Starvoice • 05.20.11

By Jack Fertig

CELEBRITY BIRTHDAY

Pam Grier turns 62 on Thursday. The iconic actress helped defined the blaxploitation film movement of the ’70s with Coffy and Sheba, Baby. She resurfaced in Quentin Tarantino’s Jackie Brown which she followed up with her role as the fun-loving Kit Porter in the lesbian drama The L Grier1Word. She came to Dallas last year to promote her bio Foxy: My Life in Three Acts.

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THIS WEEK

Pluto and Eris, both in hard aspect to the sun, bring out everyone’s competitive streak, crank up the stakes and complicate the struggle. Communication is the key, which means you have to listen very carefully.

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GEMINI May 21-Jun 20
You’re sexy as hell. So what? You really need to buckle down to work and think hard about the future. You may not like what your friends are telling you, but they have good advice. Pay attention.

CANCER Jun 21-Jul 22
Your imagination is a trap sucking you away from much needed work, but it’s also a powerhouse to fuel your ambitions. Stay focused. Your partner is there when you need attitude adjusting.

LEO Jul 23-Aug 22
Get ready to lose an argument. Getting rid of something you’re sure of can be the best thing that could happen. Deluxe bonus: Being an open-minded good sport will be mighty sexy.

VIRGO Aug 23-Sep 22
Achieving your goals takes some shrewd maneuvering. Be careful whom you trust. Your mate has helpful insights, even if they are sneaky. Better ideas come while away from work.

LIBRA Sep 23-Oct 22
Explore new ideas to your health regimen. Competitive sports help keep you healthy. Competing with yourself counts. Keep it cheap. A library book can be better than a gym membership.

SCORPIO Oct 23-Nov 21
Verbal aggression helps you get ahead. A little creative writing —journaling, imagined dialogue or a short story — can help you find the words you need.

SAGITTARIUS Nov 22-Dec 20
If you’re looking for true love, get involved in an arts program and let go of expectations. Keeping a love you have will require abandoning expectations and working some of your creativity.

CAPRICORN Dec 21-Jan 19
You come off way too strong in a turf war. The resulting argument exposes old resentments but starts a healing process. Well, it could, but that won’t be easy.

AQUARIUS Jan 20-Feb 18
Struggle between your deepest desires and economic necessity feels brutal. A light, playful conversation with your partner  can help you find a way to afford your dreams, or find reconciliation.

PISCES Feb 19-Mar 19
A siege mentality at home will not solve any problems, and instead make them worse. Same old tactics get same old results. Keep your mind on long-range goals and entertain new ideas.

ARIES Mar 20-Apr 19
Clear the air and get something off your chest, but how you do that can make motivations look nasty and bring similar results. Confide in your partner, or look for guidance from your boss.

TAURUS Apr 20-May 20
Give yourself room to vent. Everyone’s feeling the pinch. Economic problems are everywhere, but holding the pressure in and stewing silently only undermines your ability to cope.

Jack Fertig can be reached at 415-864-8302 or Starjack.com

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition May 20, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Body & Fitness Spring 2011: Table of Contents

Scent from above: Michelle Bardwell offers aromatherapy like you’ve never experienced it at her new Flower Road Natural Therapies studio

Excess baggage: Admitting to yourself that you don’t use your gym membership is the first step to recovery — the next is figuring exactly what to do now that you’re over it

Back for GOOD: With an ounce of prevention, you can be chiropractically perfect in every way

Dirty britches: While preparing for the daunting DFW Mud Run, four people found fun, fitness and fellowship with one goal in mind — to finish

Four steps to a healthier new year

Gym roundup

—  John Wright

Body & Fitness: Excess baggage

Duke Nelson, above, opts for the more personal environment and one-on-one training he gets at Trainer Daddy Fitness Studio. Smaller facilities are trending as an alternative to big gym memberships. (Photo by Rich Lopez)

Admitting to yourself that you don’t use your gym membership is the first step to recovery — the next is figuring exactly what to do now that you’re over it

RICH LOPEZ | Staff Writer

Drat those New Year resolutions. Every year for the majority of the population, the first day of the new year is the day to start getting in shape. With the onslaught of gym membership advertisements offering steals of a deal, joining one is clearly the right thing to do. Hey, this writer did it.

The only thing is — weeks (and in some cases months) later, you can count the check-ins on one hand. In the meantime, you’re bank account is depleted on a monthly basis. Frustrated? Broke? Buyer’s remorse? Join the club. But there are some options on what to do with that membership.

Cancel your membership: Well, this is the obvious first step. Hopefully you’ve signed on to a monthly plan that will make this a whole lot easier. Just be strong.

“When you let a health club or fitness center continue to bill you for a membership that you no longer use you are throwing money away,” local trainer J.R. Brown says. “I believe they pick a price point that you won’t miss every month and hope that canceling is just too much work and some gyms make the cancellation process almost impossible.”

A recent call to 24 Hour Fitness to cancel a membership was, overall, easy. But they didn’t go down without a fight. Brown has definitely seen this first hand.

“We will offer you a coupon for an hour of personal training while you reconsider,” said Raymond (just Raymond) at 24 Hour’s membership services line. So if you change your mind, you get the coupon — not get the coupon to change your mind. It was baffling but felt, you know, wrong.

After that was declined, an offer of putting the membership on hold was next. A monthly expense of $38 was being charged, but for $7 a month, it would go on hold for six months. Since it was akin to paying for nothing, this wasn’t overly enticing.

Once Raymond had finished his attempts, he was quite amiable about the total cancellation. The customer service was good and compelling, but never aggressive or guilt inducing.

Sell that sucker: Bigger named gyms likely don’t allow this, but check with your smaller ones. Less corporate types just want to be sure they get paid. Head to Craigslist to post or even buy a membership.

Consider gym alternatives: Yes, it’s nice to think you’ll be going every day after work to the gym, but try to be realistic . Do you have commitment issues? Do crowds bug you?

Consider a training studio that offers training in a smaller gym environment rather than a place to go to with gym equipment.

“At least spend the money where it will do you some good,” Brown adds.

His studio, Trainer Daddy, offers working out in a different fashion and the trend is growing among newer mixed-use developments and their in-house gyms. Trainers work with residents and, of course, clients offering supervised training rather than leaving you to your own devices. Plus, if they are like Brown, there can be no monthly fee and you can skip the crowds.

“Some people prefer a more private environment and they only get charged for training,” he says.

Wait it out: This isn’t about sticking it to the gyms out there. Sometimes we don’t read the fine print and just have to stick with what we started with. This is the time to research what the gym offers that may interest you. Classes may have more appeal than working out without direction. Network with people you know to workout as a group or in pairs. And gyms like 24 Hour offer online fitness training available to members.

The website eHow.com covers the topic of how to motivate yourself in going to the gym. They suggest to “think of the gym as a place to relax, not to work… as a change of scenery from the office and the house, not something obligatory.”

Yeah, right.

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

—  John Wright

Gay couple accuses Baylor-owned gym of ‘draconian and bigoted practices’

For the second time in less than a year, a popular East Dallas gym owned by Baylor Health Care System is under fire for blatantly discriminating against gay couples.

Last May, a gay couple filed a discrimination complaint against the Tom Landry Fitness Center, which has a stated policy of refusing to offer family memberships to same-sex couples. The couple’s complaint was filed under a city of Dallas ordinance that prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation in public accommodations.

However, the couple later withdrew the complaint after they said city officials told them the Tom Landry Fitness Center may be exempt from the ordinance because it’s a private club.

Now, another gay couple plans to file its own discrimination complaint against the Fitness Center if the policy isn’t reversed. Alan Rodriguez, who recently moved to Dallas with his partner of 10 years, says he was told by the director of the Fitness Center that Baylor defines family as “one man and one woman.”

Rodriguez, who’s renovating a home on Gaston Avenue with his partner, said he chooses to live and work in Dallas largely because of the ordinance prohibiting anti-gay discrimination. He also said he goes to the Fitness Center for allergy shots and considers the gym a “neighborhood friend,” but was shocked to learn about the family membership policy.

