Scenes from DIFFA’s runway show

1photo

For the second year, DIFFA’s gala went toward the glam of smoking jackets — you saw a lot less denim than in previous years, but just as much skin, with a runway show that popped with fabulosity. The drag queens from the Rose Room probably got the biggest ovation when they took the stage in all-out ownership; touchingly, in the program they dedicated their performance to their recently passed colleague, Erica Andrews.

But drag wasn’t the only look — there were some rockin’ designs, from a French Revolution theme to sexy men’s clothes (the men sometimes in high heels themselves) and of course the auctioned jackets. Add to that Sue Ellen herself, Linda Gray, helping with the live auction portion, and it was an event worthy of gala.

See more pictures after the jump.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

DIFFA announces Style Ambassadors

The DIFFA Collection will be back next spring, and once again Jan Strimple will be producing the runway show. But before that, it’s the Style Ambassadors who have to do a lot of the work. This year, 17 men and women have been tapped to represent DIFFA in the community, raising awareness and money for AIDS treatment and research. That’s two more than the usual high of 15. The ambassadors are Simona Beal, John Bobbitt, Marty Collins, Peter Dauterman, Tommy DeAlano,Deanna DiPizio, Malcolm Gage (pictured), Stephen Giles, Kandis Hutchinson, Daniel Lewis, LeeAnne Locken, Vivian Lombardi, Tom Mason, Lance Avery Morgan, Troy Schiermeyer, James Shackelford and Paige Westhoff. The announcement was made at Dish Restaurant in the ilume last week.

The event will take place, as it has in recent years, at the Hilton Anatole on March 23. For more information, visit DIFFADallas.org.

—  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

Back to the Drawing Board

 

NOT IN THE EYE! | The Dallas Collection will include some denim jackets and hot models, below, but co-creative director Jan Strimple and event director Steve Kemble, above, promise even more eye candy from a variety of disciplines.

DIFFA Dallas starts over with a new attitude and a new concept — but some experienced talent behind the scenes

ARNOLD WAYNE JONES  | Life+Style Editor | jones@dallasvoice.com
MARK STOKES  | Illustrator | mark@markdrawsfunny.com

2010 was a strange year for the Dallas chapter of DIFFA, the Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS.

On the heels of its 25 anniversary blowout, the group decided to bifurcate the main event last year: A collection of soft goods and accessories (pillows, hats, even doghouses) at a bash at Union Station, followed about a month later by the famed Collection, a runway show of denim jackets at a pricey gala to take place at the new Winspear Opera House, hosted by Queen Latifah.

Only Queen Latifah canceled. “We’ll reschedule,” DIFFA said.

Nothing.

No collection event took place that year, which may have been a good thing. With 2011 here, DIFFA is regrouping.

This is a rebuilding year, for sure, but also one with lots of promise. With co-creative director Jan Strimple back in charge, and Dallas doyen of style Steve Kemble serving as event director of DIFFA 2011 — branded Dramatically Different — there’s some starpower behind the scenes. And that promises to make for a spectacular, if unusual, show.

For one thing, the I in DIFFA represents a plural word: Industries. It’s not just about clothes. Yes, the event will take place at the Anatole; yes, there will be a cocktail reception where attendees can inspect the collection. But there will not be a runway show; instead, a sit-down dinner with live auction. The event used to end there; now it will transition into a lounge where people can enjoy one another and the various other fashion specialties making a contribution, from art to architecture to music.

It’s a great challenge for Strimple, one of the founders of DIFFA who returns to a management role.

“While [the] Dallas Collection is an astounding amount of work and takes a massive coordinated team effort, it’s also creatively rewarding because the non-commercial format allows my imagination to go wild,” says Strimple. “I have a lot of fun with what I call a ‘take no prisoners attitude’ towards designing the fashion components: kill them with glamour, seduce them with beauty, rock it out with the unexpected and leave ‘em begging for more!”

“I could not be more thrilled to be producing this year’s event,” adds Kemble. “DIFFA is such an important part of the fight against HIV/AIDS, and I know this fabulous event will bring even more attention and support to a worthy cause.”

Strimple sees the change in keeping with the development of AIDS research and treatment over the years, which this summer marks 30 years since its designation as a disease.

“DIFFA was on the forefront of funding services to the earliest victims as well as funding prevention education once the disease was fully understood. As AIDS reaches newer audiences, they are being caught unprepared. DIFFA’s stance on prevention education, combined with continued service funding, make it a key combatant in the new war on AIDS,” she says.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition April 8, 2011.

—  John Wright

2011 Readers Voice Awards: Entertainment

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ULTIMATE DRAG DIVA
Jenna Skyy

Hosts monthly GayBingo event at
the Rose Room inside Station 4,
3911 Cedar Springs Road
214-526-7171
Caven.com

Since this was the Ultimate Diva! edition of the Readers Voice, it behooves us to explore that aspect of gay culture for whom divadom seems inherent: The drag queen (of the 10 finalists, in fact, eight were drag characters). A diva certainly has attitude — and smarts, and talent, and personality — all of which describes Jenna Skyy, who in a few short years has becomes an essential part of the Dallas scene. But Skyy (aka Joe Hoselton) has something more still: A philosophy. Drag feels almost like a political statement the way Hoselton does it, an act of defiance. An act of Pride. She represents something great about being gay and out and open, whether she’s powering down the runway like Jan Strimple or revealing a costume of Gagaesque flamboyance — or, for that matter, calling numbers at GayBingo, the monthly AIDS fundraiser she co-hosts in the Rose Room — Jenna Skyy makes us happy to be … well, just to be.

— Arnold Wayne Jones

 

BEST LOCAL ARTS ORGANIZATION
Fahari Arts Institute

214-521-3362
FahariArtsInstitute.com

 

BEST LOCAL SINGER
Anton Shaw

AntonShawMusic.com

 

BEST LOCAL BAND
Anton Shaw and the Reason

AntonShawMusic.com


HORSING AROUND | Uptown Players had a banner season according to Voice readers, having the favorite play, ‘Equus,’ above, and tying itself for best musical.

BEST LOCAL PRODUCTION (PLAY)
Equus (Uptown Players)

Performed Feb. 26–March 21 at the
Kalita Humphreys Theater
214-219-2718
UptownPlayers.org

 

BEST LOCAL PRODUCTION
(MUSICAL) • TIE
Forbidden Broadway’s Greatest Hits (Uptown Players)

Performed Aug. 5–29 at the Kalita Humphreys Theater

Closer to Heaven (Uptown Players)

Performed Oct. 1–24 at the Kalita Humphreys Theater
214-219-2718
UptownPlayers.org

 

BEST LOCAL THEATER DIRECTOR
Harold Steward


BEST MAINSTREAM VENUE PRESENTING MUSIC FOR THE GAY MASSES
Gilley’s Music Complex: The Palladium, The Loft, South Side Music Hall, Jack Daniel’s Saloon

GilleysMusic.com

Thanks to the trio of Kris Youmans, Brad Ehney and Nate Binford, the venues of the Gilley’s Music Complex on the Cedars have been very welcoming to the gays. Once Ehney, who is gay, got on board after his stint at the Granada Theater (another queer-friendly venue), he was intent on bringing a contingent of acts geared toward attracting an LGBT audience. Binford and Yeomans, the straight guys, just wanted a full house. It’s worked out beautifully. Lesbian duo Tegan & Sara filled the huge-ass space of the Palladium Ballroom while Lady Gaga openers Semi Precious Weapons rocked the shit out of the smaller Loft. The gays then came out en masse for Robyn, packing the mid-sized South Side Music Hall. Upcoming acts of queer interest include MEN, Of Montreal and Vivian Girls. (Upcoming non-gay acts aren’t bad, either: The Avett Brothers, George Clinton and Coheed and Cambria.) These guys prove that gays do like their live music and will step out of the gayborhood to get it.

— Rich Lopez

 

OPEN  AIR | Groups like Middle Ground rock the night air at Jack’s Backyard in Oak Cliff, a favorite venue for enjoying live music. (Gregory Hayes/Dallas Voice)

BEST LIVE MUSIC VENUE • TIE

Jack’s Backyard

2303 Pittman St.
Open daily until 2 a.m.
214-741-3131
JacksBackyardDallas.com

Sue Ellen’s

3014 Throckmorton St.
Open daily 4 p.m–2 a.m.
with after-hours dancing
214-559-0707
Caven.com

It’s notable that these two venues would tie for readers’ favorites, because they represent polarities of live music locales. In one corner is Sue’s, the urban Cedar Springs club where the upstairs Vixin Lounge boasts a quality sound system and decent space for an indoor concert. Jack’s, by contrast, takes the music to the outdoors of Oak Cliff, making a nice nighttime event even better, especially in the warms of Texas spring, summer and autumn. Both venues often book gigs for local regulars like Ciao Bella and Anton Shaw, but each has also featured smaller touring artists like Anne McCue and Hunter Valentine.  If the boys want to get it on the live music game, they have lots of catching up to do. The mostly lady-based venues have a lock on bringing the live sounds to the gayborhoods.

— Rich Lopez

 

BEST SMARTPHONE DATING APP
Grindr

Yes, we named this category a “dating app.” Yes, we know for a lot — most? all? — guys who download it, Grindr is more about hookups than long-term relationships. But consider: At one time, admitting you met on Match.com was considered as cringe-worthy as saying you met at a bar while one of you was dancing naked on the pool table. (Oh, right, that’s more a straight-couple thing.) Maybe one day, app-love may become so common it loses any stigma. Anyway, how were we supposed to guess Grindr would win? And truth be told, some of us have found, if not true romance, at least an on-going love connection. And we enjoy chatting with other guys even if we don’t end up as a couple. That’s what dating is, right? Seeing what’s out there and deciding what you want from a partner? Grindr does that. And we’d all be a little lonelier without it.

— Arnold Wayne Jones

 

AIN’T NO BULL | Ragsdale’s standout performance in a one-woman show was enough to win her a lot of fans — enough to name her Dallas’ favorite local actress.

BEST LOCAL DRAMATIC ACTOR (FEMALE)
Q-Roc Ragsdale

Perhaps only Q-Roc Ragsdale could have pulled off her performance in The Bull-Jean Stories last year. Best theater director Harold Steward of Fahari Arts helmed this one-woman show, written by dramatist Sharon Bridgforth. The Bull-Jean Stories takes a look at the struggles of a fictional woman-loving character in the rural South of the 1920s, and her endurance during tough times. Like her character, Ragsdale is a powerful woman using her work as a film director, photographer and actor to stretch the artistic visions of both the black and same-gender-loving communities of Dallas as well as harkening to the strong will and spirit of black LGBTs who have come before her.

— Rich Lopez

BEST LOCAL DRAMATIC ACTOR
(MALE)
Rick Espaillat


BEST LOCAL MUSICAL ACTOR
(FEMALE)
Liz Mikel


BEST LOCAL MUSICAL ACTOR
(MALE)
Cedric Neal


BEST DVD RENTAL

TapeLenders

3926 Cedar Springs Road
214-528-6344
TapeLenders.com

 

BEST ADULT DVD RENTAL

TapeLenders

3926 Cedar Springs Road
214-528-6344
TapeLenders.com

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

—  John Wright