Go with the flow

Trying yoga for the first time can be an intimidating experience. But that misses the point of this ancient practice that combines stretching, breath … and peace

Yoga instructor Petri Brill strikes a pose at her studio YogaSport, which provides beginners’ classes for the uninitiated. (Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)

Yoga instructor Petri Brill strikes a pose at her studio YogaSport, which provides beginners’ classes for the uninitiated. (Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)

JEF TINGLEY  | Contributing Writer

Some do it for their mind, some do it for their body, some do it for both. But all yoga students have one thing in common: Making the first step and taking up the practice. And while this age-old combination of stretching and breathing is meant to calm the mind and strengthen the muscles, a maiden voyage into a posterior-lifting position like downward-facing dog in a room full of strangers can send one’s heart racing. But that doesn’t have to be the case.

“People new to yoga should remember that everyone in class was a beginner at one point,” says Petri Brill, manager of YogaSport Dallas on Lemmon Avenue. “Yoga is a journey, not a destination. There is no perfect practice or perfect yogi or perfect yoga body. I think people worry about they’ll look [or] feel foolish in their first down-dog [and] that they’ll be judged. Our [yoga] community is diverse, encouraging and accepting: no judgment here!”

Mary Pierce Armstrong, who teaches at MarYoga, agrees that you should always look inward. “Yoga will come to meet you no matter where you are starting from. As long as you take the breath and the breaks you need, you will be doing awesome.”

For Wendy Moore, a 44-year-old yoga newbie, has taken these words of wisdom to the mat — literally. Moore recently completed her second MarYoga class as part of her new year regime. Any inhibitions she had about the experience were dispelled during her first visit.

“[I was] concerned about my general lack of bendy-ness, and not knowing where to put what arm and leg,” she says, “but if you look around you will figure out where your limbs are supposed to be by what others are doing.” Moore has continued to work on poses between classes with some slight variations mimicked by “what her cats are able to do.”

Keith Murray, a 37-year-old registered nurse, tried yoga for the first time more than eight years ago and was immediately hooked. He was taking classes three times a week before long. “I was a little intimidated about the whole thing at first,” he says, “but after my first couple of sessions my intimidation grew into excitement.”

A busy work schedule has kept Murray from his regular routine over the years, but he is trying to change that. “I still maintain a crazy life and work routine, but building yoga back into my life has really helped me to find balance again.”

According to yoga teacher Jennifer Lawson of SYNC Yoga & Wellbeing, it’s not just busy schedules and bundled nerves that keep people from the practice of yoga; it’s also our cultural fixation on success. “There tends to be so much emphasis on achievement and perfection that many of us are becoming accustomed to playing it safe in order to avoid the possibility of shame.”

Lawson recommends coming together as a group in a class with experienced and inexperienced yogis to create an environment that emphasizes the experience and process of yoga and not the destination or end result.

For Anisha Mandol, a 42-year-old business development manager who has been practicing yoga for about two years, these words ring true. “Once you understand your expectation from practicing, no one else’s matters. The benefits of yoga are fluid and dynamic, and each person has their own unique experience. Own yours,” she says.

And so it would seem that just as the journey of a million miles begins with one step, the journey toward a yoga-filled life begins with a single stretch on the matt (and maybe a little Namaste for good measure).

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SAY NAMASTE: WHERE TO GET YOUR YOGA FIX

Options are plentiful for the budding yogi looking for a class. Get your stretch on at these studios in and around the gayborhood. You can also find information on their class offerings and schedules on their websites.

Yoga Sport Dallas
4140 Lemmon Ave, Suite 280
214-520-YOGA
YogaSportDallas.com

SYNC Yoga & Wellbeing
611 N. Bishop Ave.
214-843-3372
SyncDallas.com

MarYoga at Chi Studio
807 Fletcher St.
ChiDallas.com

Sunstone Yoga
2907 Routh St. (and other locations)
214-764-2119
SunstoneYoga.com

Gaia Flow Yoga Uptown
3000 Blackburn St., Suite 140B
214-235-1153
GaiaFlowYoga.com

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition February 17, 2012.

—  Michael Stephens

Dynamic duo

Double-duty workouts turn regular guys Davis Kennedy and Graham Cauthorn into Ironmen

fitness

TRIPLE THREATS | Kennedy, left, and Cauthorn compete in Ironman competitions: a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike ride followed by a full marathon. (Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)

While some people consider it a milestone to get to the gym twice a week, Davis Kennedy and Graham Cauthorn have made a lifestyle of working out almost twice daily — sometimes more often. This sunrise, sunset fitness routine is vital for their Ironman training (a triathlon event consisting of long distances of swimming, biking and running), but it comes with the bonus effect: Bodies that look like chiseled marble, even though both are over 40.

With the Austin Ironman competition around the corner in October, don’t be too surprised if you come across these fit fellas pedaling, splashing or sweating their way around North Texas.                                   

— Jef Tingley

Names and ages: Davis Kennedy, 40, and Graham Cauthorn, 47.

Length of relationship: Three years

Sports & activities: DIVA Volleyball, Lonestar Masters Swimming, Go3sports Triathlon team, softball and Ironman

Exercise regimen:  Kennedy: I bike and run each four times per week, swim two to three times per week and weight/core train two times per week (if can fit them in), so 10-12 workouts weekly depending on the schedule.

Biggest “out of commission” moment: Kennedy: I switched from softball to triathlons after having broken my hand and leg playing softball, and realizing I hurt less after a six-hour triathlon than a one-hour softball game.

Upcoming fitness goals: Both: Ironman 70.3 Austin in October and another full Ironman in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, in June 2012.

Most rewarding fitness accomplishment:  Cauthorn: Finishing my first full Ironman in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho in 2010. It was an amazing experience and really great fun. The finish line is one of the most exhilarating experiences I have been fortunate enough to enjoy.
Kennedy: Finishing my first full Ironman at St. George, Utah. The finish line at an Ironman is an unbelievable experience after a long day. It’s like being a rock star on stage with all the people yelling and cheering.

Workout preference: mornings or evenings? Kennedy: With triathlon training, it’s both to fit in all the workouts.

Favorite spot in North Texas to exercise indoors: Kennedy: Baylor Tom Landry Fitness Center. The pool is awesome.

Least favorite workout activity: Cauthorn: Indoor cycling on the trainer!  During the winter months, keeping your cycling fitness requires indoor training, which to me is pure torture. Hate it!

If you could become an Olympian in any sport, what would it be and why:  Cauthorn: A swimmer, probably, because it is my strongest event in triathlon. I was not a swimmer in school, but joined Lone Star Masters when I first moved to Dallas in 1989, and turns out, I am pretty good at it.

How do you reward yourself for a great workout: Both: A big cheeseburger with fries and a chocolate shake at Fat Daddy’s Burgers in Casa Linda.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 30, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Dynamic duo

New partners Curtis Cook and Shane Friesenhahn shake their booty … camp

There’s the nursery rhyme that begins, “Jack Sprat could eat no fat, his wife could eat no lean… .” But apparently if Jack Sprat were in a same-sex relationship, it would be a fat-free household all the way around. Such is the case with this month’s fitness profile: Curtis Cook and Shane Friesenhahn. The lads have been together for just three months, but the real number that caught our eye was their collective body fat: 19 percent and shrinking by the day. How do they do it? Diet, exercise and rewarding a great workout with a sexy new swimsuit rather than a hot fudge sundae.

— Jef Tingley

…………………….

Names and ages: Curtis James Cook, 24, and Shane Friesenhahn, 37.

Occupations: Cook: HAMP processor at Nationstar Mortgage; Friesenhahn: owner of Silk Sculptures, a floral design studio.

