WATCH: Debut trailer for upcoming HBO series about gay guys, ‘Looking’

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January is fast becoming the season of gay TV premieres. Yesterday, I shared a video for Chozen, a gay animated comedy for FX; today, HBO one-ups FX with a live-action show that’s just as gay.

Looking is the highly anticipated new series from out actor-producer Jonathan Groff (guest actor on Glee and co-executive producer on Happy Endings). Groff stars as a gay man looking for love in San Francisco. Not surprisingly, it’s set to debut immediately after the third season premiere of Girls on Jan. 19 — so, we have the girls and the boys right after.

Based on the trailer — which you can see after the jump — it’s apparently along the lines of Queer as Folk with honest portrayals of love and sex … and some nudity (don’t worry, the trailer, at least, is safe for work).

Looks like the winter is heating up!

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Is what the server put on this receipt offensive?

993405_10201802866864309_602609731_nWe’ve all been to a restaurant and gotten a receipt that identified us as “Table 4″ or “Station 12″ or “Diners 1-4.” It’s how restaurants keep track of their customers. No prob.

But a waitress in York, England, used not only “Table 11″ and “Stools” to keep track of her customers, but this indication “Gay guys.”

And it turns out, the guys were not gay.

Maybe she meant they looked happy (possibly, if she was alive in 1923). But she was probably just profiling them.

So my question is: Is this offensive?

Before you answer, keep in mind: I always dine out, see a table, and tell my dining companion, “Did you see that dessert?” “Which one?” “The one those gay guys at the next table ordered.” C’mon, you know you do it. Is it worse when a server does it — or worse when you are straight? And it’s it more offensive that she charged them two pounds (about three bucks!) for “half” a Diet Coke?

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Man and Manolos

A Texas transplant’s love life fuels comedy in ‘Bad Dates’

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IMELDA OF THE WEST SIDE | Haley (Shannon J. McGrann) has a shoe fetish that doesn’t help her with me in the one-woman comedy ‘Bad Dates.’ (Photo courtesy George Wada)

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

The sly trick of Bad Dates is that its leading (heck, its only) character — Haley (Shannon J. McGrann), a Texas transplant who unexpectedly “makes it” in the Big Apple, and is only of late re-entering the dating world — is such a likeable, genuinely try-hard kinda gal, you are firmly on her side … before you realize she’s not exactly the perfect mom. As with Pyscho, where Hitchcock got you to sympathize with Norman Bates, playwright Theresa Rebeck has you rooting for Haley, sometimes against your better judgment. It’s the power of the unreliable narrator put starkly to work.

It helps that men and women, gay and straight, will see something familiar in Haley, who spends two hours as the only voice in this one-woman show, talking about relationships, family (especially her gay brother), dating and career. She dates gay guys, who are priggish. She dates bug experts, who are weird. She dates a great guy who… well, there’s always something wrong with a great guy. Trust me.

You can’t over-estimate the skills it takes to do a character monologue that has to be funny and poignant and not drone on. For two hours. This isn’t standup comedy; it’s comedy standing up, lying down, changing clothes and occasional slapstick. That’s a lot of baggage resting on McGrann’s narrow shoulders, but she carries it like a Sherpa. Bad Dates rises and falls on the strength of the actress playing Haley — approaching middle age with a cynic’s experiences but still determined to stay cautiously upbeat, she’s an underdog with an Imelda-sized shoe collection. Does that make her insufferable or needy? Or both?

Screen shot 2011-10-27 at 1.14.55 PMNeither with McGrann, who maintains a twinkle that is crucial to making the role work. (“Twinkle” is an undervalued asset in theater.) She modulates Haley’s self-doubt, over-confidence and general good nature in digestible bits. Whether it’s her or Rebeck who deserves the most credit for steering the tone away from maudlin is difficult to say. But for a comedy that takes a sudden turn into drama, Bad Dates never feels manipulative or melodramatic.

Robin Armstrong directed in a manner similar to how she designed the copious costumes: With generosity. There’s a light touch at work here that allows McGrann the freedom to work the stage, interacting with the audience with the gossipy joy of a coffee klatch. Unlike Haley’s Jimmy Choos — or her date with the gay guy — it’s a good fit.

………………………..

‘LUCIA’ IN THE SKY WITH DIAMONDS

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The Dallas Opera scaled back its season for budgetary reasons, but that wasn’t obvious at the opening of Lucia di Lammermoor, which powerfully conveyed the beauty and depth of Donizetti’s finest piece in a flamboyantly intoxicating performance.

The story — about a bride gone mad when the man she loves is kept from her — boasts one of the great coloratura roles for any soprano, but it’s difficult to imagine anyone besting Elena Mosuc (pictured, in her DO debut), for beauty and control as well as dramatic commitment. It’s not merely her technique during “Il dolce suono,” but her passion that makes this Lucia shine.

There won’t be another full mainstage production until April. This teaser has certainly whetted the appetite for what’s to come.

— Arnold Wayne Jones

Winspear Opera House, 2403 Flora St.
Oct. 29 at 7:30 p.m., Nov. 6 matinee at 2 p.m.
DallasOpera.org.

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

—  Kevin Thomas

Coming out as a gay hockey fan

Via OutSports and the brilliantly named gay hockey blog Puck Buddies comes this charming account of a gay Dallas Stars fan’s recent trip to a game at the American Airlines Center with his boyfriend. An excerpt:

After our hockey game (he bought the tickets as a surprise), it got me thinking – will there ever be a time when I can go to a Stars game and not be afraid to kiss my boyfriend in between plays or periods? I think this is something every gay hockey fan has thought about at one point or another, and I’m curious to hear from other guys around here if they’ve been in the same position. 

I had an amazing time watching hockey with Jon and I can’t wait to go back and do it again and again and again, but wonder if I’ll feel more comfortable and a little less self-conscious the next time. The concern is Jon is my first REAL boyfriend, we live in Dallas, TX, and the typical hockey crowd mayyyyyy not be the most tolerant towards fans like us. I really do hope that one day we’ll be able to take in a game and not feel odd, judged or so rare. There’s no way we’re the only gay guys who go ape for the Stars. No way.

Saturday night was great. These past two months have been great, and Jon is great because he’s not only willing to put up with my hockey obsession but he encourages it as well. Oh yeah, the Stars beat the visiting Blue Jackets 4-2, and the night only got better after the final horn.

—  John Wright

‘The Twilight Saga: Eclipse’ targets the gay community … even though its Mormon creator favors anti-gay author

Two things — well, three really — about the new Twilight Saga entry, Eclipse. First, my review will be in the paper this week, so look for it. That’s kinda the third thing.

Second, when perusing the press site for the film, I came upon these two photos. Look carefully at Taylor; now look at Robert; they are actually the same picture, taken from a scene from the film. The only difference — other than the fact that, once you look closely, you can see how it was Photoshopped — is that in one, the girl is missing. Now, she’s in the scene in the movie. So the question is, why was she removed from the photo?

And the answer, according to one person in my office, is clearly: To appeal to the gay community.

Certainly it is convenient for the studio to streamline all the beefcake in one two-shot and omit the woman — which, when I think about it, is probably the only reason most girls go to see these films. (Who likes Bella, anyway?) But I think gay guys want it all conveniently tied up without female distractions, too. And the producers know it.

They also seem to know it insofar as the two directors in competition to helm the adaptations of the last book in the series were gays Gus Van Sant and Bill Condon (Condon got it). But deep down, it’s hard not to feel exploited by the creator.

Which brings us to point No. 3: The author of the books, Stephenie Meyer, is a devout Mormon who had never written so much as a letter to the editor before she became fabulously wealthy with her Twilight series. Some have analyzed the books through the prism of the LDS church, noting the virginal heroine and Edward’s insistence on marriage are conservative religious principals. Meyer has denied it.

What she hasn’t denied is being a fan of Mormon sci-fi author Orson Scott Card. Card is a virulently anti-gay bigot (which, if you saw the documentary 8: The Mormon Proposition, is par for the course for that cult). Last year, he joined the board of the anti-gay National Organization for Marriage and has said no one can claim to be gay and a Mormon.

Now, I see these movies for free as part of my job (plus I have a well-documented crush on Taylor Lautner). But it makes you wonder: Does Meyer agree with Card’s view on homosexuality? Does she have as much contempt for her gay fans as Card seems to?

—  Arnold Wayne Jones