“It is clear Baylor has taken the position to discriminate against gay people with respect to family gym membership. It is also clear Baylor has a regimented policy excluding domestic partners from the definition of ‘family,’” Rodriguez wrote Tuesday in a letter to a Baylor executive that was also sent to Instant Tea. “Therefore, I must conclude your organization also believes it lawful to discriminate against gay people regarding other medical services. Clearly, your organization considers this policy a legal form of discrimination. It remains unclear the extent to which this policy permeates all Baylor operations. Such draconian and bigoted practices are unthinkable in 2011.”

—  John Wright

America’s next top (role) model?

‘A List Dallas’ casting stuts out one gay couch potato even before getting started. You might be luckier

RICH LOPEZ  | lopez@dallasvoice.com

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GETTING DOUCHEY WITH IT Wanna know how to go from d-bag to A-list? This writer may not know, but he’ll get you started. (Arnold Wayne Jones Dallas Voice)

Using my connections, I could get into most snazzy events in Dallas if I, you know, tried. I know enough highfalutin’ types to be able to drop a few names. This all comes with the territory of working for a newspaper — kinda A-list, right?

Maybe not so much. Along with all that comes a journalist’s salary, a nine-year old Ford Escape without a radio and a gym membership that rarely gets used. I might call it more D-list, though even Kathy Griffin is a rung up from me.

So when I heard The A List, Logo’s new reality series, was casting in Dallas, it was without question I’d need to apply. TV stardom could be my way to the big time, and since I can’t find a reliable Amazing Race partner, this could be my ticket. Already, thoughts of an auto-tuned dance album filled my head.

The first step was the online application, where I saw these words in the intro: “…presents the unprecedented invitation to the ‘A List’ in the age range of 20–mid 30s…” At 38, I might already be out of the game before filling in the first blank. But audacity is an A-list quality, so I proceeded. But I was gonna need help.

“Anyone can apply online, and if you fit what the network’s looking for, we’ll interview you,” said Chad Patterson, casting agent for the Dallas version of the show. “It’s my job to make each applicant an individual and stand out on their own.”

Patterson is in town this week through Dec. 19 doing follow-up interviews after an initial cut, but don’t think you can crash the sessions. Only those with stellar applications are invited to meet. (But you can still apply after he’s gone.)

As I filled in my name, occupation, etc., I halted at the blank for a MySpace/website address. Um, MySpace was A-list like five years ago. Hello! Maybe this is a list I don’t wanna be on.

The inevitable body image complex came up. The app asks for height and weight, which I get. Then it asked for my body type and waist size. Despite what Patterson told me, there seemed to be a specific response needed here.

“There are no wrong answers when applying to a reality show. This is all to uncover the reality of you,” he said. Yeah, but I needed more convincing that anything above a 31 inch waist wasn’t an immediate cut.

The app went on to ask about my relationship and if I have children; my personality type and why I think I’m fabulous — all easy enough. Then it listed celebs like Brad Pitt, Anderson Cooper, Madonna and Rachel Maddow as “dream date” choices. For some reason, Stone Cold Steve Austin wasn’t an option. This actually excited Patterson and he kinda made me believe I could be on the show. He’s that good.

“See? This is where your unique personality shines through,” he said. “You might be what we’re looking for, this anti-establishment guy who doesn’t buy into all the bullshit.” It was like he was looking into my soul over the phone.

What he doesn’t want, he said, is the self-entitled queen who thinks he’s fabulous just because. Patterson is looking for specifics as to what makes an applicant A-list material. A heavy helping of personality goes a long way, though he admitted he wouldn’t mind stereotypes.

“We do want to make it specific to Dallas so I’d love to find a gay boy who’s parents are in the oil business or even a gay cowboy. Stereotypes in certain regions will make it unique.”

Oh, that’s another thing: Patterson used the term “boy” a lot. This worried me.

“Yeah, it’ll be fun to have a few boys that are actually A-list, but we’re not ruling people out if you’re a go-go boy who’s broke but knows how to work it,” he said.

He wanted to offer one piece of advice to all the Dallas men (er, boys) who apply. Because there isn’t a guarantee the show will be cast like New York, there’s no telling the direction it could go.

“You shouldn’t decide it’s not for you before applying,” he said. “Just be open to it. There are no points off for anything.”

Until they read my application; which, at that point, it’s back to finding that Amazing Race partner.

To apply online, visit TheAList Casting.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 10, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas