This week’s takeaways: Life+Style

After two weeks of “soft opening” service, last night Monica’s Nueva Cocina and ME Lounge on Cedar Springs in the ilume had its “official” opening with open bar and passed hors d’oeuvres. Monica told me there’s always a honeymoon phase where people love ya … it’s six months on when you know if you’re a hit. I’ve eaten there a few times already. A review will come next month, but you might wanna start making your reservations…

Over at the Winspear, Chicago (pictured) is back, and it’s surprisingly not stale, even after countless productions ever since the 1996 revival. And John O’Hurley can actually sing! And if you go on Tuesday — or even if you just have some free time — I’ll be doing my usually GLBT Broadway lecture at 7 p.m. in Hamon Hall before the show, pointing out ways you might enjoy the gay text and subtext better. Then on Thursday, Casa Manana puts on a local professional production of Greater Tuna — something of a coup, as authors-stars Jaston Williams and Joe Sears often guard licensing carefully in their home turf. But with David Coffee in many of the roles, it’s sure to be funny. And Sweeney Todd continues over at KD Studio Theatre.

The fourth annual Pink Party features tons of musicians and other acts (burlesque? Uh-huh) on both floors of the ladies’ club, all raising money for breast cancer research. It’s at Sue Ellen’s tonight. There will be fundraising as well with the men, ginning up bucks for Resource Center Dallas. Honey Pot II: Summer Chill is a Sunday afternoon beer bash at Dallas Eagle, with members of the Dallas Diablos in attendance.

There are also several drag opportunities this week. In addition to the shows at the Rose Room and other clubs, Cassie Nova hosts the “turnabout” show of Caven employees at JR.’s on Tuesday, and on Wednesday, Celeste Martinez is M.C. of Miss Gay Highland Park at the Round-Up Saloon.

And at the movies, the last performance by Whitney Houston is preserved in the new release Sparkle, with American Idol winner Jordin Sparks sharing screen time.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

The gay interview: Jordin Sparks

American Idol winner Jordin Sparks’ first feature film — Sparkle co-starring the late gay icon Whitney Houston — opens tomorrow, and earlier this month she spoke frankly with our celeb correspondent Chris Azzopardi about working with Whitney Houston, their affection for their gay fan bases and how her Christian background taught her to love, not hate.

Jordin sparkles

Whitney Houston’s starring role — the last before her tragic death earlier this year — isn’t the only reason Sparkle has “gay” written all over it: There’s the flamboyant style of the ’60s, an all-girl singing group and, well, the movie’s name.

Seated in a hotel suite outside Detroit, where the film was shot, American Idol winner Jordin Sparks lights up knowing how many of her gay fans will see her on the big screen in her movie debut.

Sparks’ return to Motown in early August was even more appropriate when Aretha Franklin, who sang on the soundtrack for the 1976 original film, showed up to walk the red carpet with the remake’s star. Even though she lost a nail, the 22-year-old said having the Queen of Soul there was “absolutely incredible.”

About the finger fiasco: “I was freaking out because I looked at the picture of Aretha and me and the nail is gone.” That’s not a problem today, however. “I made sure I glued these suckers on like nobody’s business!”

After the jump, ever so bubbly Sparks chats about Whitney’s mutual adoration for the gay community, addressed “mean” rumors of her anti-gay upbringing and recalled her first time at a drag club — in Dallas!

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Enter the “Sparkle” singing competition

Whitney Houston’s last film appearance was in the movie Sparkle, which hits theaters next month, but you can have a little part in celebrating the great diva with a song competition. On Saturday at Valley View Mall, amateur singers (ages 13 to 40) can register to sing a 60-second version of “Celebration” or “Something He Can Feel.” The winner locally gets not only $500 in cash and a $25 bebe gift card, but also gets entered in the grand prize: A trip to New York City and an appearance on BET, plus more. Registration is at noon, with the contest promptly beginning at to 1 p.m. You can go here to see clips of the songs you can sing, and pre-register your slot by emailing DallasSingingChallenge@moroch.com. Complete rules are here.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

LISTEN: Whitney Houston’s final recording “Celebrate” with Jordin Sparks for upcoming film


The late Whitney Houston and Jordin Sparks teamed up for the upcoming film Sparkle which also marked Houston’s last on-screen appearance and recorded songs. “Celebrate,” a duet between the two, was posted on YouTube today. Listen to Houston’s last known recording after the jump and and the trailer for the film set to be released this August.

—  Rich Lopez

PHOTOS: Jordin Sparks at Station 4 last night

These were sent over by Instant Tea reader John Coolidge III, who said it was the American Idol season six winner’s first visit to a gay bar. Click on any image to enlarge.

—  John Wright

Britney Spears at AAC Friday night

Britney Spears definitely added to the Pride festivities this weekend. Give her tour manager a raise for bringing The Circus tour back to the American Airlines Center this past Friday. Two of the Dallas Voice staff  made it  to the show and they gave me the deets. Chance and Ramon are decidedly Brit fans so I knew they were gonna love it. This is their recap of the night.

—  Rich Lopez