6 ways to fabulize your week

divineWe’re all about diversity in the gay community, and here’s how we prove it.

Let’s say you have a hankering to spend some time in the dark with gay Latinos this week. We got some suggestions. One is by seeing the musical Kiss of the Spider Woman at the Kalita Humphreys Theater, a musical set in a South American prison. Another is checking out Men on the Verge of a His-Panic Breakdown at Teatro Dallas, which features nine comic monologues dealing with all aspects of the gay Latin experience in the U.S.

If you’re tastes fall more along the lines of WASPy gay humor, you can still try to scrounge up a seat to Kathy Griffin, who is performing tonight at the Verizon Theatre. She’ll certainly talk about Kardashians, Real Housewives and, of course, “her gays.”

If that’s not your style, perhaps a little drag is what you need. The Texas Theatre in Oak Cliff is screening a 35mm print of John Waters’ outrageous classic Polyester tonight at 9:30 p.m., followed by a John Waters-themed dance party at 11. Costumes are encouraged. (You know you wanna try out that Tracy Turnblad get-up you have!)

If you wanna up the fashion quotient, the DFashion Week runway show — an inaugural fundraiser benefiting AIDS Arms and LifeWalk — comes to the Rose Room on Saturday. You can get tickets here.

For those who prefer the whole smorgasbord of choices, and like to be entertained as well, Sunday night is the Voice of Pride finals at the Rose Room. Ten singers walk in, one walks out with the title, cash, plane tickets … and bragging rights.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Leslie Jordan finally gives me credit — sort of

I have a history with Leslie Jordan.

Back in September of 2006, I had a pre-arranged interview with him on the Monday between two big events: On the previous Saturday, he would be attending the “technical” Emmy Awards — what Kathy Griffin so derisively calls “The Schmemmys” — as a nominee for best guest actor in a comedy series for Will & Grace; the following Sunday would be the actual broadcast prime time ceremony.

The latter wouldn’t matter much if Jordan didn’t win; but if he won, it would be big: It meant that Jordan would personally present an award the following Sunday.

And he won.

So, it’s now Monday morning, and Jordan has been an Emmy winner all of 36 hours when we talk. I of course congratulate him. He’s ecstatic. “It hasn’t been out of my hand since I won!” he gushed. “I even take it to be with me.” “Is that the first woman you’ve ever slept with?” I asked. He laughed.

Imagine my surprise six days later, watching Jordan present with Cloris Leachman … and use my very line.

Jordan is an inveterate thief of other people’s material, which he owns up to in my interview, in the paper Friday. But I was most gratified by this exchange we had earlier this week:

One of the producers on Will & Grace — I’m not saying which one — was never quite a fan of Beverly Leslie [the character he played on the show]/ He didn’t think it was funny and was too effeminate — he’d always say “Butch it up!” but the direct said, “Less butch!” So after I won the Emmy, he was the only on the show who didn’t congratulate me. Instead, he said, “You stole my line.” I said, “What do you mean?” He said, “Years ago, when I won my Emmy, I said ‘She’s the only woman who’ll even be in my bedroom.’ I got mad. I said, “I did not steal that line from you! I stole it from Arnold Wayne Jones of Dallas, Texas!

I guess we all have to take our credit where we can get it.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Kathy Griffin at Verizon Theatre

Anything for a laugh

We wonder if famous D-lister Kathy Griffin will comment on those boys and gal from The A-List Dallas. We know she’ll snark on lots of other things when she returns to town. And yes, she’ll give appropriate shout outs to the Big D gays.

DEETS: Verizon Theatre, 1001 Performance Place, Grand Prairie. 8 p.m. $35–$60. Ticketmaster.com.

—  Rich Lopez

Best Bets • 12.30.11

KG-02Saturday 12.31

Black and white all over
Harry Hunsacker is back to crack the case for  New Year’s Eve in The Frequency of Death!  But it could be trouble for Hunsacker as the villainous Dr. Big has revenge in sight for the bumbling detective. Done in brilliant black and white, Pegasus Theatre rings in the new year with an old-fashioned homage to detective films.

DEETS:
Eisemann Center,
2351 Performance Drive, Richardson.
8 p.m. $50.

PegasusTheatre.org.

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Tuesday 01.03

Church on time
Funny man and Emmy-winner Leslie Jordan is back for his Church Revival show. The evening benefits Legacy Counseling Center and features guest hostess Sister Helen Holy. And audiences benefit from Jordan’s sassy and sweet Southern musings revival style. Praise Brother Leslie!

DEETS:
Sara Ellen & Samuel Weisfeld Center,
1508 Cadiz St. 6 p.m.
$25–$100.
LegacyCounseling.org.

……………………….

