TCBY to fill in Red Mango spot at ilume

Outside of the location on Abrams and Mockingbird, I really hadn’t thought TCBY was still much in the froyo game, but today’s drive-by proved me wrong. I was slightly stunned when Red Mango quietly closed about three months ago, but it doesn’t look to be an empty space much longer — or even stop selling yogurt. TCBY moves in soon.

The sign has actually been up since the Pride parade, Eric Pederson told me.

“We’re very excited to have them here,.” Pederson of the Crosland Group said. “We’re hoping that the shop will be up and running by Dec. 1.”

Pederson handles the retail leasing for the ilume. There is still some paperwork and permits to complete, but Pederson foresees the location to be a great addition to the gayborhood. Unlike the Lakewood location, this TCBY may go with the self-serve format like many of the newer froyo shops. Perhaps TCBY is finding its competitive spirit again.

—  Rich Lopez

COVER STORY: Brunch meets nightclub

MIMOSAS AND DRAG | In gay culture, brunch is a major social and culinary event, where fancy eggs benedict (like that at Dish, above left) and bottomless mimosas are standard issue. But they are becoming more fun, with drag queens part of the morning’s entertainment at Dish and Axiom Sushi Lounge in the ilume, and ZaZa’s Sunday School brunch (above right) serving up sparklers, DJs and girls dancing on tables. (Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)

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Sunday brunch in Dallas’ LGBT community has evolved into much more than just a meal; it’s a way to keep the weekend party going

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

Mad Men portrays the 1960s white businessman’s three-martini lunch. The Golden Girls ate cheesecake late night around a kitchen table. Carrie always sipped cosmos with the girls during cocktail hour while gossiping at the local club.

But in gay culture, the ritual of a Sunday brunch has long served as a social nexus, a place where all the major deals are made — and the arbiters of local society convene to hold court in the sobering light of day.

Putting together the right crew is part of the finesse that comes with planning the ideal brunch experience. “Not all my friends get along so I have to juggle it,” says one brunch regular.

“I usually have a herd of about five [regular brunch buddies],” says Joshuah Welch, who manages the ilume property where two tenants — the restaurants Dish and Axiom Sushi Lounge — have recently initiated theme brunches. Today, though, it’s just Welch and one other friend: “I was in a coma until 15 minutes ago,” Welch said.

Nursing a hangover is definitely another purpose of the brunch trek: Where else can you have food and alcohol on a Sunday morning to satisfy the twin desires to ease your headache and fill your belly? But the hangover element can affect where you choose to meet your friends. A place with loud music isn’t necessarily all that welcome when you’re sound sensitive, one diner — wearing sunglasses inside — ruefully admits as the music strikes up.

And there’s definitely music, highlighting the latest local trend in brunching: Turning the traditionally staid eggs-benedict-and-mimosa chatfest into something more like a nightclub bathed in sunshine.

The glam world of the party brunch is upon us.

Gays, of course, have always made brunch more a social function than a dining one — at least in urban areas. (Out-of-towners visiting Dallas say the gay community in Northwest Arkansas does not gather routinely for brunch.)

While a hearty meal accompanied by some hair o’ the dog is a reason for brunch, it is by no means the only one. Sunday in the gay community can be akin to a war room strategy session.

“You meet to plan your week — decide what you’re going to do for Sunday Funday,” says regular bruncher Eli Duarte.

“Where else can you find our community gathered in the daylight?” asks Tim O’Connor, another diner, with a hint of sarcasm. “There are not a
lot of places to do that outside the Strip, though it can be a kind of continuation of the bar scene.”

That social aspect has caught on in the broader community, and has even been raised a notch of late in Dallas.

At Dish one recent Sunday, 200 to 250 diners are expected to enjoy the morning’s entertainment. It doesn’t come from a pianist playing songs from “Your Hit Parade,” but rather a dance-mix DJ spinning tunes louder than Grandma would probably enjoy. And that’s not the half of it: Midway through the day’s two brunch seatings (one at 11 a.m. another at 1 p.m.), Dallas drag divas Krystal Summers and Erica Andrews rend the control booth from the DJ to put on a full show for the Taste of Drag Brunch.

Taste of Drag doesn’t take place every Sunday — on special occasions like Mother’s Day a more traditional service is offered — but owner Tim McEnery says they try to do it once or twice a month. And it’s not just for the gay community.

“It really is for everyone,” McEnery says.

CHAMPAGNE | ZaZa’s Sunday School brunch serves up camp with their frittatas. (Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)

Anecdotal evidence tends to bear that out. When I mention to a middle-aged straight woman that I am headed to a drag brunch, she excitedly asks where. “I need to know where I can see a good drag show,” she declares enthusiastically. At Dish, there certainly is a mix of gay and straight folks, though queerer heads prevail.

McEnery doesn’t claim to have invented the drag brunch, but he thinks it’s high time Dallas has one. It’s been a staple in cities like San Francisco and New York for years, but has only recently gained currency outside the coasts.

On this particular Sunday, the first seating already has a nine-top (including two women — one, a former New Yorker who notes that brunch has burgeoned as a social event since she moved to Dallas); across from it, five diners, including four well-appointed women in sundresses and espadrilles, their makeup and hair obviously fussed over, have taken a prime location to watch the shows.

A decent-sized crowd fills in the 11 a.m., which is generally less well attended than the later — not surprising in the gay community, several brunch regulars quickly note.

“Part of the point of brunch is to see and be seen,” acknowledges Welch, who is not at all surprised by the girls who turned up at 11 in full, flawless makeup. “People dress up to come here.”

Of course, gays and straights can mingle together or separately anywhere in town during brunch, though there is certainly a concerted effort at Dish — which is located along Cedar Springs — to make Sunday morning feel like an extension of Saturday night.

STEAK AND EGGS | Brunch is a social function, with friends attending in crews where they enjoy a little alcohol along with steak and eggs to keep the Saturday night party going like this group at Dish. (Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)

“Who went to church today?” asks Andrews of the Dish crowd. “I did, but I still smell like last night at the Rose Room.”

Doing the Taste of Drag Brunch, she says, makes performing on the weekend almost run together.

“It’s a different group than I see at the Rose Room,” says Summers. “And we tend to do different music on Sundays — more classic drag. But it’s a perfect time to catch up with friends, to talk about how your week went.”

Over at the Hotel ZaZa ballroom, the third Sunday of every month morphs into Sunday School Brunch, where staff dress as nerdy bookworms and sexy Catholic school girls for a prix fixe menu that comes with a bottle of champagne per couple.

But it’s not just the costumes and food that attract the crowd; indeed, many attendees pay the $10 SRO cover just for the entertainment: Around 2 p.m., the lights dim, the curtain pulls back and the brunch room turns into a naughty discotheque, replete with sparklers, women dancing on the bar, mood lighting and a pounding dance beat.

Today’s a mixed crowd — “about 50-50 [gay-straight] observes one regular, “though it’s often ’mo central.”

The crowd is up and dancing before long, with muscular men in surplus among the attendees as the music gets louder and the lights dimmer. The sunglasses stay on. Gossip can wait; for now, there’s still some partying left to do.

—  John Wright

Arts notes … and some things to do this weekend

5 Women extends run at CTD

Five Women Wearing the Same Dress, a catty Southern-fried (and queerish) comedy about bridesmaids that’s in a fun production at Contemporary Theatre of Dallas, has extended its run. Rather than closing this Sunday, you get an extra weekend to see the show (which I reviewed here). The additional performances will be Friday, July 15 and Saturday, July 16 at 8 p.m. and a 2 p.m. matinee on Sunday, July 17.

Ease on Down the Road to Wyly tonight

The Dallas Theater Center holds a pay-what-you-can performance of the new show, The Wiz, tonight at 8, but before that you can come to a street party in the Arts District, starting at 5 p.m.

Tiff’s Treats opens this weekend in Plano

I don’t mind admitting that I am addicted to Tiff’s Treats, the local company that delivers warm, delicious, fat-, calorie- and cholesterol-free (OK, I make up those last ones) cookies. They come in a metal lined box — how can you not love these? There are now three Tiff’s Treats stores in the Metroplex, and the fourth opens this weekend. You can come the pre-opening event on Saturday, where sales will benefit the Make-A-Wish foundation, with the grand opening on Sunday. The locale is 5750 State Highway 121.

Dish holds Drag Brunch Sunday

Dish Restaurant in the ilume continues its monthly drag brunch on Sunday, with hosts Krystal Summers and Erica Andrews. There are two seatings, at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., with a flat $25 including bottomless mimosas.

