Starvoice • 12.16.11

By Jack Fertig

CELEBRITY BIRTHDAY

Jennifer Beals turns 48 on Monday. The actress came to fame in the iconic ’80s film Flashdance. But it wasn’t until 2004 when she resonated with the lesbian community playing Bette Porter for six seasons of The L Word. Since the show’s cancellation in 2009, she’s been seen in The Book of Eli with Denzel Washington and the canceled 2011 Fox series The Chicago Code.

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THIS WEEK

Just before the solstice when the sun enters Capricorn, Venus will leave Cap for Aquarius. It makes a good combination for looking forward with good imagination and your feet solidly on the ground. Start making sensible plans for next year.

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SAGITTARIUS  Nov 22-Dec 20
Being helpful at holiday parties can get you into a better job. Keep a clear head and the rest should fall into place. Missed opportunities could come knocking again. Don’t rule anything out.

CAPRICORN  Dec 21-Jan 19
While your intuitions about money are on the mark it helps to double-check the facts. Avoid dithering and second-guessing yourself. Being rigorous is good; beating yourself up isn’t.

AQUARIUS  Jan 20-Feb 18
There is such a thing as being too nice when you can’t hide bitchy undertones. There are no secrets. Whatever you say will slip out. Talk about celebrities instead of gossiping.

PISCES  Feb 19-Mar 19
Your intuition and advice are worth more than you realize. If you listened to yourself, you’d be better off! Blurting out a secret proves to your advantage if it’s your secret and nobody else’s.

ARIES  Mar 20-Apr 19
Get wild and creative. Explore new ideas. Just remember you are experimenting. Keep it light and fun. Being too sure of yourself can make you look pompous and/or get you into trouble.

TAURUS  Apr 20-May 20
Make every effort to be open-minded. Your ability to assimilate and gain insight can prove very helpful at work. Opportunity will come soon and unexpectedly; be ready for anything.

GEMINI  May 21-Jun 20
Difficult issues need addressing. Be considerate when telling your partner how you feel. The middle ground between saying too much or too little can be hard to negotiate.

CANCER  Jun 21-Jul 22
High hopes for the holidays are dashed. Reconciling between high ideals and realistic expectations is part of growing up. Taking a longer view will help you keep a positive perspective.

LEO  Jul 23-Aug 22
Christmas is whose birthday? Not yours. You just want to make things fun and bright, but it’s too easy to overdo it. A quiet hug or a small, elegant gesture is often more effective than a big to-do.

VIRGO  Aug 23-Sep 22
Holidays are not about getting historical facts right, disturbing your family with revelations or proving something. Think about what matters, and when and how best to tell them — but later.

LIBRA  Sep 23-Oct 22
Shocking your partner can be a good thing, but not with a cattle prod. When creative passions go overboard let your sweetie reel you in. Just let that be a further creative challenge.

SCORPIO  Oct 23-Nov 21
Your critical eye on community affairs is not always appreciated. Getting the diplomacy right can be a challenge. Don’t be wishy-washy or obtuse. Solicit a friend to help get your point across.

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

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 16, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

Uh Huh Her tonight at Cambridge Room

L Word 2.0.

Who couldn’t love Leisha Hailey as Alice on The L Word? Adorable, smart, tenacious. Don’t expect any of that tonight as she and Camila Grey hit the stage as Uh Huh Her. The House of Blues and Keep A Breast Foundation have teamed up for this breast cancer awareness tour with UHH as the headliners. The band also tours in support of its just-released second album Nocturnes. So this isn’t just a concert, it’s a win-win for everyone with new music and raising awareness for National Breast Cancer Prevention Month.

DEETS: With Jarrod Gorbel. Cambridge Room (at House of Blues), 2200 N. Lamar St. Oct. 28 at 8 p.m. $20. HouseOfBlues.com.

—  Rich Lopez

Starvoice • 08.19.11

By Jack Fertig

CELEBRITY BIRTHDAYMarlee+Matlin

Marlee Matlin turns 46 on Thursday. Matlin is the youngest woman at 21 to win the Oscar for best actress for Children of a Lesser God in 1981. She gained a new fan base by going lesbian as art professor Jodi Lerner in The L Word. She placed second in this year’s season of The Celebrity Apprentice.

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THIS WEEK

Venus and the sun entering Virgo should point the way to clean, simple aesthetics, but aspecting Uranus and Pluto on the way could trigger some very drastic housecleaning. Thorough is good; ruthless, not so much. “Pirate Jenny” captures the dark side. Nina Simone sings it on YouTube.

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VIRGO Aug 23-Sep 22
Every birthday brings you closer to your remaining accomplishments. Consider how you can change the world. Your most daring ideas need harnessing and work. What’s stopping you?

LIBRA Sep 23-Oct 22
Your situation at home provokes anxieties. Focus on your responses. With focus, you can minimize the angst. With clearer insights you improve the external situations triggering them.

SCORPIO Oct 23-Nov 21
When friends get on your nerves, shrug it off. Turn that irritability into productive criticism. Think before speaking, to improve techniques and productivity without dissing your colleagues.

SAGITTARIUS Nov 22-Dec 20
If you must channel Bette Davis at work, be harder on yourself than everyone else. Being brilliant doesn’t get you ahead; getting the job done does. Stay on track and get the job done brilliantly.

CAPRICORN Dec 21-Jan 19
Turn that critical mind on your own roots, your sense of your childhood and family. Talking with siblings can help if you can listen with open heart and mind. It may not be easy.

AQUARIUS Jan 20-Feb 18
Focus on sexual health. A complete physical check-up is always a good thing. Meditate also on your needs and desires. Are they at odds? Are they realistic? You may have some hard choices.

PISCES Feb 19-Mar 19
Feeling the pinch can strain a relationship. As long as your partnership comes first, pooling resources makes any future more affordable.

ARIES Mar 20-Apr 19
Rushing to succeed, you step on colleague’s toes. Apologize and exercise some foresight and consideration. Your teamwork skills are key to maximizing your own accomplishments.

TAURUS Apr 20-May 20
Your idea of fun has more to do with embroidery or repairing furniture than shaking your bootie. Taking on challenges doesn’t mean following a herd. Your friends love you as you are.

GEMINI May 21-Jun 20
Reconciling family issues and sexual values is more complicated than hiding the “gay” when Mom comes to visit. When tempted to criticize relatives, try asking questions instead.

CANCER Jun 21-Jul 22
Dressing and acting like a martinet could start a hot scene in the bedroom; in real life it’s a turn-off. Keep your eyes and ears open; your words well-measured and discrete.

LEO Jul 23-Aug 22
Sexual healing is real; shopping isn’t. Amorous adventures at least offer possible rewards along with the risk. Think ahead about your financial, spiritual and physical health in any event.

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

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 19, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

The L world

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PRIDE OF LESBIANS | Debbie Forth, left, co-created the new web show ‘Lez Be Proud,’ depicting the everyday lives of her and fellow cast members, left to right, Dawn, Lauren and Kristi. The show debuts Friday.

The women of the new web series ‘Lez Be Proud’ put real life on display

RICH LOPEZ  | Staff Writer
lopez@dallasvoice.com

Lately, reality TV is all about the ladies. The drama of a real housewife is addictive to watch. Bridezillas make for the most bizarre entertainment. Even the lives of policewomen are on display.

Lesbians have entered the fray with The Real L Word, but one show expects to take the catty drama away to portray the true life of everyday Texas lesbians.

“Most GLBT television exposure and media coverage do not portray us or even come close to our family dynamic,” says Debbie Forth, creator of the web series Lez Be Proud. “We also know that our lives do not reflect the norm that is promoted in the media. Our lives include homework, soccer practice and work. I tossed this idea around in my head for some time.”

Instead of the sensationalism portrayed by network shows, Lez Be Proud hopes instead to educate and bring awareness to issues faced not just by lesbians but the entire LGBT community, and to highlight local charities and life in Texas.

Lez Be Proud show follows business owner Forth and three other women: Dawn, a communications and telecom specialist, and Forth’s partner; and another couple, Kristi, a vice president of a business management firm; and Lauren, a senior loan officer in a bank. One of the emphases is on Dawn and Forth’s family unit: With two children and a baby daddy in the mix, they truly depict a modern family.

“People we meet are always intrigued by our relationship and the dynamic we share as a family,” Forth says. “Meanwhile, the idea of same-sex marriage and the opposition to our lifestyle was constantly in the media.  This negative press left me questioning, ‘Where’s my voice?  Who would understand my family and view?’  I liked the idea of promoting our positive alternative family to give others in the community hope for their families.”

Lauren and Kristi have unique stories of their own. Kristi comes from a Southern Baptist background and was a youth minister; Lauren finds the importance of equality for all people through her personal trek.

“I came to America with my family to escape communism in Vietnam in order to live in a free country,” she says. “Many Americans take their freedom for granted while others still try to take away the freedoms of those who are different.  I hope my story makes people more aware of the prejudice and persecution that homosexuals experience in pursuit of the rights and respect we deserve.”

Dawn’s military background kept her in the closet for much of her adult life. She plans to relate that experience as well for people who struggled during their service — and are perhaps still struggling.

“I was always feeling I had to keep my personal and professional lives segregated. I’m ready to live a life that allows me to be totally true to my family and myself.  I hope to share the inner sanctuary of my home with others so that they can see that it is possible to be out, proud and professional,” she says.

The show may sound like something heavy PBS might run, taking itself very seriously, but the teaser trailer on the website has polish and a light tone. It hints at the packaging of those previously mentioned network shows but with an added wholesomeness. Being that they do have hopes for a network pick up, it would seem only minor adjustments would needed to be made to graduate up to TV.

This first season is expected to consist of a minimum of eight episodes running about 20 minutes each, with plans to expand as it grows in sponsorships. The show debuts May 27 on LezBeProud.com. Future episodes will be archived on the site and can also be seen on OneMoreLesbian.com.

What it definitely is not, is the Real L Word — even if this is a reality show about lesbians and their daily lives. Kristi sees humor in the comparison, but works to dissolve the idea that these women have lives centered solely around sex — or rather, reality TV sex lives.

“Our show is more about educating people and having them not see us as second-class citizens,” Kristi says. “We have families, we’re CEOs, we have houses. We represent all levels of society and for people to know us as human beings instead of lesbian. That’s what’s gonna change the world. That’s our goal.”

The cast talks with good energy about the show, but interestingly has already received flak. There have been complaints that they are “too pretty to be lesbians.” Three of the four are also Anglo, leading to criticism the show doesn’t represent the diversity of the community. But, they defend, it is still a work in progress.

“We’re only here to start this not finish it,” Kristi says. “We want to see more culture and we love the butch community. This show is for all shapes sizes colors and cultures. Too pretty to be lesbians? Really?”

If their goal is network, there are some templates that most shows have to have. Of the Lez Be Proud cast, one has to be the bitch of the show.

“Ha! We’re told if a network picks us up that we need to have some strong personalities,” Kristi laughs. “We don’t have a bitch character, but if you ask any of us on a day we might be arguing, we’ll certainly throw them under the bus.”

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Show me the money: Bravo’s grab for glamour glory

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Platinum Hit premieres May 30 at 10 p.m.; Million Dollar Decorators premieres May 31 at 10 p.m., both on Bravo.

In order to get a show on Bravo, it doesn’t hurt to have one of three words in your title: “Top” (as in Top Chef and its spinoffs), “Housewives” (as in one of the seven iterations of that franchise — “real” is also acceptable) and now, it seems, “Million.” From Million Dollar Listing to Millionaire Matchmaker, Bravo seems to be selling glamour: hence, the reality show Million Dollar Decorators debuts the same week as Platinum Hit (platinum, million — same diff).  Neither reality series is as compelling as the network’s biggest hits.

Platinum at least has the somewhat tarnished pedigree of host Kara DioGuardi. You may call a cable show slumming for the former American Idol judge, but based on this Idol season, I say she was thrown off a sinking ship. Not that there’s much to keep this one afloat. A dozen budding songwriters compete to compose the next pop hit, but listening to writers (most without instruments or strong voices) croak through their R&B isn’t the best way to showcase talent (though several shine). And DioGuardi, paired with host Jewel, doesn’t show any better judgment than she did on Idol. There are some cute contestants (none clearly gay based on the premiere), but we have enough pretty-boys in the music biz. We need more substance than Platinum Hit manages. Yeah, cuz substance is what reality TV does best.

The uber-gay non-competition Decorators trots out familiar tropes — so familiar as to be ho-hum. This type of show rises and falls on the personalities of the cast NUP_142281_1129members, above; sadly, “bitchy drama queen” has become a description meant to apply to most people in every reality show — which basically means none of these stand out (well, maybe former boy model Ross). Pretentious, egotistical even self-deluded claims to influence (“Sometimes I think my job is more important than the president,” one says; “That goes without saying,” agrees his friend) define most of the men and women here, even as they deal with artificial crises (“Sharon Osborne needs it three weeks early!? I guess I’ll have to make my magic again!!!”). Been there, decorated that.

— Arnold Wayne Jones

 

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition May 27, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Starvoice • 05.20.11

By Jack Fertig

CELEBRITY BIRTHDAY

Pam Grier turns 62 on Thursday. The iconic actress helped defined the blaxploitation film movement of the ’70s with Coffy and Sheba, Baby. She resurfaced in Quentin Tarantino’s Jackie Brown which she followed up with her role as the fun-loving Kit Porter in the lesbian drama The L Grier1Word. She came to Dallas last year to promote her bio Foxy: My Life in Three Acts.

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THIS WEEK

Pluto and Eris, both in hard aspect to the sun, bring out everyone’s competitive streak, crank up the stakes and complicate the struggle. Communication is the key, which means you have to listen very carefully.

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GEMINI May 21-Jun 20
You’re sexy as hell. So what? You really need to buckle down to work and think hard about the future. You may not like what your friends are telling you, but they have good advice. Pay attention.

CANCER Jun 21-Jul 22
Your imagination is a trap sucking you away from much needed work, but it’s also a powerhouse to fuel your ambitions. Stay focused. Your partner is there when you need attitude adjusting.

LEO Jul 23-Aug 22
Get ready to lose an argument. Getting rid of something you’re sure of can be the best thing that could happen. Deluxe bonus: Being an open-minded good sport will be mighty sexy.

VIRGO Aug 23-Sep 22
Achieving your goals takes some shrewd maneuvering. Be careful whom you trust. Your mate has helpful insights, even if they are sneaky. Better ideas come while away from work.

LIBRA Sep 23-Oct 22
Explore new ideas to your health regimen. Competitive sports help keep you healthy. Competing with yourself counts. Keep it cheap. A library book can be better than a gym membership.

SCORPIO Oct 23-Nov 21
Verbal aggression helps you get ahead. A little creative writing —journaling, imagined dialogue or a short story — can help you find the words you need.

SAGITTARIUS Nov 22-Dec 20
If you’re looking for true love, get involved in an arts program and let go of expectations. Keeping a love you have will require abandoning expectations and working some of your creativity.

CAPRICORN Dec 21-Jan 19
You come off way too strong in a turf war. The resulting argument exposes old resentments but starts a healing process. Well, it could, but that won’t be easy.

AQUARIUS Jan 20-Feb 18
Struggle between your deepest desires and economic necessity feels brutal. A light, playful conversation with your partner  can help you find a way to afford your dreams, or find reconciliation.

PISCES Feb 19-Mar 19
A siege mentality at home will not solve any problems, and instead make them worse. Same old tactics get same old results. Keep your mind on long-range goals and entertain new ideas.

ARIES Mar 20-Apr 19
Clear the air and get something off your chest, but how you do that can make motivations look nasty and bring similar results. Confide in your partner, or look for guidance from your boss.

TAURUS Apr 20-May 20
Give yourself room to vent. Everyone’s feeling the pinch. Economic problems are everywhere, but holding the pressure in and stewing silently only undermines your ability to cope.

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

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition May 20, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

All the single ladies should check out this casting call for Texas-based web TV show ‘LezBeProud’

Beginning April 15, four Texas lesbians will be front and center in the new web TV show LezBeProud. The show looks to be much like The Real L Word, but Lez focuses on two couples and all the Texas drama that goes with it. Amen, sistas! But the show is missing a single lady and has a casting call posted smack dab on their homepage. Here’s what they’re looking for:

Be a part of THE Ladies….
LezBeProud is looking for a “single” lady who doesn’t mind exposing her life to find true love. We are looking for someone who is proud and has a story to share with the world. This “single” lady must have a fun attitude, amazing personality, a few character flaws (so we know you are just like us), and most importantly you must have an open heart free from past jaded relationships.  Is that even possible in the lesbian world?

Submit an email with photo and tell The Ladies why you would like to tell your story on LezBeProud and why you are truly ready to find your soul mate.

The website is looking pretty slick and hopefully the show will too. The show invites peeps out to Sue Ellen’s, 3014 Throckmorton St., for the launch party. “Sizzle with the Ladies” on April 15 at 9 p.m. It will be filming that night as well for a future episode.

—  Rich Lopez

WATCH: Uh Huh Her at House of Blues

I was sad to not have made it out to the Uh Huh Her show this past Monday at the House of Blues — especially after talking to Camila Grey, half of the duo for last week’s ish. She and Leisha Hailey (from The L Word) came to town after a four-day stint in Austin at SXSW, but looks like they drew a decent crowd at Cambridge Room inside HOB. Just watch out for the vertigo-inducing sideways turn the video takes.

The band also debuted their new video today for their newest single “Black and Blue” on RollingStone.com, which also the title track to their current EP. Minimalistic video, but I’ve been digging the song. And who know Leisha could rock out? Watch it after the jump.

—  Rich Lopez

Uh Huh Her to stream tonight’s SXSW performance before stopping in Dallas

In this week’s issue, I spoke with Camila Grey about her band Uh Huh Her and how they have approached their second album. You might recognize them more as “that band Leisha Hailey is in.” The L Word star started out in music with another pop duo, The Murmurs.

UHH is doing the SXSW bit right now before heading up to town, and you can watch them live tonight via streaming web for a sneak preview of what their Monday show might be like. It’s just a 25 minute set so hopefully your buffering won’t act up. The band performs tonight at 10:30 p.m. for the Sessions at the Factory and the gig will be livestreamed here.

—  Rich Lopez

Spanish fly

We’ve gotten pretty used to gay cinema after all these years, and if there’s one thing we’ve learned it’s this: Gay Spaniards are hot. And while we tip our hat to Pedro Almodovar for starting us down the road of queer Latin loverboys, we appreciate the variety of outlets now available to us. You can’t have too many Hispanic guys getting it on, if you ask me.

Which probably explains my latest Internet obsession, Gayxample. Set in Barcelona’s gayborhood, the Eixample District (called Gayxample by queer locals), the web series launched last week by introducing us to a middle-aged bear couple (Rafael Tejada, Kikko Bomometti, pictured) who are visited by one of the men’s straight nephew who doesn’t know his uncle is gay. The plot rolls out in expected sitcom-y fashion, with lots of campy jokes and awkward confrontations and a sentimental resolution.

If the series owes a lot to the style of gay soaps like Queer as Folk and The L Word, it does so with more than its fair share of nudity and humor as well as a Mediterranean abandon

It also improves as the series progresses (three episodes were available for screening), with even more sexy guys and, reliably, Tejada, who never hesitates to take off his shirt (and pants for that matter).

It’s also an ideal show for Texas: Although mostly in Spanish, you can also watch a version subtitled in English. We like a little bilingualism with our campy queer comedy. Muy caliente!

— Arnold Wayne Jones

New episodes available weekly on Saturday on Gayxample.net.

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

—  John Wright

Backtracking

THE U WORD | Texan Camila Grey, left, teamed with ‘L Word’ star Leisha Hailey to form indie duo Uh Huh Her.

As they make their way to SXSW, queer duo Uh Huh Her scales back for sophomore release

The dream of most bands might be to find a label and release a well-produced debut album. Hustling to keep it afloat? Not so much. Job security is still a nice thing, even in the music industry.

Uh Huh Her sees things differently. You might even think they just took two steps back after a major leap forward.

“Yeah, we are weirdly going the other way,” laughs Camila Grey, half of the  indie duo. “Our success was immediate: We got picked up by a label right away and had this glossy pop album under our belts.” But despite that welcome mat, Grey and her music-making partner, Leisha Hailey, wanted to work for their success. So they did what any new band starting out would do. They dumped their label.

Uh Huh Her’s 2008 debut, Common Reaction, was a stellar disc of well-constructed songs that hinted at ’80s New Wave with alt-rock sensibilities. Recalling the likes of Ladytron and Le Tigre, UHH was poised to become the Next Big Indie Thing. They were far from hurt by the built-in audience brought in by Hailey, star of the lesbian drama The L Word.

“That was our core fan base because the audience did follow her,” Grey says. “That was also part of the immediate success. But we’ve been able to grow it from there. Now our audience is all over the place, from straight couples to gay kids. And it’s just widening.”

Having been off the radar for most of the past year, UHH is set to release their second full-length album, Nocturnes, later this spring. Grey promises a grittier, edgier, more personal sound.

“The beauty of this album is we did it all on our own,” she says. “I produced and we recorded it in our own studios. I think it’s bringing us back to our roots. We want to focus on this again and give it another go.”

With a liberated approach, Grey didn’t feel the pressures to sound a specific way as “encouraged” by her label.

“We have lives aside from the band and the realistic situation was knowing we can do this on our own terms,” she says.

Grey and Hailey produced an EP at breakneck speed and took it on the road. Six tracks made up Black and Blue, recorded and packaged in less than two weeks to use as a promotional tool for the tour. They have taken their musical destiny into their own hands.

“We work really well under pressure,” Grey laughs. “The whole thing has been labor of love and we put more care into these two things. There’s no pressure from The Man anymore.”

UHH is on the road now, and will play in Dallas after coming off gigs at Austin’s South By Southwest Festival, where they could easily be cited as the next It band if the right people see, blog and tweet them well. But Grey isn’t concerned about being that band; she’s a musician at heart and creating music is her primary goal.

UHH played SXSW two years ago, but Grey is throwing expectations out the window to just have fun. They have four days of gigs lined up before heading to Dallas, where she was born (she grew up in Austin). What surprises her most is the Dallas audience.

“Texas always gives us more love,” she says. “It’s so weird the markets that we’re popular in are more conservative ones. We’ve always had a packed audience with great energy in Dallas. Houston’s the same. You’d think that would be more so in a city like Austin.”

Guess Austin hasn’t cornered the market on knowing good music after all.

— Rich Lopez

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

—  John Wright