Friday 01.06

Anything for a laugh
We wonder if famous D-lister Kathy Griffin will comment on those boys and gal from The A-List Dallas. We know she’ll snark on lots of other things when she returns to town. And yes, she’ll give appropriate shout outs to the Big D gays.

DEETS:
Verizon Theatre,
1001 Performance Place, Grand Prairie. 8 p.m.
$35–$60.
Ticketmaster.com.

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

—  Kevin Thomas

Prints charming

‘A-List’ photographer Mike Ruiz stands above reality TV royalty

Fashion-4

RENAISSANCE MAN | Mike Ruiz, above, designed a collection for J. Cheikh, including men’s swimwear, opposite. (Photos courtesy QC Cong Photography)

JEF TINGLEY  | Contributing Writer
lifestyle@dallasvoice.com

Remember on sitcoms when the family pet would die, and the parents would break the news to the kids by saying that Sparky went to live on a farm somewhere? Well, that works in the world of reality TV, too. It’s not that all those fan-favorites or most-hated villains from the various seasons die, they just go to a different kind of “farm” after their 15 minutes of fame fade.

One such example is Celebrity Fashion Experience III, a one-night fashion show held recently at Lofty Spaces.

The roster for the event read like a TiVo lineup of guilty pleasure season passes:  M.C. Dawn Neufeld (from VH1’s Football Wives), guests Brig Van Osten (winner of Bravo’s Shear Genius, Season 3); Reco Chapple (Bravo’s The Fashion Show, Season 1); a collection from Nicholas D’Aurizio (Project Runway, Season 8, though he was a no-show due to a wedding conflict); and even pre-show nibbles from pastry chef Porsha Kimble, once an apprentice to Buddy Valastro of TLC’s Cake Boss. Add a catfight from the Bad Girls Club, it could have been a live version of The Soup.

Fashion-5Luckily, guests were instead treated to special celebrity appearance by Mike Ruiz, the hunky model/director/photographer/man of many talents: He’s made small screen appearances on The A-List: New York, Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D List, America’s Next Top Model and RuPaul’s Drag Race. While his on-camera street cred would have been reason enough for his appearance at this show, Ruiz was actually there touting his newest title: fashion designer.

“It’s [J. Cheikh’s] fashion line, and I was a guest creative director for Spring 2012,” he explains. “My involvement sort of grew out of meeting their team at charitable events and borrowing outfits for the red carpet. Eventually we just found a way to partner.”

The collection, based on the Dakar Rally (a famous off-road auto race), mixes and matches Northern African influenced textures and colors with structured European tailoring.

But the J. Cheikh collection isn’t Ruiz’s first time working with runway looks. He also recently created a T-shirt line (MR by Mike Ruiz) featuring beefcake images of him styled in the likes of Tom of Finland. (Funds from the shirt sales benefit one of his favorite charities: The Ali Forney Center, an organization that assists in housing for LGBT youth in New York City.)

Adding to his creative streak, Ruiz is in the midst of a book launch for his coffee table pictorial Pretty Masculine, a collection of images that deconstruct perceived ideas about masculinity.

“I wanted to combine feminine and masculine. I did things like drape beautiful floral arrangements on rugged men. It’s not what you would expect a book on masculinity to be, it’s not homoerotic,” says Ruiz. “A lot of books for the gay community are explicit; that’s not my mindset. I wanted to create a beautiful, aspirational ideal of what masculinity should be. I don’t consider myself hyper-masculine or hyper-feminine; I think I am a combination of both, and wanted [the book] to manifest that.” (Proceeds from Pretty Masculine benefit New York’s Gay Men’s Health Crisis.)

While many in Ruiz’s position of being at the cusp of a burgeoning mini-empire get drunk on their own power and quest for stardom, he’s stayed humble, approachable and even philanthropic, encouraging people not only to give back, but also to love themselves. That sincerity has set him apart from so many of his flash-in-the-pan reality TV brethren — he seems like the only anchored, non-bitchy regular on The A-List.

“I had a rough childhood, and as a result I have worked really hard and, you know, made my dream come true,” he says. “When I see people struggling, I feel it’s my responsibility to help them empower themselves. I sort of tie that into everything I do these days to pass on the messaging and help the next generation be empowered, because it took me a while to find my footing.”

Footing…. Hmmm, maybe footwear will be his next world to conquer.

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

—  Kevin Thomas

Starvoice • 09.23.11

By Jack Fertig

CELEBRITY BIRTHDAY

Olivia Newton-John turns 63 on Monday. The singer/actress reached queer iconicism as the muse Kira in the roller skating fantasy film Xanadu. She only helped that with her role as Bitsy Mae Harling in the Sordid Lives film and the television series. We think her guest appearances on Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List and Glee her well on queerdom’s radar.

……………….

THIS WEEK

Fresh into Libra, the sun and Mercury stimulate friendly conversation but they’re opposite Uranus and squaring Pluto; any dialogue can turn fiercely argumentative or deliciously wicked. Either way, secrets will be revealed!

