SWEET TOOTH: Touring this time holds a lot less pressure for Sugar & Gold’s Philipp Minnig

SUGAR SHOCK | Minnig, left, and Dobbratz bring a different kind of sexy back to the men of Dallas.

RICH LOPEZ  | Staff Writer
lopez@dallasvoice.com

When Philipp Minnig finds downtime between shows on a tour, he mines YouTube. Sometimes the videos serve as a source of inspiration for his music, but mostly, he’s just enjoying his free time. His current obsession is in a video which title translates to “The Doctors.” This prepares him for the next day’s show.

“I’m taking a break today researching,” he laughs. “I do have a hard job: Watching videos. But yeah, when we have any kind of downtime, that’s pretty much it for me. “

The frontman for the duo Sugar and Gold has had a hectic 2011, coming off an already busy 2010. The band toured last year for the disc Get Wet, which garnered the dance-rockers some nice acclaim. They turned around to release the EP Bodyaches and are back on the road stopping at the Jack Daniel’s Saloon this Saturday. Only this time, the two-month tour is less of a job and more of a party.

“When we toured the record we had to do that whole promo push,” he says. “After you just finish a record, there is a lot to deal with. Personally I get sick of my face and the record that goes along with it. But this time, we’ve been having a ball so far.”

While Minnig and bandmate Nicolas Dobbratz emphasize fun in their music, there is work to be done. But with an EP that contains two new songs and remixes from Wet, S&G didn’t have that much pressure with promoting the disc. The tour schedule is short and they planned for the show to be free-flowing.

“This just hasn’t been as daunting,” Minnig says. “We’re having fun with the wardrobe and we’re just loose onstage. The music is still tight but the relaxed feeling allows giving better shows with lots of spontaneous energy. And we’re having more fun with the crowds.”

A lot of those crowds are primarily gay. S&G has come to be closely identified with LGBT audiences due to their electronic dance grooves and a nebulous masculine tone. S&G are in that some dance rock vein as other gay faves Scissor Sisters and Of Montreal. In fact, the band is closely associated with OM in that musically incestuous way. If members of S&G aren’t touring with OM, then members from both are working on their side project Yip Deceiver, which is incidentally the opener for this show.

Minnig, who is straight, can see why LGBT audiences have embraced his band — especially the boys.

“Oh it’s wonderful. We’re big on male sensuality,” he says.

“Our music is about softening the male image and reintroducing sexiness to males. Male doesn’t have to be tough and uptight. It feels freeing when males in the audience are responsive to what your doing.”

Musically, Minnig comes from that indie queer background. He calls that scene his own and he found his music very active in underground gay communities. And that affects how he writes his tunes.

“To some degree, I toy with side projects and play with other musicians, but S&G is its own beast,” he says. “The way we write our music puts an individual spin on things.”

Even though he’s been feeling good about the chill approach to this mini-tour, Minnig is surprisingly anxious to be done with it.

Despite being non-stop the past couple of years, it’s like a drug for him to keep going.

“These shows have affected us positively,” he says. “Just on this leg, it’s such a pleasure hanging out with like-minded, electronically geeky, socially open people and that opens up inspiration. I’m psyched to get to the end of the tour because I wanna write already.”

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

—  John Wright

Hot 2 trotters

Couple Enrique MacGregor and Mark Niermann are back to Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving

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

MacGregor and Niermann
ON FOOT | MacGregor and Niermann call the Trot a family tradition. (Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)

While most of us will limit our exercise on Thanksgiving Day to waddling from the dining room into the living room to watch the Cowboys lose, Mark Niermann and Enrique McGregor will do the unthinkable: Run eight miles in the early hours of a holiday known for getting people fat, not thin.

Clearly, they don’t understand the occasion. But they are not alone: 40,000 North Texans turn out for one Thursday each year to support the Turkey Trot, now in its 43rd year.

It’s not as insane as it sounds, although both MacGregor and Niermann — who have been together for 14 years — do concede that traditionally, it’s cold in late November. But it’s also worth it.

“For the Turkey Trot, it’s more about having fun — it’s not a competitive race. It’s about thousands of people getting together on a festive occasion,” says MacGregor. “It’s a thrill — entire families will dress as turkey leg dads and cranberry kids and run together.”

Wait a minute: Exercise that comes with costumes? How come more gays don’t do this? Half could recycle their loincloths from Halloween and go as Native Americans.

But of course, many gays do participate — often with their families.

“We started seven or eight years ago when Enrique’s family started coming here for Thanksgiving,” says Niermann. “Thanksgiving is all about being together and having fun. I think it’s a great day to have the run.”

“It’s something to get people out of the house and get some fresh air,” adds MacGregor. “And Mark is trying to beat my nephew this year.”

