This week’s takeaways: Life+Style

The Thai lesbian film "Yes or No" screens Monday at AFFD.

The Asian Film Festival of Dallas launched last night at Landmark’s Magnolia Theatre, and it continues through next week. Among the offerings are two gay films screening Monday: The Thai lesbian feature Yes or No, screening at 7:30 p.m., and the horror thriller I Am a Ghost from queer director H.P. Mendoza, screening at 9:45. There will even be a LGBT mixer (Mendoza in attendance) between both screenings on Monday night, at Malai Kitchen in the West Village. (We are giving away tickets to both show and the mixer, so stay tuned!)

Uptown Players is back in the Kalita after a long pause while the Dallas Theater Center used the space with Coy Covington again taking on one of Charles Busch’s drag roles in The Divine Sister. Two other outright farces are also continuing this weekend. Stage West is putting on the rarely-performed Joe Orton sex farce What the Butler Saw and Second Thought Theatre is just across the parking lot from Uptown with The Bomb-itty of Errors at Bryant Hall on the Kalita campus. Live The Divine Sister, both have tons of cross-dressing. That’s also true of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, which continues until August, and Avenue Q at Theatre Three. Both are terrific summer shows with huge gay appeal.

Friday through Sunday is Taste of Dallas at Fair Park, with tons of vendors from La Madeleine to Tiff’s Treats to Pho Colonial, plus chef demos, beer and wine tastings and more. Once that’s over, Perry’s Steakhouse has a welcome way of celebrating the 4th of July all month — it’s called the 4 for 4 after 4 deal. Basically, there are four menu items that cover the waterfront: the Perry-tini lemon drop cocktail, a polish sausage app, an 8 oz. pork chop and a dessert … and each cost only $4 after 4 p.m., Mondays—Wednesdays. I mean, any time you can get something for four bucks at a restaurant, it’s a good deal, but Perry’s is a pretty high-end place with excellent food.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

STAGE REVIEWS: Magnum farce —”Bomb-itty of Errors,” “What the Butler Saw”

Dana Schultes and Garret Storms in "What the Butler Saw" at Stage West.

There are a lot of men in dresses lately, and I’m not even talking about the guys at the Rose Room or the cast of The Divine Sister at the Kalita. No, for some reason, it’s farce month at North Texas theaters, and a farce just isn’t complete without a little cross-dressing.

At Stage West in Fort Worth, at least some of the gender confusion is sexy, as a twinky bellhop (Garret Storms) strips down to his tightie-whities (well, really tightie-reddies) before slipping on a Carnaby Street mod-mini and pumps to swing his hips. The play is What the Butler Saw, the last of gay British playwright Joe Orton’s handful of full-length stage plays (it was first staged two years after Orton’s lover murdered him). There are no butlers in it, nor is there any butling. It isn’t even a mystery, as the name might suggest. All of which makes it exactly what it’s meant to be: a nonsensical knockabout set in a mental home, where the inmates might as well be running the asylum.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Stephen Frears uses sexual politics as a metaphor for oppression

By Arnold Wayne Jones

Stephen Frears was sexy before sexy was cool.

Well, maybe not exactly. But over the British director’s long career in film, he’s often been at the forefront of frank sexual portrayals onscreen, often of the radical kind.

“You make me feel like a pervert!” Frears exclaims during a recent visit to Dallas.

That’s not the point, of course, but it’s also not something he denies. Frears first gained notice in the U.S. with My Beautiful Laundrette, a disarming story about an immigrant family living in London that expectedly injects a queer twist when the audience discovers the scion of the Pakistani clan is gay. His next film, Prick Up Your Ears, was a darker tale of gay life, chronicling the murder of playwright Joe Orton by his lover. (That was followed by Sammy and Rosie Get Laid, whose title alone got it banned from many multiplexes; in The Grifters, he kept Annette Bening naked most of the time.)

But Frears, who is straight, says that gay storylines have interested him because outsider stories of all kinds spark his artistic curiosity.

“I couldn’t give you a moment when I was asked to do a racy film or a family film,” he says. “There was only one film I didn’t do, where I said, ‘No — I’ve got kids.’ But I think in my own head, it has all to do with being in opposition, as a way of attacking Mrs. Thatcher. [I see] women and gays and immigrants as a metaphor for being oppressed.”

His newest, Tamara Drewe — now playing at the Angelika Film Center — has limited gay content but is nonetheless casual with its sexual free-spiritedness.  A small English village is a haven for artistic types, including a famous novelist and his patient wife. When a former local, Tamara, moves back to town (complete with a nose job and makeover), she sets off a series of escapades that are dramatic, comic, even tragic. The film, though, feels softer than some of his earlier films.

“You make me ashamed that I have gotten tamer,” he says. “But we don’t live in very radical times.”

Frears’ left-leaning politics have often emerged in his films, including The Queen, which netted his a second Oscar nomination. ” [Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair] was a very, very complicated figure. This absurd business of leading countries into war really changed the Labour Party. I’m not a monarchist, but in the end I think you could call me a ‘queenist’ — she reminds me of my mother.”

A queenist? He’s a man after my own heart.

Tamara Drewe is now playing at the Angelika Film Center — Mockingbird Station.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones