Classic Chassis Car Club of Dallas brings home awards from Golden Girls show

Classic Chassis Car Club of Dallas members recently returned with several awards from Golden Girls 2014, the annual car show organized by Classic Chassis Car Clubs of Texas hosted this year by CCCC Houston in Galveston. Classic Chassis Car Clubs of Texas is a division of Lambda Car Club International.

The show was held on Galveston’s Pier 21, with the backdrop of water and ship, and those attending said even the sudden cloudburst couldn’t spoil the day. The show was followed by an evening of entertainment, food, prizes and awards hosted at the Lone Star Flight Museum.

Golden Girl winners from Dallas this year are:

• Russ Johnson, “Best Truck” for his 2013 Ford F150 Lariat.

• Michael Smith, first place in the 1990s Open Division with his 1991 Figaro.

• David and Tom, second place in the 1980s Closed Division with their Pontiac Fiero.

• Robert Gamble, first place in the 1970s Open Division with his 1971 Olds Cutlass.

• James Gudat, first place in the 1970s Closed Division with his 1974 AMC Matador.

• Bill Allen, first place in the 1960s Open Division with his 1961 Olds Starfire. Allen also received the award for “Longest Distance Travelled.”

• Steve Slaughter, “Best in Show” and first place in the Pre-1949 Division with his 1938 Packard Six.

Next year’s Golden Girls show will be hosted by the Austin CCCC Chapter and will be on the Grand National Circuit of events for Lambda Car Club International. It will be only the second time in GG history a Texas club has hosted a Grand National; Dallas was the first to do so in 2004.

—  Tammye Nash

Stage Reviews: DTC’s ‘Arsenic & Old Lace,’ Uptown Players’ ‘Thank You for Being a Friend’

THINGS TO DO WITH A BANANA | Coarse but funny, ‘Thank You for Being a Friend’ forces its humor down your throat. There are worse things it could force down your throat.

Broad comedy

Pick your poison: Camp in sitcomland or two B’way pros hamming it up. Either way, you win

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

There are two sets of Golden Girls trodding the boards this week — though of very different ilks.

In one corner, Dallas Theater Center’s star-powered Arsenic & Old Lace (with Broadway vets Tovah Feldshuh and Betty Buckley) turns the chestnut-roasted Depression-Era dark comedy into a hilariously overplayed farce. At the same time, Uptown Players, the usual Kalita residents, have hightailed it into the Rose Room for Thank You for Being a Friend, another of their drag-based parodies, this time skewering The Golden Girls.

On the surface, the two shows have little in common. For one, Arsenic is actually well-written. Joseph Kesselring’s play has become such an institution, it’s easy to forget how subversive and smart it can be even as it revels in a gimmick: That two sweet ol’ ladies are actually well-intentioned serial killers of lonely widowers. (Dexter owes it a huge debt.) Thank You is nowhere close to that in its construction. Its vulgarity can be acute even for the most adult tastes. (Bea, Rue and Estelle are probably rolling over in their graves; it might send Betty to hers.)

But they do share a lot, to wit: Masterful comic timing and the ability to take the material — about post-menopausal broads — into fun recesses of your humor cortex.

Feldshuh and Buckley play off each other nicely as sisters Abby and Martha, who slip poison into the elderberry wine of pensioners who have no family. Their nephew Mortimer (Lee Trull, rubbery and perpetually astonished) discovers their, umm, “personal business” and tries to work out a way to stop them and keep them from the gas chamber.

Feldshuh, responsible for more mugging than Central Park on New Year’s Eve, has a pixieish energy that’s impossible not to get caught up in, and Buckley’s dotty cluelessness is a hoot. They are matched for comic clarity by Nehal Joshi as a quack doctor and the impressively imposing Jason Douglas as a Karloff-like villain.

But as much as the cast, the real star is Anna Louizos’ magnificent set, a rotating behemoth of Addams Family formidability that is practically its own character. That makes three grandes dames who deserve a bow.

There are four ladies vying for attention in Thank You; we’ll call that one a draw as well. Riffing on Golden Girls — renamed Dorothea (a basso profundo Lon D. Barrera, who still doesn’t sound butch enough … kidding), Roz (Chris Robinson), Blanchet (Michael D. Moore) and Sophie (John de los Santos) — it’s a trifle sitcom plot about a “girls vs. the gays” talent competition against Lance Bass (Drew Kelly), crammed full of more sex jokes than you could shake a stick at. (There’s one they can use.)

Crass? Most definitely. But also surprisingly hilarious. It helps that the production is staged inside a gay bar, where the audience seems primed to have a camptastic time. But honestly, it’s the cast that elevates the material with fearless performances (how do they keep referring to their singing group, Vaginal Discharge, without cracking up?) and loads of stage business that overcomes the script’s many weaknesses.

Director B.J. Cleveland gives the parody elements (showtunes, Beyonce videos, Joan Crawford) their due and let’s everyone have fun with it. High art? Only if you toke one up beforehand. I’m not saying you should or shouldn’t, but it’s not necessary. The laughs here are golden, girl.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition Feb. 18, 2011.

—  John Wright

Sam Harris posts free download for Valentine’s

Singer Sam Harris offers everyone a gift for this Valentine’s Day. And today only. He tweeted this a bit ago. Love the Golden Girls reference.

Harris’ Facebook then says this is “the Gospel version of ‘You’ve Got a Friend.’ Link valid Valentine’s Day only! Now’s the time to share the link to friends! Enjoy!” He turns the James Taylor (or Carole King, however you look at it) classic into a whole new spin with the backing choir and heavy beat. It’s always hard to beat the originals, but those aren’t free right now.

Now you can say you didn’t go empty handed on V-Day —like one of my co-workers keeps griping about.

—  Rich Lopez

Golden opportunity

MENOPAUSE MAYHEM | Men in drag tackle the classic TV character from ‘The Golden Girls’ in a show almost too racy to produce. (Photo by Mike Morgan)

Director B.J. Cleveland goes from kids to kink with trashy parody

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

B.J. Cleveland is gay, and in the theater, so spending every waking hour at Station 4 for the past week shouldn’t seem out of the ordinary. Only he’s having a different kind of fun from what you might expect.

“Very, very odd to be in a bar that’s deserted — it’s like being a kid in a candy store with no money,” he says with a wink. “It’s an empty bar but fully stocked, and you can’t touch a thing.”

By night for the past three weeks, Cleveland has met his cast and crew in the off-hours of the Rose Room, readying the latest camp spectacle from Uptown Players, Thank You for Being a Friend. Like the company’s two past shows in the same space — The Facts of Life: The Lost Episode and Mommie Queerest — it’s a parody of a gay fave, performed by men in drag: The Golden Girls.

Because it’s an unofficial send-up of the classic sitcom, the names have been tweaked: Rose becomes Roz, Sophia becomes Sophie, etc. But, Cleveland insists, you’ll recognize all the characters and set-ups from the series.

“It takes place in the kitchen just like on the show, until the end where it moves to Shady Pines retirement center where the girls compete against Lance Bass to win a talent contest,” Cleveland says. “It’s basically a goofy 90-minute episode: Lance Bass has moved in next door and is having wild gay orgies. The girls take him a basket of dusty muffins to convince him to keep the noise down,” but things escalate.

Uh-huh.

You won’t just recognize the Golden moments, either — this is a musical, with some original songs and alterations of Broadway standards: There’s some Dreamgirls, Chicago, Gypsy and 9 to 5 thrown in for good measure — even a spoof of Madonna’s “Vogue” video. And all played by men in dresses.

Cleveland almost didn’t do the show. He was asked by producers Jeff Rane and Craig Lynch to read the original script and offer his insights.

“It was a lot raunchier,” he says. “It went just a little too far over the line, and some stuff that really would not work,” especially in a space where TABC has strict rules about what can happen in the presence of alcohol. But a few rewrites later, Cleveland had signed on.

It’s a far cry from his current day job. In addition to his teaching gig, Cleveland is huffing and puffing his way through a Three Little Pigs play at the Dallas Children’s Theater; when he’s done there, he high-tails it to Cedar Springs and the nastiest old ladies this side of Wasilla.

“It’s a chance to blow off steam and be show-trash,” he says. “It’s like uncorking the cheap champagne at night after the children have gone to bed. This is definitely a have-a-cocktail, come-see-a-show-in-a-different-environment theater. The show doesn’t end when the curtain comes down. You’re still at a bar.”

And maybe when the show opens, he’ll get that drink after all.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition Feb. 11, 2011.

—  John Wright

Top Republican TV shows are also gay favorites

‘Modern Family’ was No. 3 on the Republicans’ list.

A new study of TV viewing habits of Republicans vs. Democrats reveals something not surprising — that the two groups like completely different shows. What is surprising is that on the Republican list are more shows that are popular among the LGBT community than on the Democratic list.

Most glaring is the No. 3 Republican show — Modern Family. That program features one of the best portrayals of a gay family ever seen on television. And Ed O’Neill, the patriarch of the family, is married to a woman from Columbia who has moved to the United States with her son. Immigration is not usually a popular Republican theme.

At No. 12 is another very gay show, Desperate Housewives. Bree’s son is gay. There’s a gay couple living on Wisteria Lane. Marc Cherry, the show’s creator who earned his TV cred as a writer for Golden Girls, is gay. Gay, gay, gay. But it’s on the Republican favorites list, not the Democrats’.

Coming in at No. 2 on the Republican side is yet another gay favorite, Dancing With the Stars. I guess that explains Bristol Palin’s continued appearance. Next season there’s talk of a gay couple. The Israeli version of DWTS tried that this year and it’s become the most popular show in that country this season.

And No. 1 is Amazing Race, which usually features gay contestants. The winner of the fourth season was Reichen Lehmkuhl and his partner at the time Chip Arndt. Mel White has appeared. Are Republicans watching to root against these players?

On the Democratic side, the No. 1 show is something called Flashpoint. Really? It’s a CBS show apparently. No. 2 in popularity is a PBS show called Hometime. OK, did Democrats answer this poll seriously?

About the only two shows on the Democratic list that would also be up there on the LGBT list are Brothers and Sisters (No. 10), which features a gay couple living in a family of Democrats with the exception of one progressive Republican sister, and Palin-impersonator Tina Fey’s 30 Rock (No. 15).

Law and Order? Good show but sounds perfectly Republican, right? Nope. Democrats prefer that show. America’s Most Wanted on FOX? Democrats. Really?

Republicans prefer The Mentalist. Democrats prefer Medium. There’s a difference?

Glee? Not on either list.

Only one show made both lists — Friday Night Lights. Great choice by both sides. Republicans rate the show one notch higher than Democrats. The writing is smart, although I’ve never seen anyone actually stick to the script. It’s something other than a police or hospital procedural show. Great character development. Interesting plot. And I’m on the show. (I play a Dillon, Texas reporter on the sidelines of the football games and at press conferences on the show. It’ll be back for its final season in the spring.)

—  David Taffet

Uptown Players announces its 2011 season

On Tuesday night, Uptown Players hosted a nice turnout at the Kalita Humphreys Theater where they announced the roster for their 2011 season. They held off on announcing one production due to contractual reasons, but if it fits in with the rest, it should make quite a season — especially for the LGBT community. Joining Players producers Jeff Rane and Craig Lynch onstage was the cast of the upcoming show Closer to Heaven, the Pet Shop Boys musical which opens Oct. 1.

• Uptown Players will start the season with Thank You For Being a Friend, The Musical, a Golden Girls parody by Nick Brennan. Expect camp overdrive as the “women” aren’t too thrilled about a certain gay celebrity moving in next door. Who knew Lance Bass could be such a problem? The show runs Feb. 4–27 at the Rose Room inside Station 4.

• As part of the upcoming Foote Festival celebrating playwright Horton Foote, Uptown Players joins in with the regional premiere of his Pulitzer prize winning play, Young Man from Atlanta. The show runs April 1–17 at the Kalita.

• UP brings back Broadway Our Way in which local actors switch-hit showtunes. Men sing the women’s parts, vice versa and it’s a gay ol’ time. BOW runs May 6–15.

• The Twilight Zone theme played when they didn‘t announce their next show, which will run June 10–July 2. We know it’s a musical at least, but the official announcement will be made Feb.1.

• Victor/Victoria, the musical based on the Julie Andrews/James Garner 1982 film, will run July 29–Aug. 2.

• Personally, I thought their announcement of the Dallas Pride Performing Arts Festival was the most exciting. The fest will feature cabaret sets, performances and plays with the musical Crazy, Just Like Me by Louis Sacco and Drew Gasparini as the centerpiece. The fest coincides with Dallas Pride and runs Sep. 9–17. The full schedule will also be announced Feb. 1.

• Finishing off the season will be The Temperamentals, a new play by Jon Marans which opened this year off-Broadway. The site notes that the play “‘tells the story of two men – the communist Harry Hay and the Viennese refugee and designer Rudi Gernreich — as they fall in love while building the first gay rights organization in the pre-Stonewall United States.”

—  Rich Lopez

Kane’s ‘Why Am I Not Gay?’ has its ups and downs — but not tops and bottoms

Jason Kane
This ensemble is too straight to be gay — just like Jason Kane.

Last week, I talked with local actor Jason Kane and his new (to Dallas) one-man show Why Am I Not Gay? Growing up a fan of musical theater and the Pet Shop Boys, he apparently set off a lot of gaydar. In his show, he pokes fun at this throughout the years with a peppering of showtunes and pop songs (gay).

I hit up the show last night at Tucker’s Blues in Deep Ellum, which by the way, is an amazing venue. Kane, in appropriately drab clothing (straight) took the stage about 7:30 opening with a tune (gay) and launched into his monologue about the trials and tribulations of being mistaken for an M4M kinda guy.

Accompanying him, along with his music director Daniel Ezell, is a scoreboard with “G” and “S” and along the way, he added tic marks for his varying degrees of orientation (Get it? “G”ay, “S”traight.). With hilarious nods to  music preferences and The Golden Girls (way gay), he gains a whole lot of “G” marks, but counteracts with some of his more breeder-like tendencies that put “S” on the board. However, he didn’t employ this schtick enough. When he returned to the board, he was attempting to recall what he should have been marking which made for an awkward moment. Kane had great recovery time and easily whipped out (gay) snappy one-liners to compensate.

His audience threw him off his game a few times. Having friends come to your show is fine but some began mistaking his monologue for dialogue. Kane kept composure but high school tales that audience members begged for more information on upset song cues and rhythm.

Kane has great singing chops (gay). Sometimes the songs took a serious turn after a punchline, but a surprisingly beautiful voice emanated from this imposing gruff straight guy (closet gay). Add to that some key moments like his bear bar tale and explaining why every girl has become his BFF because “he doesn’t like vaginas.” Funny stuff.

The show could easily be misconstrued in a lot of ways. He uses “homo” enough to make any gay person wonder if he’s being derogatory (way straight). But then he relates how he’s always supported his LGBT friends and takes on issues like Prop 8 (gay-friendly). Admittedly, it took some time to process the show, but ultimately, I found it a fun piece that doesn’t just dole out the laughs, but leaves people, straight and gay, something to think about.

And yes, he’s straight — straighter than he thinks he is.

The show closes Thursday night: Why Am I Not Gay? at Tucker’s Blues, 2617 Commerce St. Aug. 19. 7 p.m. $10.

—  Rich Lopez

Rue McClanahan dies of massive stroke

Rue McClanahan and me
Rue McClanahan and me

Rue McClanahan died at 1 a.m. Thursday of a massive stroke.

She had bypass surgery last fall and was also a breast cancer survivor.

The former Golden Girl was in Dallas last September with Del Shores to perform a stand-up comedy show. She called her portion “sit-down” comedy.

I interviewed McClanahan by phone and was told I’d have 30 minutes. After an hour, she asked if she could run to the bathroom and then call me back. We spoke for another hour.

While on the phone with her, we recalled our favorite “Golden Girls” and “Maude” episodes. We recited lines to each other and laughed for an hour.

—  David Taffet