She’s a wonder!

For drag diva Celeste Martinez, Wonder Woman isn’t an act — she’s a way of life

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

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CELESTE MARTINEZ
The Rose Room inside Station 4,
3911 Cedar Springs Road. July 1­3. Shows begin at approximately 11 p.m. and midnight. Caven. com.

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When Michael was a boy, his parents divorced and he went to live with dad, who worked all the time and was seldom home. So little Michael found a role model on TV.

“That’s when Wonder Woman came on television,” he recalls, referring to the CBS series starring Lynda Carter. “Wonder Woman was a second mother to me, one who taught me right from wrong in a way. She stood for something. Plus she was so statuesque and feminine and graceful, but still stern and strong. I watched that show religiously and as soon as the episode was over, I was back outside, reenacting what had just happened.”

The series ended in 1979, but by the time Michael had grown into drag diva Celeste Martinez, the Amazonian princess was still a powerful force. Since 1993, appearing as Wonder Woman has been the hallmark of Martinez’s drag act.

It’s not just a passing fancy, either. Martinez has every single Wonder Woman comic book since 1983. “When I got my first job, the first thing I did with my paycheck was get a subscription to Wonder Woman,” she says.

Martinez’s devotion has also made her a regular at Zeus Comics, the gay-run superhero store on Lemmon. Such a fixture is she there, Martinez even appears in the next episode of The Variants, the web-based comedy series set at Zeus. (See sidebar.)

“I’ve known [store owner] Richard Neal for years,” she gushes. “They are a fun group.”

But before her debut as a Web star, Martinez will show her patriotism this Independence Day weekend with a series of shows at the Rose Room — all in the guise of her hero, whom she sincerely tries to evoke onstage in spirit as much as appearance.

Martinez’s costume — golden lasso, bullet-deflecting bracelets, tiara, cape, boots and star-spangled panties, all in the colors of the America flag — is familiar to fans of the classic character as well as the TV series, but maybe not so much the new generation of comic readers. That’s intentional.

“With issue no. 600 [of Wonder Woman], they were trying to get a bigger audience so they updated her look, but the real Wonder Woman fans were not happy,” Martinez explains. “They are about to do another reboot with all of DC Comics characters, so as to make the original Wonder Woman fans happy.”

The timing of the show is fortuitous: Wonder Woman is a perfect image for the Fourth of July, Martinez affirms.

“She represents the best of humanity in the sense she’s non-judgmental and sees the best in everyone. She’s gracious and empowers strength and the best in all of us,” she says. “And she does it in red, white and blue.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 1, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

WaterTower in need of silent auction gifts

WaterTower Theatre’s gala fundraiser is coming up, and the gay-run organization is on the hunt for donated items that can be offered up for their silent auction. Maybe you’re a massage therapist who wants to give a free deep tissue, or a stylist who wants to donate a coif, or you just have more frequent flier miles than you know what to do with. It’s all good, and more. (Gift cards, spa certificates, restaurant vouchers, crystalwear … you know you have something.)

If you have anything or want to know how to help, contact Greg Patterson at GPatterson@WaterTowerTheatre.org, or call 972-450-6227.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

News flash: Gays more humane than straights

The Humane Society of the United States presents the Genesis Awards, similar to the GLAAD Media Awards, to recognize outstanding presentations of the humane treatment of animals. And it’s no surprise — at least not to me and the gay vegans I know that gay-run businesses and gay-themed shows figure prominently in this year’s finalists.

Among them: How to Train Your Dragon is up for best feature film (it’s produced by DreamWorks, which is owned by gay mogul David Geffen); True Blood is up for best dramatic series (created by gay Oscar winner Alan Ball and with plenty o’ queer vamps, pictured); the Sid Caesar Comedy Award is between gay-friendly shows The Colbert Report, The Simpsons and The Daily Show; and TV newsmagazine faces off gay host Anderson Cooper of AC360 again lesbian host Jane Velez-Mitchell of Issues with Jane Velez-Mitchell. And the schmancy Wyler Award goes to Kristin Davis of Sex and the City for her work bringing awareness to orphaned elephants. (It’s such a Charlotte thing to worry about orphaned elephants). Previous winners of the Wyler Award include Ellen DeGeneres and Portia Di Rossi.

The awards will be presented March 19 in Los Angeles.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Best bets • 11.12.10

Friday 11.12

Rivas makes ‘Faces’ picture perfect
You might have seen the gigantic portraits of community figures during this year’s Pride parade. They were shot by photographer Jorge Rivas who has been busy with sessions for people wanting their photos taken for his Faces of Life exhibit. The opening reception with Rivas benefits AIDS Arms, Inc. and features some pretty amazing portraits.

DEETS: ilume Gallerie, 4123 Cedar Springs Road.  7 p.m. Through Dec. 15. ilumeGallerie.com.

Saturday 11.13

Dance the night away – three nights
The gay run Beckles Dancing Company participates in the South Dallas Dance Festival 10. The South Dallas Cultural Center hosts three days of dance and education with both a master class and performance on Saturday. Beckles is one of 17 companies included in the festivities.

DEETS: SDCC, 3400 S. Fitzhugh Ave. 8 p.m. Nov. 12–14. BecklesDancingCompany.org.

Thursday 11.18

Be the envy of your neighbors
You won’t get the boys with it, but you can bid on evergreen fabulosity at DIFFA’s Holiday Wreath Collection Event. Vie for that wreath your neighbors will all be jealous of. Unless they’re bidding with you. Which is good, because the auction benefits North Texas AIDS services organizations.

DEETS: Ritz-Carlton Dallas, 2555 N. Pearl St.  6 p.m. $50. DiffaDallas.org.

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

—  Michael Stephens