Length of relationship: Three months

Sports and activities: Pool volleyball and Dr. Peay’s Booty Camp

Exercise regime: Cook: I attend Dr. Peay’s Booty Camp two days a week and go to L.A. Fitness a couple times a week. When I go to the gym, I always do abs first, then either upper body or legs followed by 15 to 20 minutes of cardio. My workout usually totals around an hour to an hour and a half.  My goal is to go to the gym on my days off of [boot camp], but it doesn’t always happen.

Friesenhahn:  [Boot camp] five days a week, which consists of cardio, Plyometrics and light resistance training.

Upcoming fitness goals: Cook: I’m lean, but I want to be toned. My goal is a slightly bigger chest and defined mid section. I also want my body fat around 8 percent; as of the beginning of July it was 12 percent. I think my goal of toning up will automatically help me reach my body fat percentage goal.

Friesenhahn: I’m currently right below 8 percent body fat, but my new goal is to boast a “lean and mean” 6.5 percent — a little bones showing never looked so good! I will say that making better nutritional choices, mostly organic, really helps.

Best “eat this, not that” tip: Friesenhahn: Well, instead of Krispy Kreme donuts or a starchy cereal, I replace it with whole fruits such as blueberries, a Pink Lady apple or grapefruit. As for my sweet tooth, I am in love with organic crunchy peanut butter with a banana or a piece of gluten free bread that has live sprouted grains. I am also an avid believer in supplements including as astaxanthin, fish oil and many others.

Workout preference: mornings or evenings? Cook: I like both. I would like to work out in the mornings more, but it is just so hard to get up that early.

Friesenhahn: Evenings mostly, but just to mix it up I do like to attend the “crack of dawn” morning workouts as well.

How do you survive an outdoor workout in the Texas heat? Friesenhahn:  My exercise group works out in the shade, unless we are running the typical mile required. Everyone brings the essentials like water and Gatorade. Sometimes [our trainer] brings ice when it’s really hot. The main thing is to read your own body and take mini breaks to regroup. Other than that, I really enjoy sweating and releasing toxins.

Favorite spot in North Texas to exercise indoors: Cook: The L.A. Fitness by my work in Lewisville, because I don’t feel like I’m being cruised the entire time.

If you could become an Olympian in any sport, what would it be and why: Cook: I’ve always wanted to do gymnastics. The parallel bars and tumbling are my favorite. I even took tumbling private [lessons] for a month when I was 20 and learned a back handspring in only four sessions.

Friesenhahn: Ice figure skating. The blend of artistry and athleticism is super challenging. I used to roller skate my long drive as a kid and pretend I was practicing for the next Olympics!

How do you reward yourself for a great work out: Friesenhahn:  Two ways. First is a trip to Yumilicious. Then on to find an even more “skimpy” swimsuit to wear at the next pool get together.

Cook: I definitely don’t eat badly afterwards because then I feel guilty and it’s as if I just negated the entire work out. I reward myself by maybe buying something a little smaller and more fitting because I know I will look good in it. I also like to go lay out in my Speedo after a good week of working out because I feel confident with my body.  Basically I reward myself by showing it off.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 26, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

Defining Homes: Frisco a go-go

Natalie Amberson and her wife April find comfort in both the bustling growth of Frisco and the still quiet part of the small town.

LGBT homeowners find affordability key in this northern ‘burb

By Jef Tingley

Inside the Dallas “bubble,” Frisco is often only thought of as the quickest place to get an IKEA fix. (After all, who doesn’t need a Väte Kvartal to call their very own?) But scores of gay North Texans call Frisco home too, and not just for the proximity to Swedish furnishings and meatballs.

The town is at the end of the Dallas North Tollway and spans 69-square miles. Frisco’s population reached 119,738 in January with a median age of 34 and a median household income of $101,574. If the Kinsey 10 percent theory holds true, that means there could be as many as 12,000 LGBT people living there.

We caught up with a handful of them to see what day-to-day life in this city to the north is really like and what drew them in.

“We primarily moved to Frisco because the homes are so affordable,” says Natalie Amberson, who lives in a 1,700 square foot home in North Frisco with her wife, April, and their two dogs and cats. “Our mortgage is only $100 more than our rent was [in Oak Lawn]. We also very much wanted dogs and decided that we would not take on the responsibility of canine ownership until we had a yard for them to play in.”

Fifteen-year resident Clarence Stiles agree.

“We knew the area was growing and would have good resale value.”

Stiles and his husband, Jon Wienk, share their one-story, ranch-style home with their six dogs. But affordable living aside, all of those interviewed concurred that their budding suburb’s strong sense of community makes Frisco so desirable.

“Frisco has grown as a city and a community tremendously over the last 10 years, but [it] does its best to keep that small town feel,” says James Nunn, a 12-year resident who lives with his partner, Chris Moss, and their two dogs in a 2,200 square foot home abutting one of Frisco’s many popular green belt areas.

To help keep Frisco’s LGBT community connected, Nunn became involved with the group Frisco Pride, which meets weekly in a variety of different social settings. The group, which has been in existence since 1999, recently re-launched a new website (FriscoPride.com) and Facebook page to help ease communication among its members.

Jeanne Sharon Rubin and her wife Lisa Rose Mashigian are Frisco Pride members and active with another local group that fosters the LGBT community, the Collin County Gay & Lesbian Alliance. The couple also volunteers for Youth First Texas Collin County, which is based in Plano but works with youth in Frisco. As part of their volunteer efforts, they arrange a monthly fundraiser in Frisco benefiting Youth First Texas.

Rubin and Mashigian have lived in their 2,900-square-foot home in Frisco’s Panther Creek Estates for six-and-a-half years. “We were the first to build on the street, and I had Lisa get out the hammer and drill so we could put up the rainbow flag,” says Rubin. “We wanted everyone to know that we were here first.”

But Rubin is quick to add that they have found a diverse and welcoming community with a homeowner’s association that puts on events throughout the year, book clubs, neighbors who will dog sit and lend tools. And if the weather is just right, spontaneous block parties happen.

And while their life may seem rooted in Frisco, getting there was more of a compromise.

“I was never moving to the suburbs, and Lisa was never leaving her home in Plano,” says Rubin. “I came to the suburbs kicking and screaming, but I really do love Frisco.”

Natalie Amberson echoes that statement. “I feel by living in Frisco, I get the best of both worlds. There are plenty of restaurants and shopping. Being a sports fan, I enjoy attending the minor league games, [but] most of all I actually enjoy driving by the cattle and farmland. Frisco has grown significantly, but every day I look at the green land and animals; it brings me a sense of peace.”

Clearly the suburb is more than just an Ikea destination for that affordable bookcase. Gay folk might find themselves drawn to the modern community and shopping for a home to put that bookcase in. Or at the very least, adding just a little more “pride” to the affordable and friendly city of Frisco.

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

—  John Wright

Body & Fitness: Dirty britches

Clean for now, muddy buddies Rod Orta, Jeni Maldonado and Brad Bykkonen stretch it out as they train for the grueling DFW Mud Run. Through the same goal, the three with the author found a fellowship that helps get them past the intense training. (Photo by Jef Tingley)

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

JEF TINGLEY  | Contributing Writer

A year ago, I thought mud was only reserved for pigs and purifying facials. Never would I have guessed that I would be counting the days to run through 6.2 miles of it while also taking on a series of military-boot-camp-inspired obstacles. But then again, a year ago I never dreamed I would be surrounded by a group of friends with the same motivation — to conquer the mud if only to say we did it.

And on April 9, that’s exactly what we plan to do at a yet-to-be-disclosed location in Tarrant County. The DFW Mud Run is an annual event and one of seven throughout the country. It celebrated its 10th anniversary in North Texas in November 2010 with almost 4,000 attendees. A quick glance at the rules and regulations on the website reveals that this run can be as serious or as silly as you like, but one thing is for sure — you will get dirty. (And not in a Christina-Aguilera-wearing-chaps kind of way.)

Our group of seven runners (growing in number as we peer pressure others) met while working out at Booty Camp. Some were already in shape; others, like myself, were first timers. Somewhere during the months of waking up early, sweating during push-ups and running loops around Lee Park, a new level of friendship formed.

Jeni Maldonado, 29, and the official straight girl of our gay boy mud run group, shares the same sentiments about the camaraderie side effects of working out en mass.

“Through [group training], I have found a true love and passion for physical fitness and made some great new friends. Since starting in May of 2010, I even changed careers and am now a personal trainer focusing on children and childhood obesity.”

Mud runners can compete on the course in a variety of timed events and specified groups made up of all-men, all-women or co-ed teams. Or, there’s a category called DGAP, which stands for Division for Generally Athletic People or “Don’t Give A Poop.” This is our group. DGAP allows runners to wear costumes, run as a group or individually, and to generally enjoy the course as they see fit.

Rod Orta, a 39-year-old East Dallas resident, started working out in groups for almost four years. Since that time, he has formed lasting friendships with his fellow fitness enthusiasts, even going on vacations with them and hosting parties for the group at his home.

A first-time mud runner, Orta says, “I wanted to experience the activity and spend time with friends.” His training plan includes “strength workouts, cardio and a cute outfit.” He’s also quick to pass on helpful hints to his fellow runners. “Wear sensible shoes. No high heels,” he jokes.

The run will also make a first-time experience for 35-year-old Bryan Place resident Mark Doty. Inspired by other friends who have done it, he says it’s just something he has wanted to do. When asked if he had any words of wisdom for would be runners, Doty simply offered ups “Since this is my first time, I would just say ‘pray.’”

Topping off the dirt, the DFW Mud Run boasts more than 30 obstacles. Judging from videos from previous runs these include balance beams, rope swings and plenty of commando crawls. But it’s still not enough to keep Brad Bykkonen, a 39-year-old Highland Park resident, away.
“It sounds like fun,” he says. “I’ve met people who I know I’ll surely be laughing with during our mud run adventure.”

Booty Camp founder Dr. Eric Peay agrees that fitness can lead to friendship. A boot camp he attended in 1998 introduced him to someone who is now his best friend. A more experienced runner, Peay has run 5K and 10K races with a specific goal or time in mind. But this mud run is, “just for the sheer fun of it,” he says.

As for me, I’ll continue to count down the days, train and hope that I can find the perfect pair of combat boots and army fatigues to wear on my inaugural muddy voyage with the hope that the friendships I’ve formed will keep the physical fatigue at bay.

Registration for the April run is still open. For more information, visit DFWMudRun.com.

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

—  John Wright

Beautiful day in the neighborhood • Defining Homes

Neighbors in Oak Cliff’s Kessler Park talk about why their ‘hood is the best ever

By Steven Lindsey

Stewart Street residents
Stewart Street residents from left to right Jerrett Morris, Alan Stolleis, Clyde Greenhouse, Michal Taylor, Darrell Ward and Linda Ronk come together often for neighborhood block parties, planned or impromptu, within their classic homes and lush greenery of Kessler Park. Photos courtesy of Jef Tingley.

There’s a little group of homes on Stewart Street in the Kessler Highlands neighborhood of Oak Cliff in Kessler Park that may be just about the gayest block in town — and not just the homosexual kind of gay; the happy kind, too. The neighbors who live here are closer than the pals on Friends, more into each other’s business than a season finale of Knots Landing and their parties have a higher production value than anything Bree’s ever done on Desperate Housewives.

The quiet, tree-lined street is filled with quaint bungalow-style homes from the ’20s and ’30s and over recent years, several gays and lesbians have chosen to put down roots on this one particular block, one which throws out the welcome mat any time somebody new moves in.

“We first met all the gays and lesbians on our block the same way we met all of our neighbors — through a welcome party,” says Jef Tingley, an eight-year resident. “Who knew that years later so many of these people would not just be neighbors, but individuals that I consider dear friends.”

The neighbors gather for two major events a year: Blocktoberfest, a yearly bratwurst cookout held in a neighbor’s yard where everyone brings a dish to share; and a progressive holiday event, where everyone moves from house to house for food and drinks. Halloween is also quite a production with an estimated 1,500 trick-or-treaters each year snatching up 60 to 70 pounds of candy per house in the process.

“It turns out to be one of the most fun events of the year for me and my friends,” says Alan Stolleis, who’s lived on the street for nearly 13 years. “We do tend to go a little crazy with fog machines, huge spiders and scary music.”

But the neighbors on Stewart don’t need a bold-font holiday on the calendar to have reason to celebrate.

“One of the first things we learned when we moved on to the block is that if someone is on the porch, there’s a good chance that you can stop on by for a glass of wine. Many a dog walk has ended with an impromptu porch party,” Tingley says. In fact, everyone interviewed said the same thing about the frequent porch parties and how often they pop up.

Clyde Greenhouse and Michal Taylor, co-owners of the Oak-Cliff-based Kessler Cookie Company, have been on the block for 12 years and have the newest home in the neighborhood. It was built in 1942.

The character of the neighborhood is what initially interested Taylor and Greenhouse, as well as most other people who found Stewart by chance. But for at least one neighbor, buying a home here took a village.

“We had the opportunity to have our best friend buy the house next to us, and when the house went up for sale, while our friend was negotiating his contract for purchase, some of the neighbors would take the ‘for sale’ sign down every day,” says Jerrett Morris, Tingley’s partner. “And whenever a prospective buyer might even give the hint of interest, they would wander out in their boxer shorts and generally try to look like nightmare neighbors any way they could to drive the prospect away.”

It must’ve worked, because Keith Murray closed the deal, quite possibly not realizing the extent to which the neighborhood had helped make it happen.

“At the time I wasn’t looking to buy a home. It was by chance that the house next door to my best friends went up for sale.  It was in complete disrepair, but with the encouragement and help of friends and neighbors, I bought it and we collectively rehabbed it. It was a lot of work, but looking back on it now, it was completely worth it,” Murray says.

It’s just one of many examples of the ways neighbors here look out for one another.

“This neighborhood will definitely take it upon itself to investigate anything that seems suspicious,” Morris says. “It’s like a block full of good Gladys Kravitzes [the nosy neighbor from Bewitched].”

“We know almost everyone by name. It’s not uncommon to see a gay couple standing out in the front yard talking with a straight couple and their children. I even loaned a pair of cuff links to a neighbor’s daughter’s boyfriend for prom one year when he needed them in a pinch,” Tingley says.

Linda Ronk, who has lived on Stewart for 16 years, believe the neighborhood transcends any sort of labeling.

“To be honest there is no gay or non-gay. We are just Stewart Street folks,” she says. “We have keys to each other’s homes and we watch out for each other.”

“Not everyone believes me, but our street is like something out of Leave It To Beaver,” Tingley says. “All the neighbors are really vested in making it a great block, but it’s also not a creepy police state where you have no privacy. I tell everyone to move to Oak Cliff. It’s like a small city in a big town. And if you can find a place on Stewart, you’re even luckier.”

“We didn’t know it going in, but it would be impossible to recreate the mix of neighbors we have on our block,” Morris says. “They’re absolutely priceless and will keep us in our house for a very long time,” says Morris.

