Size does matter

Dallas graphic designer John March turned his eye toward apparel with Big Ol’ Boy, his clothing line for bearish gents

Big-Ole-Boy

THE ORIGNAL BIG OL’ BOY March, left, was tired of having no fashionable choices in large-sized clothes; his line of tees and caps have given bigger men a reason to shop. (Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)

RICH LOPEZ  | Staff Writer
lopez@dallasvoice.com

When John March wants something done right, he does it himself — or rather, if he wants it to fit right, he makes it himself.

March was frustrated that comfortable clothing options for him and his bear friends were limited and hardly any fun stylewise. Most men would just, ummm, grin and bear it, but not March: With a few ideas and determination, he set out to create a line that offered quality clothes with some winks along the way.

“Bears, muscled guys and bigger men tend to be an underserved market when it comes to clothing,” March says. “Part of my marketing theory was to start with bears because I think of myself as a member of the community and I think I have an idea of what they like.”

A graphic designer by trade, March didn’t see much out there that was all that appealing from a design standpoint. At big and tall shops, apparel for larger men was either of poor quality, way overpriced or both. In essence, bigger men were sort of held hostage by not having anyone willing to make stylish clothes that fit.

That was the genesis of Big Ol’ Boy.

With some humor and a stockpile of sketches, last spring March started his online store of shirts and caps that cater to big guys. Ever since, he’s been making an impression in the community and beyond.

“We’ve had lots of women calling orders in for their own big boys,” March says. “There are companies out there that cater to bears, but it’s just sort of generic. I think we’ve seen that people embrace the idea of a brand and by creating an overall brand geared toward bears and big men, then they might appreciate the fact someone is thinking about them.”

Currently, March’s line is composed of short- and long-sleeved tees with whimsical designs.

Sport graphics and slogans such as “Big Ol’ Jock” with a jockstrap image or “Big Ol’ Biker Boy” that takes a spin off the Harley-Davidson logo have proved popular with his gay following. But his biggest seller is a Tabasco-like label with “Hot Stuff Spicy & Saucy” sprawled across it. You’d almost think he’d get sued for copyright infringement.

“Fortunately, I know enough about trademark and copyright laws to do this,” he says. “But I did check with my lawyer. The difference is that I’m using this as parody and not on a competing product. But I wanted to use images that are rooted deep in our sensibilities like the logo or constellations for the Ursa Major shirt.”

Of course, March targeted what he knew, and teamed up with the guys of BearDance and the Dallas Bears for this year’s Texas Bear Round Up. It was obvious but also a stroke of genius.

“The feedback has been great,” he beams. “We did sell some at the TBRU vendor market and we did well with the BearDance events. I plan to work with them in the future.”

March recently added to the Big Ol’ Boy with a new line of polos — his first addition to the brand. With more than 300 design concepts in his catalog, he expects to introduce a new graphic tee on a consistent basis.

“With the polos, guys can wear them to work,” he says. “We have other ideas for items beyond that even. With each new item, we want to grow to a point to offer a wide range of items, build a community of loyal customers and listen to what they want.”

Although he wouldn’t consider himself a fashion designer, he does include himself as a client, which helps in creating his looks. With a group of friends as his sounding board, he would say that Big Ol’ Boy very much reflects his sensibility — even if he is more a preppy than a T-shirt guy.

This being his first business venture, March had to learn fast. Whether it was translating graphic art onto fabric or learning the benefits of ringspun cotton, he’s found his groove.

“I would like people to discover this sort of organically,” he says. “Maybe they’ll see the shirt on somebody or run across it online. Sure I may not be much of a T-shirt person, but now I get to make my own and I’ve never seen one I didn’t like!”

To see the collection, visit BigOlBoy.com.

…………………………..

LOVE THIS T

TShirt2
Making activism fashionable, Revenge Is has created the “All Love Is Equal” tee (also a tank). Made of eco-friendly materials, the line means to spread the gay-friendly message that all people should have the right to marry … and look hot while saying it. Five percent of net sales benefit Marriage Equality USA.
RevengeIs.com.

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

—  Kevin Thomas

A cautionary tale for LGBT travelers

Allan Turnipseed

Murder of former Dallas resident in Mexican state of Jalisco should remind us never to get too comfortable, anywhere we live

DAVID WEBB  |  The Rare Reporter

No one knows what thoughts flashed through American expatriate Allan Turnipseed’s mind during the last moments of his life in his Mexican retirement home on Lake Chapala last month.

But they surely must have been thoughts tinged with shock and disbelief.

It was a turn of events that likely came about because the former Dallas resident became too comfortable in a foreign country plagued by violence. He may have let down his guard and placed trust in young strangers whose minds harbored deadly thoughts.

Turnipseed’s 40-year partner, Bob Tennison, reportedly discovered the 62-year-old lying face down in a hallway of their home. The victim’s assailants tied his hand behind his back and shot him in the head, according to published Mexican reports.

Two homeless, teenage Hispanic brothers, who were known associates of a street gang, confessed they had forced their way into the home to rob it. They killed Turnipseed after he threatened to turn them in to police, according to the reports. They allegedly took the equivalent of about $1,000 and a Toyota pickup from the scene before going shopping to purchase tennis shoes and clothing, as well as marijuana and food.

The shocking crime cut short the life of a respected member of Dallas’ LGBT community who had owned a local business and participated in the Stonewall Business and Professional Association. The prominent graphic designer — who was born in Canada, grew up in Dallas and graduated from the University of Texas at Arlington — also left behind several grieving relatives and many close friends.

It appears that Turnipseed had become as socially and charitably active during his seven-year residence in his Mexican community as he had been in Dallas. That probably led to a false sense of security that many tourists and expatriate residents tend to develop in Mexico.

I know that because of my frequent trips over the past two decades to Puerto Vallarta, which is 204 miles west of Guadalajara and Lake Chapala in the same state of Jalisco.

About four years ago, I was robbed on the street in Puerto Vallarta. I had become so comfortable visiting the city that I walked back to my hotel on the beach from a downtown nightclub one night, confident that no harm could come to me.

As I walked toward my hotel, two friendly young Mexican men joined me on the sidewalk. They walked beside me, asking me all of the questions to which I had become accustomed from the tribe of young hustlers that prowl the beach by day and the streets by night.

Suddenly, one of them was grabbing my wallet out of my pants pocket and the other one was sprinting down the street like a football player. He caught the pass of my wallet through the air, and both of them disappeared into the night.

I was lucky. The robbery consisted mostly of subterfuge. But it could just have easily gone very badly in different circumstances with the use of a knife or gun.

As it happened, I only lost a couple of hundred dollars, my credit cards and my peace of mind.

Some would say I was asking for trouble by walking alone at night, and I’m sure that’s true. I would never do the same thing in Dallas, which goes to show how comfortable I used to feel in Puerto Vallarta.

I imagine Turnipseed felt the same level of comfort. After all, he was in his own home, opening the door to a knock from a couple of teenagers with whom he had came into contact through a friend, who reportedly had given the youths food and shelter. The pair of brothers, who reportedly were American citizens abandoned by their parents, were a familiar sight in the community.

What Turnipseed might not have known is that many residents knew the two youths had reputations as thieves.

What I have come to realize is that known criminals commonly circulate in the midst of tourists on the beach and at other public places without interference in Mexico.

That information usually is gleaned only from bartenders and waiters, who either take a liking to a tourist or just don’t want to see a good source of tips disabled or permanently eliminated.

Mexico is an enchanting country, and most of its inhabitants are good people. But it has always been a much more dangerous destination than some people realize, and Turnipseed’s murder is not the first grisly attack on American residents on Lake Chapala.

While most of the recent Mexican violence can be attributed to the drug cartels’ wars with each other and the government, it likely has also created an atmosphere where human life is considered by criminals to be less valuable.

Mexico is a favorite destination for many LGBT tourists from Texas, and many people have successfully retired or maintain vacation homes there. Publicity about Turnipseed’s murder is unlikely to change that.

But hopefully it will be a strong reminder to all Americans that caution is more critical than ever when undertaking travel south of the border.

David Webb is a former staff writer for the Dallas Voice. E-mail him at davidwaynewebb@yahoo.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition Feb. 4, 2011.

—  John Wright