………………

LIBRA  Sep 23-Oct 22
Getting older beats the hell out of the alternative. The trick is to celebrate maturity, not to try hiding your age. Staying active and fit is one thing; holding on to your adolescence is another.

SCORPIO  Oct 23-Nov 21
Your energy is high, perhaps hard to control. Worrying about that can turn it into nervous aggravation. Stay focused. Staying where you’re visible will help you stay on purpose.

SAGITTARIUS  Nov 22-Dec 20
If arguments with friends leave you irritated, it’s because they’re right. Be big enough to admit it. You’re in too much demand now to be in a cranky sulk. What you learn can prove helpful at work.

CAPRICORN  Dec 21-Jan 19
Rewards for your accomplishments are more spiritual than remunerative. If that disappoints you, take it in stride. Remember, you’re always being seen and attitude is key to further success.

AQUARIUS  Jan 20-Feb 18
Charm is more persuasive than facts. That doesn’t mean you have to compromise your integrity, but you want to adjust your attitude. Especially with the one you love, remember to be kind.

PISCES  Feb 19-Mar 19
Outstanding debts should wait. Focus on your sex life. What do you really want? Partnered: A long heart-to-heart talk is in order. Single: An adventure can open up amazing new possibilities.

ARIES  Mar 20-Apr 19
Accepting invitations to fun causes as much trouble as refusing them. Adventure and drama are inevitable, so embrace them consciously with eyes open or they will sneak up on you.

TAURUS  Apr 20-May 20
Don’t let work stress you out. Exercise shakes off the tension. Redistributing the workload among your co-workers can help. Staying focused on the goal is important, but don’t obsess on it.

GEMINI  May 21-Jun 20
Your efforts to include friends just annoy them. Let them be the audience when you’re done. If you find a good collaborator, though, it could become more than a working relationship.

CANCER  Jun 21-Jul 22
Make new contacts in your community. You’ll be surprised to discover how well known you are. Those new connections prove helpful in your career. When in doubt, stay close to home.

LEO  Jul 23-Aug 22
Some things need to be said and feathers have to be ruffled. Be tactful, but also be ready to deal with the fact that someone will be upset, and he or she will just have to hear it and adapt.

VIRGO  Aug 23-Sep 22
Be careful whom you contract with in financial undertakings. It could work out brilliantly, but is more likely to be a disaster. Sexual explorations can improve partnerships or help start one.

Jack Fertig can be reached at 415-864-8302 or Starjack.com

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 23, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

What’s gay about this year’s Emmy noms

The Emmy nominations came out this morning, and there are, as usual, lots of gays in the mix.

The most obvious is the continued domination of Modern Family in the comedy category. Last year’s winner for best comedy series was nominated again for that, as well as the entire adult cast (pictured) in supporting categories, including out actor Jesse Tyler Ferguson, who plays half of a gay couple with straight actor Eric Stonestreet. Also up for best comedy series at the very gay (or gay-friendly) Glee (from gay creator Ryan Murphy), The Office, The Big Bang Theory, Parks and Recreation and 30 Rock. The Modern Family men will be up against Chris Colfer, so touching as Kurt, on GleeBig Bang‘s out actor Jim Parsons competes with his castmate Johnny Galecki and prior winner Alec Baldwin of 30 Rock.

Last year’s winner for supporting actress in a comedy, out actress Jane Lynch from Glee, is nominated again, alongside Modern Family’s Sofia Vergara and Julie Bowen, Jane Krakowski (30 Rock), Betty White (Hot in Cleveland) and Kristen Wiig (SNL). Archie Panjabi, who won supporting actress in a drama last year for The Good Wife playing a bisexual lawyer, is also up again, going against Christina Hendricks from Mad Men.

There were big nominations for Emmy (and gay) favorites Mad Men and Dexter, and some real love for the Texas-filmed series Friday Night Lights, which finishes its series run tomorrow on NBC. The cult hit The Killing got several nominations, but best drama series was not among them.

Kathy Griffin’s My Life on the D List was nominated for reality series, with gay hits American Idol, Top Chef, Project Runway, So You Think You Can Dance and Dancing with the Stars are up for reality competition. Gay-ish comedy shows The Colbert Report and The Daily Show are frontrunners for variety/comedy series.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Bill Maher at the Winspear on Sunday night: ‘Your new theater isn’t gonna be clean for long’

Bill Maher

I’ve seen Kathy Griffin perform live, and Joan Rivers and Lisa Lampanelli and Chris Rock — and they are all hilarious and edgy and daring comics who say outrageous things and go places that scare a lot of other comedians — but none of them can hold a candle to Bill Maher. Bill Maher is a shock comic who doesn’t say things just to shock: He says them because they are true.

Last night, at the Winspear Opera House, Maher spoke the truth for a nearly two-hour set, and, in my mind, established himself as the pre-eminent political commentator of a generation. He’s a comedian, too, of course. But really, he’s a voice.

The concert played out more like a rally than a comedian’s concert. “Your new theater isn’t gonna be clean for long,” Maher joked early in the set, before letting loose a parade of F-bombs and angry rants that touched on some easy pop targets (Justin Beiber, Mel Gibson, Charlie Sheen), but were most concerned with weighty issues including gay marriage (Maher said people in the military and the clergy have managed to scare people into thinking that just the sight of gay people will make you gay — in other words, “cock is like dessert at a restaurant — it’s what they’re known for, maybe I should try it”); Democrats’ wishy-washy leadership (when 75 percent of the American public supported repealing the ban on gays in the military, it “was still not enough political cover for these pussies”); his avowed atheism and even Lee Harvey Oswald (“Oh, yes, I went there — even in this town,” said the former North Texas resident).

It’s that fearlessness — he acknowledged that some people would probably be uncomfortable with some of his remarks about religion, not to mention calling Sarah Palin a “cunt” (“there’s just no other word for her”) — that makes Maher the most dangerous person in comedy. He’s painfully well-informed, which means he takes no bullshit from anyone. President Barack Obama took it on the chin almost as much as Rush Limbaugh or Glenn Beck. How dare the President say he would not settle for America being No. 2 — America is already out of the top 10 in most international lifestyle and human rights categories (health care, education, social mobility, women in high political positions). “I’d be thrilled if we were No. 2,” he ranted, noting it’s nice to be behind Bosnia in life expectancy (where the chief cause of death is wolfman attacks, he joked).

Every single Republican in the U.S. Senate, he noted, refuses to acknowledge the legitimacy of global warming. One of the reasons for this, he said, is that oil is very macho: “You’ve got to drill and take it. Wind is a very gay way to get our energy. It’s drill baby drill, not blow baby blow.”

Maher kicked off the evening, though, in defense of the gays, before a largely gay (and certainly gay-friendly) audience, and came back to it time and again. “Tea-baggers have taken a gay sex act — one man dragging his balls across another man’s face — and somehow turned it into something tawdry and disgusting.” Obama was criticized for demanding additional “readiness studies” before repealing “don’t ask, don’t tell” (“How do they conduct those studies?” he wondered. “Johnson, get in here and blow me while I fire this rifle at a target and we’ll compare my scores to before”). His assaults on George W. Bush, the oil industry and all religion (especially the Mormons, though), was particularly pointed in Bible Belt Texas, where even flamers go to church every week. But that’s exactly what I loved about him. You don’t have to agree with everything he says to respect the way he says it — not just to be humorous but to make you think. If our politicians were so brave, we might not be in such deep shit. (Thanks to John Wright for writing down some of the jokes!)

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Paula Poundstone tonight at the Majestic

Poundstoning the pavement

We love our Kathy Griffin and Margaret Cho, but Paula Poundstone was right there with them on the up and up. She’s carved her own queer comedy path which comes this way. We give her props for her stand-up, but she’s crazy hilarious each week on NPR’s Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me trivia comedy show.

DEETS: Majestic Theater, 1925 Elm St. 8 p.m. $31–$106. PaulaInDallas.com

—  Rich Lopez

Weekly Best Bets

Friday 02.25

Poundstoning the pavement
We love our Kathy Griffin and Margaret Cho, but Paula Poundstone was right there with them on the up and up. She’s carved her own queer comedy path which comes this way. We give her props for her stand-up, but she’s crazy hilarious each week on NPR’s Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me trivia comedy show. DEETS: Majestic Theater, 1925 Elm St. 8 p.m. $31–$106. PaulaInDallas.com

Sunday 02.27

Is that an Oscar in your pants?
One of these men (don’t forget Javier Bardem, too) will walk away with a best actor Oscar. You can watch that at one of many gayborhood watching parties, but first, listen to Dallas Voice’s Arnold Wayne Jones and David Taffet talk Oscar on Sunday’s Lambda Weekly on 89.3 KNON at noon. We predict Colin Firth wins. Yeah, we said it.
DEETS: Airs on WFAA Channel 8 at 7 p.m. Red carpet coverage at 6 p.m. Oscar.com

Thursday 03.03

Be Out of the Loop by being in it
WaterTower Theatre knows how to give a theater festival. The Out of the Loop festival returns with 11 days of shows. Faye Lane’s Beauty Shop Stories, pictured, is one of the opener shows and ends with a three-day run of Robert Wuhl’s Assume the Position.
DEETS: WTT, 15650 Addison Road. $10–$20. Through March 13. WaterTowerTheatre.org.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition Feb. 25, 2011.

—  John Wright