Or at least until the city starts requiring liquor licenses for these very busy porches.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition of Defining Homes Magazine October 8, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas

Bunny tales

Dallas get a dose (3 doses, actually) of drag royalty with the Lady Bunny

JEF TINGLEY  | Contributing Writer jeftingley@sbcglobal.net

BUNNY, HOPPING | The drag diva makes three appearances during Pride weekend in Dallas, both as a DJ and performer.
BUNNY, HOPPING | The drag diva makes three appearances during Pride weekend in Dallas, both as a DJ and performer.

BUNNY DOES DALLAS
DJing at the ilume,
4123 Cedar Springs Road.
Dish on Sept. 18, 11 p.m.–1 a.m.,
lot along the parade route on
Sept. 19, noon–4 p.m.
Drag show at the Rose Room at Station 4, 3911 Cedar Springs Road. Sept. 19 at midnight.

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A founding foremother of the modern drag scene, Lady Bunny hides some big brains and even bigger ideas in her oversized wigs. Best known for creating Wigstock (a gender-bending drag fest in NYC) and DJing some at see-and-be-seen parties around the country, she has recently taken to the boob tube as the “dean of drag” on RuPaul’s Drag U, exposing a new audience to her machine-gun-style sass.

We caught up with Bun Bun to chat about her upcoming Dallas appearances, as well as some good behind-the-scenes gossip on the set of the Logo hit.

Dallas Voice: Welcome back to Dallas. You’re giving us the whole Bunny: DJ and drag diva. Which is more fun, performing or spinning? Lady Bunny: I like both. Who knows, I might be flipping burgers in the kitchen and checking coats, too. You never get bored if you are constantly changing it up.

You have a rep as a DJ who gives the people what they want, but what song makes you just want to just slit your wrist with a press-on nail? I hate Britney — I think that her music is like nursery rhymes. I’m really glad Gaga has come along. I’m not even Lady Gaga’s biggest fan musically, but at least she’s not some prepackaged dummy. She writes her music and sings it.

Tell us about “West Virginia Gurls,” your send up of the earworm hit by Katy Perry, Once I realized that West Virginia could be substituted for California, the possibilities were endless. It’s all about moonshine, inbreeding and blacked-out teeth. And the video is bound to go viral — every cast member has a couple of viruses.

You serve as dean of drag on RuPaul’s Drag U. If it wasn’t Ru hosting that show, who do you think should have had their name on the marquee? I think Lady Bunny’s Drag U has a nicer ring to it. I’m kidding. Ru is my old roommate — we are thick as thieves.

Why have shows like Drag Race and Drag U developed such cult appeal? This whole nation is makeover crazy. There’s this notion that has been kicking around since Queer Eye that gays have the secret, but now drag queens have it. That’s how Drag U became a show — women loved the transformations on Drag Race. And I have a message for these women: Honey, we will make you over and make you look fabulous, but return the favor. Go home and teach your husbands and your sons that we are worthwhile people — don’t beat us and kill us.

Any good footage of you on the cutting room floor? I got a lot of stuff in there that they didn’t use. There was one episode with a girl who was self conscious about her big nose. I said, “You look great, and I don’t know why you think you have a big nose. By the way, I love those sunglasses. Oh wait, those are your nostrils.” I guess they thought that was too mean.

You’re also profiled in a new series called Queens of Drag. Tell us about that. It’s all about the many wacky queens of New York City. My webisode just came out on Gay.com. You just can’t get away from Bun Bun, she’s everywhere!

If you had the opportunity to create your personae all over again, is there anything you’d changed? The name was like a bad joke that stuck, but by the time I realized it, I was like, “Girl, this is your career.” I was too far in to really change it. In a weird way it does fit: It’s a retarded name, but I guess I’m retarded. Somehow it works. If I changed anything, it would probably the name.

Speaking of names, what’s the best drag name you’ve heard? Suppositori Spelling from San Francisco. That’s a good one.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 17, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas