  Staff Writer

lopez@dallasvoice.com

Helping out LGBT people is nothing new for singer Taylor Dayne.

She can’t quite recall when she knew she was a hit with the gay community: Over the course of her 23-year career in pop music, she’s played venues of all sizes, but she did notice early on how a certain fan base seemed to keep showing up.

“It’s kinda hard to remember, but I would perform very specific shows and then some gay clubs and it dawned on me,” she said.

With an explosive debut, thanks to her platinum selling 1988 debut Tell It To My Heart and the more sophisticated follow-up Can’t Fight Fate a year later, Dayne became a quick force to be reckoned with on the charts.

But her pop hits were just as big on the dance floor, and Dayne was resonating across the queer landscape.

“I’ve had wonderful relationship with gay and lesbian fans for years. I’m so glad to be doing Black Tie because I have a great core of fan base here,” she said. “It’ll be a good show with lots of fun and for a good cause. It’s a win-win.”

Dayne’s performed at gay bars and Pride events in Boston, Chicago and the Delaware Pride Festival. But appreciation of her work in the community was clearly evident in 2010 when she was asked to record “Facing a Miracle” as the anthem for the Gay Games.

“That was quite an honor and then they asked me to perform at the games,” she said. “It was very emotional for me. The roar of the crowd was great.”

Even after two decades, Dayne remains just as committed to music as she was in 1988. She’s embraces her sort of “elder” status in pop music and instead of seeing the likes of Nikki Minaj and Katy Perry as rivals, she enjoys what they are bringing to the landscape of music now.

“I love listening to all the new stuff going on. There is some great talent out there. It’s nice to know I was some inspiration to them, the way ladies like Debbie Harry and Pat Benatar were for me. The cycle goes on,” Dayne said.

But they still push her to keep in the game. She admitted, “I’m pretty competitive that way.”

This year, Dayne released the single, “Floor on Fire,” which made it to the Billboard Dance/Club Charts Top 10.

At 49, Dayne doesn’t show signs of slowing. Along with a rumored second greatest hits album, she recently wrapped up filming the indie movie Telling of the Shoes and she’s a single mother to 9-year-old twins. Juggling it all is a mix of emotions, but her confidence pushes her through.

“I can say I’m a great singer, so when it comes to decisions, I’m fine about recording and performing,” she said. “But I would say I work really hard at acting. It’s nerve-wracking but it’s also amazing. But I’m not a novice at any of this.”

With her children, she doesn’t make any pretenses about the difficulty of being both a musician and a mom — as long as she instills the proper principles in them.

“We don’t try to get wrapped up in small time crap,” she said. “At the end of day it’s about having a good heart and they have great heart.”

It’s likely she’ll show the same at Black Tie.

—  Rich Lopez