Page One opens July 15

In today’s print edition, we reviewed the documentary Page One, but the movie is not opening today but rather next Friday, July 15, at the Angeilka Fil Centers in Plano and Mokingbird Station.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

There’s still time to get your face on

Last fall, local photographer Jorge Rivas started a project to get celebs (including supermodel Jan Strimple, above) and activists to loan their faces to a campaign to raise awareness for HIV/AIDS. Since then, it has caught on, and hundreds of photoshoots later, Rivas’ Faces of Life series has become as distinctive as Adam Bouska’s NOH8 campaign. You don’t need to be HIV-positive, or even gay, to do your part — just willing to have your photo taken by a professional with a keen eye.

This Saturday, June 4, during Razzle Dazzle, you can participate in what will likely be the last local opportunity to be part of Faces of Life. Just stop by the ilume Gallerie at the ilume on Cedar Springs at any time between noon and 6 p.m. (no appointment required), and bring your checkbook: $50 for singles, or a steal at $75 for couples, families and groups, and Rivas will help to make you part of history … and part of art.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

UT Southwestern marks HIV Vaccine Awareness Day

DAVID TAFFET | Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

UT Southwestern’s Dr. Mamta Jain will be at ilume on May 18 to give a presentation on the necessity for an HIV vaccine.

Jain is heading a clinical trial of a vaccine that may help researchers understand how the immune system may prevent HIV. They are trying to understand why some people who are HIV-positive develop AIDS while others do not.

The study began last September but participants for the trial are still needed.

Jain said that participants cannot contract HIV from the vaccine.

“The vaccine is composed of man-made proteins that are found in HIV, not the HIV virus itself,” Jain said. “The vaccine cannot cause infection.”

Participants will receive three shots of either the vaccine or a placebo plus a booster shot in the first six months. Then they will return every three months for an HIV test, interview and risk-reduction counseling.

The study runs for three years.

Investigators are looking for gay men or transgender women who have sex with men who are between the ages of 18 and 5o and are HIV-negative. Testing to qualify would be done at UT Southwestern.

Jain will speak in the Great Room and Champagne Lounge at ilume, 4123 Cedar Springs Road on May 18 at 5-7 p.m. Free.

—  John Wright

Pink Noise: The Dallas Voice Podcast

 

In this week’s episode we talked about continuing changes on the Cedar Springs strip, including the Melrose Hotel’s plans for The Bronx Cafe property; the sale of the ilume building; the remodeling project at JR’s; the apparent snags in the plan for Buli Cafe to become Shakers piano bar; the controversy over Maple & Motor Burgers & Beer; and much more.

—  John Wright

ilume for sale — presumably to raise equity for second phase of Cedar Springs development

An artist’s rendering of ilume when it was in the planning stages

The Dallas Morning News reported Thursday that the ilume building on Cedar Springs Road is for sale. A brief story in the newspaper mentioned this fact without much supporting information, merely that another company had it listed for sale.

This would be surprising, though there may be an explanation. On Wednesday night, I spoke with Luke Crosland, owner of the property. Crosland has long promised Phase II of the ilume development, slotted to go up on the lot catty corner from the current building (across Wycliff from the Kroger).

Crosland told me that they would be breaking ground “soon” on the new development. I had previously heard as early as May. Crosland said he was in the process of arranging the equity financing — in the more than $100 million range — for a series of ilume developments across the country. Perhaps sale of the building is part of the package raising that equity?

We have left messages with Crosland seeking more info and will update this post as soon as we have more information.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

The newly opened Fin Sushi Lounge at ilume will henceforth be known as Axiom Sushi Lounge

It’s only been open a few months, but Fin Sushi Lounge at ilume on Cedar Springs is already changing its name.

The owners of the restaurant say it will henceforth be known as Axiom Sushi Lounge, and the rebranding will be complete by May 1. The new name better aligns the restaurant with the Sushi Axiom brand, according to a press release. Sushi Axiom has four other restaurants in Burleson, Dallas and Fort Worth.

“Fin Sushi Lounge name was originally chosen to reflect the unique concept the company developed in Dallas but it was a source of confusion with longtime customers from our other locations,” said Christine Buczek, general manager of Axiom Sushi Lounge. “The new Axiom Sushi Lounge name eliminates that confusion and better leverages the strong reputation and customer satisfaction associated with Sushi Axiom brand.”

—  John Wright

Body & Fitness: Scent from above

Bardwell, above, not only uses natural essential oils in her therapeutic work, she also offers sessions teaching how to use the same oils for healthier cooking. (Photo by Arnold Wayne Jones)

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

STEVEN LINDSEY | Contributing Writer

That waft of vanilla and cinnamon coming from that candle on your kitchen counter? Yeah, no matter what the marketing says, that’s not aromatherapy. But there’s one woman who’s made a career of the science and is now in the neighborhood, ready to make people feel better, one drop at a time.

Michelle Bardwell, who calls herself the “green, gay Mary Kay,” owns Flower Road Natural Therapies, a business focused on the use of therapeutic-grade essential oils and other aromatic raw products for holistic therapies. Sure, most everything smells fantastic, but there’s so much more to aromatherapy than scent alone.

“Aromachology is when you’re trying to affect someone’s mind. You smell something and it brings back memories. You smell something and it reminds you to relax. It’s not necessarily that it goes into your body as an actual relaxant and works with the nerves, but it just reminds you to relax,” she says. “Sometimes you get a massage and smell lavender over and over until you get to the point where you smell lavender and you go into that same state of relaxation. Or you go into a house for sale and when you smell warm cookies, you want to buy the house because you like the smell and it brings back memories. That’s aromachology.”

The oils Bardwell uses at Flower Road, located in the ilume, are not your typical over-the-counter products, either. They’re highly regulated, pharmaceutical-grade oils.

“The oils come from France, but they’re distilled in countries like Madagascar, for example. They go through the French government, the American government, I even have an FDA number,” she says. “They’re organic, passing both the French and American standards, including the USDA. The man I studied with in France sells these oils to pharmacies in Europe.”

Bardwell sells oils to massage therapists who use them in various ways, but it’s her signature aromatherapy sessions that make for an incredible experience.

Utilizing soft-tissue techniques, the entire therapy is one of the most relaxing 90 minutes available. Unlike deep tissue massages where it can be impossible to relax with a massage therapist poking deep into your muscles, it’s easy to fall asleep at Flower Road — a very deep sleep.

After an initial assessment of your body chemistry, and current emotions and stressors in your life, she creates a chart of which areas to concentrate on, and which oils will be most beneficial. Walking over to her oil desk, filled with bottle after bottle of essential oils, she creates a custom formula based on what you need most.

That formula becomes the base she uses on you for every visit, though she may modify it with other essential oils based on any new developments, like if you feel the flu coming on. For that, she’ll likely incorporate Ravensara, an essential oil derived from a tree native to Madagascar with a scent similar to rosemary. Or if you need a little extra oomph in the bedroom, the addition of Vetiver will do the trick as it’s been praised for its aphrodisiac qualities for centuries.

During the near-silent treatment, she warms the body with heating pads so the essential oils are more readily absorbed into the blood stream. She traps the oil and prevents it from evaporating by covering the treated areas with plastic wrap. Meanwhile, she massages your legs and feet, and provides a lengthy, relaxing light-touch facial massage. Snoring is not uncommon.

The treatment ends with the enjoyment of hot tea made from essential oils, as well.

There are many applications for aromatherapy. She conducts lunch-and-learn sessions teachings people how to cook and incorporate essential oils into their diets. Massage therapists and other professionals can even become certified in aromatherapy under Bardwell’s teaching.

Aromatherapy is much different than what we’re used to hearing the term describe. And that’s partly because the United States is still farther behind other countries in terms of holistic therapies and products that are chemically manufactured in labs, not occurring naturally, and most definitely not organically.

“In other parts of the world, they’ve really started to incorporate all kinds of alternative medicine, so they have a better idea of what true aromatherapy is. Aromatherapy is about getting the essential oils in the body, not how it smells.”

Curious about experiencing the benefits of aromatherapy? Just follow your nose. Then get ready for so much more.

For more information, visit FlowerRoad.net.

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

—  John Wright

It’s not too late to be one of the Faces of LIfe

Ryan Baldwin at ilume sends along word that the project benefiting AIDS Arms Inc. is conducting another round of photo shoots today and Saturday at the ilume Gallerie. If you’re interested in being part of the project, stop by the Gallerie or call Ron Radwanski at 214-57-7369. The cost is a $50 donation for individuals or $75 for couples or families.

—  John Wright