Gay for pay kicked off its tour in Dallas with new queer travel guru Nick Vivion

ARNOLD WAYNE JONES  | Life+Style Editor

ON THE ROAD  |  Nick Vivion spent family time in Dallas but never doin’ gay stuff.’ Now as the guru, all he does is the gay stuff. (Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)
ON THE ROAD | Nick Vivion spent family time in Dallas but never doin’ gay stuff.’ Now as the guru, all he does is the gay stuff. (Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)

Nick Vivion’s grandparents were from Dallas, so he visited the city many times when he was younger. “But I’d never been here doing gay stuff,” he says.
That changed last week. In a big way.

It might not be MacArthur returning to the Philippines, but Vivion marched victorious to his old family haunts with great fanfare, as Dallas was the first stop on the “Travel Guru” tour. And Vivion is the guru.

In some way, it’s a far cry from where the 27-year-old Seattle resident imagined he’d be back in college. He went to school hoping to become a movie director of features, “like Spielberg.” Then he discovered documentary filmmaking and his outlook changed. “There are so many good stories out there you don’t have to make up,” he says.

His interest in filmmaking, photography and travel led to a passion and his livelihood since graduation: Making travel videos for Lonely Planet and YouTube, where his videos scored more than a million hits.

“I’ve been traveling doing films for about four years,” he says. “It is my profession.”

So when he heard that was holding a contest to find an ambassador to scour the globe coming up with unique stories about gay destinations, he threw his hat in the ring.

“This is not the first travel contest I’ve applied to — probably the 12th or 13th,” he says. But it did seem like a good fit: wanted a gay guy to do gay city tours. Still, it did require a leap of faith.

“I had always been reluctant to be the gay host or the gay travel guy. Then Prop 8 happened and that changed my perspective a little bit. I saw that I have the ability to capture the essence of what it means to be gay, to get paid to do what I do and share the gay experience a little more.”

Vivion won the contest during a competition last month in Las Vegas, where finalists were told to make a good travel video within 36 hours of touring the city. His product, plus an interview that was included a pageant-y question-and-answer portion, cinched his victory.

Dallas had dibs to be the first city on the tour, and Vivion had hoped to be here for Pride, but the timing was too tight. Instead, he launched his tour last Thursday, spending five days exploring everything from the Strip to the State Fair.

“I had a lot of fun at Gay Bingo — it was a blast to be silly with Jenna Skyy,” he says. “I have a lot of respect for drag queens and what they do, and she’s one of the best I’ve ever seen at being witty without being mean — very even-handed. And just to see the energy of so any people coming out for it, so many people to continue to support it was inspiring.”

Vivion admits he was a bit unprepared for the first leg of his trip — “It’s a blur” — but over the course of his six-month commitment as the guru, he hopes all the cities are as welcoming as Dallas proved to be.

“I’m hoping to kind of find good content about gay destinations. There will be plenty of nightlife coverage but I’m not trying to talk just about places to get drunk. In the end, it’s about inspiring people to travel. That’s what’s important to me.”

Vivion went from Dallas to Santa Fe with plans to spend Halloween in New Orleans. You can follow his tour — and see what he has to say about Dallas — at

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 22, 2010

—  Kevin Thomas

Taste maker

Using his skills at detail and aesthetics as pastry chef, Rick Griggs moves his art from the plate to the canvas

RICH LOPEZ  | Staff Writer

PIECE OF CAKE | Former pastry chef Rick Griggs now produces work that won’t be gobbled up — he comes out as an artist with his first solo show Saturday. (Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)
PIECE OF CAKE | Former pastry chef Rick Griggs now produces work that won’t be gobbled up — he comes out as an artist with his first solo show Saturday. (Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)

Cameron Gallery,
1414 Dragon St. Oct. 16–Nov. 18. Opening night reception at
6 p.m.


Call it an identity crisis or a leap of faith, but Rick Griggs has his mind made up. With more than two decades of experience as a pastry chef, Griggs is in the midst of a career change. Earlier this year, he switched away from regimented hours of working in a restaurant to the nebulous schedule of a full-time artist. And with that move came a bundle of nerves and uncertainty.

“I’m nervous in the monetary sense, not getting a regular paycheck,” Griggs says. “But it’s also exciting. It’s like an adventure —  you don’t know how it’s going to unfold. That’s part of the fun of it. Not knowing is a little bit nerve-wracking. But I tend to be a free spirit.”

This week Griggs will have his first solo show, Out of the Blue, at the Cameron Gallery in the Design District, marking a fairly significant moment for him. His artwork has been featured in local magazines and hangs in prominent public spaces and Dallas homes, but this is sort of his coming out moment as an artist. After years of building up a reputation as a quality pastry chef, he now has to reinvent and reintroduce himself to the local scene. But he’s got a head start.

“I show at Abacus and Jasper’s,” he says. “They have my work on rotation.”

“Rick has always been one of the greatest pastry chefs I’ve ever worked with and turns out, he’s an incredible artist as well,” says Kent Rathbun, the chef who was Griggs’ boss for eight years at Abacus. Rathbun himself is an art lover; his Plano restaurant, Jasper’s, was named after its inspiration, the gay artist Jasper Johns.

But it was not until Rathbun’s annual Dallas Art Party this year that Griggs seriously planned a change. Although he had been working on his art and selling it, pursuing his passion as a career was the next step for him to move forward. But really, he’d been living his dream for 20 years.

“This really was a natural progression,” he says. “My eye  became more refined in doing pastry work. Your vision changes as far as what you’re doing and I think if I’d started painting in 1984, I’d be doing different things now. With that time and learning technique, I think I’d be more layered, a better artist.”

There is a relation, though, between his pastry work and his painting — which means he could be a better artist than he gives himself credit for.

“I see a lot of similarities,” says Griggs. ”I use a palette knife because I realize there is a technique similar to  putting icing on a cake. A lot of my work also has that splattered paint like I’ve used with sauces. It’s a lot of the same fluidity and control.”

Griggs’ creative streak stretches back to his youth. His father worked in a very specific design world: archery. Being around that, Griggs got used to working with wood and paints. He says that was part of the foundation for his interest in art and also home restoration.

Griggs calls these subliminal influences which are coming out now in his work.

Griggs says it’s hard for him to explain his art. Visually, it’s abstract with geometric sensibilities. But interestingly, he says they are spontaneous and even reactionary. They are preconceived ideas or visuals but manifested into something altogether different when he begins each piece.

“I’d say it’s very intuitional and responsive. The paintings are a very subliminal rendering or an abstraction that could be relative to organic landscapes or architectural renderings,” he says.

Griggs’ culinary career began in 1984 and took him to Miami, New Orleans and Athens, then brought him back to Dallas and The Mansion on Turtle Creek before going to Abacus. Still, Griggs doesn’t think he’s leaving food behind.

“I still will dabble in food,” he says. “I have thought about opening my own business. Just as long as I can paint.”

“The intersection between art and food is basically the same — it’s a stimulus for people,” Rathbun says. “Rick has the ability to trigger two senses, which I think it truly unique and fascinating.”

Part of his personal plan is to begin his own coffee shop/gallery where his two passions can merge together. Which is an interesting notion considering what he says has pushed him to concentrating on the visual arts.

“I’ve always loved interiors and cool spaces and museums and I think the permanence of a painting versus the impermanence of food really drove me,” Griggs says. “I can spend hours and hours creating a food product that will disappear in moments, but a painting is everlasting. To me, there is a lot of reward in that.”

Griggs is working on getting the last pieces hung and then, once the show starts, he’s at the mercy of the art-loving universe.

“The exciting part is seeing how people react to it,” he says. “But I also wanna sell the art and that’s the most nerve-wracking. You have to sell to continue to produce.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 15, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas

Opening ‘Closets’

Patrick Moseley’s debut novel also begins a new chapter in his (gay) life

RICH LOPEZ  | Staff Writer

Patrick Moseley
ADVENTURE OUTING | North Texas teacher and first-time novelist Patrick Moseley comes (further) out of the close with his new book. (Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)

When closets become a recurring theme in a gay novel, let’s just say it’s fair to think the author is working through some issues. With Locked in Closets and Other Fairy Tales, Dallas author Patrick Moseley has not only written his first book, but also takes a leap of faith as a gay man.

“I think we create culture that forces people into the closet and forces them into the recklessness,” he says. “Society still drives or keeps people into those places.”

This is an issue he’s dealt with all of his 36 years — until recently. He has been slowly coming out for a while, but Closets could be his rainbow moment. If only it were that easy.
“It’s one of those complicated things,” he says. “I know I can’t get fired for my orientation and if I’m out, there isn’t so much that can be done about it. But it does complicate things. So I just don’t make those issues at school.”

Moseley is a high school teacher, so his outness has to be, well, different. As an educator, the gay thing can demand a delicate balance. Moseley knows he’s a good teacher and has found success as a coach, but even a slight misstep could affect his career. He experienced a kind of quiet discrimination at his last school, so he remains on guard.

“Because I teach and coach, I tend to be more discreet than others,” he says. “I worked in a very conservative district. I was moved out of my head coaching position with the intention that I’d leave. There are things I don’t talk about but I don’t want to feel like I’m hiding. And I wouldn’t discuss [being gay] with a student at school anyway.”

In Closets, the reader follows Roger, a 70-something gay man who has so locked himself away from life that he crashes into other people’s lives. But how does a 30-something come close to relating a septugenarian’s gay life story and drag queen adventures?

“Roger and I have experienced a lot of the same things,” Moseley says. “All the characters interweave with what I’ve dealt with, especially that fear of taking the next step. I feel like the book exposed me and I lost some things that were important to me. The sadness of the characters and their fear is by far mine.”

Funny, since the original intention was for the book to comedic. Conjuring Monty Python, he based his title on the notion that locking yourself away was prevalent. As he proceeded, Roger’s tale went into darker territories.

“I liked that idea of someone being locked in a tower and that fairy tale rescue kinda deal,” he says. “It’s a lot easier to lock ourselves in situations, but then closets become a theme in the book and not just dealing with the usual homosexual issue.”

Moseley’s personal experiences of growing up strongly religious, being outed at 24 and having to ask people to stop trying to fix him naturally found their way into his novel. He says that although it’s not Christian fiction, God becomes a dominant character as the characters do battle, trying to figure life out.

“One thing I struggled with along the way is figuring out how God plays into our sexuality,” he says. “I believe and always have that sexuality is created. How can He create you and tell you you’re no good?”

Questions like these seem to strike the author. Moseley has a fun-loving sense of self, but when he delves just a bit to deep, his eyes shift for a moment. He searches for an answer and in his eloquent way, finds one.

“Roger is learning to embrace himself. I guess at times, we hide and shy away from things that could have been great.”

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

—  Michael Stephens