COVER STORY: On the fringe

WaterTower’s Out of the Loop Fringe Festival gets very gay

Dark-Play

STALKER TWINKS | ‘Dark Play or Stories for Boys,’ pictured, looks at online relationships with an eerie, gay twist.

Fringe theater festivals always push boundaries — that’s kind of the point — which often entails racy, “alternative” material … and that frequently touches on queer content.
We’re used to finding some gay-interest shows at WaterTower Theatre’s Out of the Loop Fringe Festival, but this year is something else — of the 22 artists and companies performing at the fest, more than one-third are members of or tied to the LGBT community. That’s a lotta gay in a short time frame.

And there is of course more than just gay content — dance and music and just entertaining performances from the likes of spotlight selection Charles Ross, whose one-man show encapsulates the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy in about an hour. (He previously did Star Wars in its entirety at OOTL.)

But here are the artists who will bring a little bit of gay to Addison next week and for 10 more days of theater after. There’s certainly something you’ll wanna see there.

Contributing writers: Arnold Wayne Jones, Steven Lindsey, Rich Lopez, Mark Lowry, Jef Tingley.

Highlights2-billbowers
One Man Lord of the Rings, March 1–4. $15.
• Amy Stevenson cabaret in the lobby, March 2 and 10. Free.
Sweet Eros, March 1, 3, 7 and 9.
Dark Play or Stories for Boys, March 2, 3, 4 and 10.
A Most Happy Stella, March 3, 7 and 11.
Strange Dreamz, March 3, 6 and 10.
Waking Up, March 3, 6, 8, 10 and 11.
The Screw You Revue, March 9 and 10.
Bill Bowers: Beyond Words, pictured left, March 9, 10 and 11 (movement workshop March 10).
WaterTower Theatre’s Out of the Loop Fringe Festival, Addison Theatre Centre, 15650 Addison Circle. March 1–11. All single tickets $10, except as indicated. Festival wide pass available. Visit WaterTowerTheatre.org for a complete schedule of events.

Sweet Eros

Interview with director Adam Adolfo
What’s gay about it: Everything. It was written by Terrence McNally “and provides people the opportunity to re-explore [his] work as contemporary dramatist,” Adolfo says. It’s produced by QLive!, the stage arm of Q Cinema. Sweet Eros is one of the featured presentations at OOTL.

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EROS-ION | Q Live!, the stage arm of Fort Worth’s Q Cinema film fest, makes its OOTL debut with ‘Sweet Eros,’ pictured at left; gay playwright David Parr, below, offers the Texas premiere of his comedy ‘The Most Happy Stella,’ a play on the title of the musical ‘The Most Happy Fella.’

How gay audiences can relate: “Sweet Eros is a slightly subversive play in the idea that it’s about a man who feels on the outside of society,” explains Adolfo. “He struggles with his demons to define a sense of place and hope for himself, [which] leads him to a self-awareness that is both revelatory and terrifying. We liken his struggle to what many gay men experience in their own coming-out process.

“Unlike most men, though, our hero takes a very dark, frequently erotic and unsettling journey to self-discovery, forcing us to question his choices and sense of self. I’ll say this for our hero: His sense of sexual virility and his heightened attention to fine detail makes him a very alluring aggressor and his predatory skill is both sensual and sadistic. He is a very complex young man. But then again, aren’t we all?”

Adolfo’s relationship to the Q folks goes back several years, after he cast founders Kyle Trentham and Todd Camp as a bumbling pair of soldiers in his production of Much Ado About Nothing. “Before that I had worked with Kyle as an actor, directing him as Bottom in my staging of Midsummer Nights Dream. That production hit upon gay marriage equality and coming-out issues in a very subtle way, and was my introduction to Kyle. The guys are just phenomenal to work with and when they started up QLive!, I was very glad to be a part of their inaugural reading of Spring Awakening, the play that inspired the hit Broadway show.”

Why Out of the Loop?: “This is my first time to be a part of the festival. I’ve come in years past and fallen in love with shows and companies whose work I had not been exposed to and being able to access it so freely,” says Adolfo. “It’s a cornucopia of talent, skill and artistry.”
Performances: March 1 and 7 at 7:30 p.m., March 3 at 5 p.m. and March 9 at 8 p.m.

Dark Play, or Stories for Boys

Interview with actors Adam Garst and Jacob Aaron Cullum

Cast and story: The five-person cast is headlined by Adam Garst and Jacob Aaron Cullum playing, respectively, a teenager who stalks other teens online, and his victim. The show features costumes by rising local star Justin Locklear.

Background: This is the first production by Outcry Theatre, another area theater founded by students of Waco’s Baylor University (others include Second Thought Theatre and Rite of Passage Theatre Company). In this case, Becca Johnson-Spinos, who directs Dark Play, received her master’s in directing at Baylor, worked in North Carolina and then moved to Dallas with her husband. Fort Worth’s Amphibian Stage Productions gave this play its area premiere in 2008, but it was written several years before that. It uses AOL instant messaging and chat rooms as its means of cyber-bullying, which already feels dated in a world run by Facebook and Twitter.

Gay cred: Clearly, the storyline, though Garst played the gay character Moritz in WaterTower Theatre’s Spring Awakening.

Garst’s view of his stalker character: “When I first read it, it seemed like Nick was extremely mean. But it’s been interesting making him a real person. Like everyone else, he’s desperate for something in the world. The thing he thinks he didn’t need was love.”

Cullum’s view: “It’s neat to play a character who is so naïve and gullible that he’s easily fooled by this character because he wants to fall in love. Behaviorally, he’s very similar to me.”

Performances: March 2 and 10 at 8 p.m., March 3 at 2 p.m., March 4 at 5 p.m.

A Most Happy Stella

Interview with playwright David Parr

What to expect: We could tell you about David Parr’s play A Most Happy Stella. But then he might shoot us.
“I want the audience to know as little as possible going in,” he says. “It’s become a gayer and gayer show as we worked on it and I didn’t realize how many elements were in it altogether. A gay audience will appreciate them and would help the show.”

Stella is made of six vignettes that riff on popular theater works mixed with camp and layered with a sophisticated jazz soundtrack. Parr’s not going for satire, he says — he really just has one intention: “To celebrate all these plays and theater in general,” he says.

Queerspiration: With His Girl Tuesday, Porn Yesterday, Long Gay’s Journey into Night, Alas Poor Yorick and the title piece, the inspirations for each scene is obvious — as is the queer appeal, whether comic or more serious.

“The gay theme [in Yorick] surrounds a bullied student who befriends a girl on the bus,” Parr explains. “The bullying issue wasn’t what I set out to do, but I felt that outsider element the character does and befriended this girl who’s been a good friend ever since.”

He amps up the queer content by turning the finale into a mini-musical version of A Streetcar Named Desire. With a complete emasculation of Stanley, the show turns the famous “Stella” yell into a chorus and flips the perspective around on the characters.

“That show is over the top anyway, but also a really disturbing play,” he says. “And Tennessee Williams’ writing style lends itself to music. The elements just needed a little tweaking to verge into camp territory. It’s kinda like standing on a ledge — we don’t wanna fall all the way off — that disrespects the original work.”

Living on the fringe: Parr thrives on creating works with a fringe element, as he did in his first success, Slap & Tickle, about a group of men coming out in a post-AIDS time and the tapestry of relationships they are involved in. Parr, though, is maintaining his focus on Stella, because he will just be seeing it all put together when he finally comes to Dallas from New York a week before the festival.

“I feel pretty good right now and the tone of it is playing how I want it to,” he says. “But then, we haven’t done our tech yet!”

Performances: March 3 at 2 p.m., March 7 at 7:30 p.m. and March 11 at 5 p.m.

Strange Dreamz

Interview with performer Kevin J. Thornton

Try to decide what to call Kevin J. Thornton, and you’ll probably come up as empty as Thornton himself. He writes, tells jokes, sings songs, performs scenes from his life … he might even bus your table if you asked nicely. So it is with his world premiere show, Strange Dreamz: It’s a little bit of everything.

Kevin-J.-Thornton-in-Strange-Dreamz

‘VULGARITY WITH A CHRISTIAN EDGE’ | For his world premiere show, Kevin J. Thornton recounts coming out to his fundamentalist family.

“I’m trying to blur the line between this show and my Podcast, which is also called Strange Dreamz. I say it’s about ‘love, sex and the meaning of life.’ But I also call it ‘dick jokes that are good for the soul’ and ‘an hour of vulgarity with a Christian edge.’ I’m truly a variety act — I guess the closest you could say is, I’m like a male Sandra Bernhardt.”

Thornton grew up in a deeply fundamentalist Christian household, so his journey to out atheist has been a long and difficult one, but all the more material to fuel his comic rants.

“If you read it on paper, my stuff may seem pretty filthy. But I have this boy-next-door charm that keeps people in their seats,” he admits.

That quality probably also landed him a job posing nude once for Unzipped, the gay porn magazine. So what was more difficult to expose: His body or his painful upbringing?

“Of course it’s taking off my clothes!” he says without missing a beat. “I’m very vain and have a small penis. Getting onstage and spilling my guts is a piece of cake to me now. The closer I get to embarrassing myself, the better the material is. It seems to resonate with people.”

Performances: March 3 at 5 p.m., March 6 at 7:30 p.m. and March 10 at 2 p.m.

Waking Up

Interview with playwright Kelsey Ervi

Only 22, Ervi’s play Waking Up will be the first of her works actually produced for the stage.

What’s gay about your play: “When I was writing this, I wanted to make sure to create a broad spectrum of characters. It’s important to me as a playwright and a lesbian to have gay characters, so we have a scene with two men in their struggling relationship and then two women who are physically and emotionally into each other, but it’s something they’re uncovering about themselves.

“I knew it would be a good fit into this festival. The show is neither a comedy nor drama, but, um … quirky is a good word. It has many different themes and storylines in small vignettes. The play revolves around 11 characters total and it’s all set in a bedroom. We set it in realism to look at things people wake up to, wake up for or don’t wake up at all. I think it can touch audiences in a different way.”

6-Greyman-Kelsey-Ervi

Kelsey Ervi

Past gay cred? “I was accepted for GLAAD’s annual OUTAuction last November. I had a photograph accepted and was named one of the top five emerging artists in my medium. I was so happy to be a part of that. And I had a directing internship with ShakespeareDallas last fall under Rene Moreno working on Hamlet. That really pushed me to move to Dallas and I’ll be working with [the company] again this summer for Twelfth Night. I knew I didn’t want to wait in Waco any longer.”

One last note: “I wrote Waking Up after an intimate experience with a girl in college. She was an inbetweener. But I want the audience to be reminded how emotions can be scary but great. Besides, it’s short (30 minutes) and sweet. It’s something different ages can enjoy, especially young people.”

Performances: March 3 at 8 p.m., March 6 and 8 at 7:30 p.m., March 10 and 11 at 2 p.m.

The Screw You Revue

7-Finger1

McGeoch and Chaffee perform the sassy standup of ‘The Screw Your Revue;’

Interview with Douglas McGeoch, aka Miss Didi Panache
Imagine a Sonny and Cher-style duo with the in-your-face satire of Lisa Lampanelli and you have The Screw You Revue. Real-life partners Dewey Chaffee and Douglas McGeoch star as Wayburn Sassy (Chaffee), a bigoted curmudgeon who calls it as he sees it, and Miss Didi Panche, his lovely songbird accomplice, in this gay cabaret of hiss-and-tell humor.

Standup origins: The show began out of Chaffee’s standup comedy routine with a biological girl originally playing the role of Didi. Chaffee later convinced McGeoch to step into the heels and “now, he can’t tear the sequins from my back or the lashes from my eyes,” says McGeoch. For its Texas premiere, they will be adding three things. “One, lots of local Dallas flair and commentary on the city. Two, multiple digs at Texas’ Most Honorable Governor, Rick Perry. And the third addition will be … um … let me check my notes … I forgot. Oops!”

Fair warning: For those easily offended, best to stay at home. This audience-interaction experience does not discriminate. During one of their most memorable shows, Wayburn encountered a quadriplegic in the front row. Ignoring typical social norms he approached the gentleman and said, “All right, someone needs attention. I’ll bite. What the hell happened to you?” The audience went silent. The gentleman responded by saying that at the age of 12 he dove into a pool and broke his neck. Without missing a beat Wayburn replied, “So you’re not only a cripple, you’re an idiot, too.”
According to McGeoch, the gentleman and his party roared with laughter.

Performances: March 9 and 10, 10 p.m.

Beyond Words

Interview with mime Bill Bowers

Cast: Just Bowers, a professional mime who uses stories from his life growing up as a gay kid in Montana, then deciding to become a mime. Beyond Words is a personal story culled from Bowers’ own life, with narration and movement telling the story. It played last fall off-Broadway.

Ooh, daddy: Whether he considers himself one or not, Bowers is a daddy — for real! He recently donated his sperm to a lesbian couple and became a biological father to their child. Both Bowers and his partner will have active roles in the son’s life.

On how becoming a father affected his art: “We’re not the official parents, they’re raising him. But we’re a big part of his life and I see him regularly. It’s something I never imagined I would do, but they asked, and I became a father. So that is a huge part of this piece.”

On becoming a mime: “I was surrounded by silence when growing up,” Bowers says. “There was the silence of Montana, but although I was in a big family, I didn’t talk much. And then the silence of being a gay kid, there was no conversation about that when I was little. When I got into high school and realized there was an art form about not talking, it just came to me. I started teaching myself what I thought mime was.”

For those who wanna be mimes: In addition to his show, Bowers will also lead a movement workshop on March 10 at 10 a.m.

Performances: March 9 at 8 p.m., March 10 at 5 p.m. and March 11 at 2 p.m.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition February 24, 2012.

—  Kevin Thomas

WaterTower announces line-up for Out of the Loop Fringe Festival coming this March

WaterTower Theatre in Addison brings back its Out of the Loop Fringe Festival for 11 days in March, and as always, there’s some gay content among the two-dozen performances. Among the highlights:

Bill Bowers, Beyond Words and a mime workshop. The gay mime — and really, he makes miming cool — returns again with his solo show which had an off-Broadway run last fall. It’s not all silent, as Bowers walks us through, with music, monologues and movement, what it means to be a boy. He will also conduct a workshop on March 10 instructing those interested in learning the art of mime and creative motion.

Charles Ross, Lord of the Rings. Two years ago, Ross performed his one-man, hour-long “summary” of the Star Wars Trilogy at OOTL; now he returns to condense all 11-plus hours of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, pictured, into a 65-minute show.

Kevin J. Thornton, Strange Dreamz. A performance piece from Thorton that includes standup and music about life as a gay man.

• Outcry Theatre, dark play or story for boys. Nick, a lonely teen, pretend to be the girl of 16-year-old Adam’s dreams in a play about online fantasy.

QLive!, Sweet Eros. Q Cinema’s live performance arm stages Terrence McNally’s play about sexual obsession.

Stella Productions, A Most Happy Stella. Several short plays about plays, including A Streetcar Named Desire, from gay playwright David Parr.

• Also, cabaret staple Amy Stevenson performs her song stylings in the lobby during the run of the festival.

Tickets are available here.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Dallas Video Fest gets a little queer

The Dallas Video Festival kicked off Wednesday, but they saved the gay content for this weekend. Here are some highlights.
For a complete schedule and more information, visit VideoFest.org.

Our New Family. Dallas-based documentarians and life partners James Dowell (pictured far left) and John Kolomvakis (pictured near left) have made movies about other gay people (Sleep in a Nest of Flames about poet Charles Henri Ford, The Stages of Edward Albee about the playwright), but they turn the cameras on themselves for this memoir of their efforts to become fathers through surrogacy well past middle-age.

Through archive footage, which shows James and John as handsome young hippies at the dawn of Stonewall, the film tracks their family histories, as well as how the conventional mores of 1950s Texas shaped their understandings of family identity. Those scenes are juxtaposed against their efforts to conceive with a generous surrogate, who eventually gives birth to twin sons. Including interviews with local gay luminaries like Dennis Coleman, Our New Family is part home movie, part social document tracking “the love that dare not speak its name” up to same-sex marriage. With the repeal this week of “Don’t ask, don’t tell,” it brings into relief just how far we have come.

Screens Sept. 24 at noon at the Angelika Film Center Mockingbird Station.

Fourplay: San Francisco. A trans “therapist” visits a dying heterosexual man, to give him a bi-curious experience before he passes. This unusual and occasionally sexually explicit short turns what is basically an escort call into a poignant and oddly romantic encounter, aided by a lush and soaring musical underscore and honest performances.
Screens Sept. 24 at 3:45 p.m. at Hyena’s Comedy Club at Mockingbird Station with the “Strange Ones” shorts program.

— Arnold Wayne Jones

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 23, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

Oscars not exactly gay heaven, but we’ll take it

Many gays are still smarting from the upset victory of Crash over Brokeback Mountain at the Oscars five years ago, but somehow, the lack of a clear frontrunner among many of the gay-content pictures this time around doesn’t feel as dramatic. Still, here would be the ideal queer surprises at the awards (they air Sunday at 6:30 p.m. on ABC).

Best picture, best original screenplay: Lisa Cholodenko’s lesbian family film The Kids Are All Right, is up for four awards, including best picture, which it won’t win. But Cholodenko and her co-screenwriter Stuart Blumberg have an outside shot at a writing award. They are up against the favorite, David Seidler for The King’s Speech (which also has the momentum for best picture). Then again, Seidler’s other screen credits include several animated films and a made for TV movie with Liz Taylor. It’s not like giving it to the lesbian would insult his art. And if King’s Speech does beat The Kids … well, everyone can root for a queen, and there are several in that movie. And gay uber-producer Scott Rudin is twice nominated, for The Social Network and True Grit. Pretty good odds.

Best actress: For a time, Annette Bening, pictured above, seemed a strong sentimental favorite to win as the totally gay half of the complex relationship in Kids, but Natalie Portman has come on strong with her SAG and Globe wins for Black Swan. Still, Portman’s character has same-sex fantasies about her dance rival Mila Kunis, so the LGBT community can claim a victory if either wins.

Best supporting actor: Mark Ruffalo as the straight dad in Kids is a longshot, as is Jeremy Renner, the villain in The Town (and, if Perez Hilton is to be believed, gay himself). They’ll probably lose to Christian Bale in The Fighter, but any would add a little hottie beefcake to the acceptance podium.

Live action short: Here’s an office pool tie-breaker you can get behind. Among the largely un-gay short film nominees is God of Love, pictured, a Jim Jarmusch-esque comedy about a homely man who acquires the power of Cupid. He uses it to seduce women … and at least one man. It’s quirky and fun, and among a perfectly fine slate of nominees, the stand-out.

— Arnold Wayne Jones

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition.

—  John Wright

Movie Monday: ‘The Mechanic’ with Jason Statham in wide release

Statham sizzles, but The Mechanic fizzles

It’s hard to know whether to be angry at the filmmakers or frustrated with the audience about the gay content in The Mechanic. I suppose we should be glad that gays figure anywhere in this quickie actioner, even though the portrayal is hardly flattering.

Bishop (Jason Statham, above right), an experienced hitman, is training his protege Steve (Ben Foster, above left) how to take out a rival assassin. Bishop says the bad guy is gay, so Steve — a twinkie who looks to weigh 95 pounds dripping in paving tar —seduces him. As they begin to undress each other, straight men in the preview audience emitted audible, horrified chants of “Dude!” and “Gross!” and “Ah, shit, man!” (If they were smarter, they’d be quiet and let their girlfriends get turned on.)

Two stars (out of five). Read the entire review here.

DEETS: The Mechanic starring Jason Statham, Ben Foster, Donald Sutherland. Directed by Simon West. In wide release.

—  Rich Lopez

QUEER CLIP: ‘The Mechanic’

It’s hard to know whether to be angry at the filmmakers or frustrated with the audience about the gay content in The Mechanic. I suppose we should be glad that gays figure anywhere in this quickie actioner, even though the portrayal is hardly flattering.

Bishop (Jason Statham, above right), an experienced hitman, is training his protege Steve (Ben Foster, above left) how to take out a rival assassin. Bishop says the bad guy is gay, so Steve — a twinkie who looks to weigh 95 pounds dripping in paving tar —seduces him. As they begin to undress each other, straight men in the preview audience emitted audible, horrified chants of “Dude!” and “Gross!” and “Ah, shit, man!” (If they were smarter, they’d be quiet and let their girlfriends get turned on.)

It’s always a tough call: Do we respect director Simon West for introducing a queer character with a sexual appetite at all, or chastise him for using it like a club, eliciting cheers from the hetero hominids to kill the faggot? Alas, West — director of such detritus as Con Air and The General’s Daughter — is probably not someone worthy of much respect.

The film itself is a breezy 90-minute escapade that doesn’t develop much momentum; the climax is planned, executed and concluded is less time than most films would spend setting up the motive of the character. But it does have hottie Statham, star of

The Transporter movies, shirtless for a bit (alas, his sex scene is with a girl). And of course his Transporter character is gay, according to the director. It’s not much to hang your hat on, but we’ll take the fantasies as we find them.

— Arnold Wayne Jones

Two stars.
Opens today in wide release.

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

—  John Wright

Top 10: Perry, Dewhurst were tied to cancellation of gay-themed play at Tarleton

Otte-John
John Otte

No. 7:

View all of the Top 10

A Tarleton State University student’s choice to present a play with gay content for his theater directing class stirred controversy in the local community.

Tarleton State is in Stephenville, 70 miles southwest of Fort Worth.

John Jordan Otte, a junior, was assigned to choose a play meaningful to him to direct for his theater class. He selected Terrence McNally’s Corpus Christi.

A 45-minute excerpt from the play was scheduled to be performed on March 27 along with selections from three other plays directed by other students in his class in a theater that held just 95 people. The public was never invited to attend.

Corpus Christi has a modern Texas setting and depicts a gay man whose life parallels that of Jesus. The character, named Joshua, performs a same-sex wedding.

When the community heard about the play, they flooded the school with complaints. Alumni threatened to withhold donations. Otte was denounced from local pulpits.

At first, Tarleton President F. Dominic Dottavio defended freedom of speech on his campus.

One of the actors in the play was given the choice by his parents of withdrawing from the play or getting out of the house. Otte took in his 18-year-old actor.

As the performance day approached, the time was changed from afternoon to 8 a.m. for security reasons, with only friends and family allowed to watch.

Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst entered the controversy, issuing a statement condemning the play and use of state money.

State money, however, was not being used. Otte paid for performance rights for the play out of his own pocket.

After a final run-through, the professor canceled the production and a grade was given based on that rehearsal.

He cited safety and security reasons. Though not confirmed, several people called Dallas Voice and claimed pressure was put on the professor and on the president of the school by the governor’s office.

Rachel Dudley, a student reporter at Tarleton State, connected Gov. Rick Perry to the controversy when she obtained a copy of note from Steven Hotze, who heads a group of clergy in Houston that had been one of Mayor Annise Parker’s biggest detractors.

“We also owe a debt of gratitude to Governor Perry for his behind the scenes work to stop the play at Tarleton State. Ray Sullivan, the Governor’s Chief of Staff, was notified of the play on Thursday and after discussing it with the Governor, the necessary steps were taken to ensure that its performance was canceled,” said the note from Hotze.

In response, Cathedral of Hope brought a national touring company of Corpus Christi to Dallas. QCinema, which started a live performance group, promises a production in Fort Worth next year.

— David Taffet

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 31, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas

Stephen Frears uses sexual politics as a metaphor for oppression

By Arnold Wayne Jones

Stephen Frears was sexy before sexy was cool.

Well, maybe not exactly. But over the British director’s long career in film, he’s often been at the forefront of frank sexual portrayals onscreen, often of the radical kind.

“You make me feel like a pervert!” Frears exclaims during a recent visit to Dallas.

That’s not the point, of course, but it’s also not something he denies. Frears first gained notice in the U.S. with My Beautiful Laundrette, a disarming story about an immigrant family living in London that expectedly injects a queer twist when the audience discovers the scion of the Pakistani clan is gay. His next film, Prick Up Your Ears, was a darker tale of gay life, chronicling the murder of playwright Joe Orton by his lover. (That was followed by Sammy and Rosie Get Laid, whose title alone got it banned from many multiplexes; in The Grifters, he kept Annette Bening naked most of the time.)

But Frears, who is straight, says that gay storylines have interested him because outsider stories of all kinds spark his artistic curiosity.

“I couldn’t give you a moment when I was asked to do a racy film or a family film,” he says. “There was only one film I didn’t do, where I said, ‘No — I’ve got kids.’ But I think in my own head, it has all to do with being in opposition, as a way of attacking Mrs. Thatcher. [I see] women and gays and immigrants as a metaphor for being oppressed.”

His newest, Tamara Drewe — now playing at the Angelika Film Center — has limited gay content but is nonetheless casual with its sexual free-spiritedness.  A small English village is a haven for artistic types, including a famous novelist and his patient wife. When a former local, Tamara, moves back to town (complete with a nose job and makeover), she sets off a series of escapades that are dramatic, comic, even tragic. The film, though, feels softer than some of his earlier films.

“You make me ashamed that I have gotten tamer,” he says. “But we don’t live in very radical times.”

Frears’ left-leaning politics have often emerged in his films, including The Queen, which netted his a second Oscar nomination. ” [Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair] was a very, very complicated figure. This absurd business of leading countries into war really changed the Labour Party. I’m not a monarchist, but in the end I think you could call me a ‘queenist’ — she reminds me of my mother.”

A queenist? He’s a man after my own heart.

Tamara Drewe is now playing at the Angelika Film Center — Mockingbird Station.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Dallas Video Fest goes a little gay, but just a little

For 23 years, the Dallas Video Fest has offered up a strongly diverse selections of work both local and from afar. These kinds of indie projects are prime territory for LGBT filmmakers, and the DVF, thankfully, doesn’t shy away from gay content. This year, though, the selections seem slimmer than in the past … though that doesn’t mean they are less interesting.

This crop of films have certain gay appeal whether it’s behind the camera or on the screen.

Ain’t I A Woman? — Brad Sanders directs this short which follows Lesley, a transgender doll during her transformation. In four minutes, Sanders takes a look at gender and the societal notions that come with it. (Friday at 10:30 p.m.)

Nothing Happened, pictured — This tale by Julia Kots about two best friends played at L.A.’s
OutFest earlier this year. Barb has a secret to tell Liza but they aren’t sure if they want to go there just yet. (Friday at 10:30 p.m.)

Deep Ellum Mural Project — When DART tore down the Deep Ellum tunnel for its new station, people were crushed. That turned around when artists teamed with DART and the new mural was born. Lesbian artist Cathey Miller is one of the locals with her work gracing the piece. (Saturday at 3:45 p.m.)

The Jeff Koons Show — The pop artist gives his own perspective on himself in Alison Chernick’s profile. Gay artist Chuck Close and painter/filmmaker Julian Schnabel also weigh in on his work which you might recognize as stainless steel balloon animals or the famous gay animals photography he did for New York Times Magazine this spring. (Saturday at 6 p.m.)

Fragments From Death Comes for Britney Spears! The Musical — OK, really, this has the three words needed for any gay man to come out and watch. Britney. Spears. Musical.  The DVF describes it though as a parody on the singer amid a world of gossip. (Saturday at 9 p.m.)

The t.a.T.u. Project — This doc by Jesper Nordahl looks at the pop duo from Russia and their marketing as a same-sex couple against a political background. (Saturday at 10 p.m.)

Seven Songs About Thunder — Jennifer Reeder’s film follows three women coming to terms with death, motherhood and even their sexual selves. Apparently one scene in which a mother calls and leaves messages on her dead daughter’s phone will leave you feeling creeped out. But that’s just what we hear. (Sunday at 4:05 p.m.)

Dallas Art City — Players in the Big D art scene open up with their memories and perspectives of visual arts and what they mean to the city. This is an excerpt from a full-length doc that will premiere later this year. (Sunday at 7:30 p.m.)

— Rich Lopez

The Dallas Video Fest runs through Sunday at the Angelika Film Center, 5321 E. Mockingbird Lane. Passes $25–$75. For a complete schedule of films and events, visit Videofest.org.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 24, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas

Queer Clip: Predators

Noland (Laurence Fishburne, right) reveals to Royce (Adrien Brody) some of the secrets of living on an alien world – and amidst alien Predators.

You don’t to gory sci-fi movies expecting much gay content. Odd, really, considering that, as with comic books, gay boys make up a sizeable portion of the sci-fi market. So as I slogged through the hundred-or-so minutes of Predators, I didn’t really expect to learn that the killer creatures who hunt man for sport were secretly involved in caring same-sex relationships. (Even if I did, it would be so like Hollywood to make the villains gay.)

Then, about an hour in, I was startled awake — and not by an alien jumping from the shadows. Laurence Fishburne turns up as a nutso survivor, someone who evaded the predators on their game-preserve planet for 10 seasons.

“Is this where you live?” one of the newcomers asks.

“No, it’s my summer home,” he snaps back. “I winter in the South of France. The schools are better and the men are so fine.” Or words to that effect.

Wh-h-hat??! Did Laurence Fishburne just out his character in a macho massacre movie? It certainly seemed so.

Ultimately, that’s hardly enough to be me to recommend a movie of no redeeming qualities. But then, if you go to something called Predators, you probably get what you deserve.

And you do. Building on the original 1987 Arnold Schwarznegger film, the predators have stolen eight vicious earthlings (among them Adrien Brody and Topher Grace) as worthy prey for their bloodsport, and as the motley assemblage of politically correct and ethnically diverse folks get picked off, it becomes a game of “who will die next.”

There are no surprises. But there are decent special effects, albeit in service to a mindless suffer timekiller. “How was it?” someone asked me. “It’s a Predator movie,” I responded.

That’s all you need to know. That, and how fine the men are in the South of France. At least according to Laurence Fishburne.
2 stars

— Arnold Wayne Jones

—  Michael Stephens