While this couple always tackles the longer 8-mile course, there is also a 5K course for those less accustomed to jogging — though even that’s not a hard-and-fast rule.

“I think a lot of the people running the eight miles are not serious runners but the once-a-year kind who say, what’s the harm?” says MacGregor. Some even jog part of the way, they walk the rest — although he admits neither he nor Niermann do that. Both are in a more elite group of serious-minded athletes. Two years ago, they ran the White Rock Marathon together, and they routinely exercise by running several courses through their neighborhood.

Niermann notes, however, that they have both been traveling a lot lately and may find this race more challenging than in part years — though nothing like the marathon.

Sharing an affinity for athletics is nothing new to them — it actually kicked off their relationship.

“We met swimming,” says MacGregor. “The first time I ever said him was underwater at a public pool in Denver. Everything looks bigger underwater! He was in the next lane over. I turned and saw this little vision in a blue Speedo … and Mark was right behind that!”
Niermann laughs.

The Turkey Trot isn’t their only charitable venture. Niermann and MacGregor are co-founders of the Gay and Lesbian Fund for Dallas, which just celebrated it 10-year anniversary. That group started as a way to raise money to build the Latino Cultural Center, but has since increased its scope, donating more than $1 million for education, artistic and medical enterprises across the city.

The Trot, though, is more about tradition than fundraising for them.

“We always have a big dinner — this year about 40 people are coming,” says Niermann. “It’s really a reunion for Enrique’s family — they come from Maryland, Mexico, San Diego.”

“We also have a golf tournament the day after and hold a creative contest of some kind,” says MacGregor.

“And we have a contest for best sweet potato recipe, which I always win,” says Niermann.

The Trot takes place early enough that, aside from waking up early, it leaves plenty of time for the rest of the day to finish cooking, watch the Macy’s parade and football on TV. But the Trot remains a highlight.

“Even if you’re not a runner or a walker, the spectacle of seeing 40,000 people is an amazing experience,” says MacGregor. “Everyone can participate.”

“Plus it builds up your appetite for dinner later,” adds Niermann.

Pass the pumpkin pie — you’ve earned it.

Day-of registration is $30. For more information, visit TheTrot.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 19, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens

LSR Journal: Riding to meet the challenge, personal and charitable

Stacy McKinney Team Dallas Voice

Stacy McKinney
Stacy McKinney

Last January I started running, and I really enjoyed it. So for my 40th birthday, I decided to challenge myself and train for a half marathon. Within a few months of training with the Dallas Running Club, I ran the Heels and Hills and Him Half Marathon.

But since I wasn’t finished challenging myself, I decided to set myself the new goal of running a marathon. In December 2009, I completed the White Rock Marathon. It was an amazing experience.

But after completing my first marathon, I was looking for a way to change up my work out and do something different. So, I bought a bike and completed a duathlon.

Even though it was difficult, I fell in love with the bike. I decided right then and there to challenge myself to do even more. A few months later, a group of friends talked me into riding the MS150.

Riding for a cause gave me so much motivation.

A few months after that, I completed my first Sprint Distance Triathlon. Recently I joined Go3Sports Triathlon Team and have four more races coming up this year.

Normally, I ride three days per week, run several times a week, and swim daily. As you can see, I am a very active person who loves to challenge herself.

What you should also know about me is that I not only love participating in these sports and races, I love coming up with costumes for my races. It is all about having fun.

For years, I have played volleyball with DIVA, the Dallas Independent Volleyball Association, and participated in DIVA’s fundraising efforts for AIDS organizations. And it was friend I play volleyball with that told me about the Lone Star Ride Fighting AIDS.

He told me that when he rode in 2009, he had such a great experience and met lots of new friends. When I heard this, I got really excited because I love to meet new people and make friends.

So, I was like, “Sign me up!”

I joined Team Dallas Voice and started telling everyone about the ride. I actually convinced a few friends to join me. We just started training, but I have loved every moment of it so far.

What I’ve learned over this past year is that you can push your body to the limit as long as you stay focused and positive. I have a great support system with my husband, daughter and many, many friends, and they are the ones helping me stay focused and positive.

I am very passionate about riding with Lone Star Ride Fighting AIDS this year. Several of my friends are HIV-positive, and if I can raise money to help them just by riding 150 miles on my bike, then I am so happy to do it!

I am so excited to be a part of the ride this year and can’t wait to make tons of new friends and make a difference for people with HIV/AIDS.

You can make new friends and make a difference at the same time, too. Sign up to ride or crew, or make a donation to someone who is riding or crewing. It will take all of us working together to meet this challenge.

Stacy McKinney is a member of Team Dallas Voice. You can contribute to her or to any other Lone Star Ride participant online at LoneStarRide.org.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 30, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas