The date from Hell

fire

 

Brent PaxtonSome things in life that happen are just too wild, bizarre, extreme or otherwise “interesting” that you cannot help but think, “Someone just has to hear this story.” Well, a recent series of incidents that took place in one evening proved that to me. And I just can’t keep this to myself.

Let’s start at the beginning: I’ve been chatting with a certain someone for years on Facebook. He’s an attractive man in his late 30s, with a successful career, a beautiful home and a nice dog. We’re both introverts at heart but love the limelight to an extent.

We’d chat about how we need alone time, but that we’re both getting to a place in our lives when we need to be more social and spend more time developing friendships and potentially find a romantic partner. We had a lot in common in that department.

Mild flirtations back and forth seemed to build into something that could really go somewhere. So we finally decided to meet.

For the first time in a long time, I felt like I was doing something good for myself. I was putting myself out there, and I was going to have fun — whether we had chemistry or not. I wasn’t expecting to be swept off my feet, but I was hoping, at the very least, for a good night.

We decided to meet at his house on Friday night and I arrived at 7 p.m. sharp, as we had agreed. The house was gorgeous, with a perfectly manicured lawn and a grandiose front door with a large dungeon peephole. The drapes were open and I could see into an open space designed to immediately relax you and impress you. Things were looking up.

He came to the door and I saw that he looked just like his picture (Not to be shallow, but so many do not). Another good sign. But little did I know what the night would bring.

We made our way into the living room. He made me a drink and we began to make small talk. It was actually divine; either he was an expert schmoozer or we were definitely hitting it off. When I caught a glimpse of my watch, I realized an hour had passed. Wow! Time often feels like it’s crawling in these situations, but with him an hour just blew right by. I was in heaven.

Then, the doorbell rang. Frantic knocking immediately followed.

My future husband looked as surprised and confused as I did. He poured me another drink then went to shoo whoever it was — probably a door-to-door salesman pushing a security alarm service or something. No problem.

He peeked through the peephole and — “Oh, God!”

Did he just “Oh God”? Are we about to get burgled? Who could it be at the door. Then came a booming female voice with a British accent: “Open that door NOW!” Mr. Dreamboat turned to me, mouthed “I’m sorry,” and opened the door.

A woman that could have walked right off the set of The Stepford Wives barreled inside, marched right into the living room and poured herself a drink. She was a 40-something woman that obviously took very good care of herself, was wearing a pink pantsuit that was both businesslike yet very girly and playful. But she wasn’t in a playful mood.

“I need to talk to you right this instant!” she insisted, not even noticing me until she poured her drink. When she did notice me, she demanded to know who I was, and when he explained he was on a date, she deigned to allow me to stay.

I can stay? What is this, The Bachelor? Do I need to compete for my date’s attention all night or what?

I probably should have left right then and there, but the feeling that things were just getting interesting kept me on the couch. She brushed her long brown hair behind her shoulders, straightened her $2,000 pantsuit and sat down beside me.

We introduced ourselves and I soon learned she and Mr. Husband-Material were not only best friends, but were also launching a new business venture that was in the midst of some major difficulties. Those problems had pushed her husband into full-on meltdown mode over those problems, and she was there because she and my date had to do something to fix it immediately.

It all sounded too personal for me to be privy to the conversation. But they just kept going while I sat there sipping on my drink. Ms. Pantsuit’s concern for her husband seemed very real and very urgent. But she stayed calm, obviously having navigated his nervous breakdowns before. “We’ve got to find him before he does something rash,” she declared.

My date pulled me aside, acknowledging how crazy the situation must seem and telling me I could leave if I wanted. But his eyes pleaded with me to stay. I told him I could leave, or if he really wanted, I would stay. I was calm, as if I watched these kinds of scenarios play out all the time.

“Okay, good,” he told me, “because I may need backup.”

Then he patted me on the back and went back into the living room like we were marching into battle. The thought occurred to me that maybe I should have run for the door.

Soon they get Stepford Wife’s husband on the phone and the pleading begins: “Where are you? For God’s sake, you’ve had me worried sick.” Barely intelligible words slurred at her through the phone; obviously, he was knock-down drunk.

My date asked where he was, told him they were coming to get him but — Click! he was gone. Ms. Pantsuit really started to worry and poured herself another drink. She paced the floor, a drink in one hand while the other waved wildly as she debated loudly over her husband’s whereabouts.

I stayed calm, chiming in when I thought I could be helpful: “Where does he normally go at this hour?” She looked up at me with a blank face. I couldn’t tell if she was suddenly grief stricken, about to lash out like Miranda Priestly from The Devil Wears Prada or just deep in thought. Then I realized she was staring at a photo, on the wall directly behind me, of the three of them at a famous steak house. She barked at my date, demanding that he “call them, immediately,” as if he were her assistant. I could tell she was a loving friend but could be very demanding.

My date calls the steak house, and they confirm that he’s there and very drunk. They want him out of there ASAP, they say, explaining that since he’s a long time customer who spends lots of money there, they’re glad a friend or spouse can pick him up instead of them having to force him to leave.

Before I knew it, the three of us had piled into luxurious Mercedes-Benz with a ride so smooth you barely noticed the tension and worry in the car.

We pull up to the restaurant valet and Ms. Pantsuit and my date look at each other expectantly, both seemed to be waiting for the other to get out and get the man they were so very concerned about moments before.

“Everybody knows me in there, I don’t want to make a scene,” she said in her British accent that made everything sound posh and elegant.

“Everybody knows me, too! How many meetings have we had in there,” my date replied. It seemed odd to me that they would care about reputations when their dear friend — and her husband — was belligerent at the bar. Who cares what anybody else thinks?

They both look at me, their eyes begging: “Oh no, I don’t think that I could …”

Flash forward five minutes, and I’m walking up to the bar, having easily spotted the plastered husband. I politely tap him on the shoulder and let him know that a car has been sent for him. Motioning to the bartender, he answers, “Can you hear that? They sent a car for me! Guess that means

I’m big time now!” The bartender smiles weakly, looking at me with his own pleading eyes that beg me to “get him and go!” I tell him the car is right outside, and he starts to get up, putting his hands on my shoulders for leverage. But I wasn’t expecting to be holding up his weight, and we both tumble to the floor.

The entire restaurant is looking at us now, and I am mortified. No wonder Date and Pantsuit didn’t want to go in. While I am embarrassed, Drunk Husband is sprawled out on the floor, laughing hysterically. Is this man The Joker?

He starts to get up, then thinks better of it and starts to crawl toward the door. Oh my gawd! “Here…get up. Let’s get you home,” I tell him.

Finally, the poor man gets up and I really start to feel sorry for him. I resolve to not judge him, to just get him safely to the car. But at the very moment he stands upright and begins to walk, a beautiful young woman in a tight dress walks by. And somehow, the man who could barely walk seconds before has the energy to hold on to me with one hand and slap her ass with the other.

Smack! Right on the side of her right butt cheek. It was so loud you could here it echo through the restaurant. We both turn to look at her. Me in total disbelief. She snapped around, face red and eyes full of fury, and slapped him hard across the face. I couldn’t believe her laser precision; her hand came so close to my face that I thought a fingernail was going to slice right through my cornea. But she missed me and instead left his cheek as red as her face.

I pick up the pace, alternately pushing and dragging him toward the door. He was so drunk he barely registered what had happened. If I hadn’t been practically attached to him at the hip, I would have broken out into a full-on sprint for the door. He barely knows me but is holding on for dear life, struggling not to fall again AND he just assaulted some poor girl! Somebody get me out of here!

After what felt like an eternity, but was probably less than a minute after the booty-slap, we made it to the car. I swung open the door and practically pushed him into the back seat. At lightning speed, I zip around the car, hop into the backseat yelling, “Drive! Now!”

Date and Pantsuit knew instinctively that something went terribly wrong, and Date-turned-Taxi-Driver slams the car into drive. But before we can leave, a man who looks like John Cena’s bigger brother starts crawling over the patio barrier. My eyes lock with his, and I feel sheer terror: This must be 20-Something’s boyfriend. Oh my God! He gets over the barrier, leans back to grab a full glass of some alcoholic beverage and throws it at the back window of the Mercedes, shattering the glass into a million pieces. It sounded like someone had just shot into the car.

I couldn’t believe this was happening! Am I dreaming? No! “Drive!” I yell.

I thought glass from the window was going to rain in on us, but it didn’t. The glass and its contents were scattered across the parking lot, but the window was still intact. I was so thankful, praying to God that John Cena’s more muscular brother wasn’t going to follow us home and murder us all with bare hands.

We pulled up to Date’s lovely house and I jumped out, leaving my date/getaway driver to wrangle his drunk friend. My eyes were darting up and down the street, waiting to see if the angry Spartan had followed us.

My God! Only hours ago I stood in this driveway full of hope. Now, I was full of terror. It took about 20 minutes for me to believe that the murderous muscle man hadn’t followed us and we weren’t about to live out a scene from Scream. Thank you, Jesus!

By then, I had decided I had had enough of this highly interesting trio for one evening, and I took my leave. How did a simple date turn into such a complete and total disaster?

I can’t say that I regret the evening, because it was a little fun to watch this shit-show unfold. But I definitely had had enough drama for one evening. God knows what happened after I drove away, with Mr. Wonderful watching me from his front steps with the “I’ll probably never see you again” eyes. In fact, that’s exactly the text I got later that night: “Never see you again?” I thought about it and realized I may be an introvert, but I don’t mind a little drama here and there. You only live once, right?

I responded, “Never see you again, huh? I wouldn’t be so sure about that.”
Until next time,
XOXO

Brent Paxton is a writer, screenwriter and filmmaker living in Dallas. You can follow him on Facebook at Facebook.com/BrentPaxton, and contact him at bpax@outlook.com or 903-922-4988.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition June 23, 2017.

—  Dallasvoice

Celebrating 47 years of hope

Cathedral-of-Hope

The Rev. Neil Cazares-Thomas

Cathedral of Hope celebrates its 47th anniversary this summer with a variety of events. The centerpiece is a series of fundraising dinners in homes and restaurants throughout July and August.

The Rev. Neil Cazares-Thomas said two years ago that members did something like this and were very successful, explaining that “It gave people an opportunity to support the church and build relationships.”

He said with such a large congregation, building relationships can be a challenge. The dinners allowed smaller groups to get together to form friendships and help the church, and they allowed people active in the church to invite friends so they can “brag on the church and share its vision.”

A number of other events and speakers are planned throughout the summer.

The Big Bowling Blow-out takes place from 6-9 p.m. on July 7 at AMF Richardson Lane. And for two weeks, beginning July 9, the Cathedral will be transformed into an art gallery featuring a collection of original 20th and 21st century movie posters and art, including Texas artists and commissioned works.

On July 23, writer and producer Del Shores will be on hand, with cast members Ann Walker, Emerson Collins (producer), Rosemary Alexander, Newell Alexander, for a screening of Shores’ new film A Very Sordid Wedding.

The Rev. Elder Troy Perry, founder of Metropolitan Community Church, will be the guest of Cathedral of Hope for the July 29-30 anniversary weekend. Cazares-Thomas said this will be Perry’s first visit to Cathedral of Hope since the church left the denomination and joined United Church of Christ. Perry will attend a reception at 7 p.m. on Saturday and will be the guest preacher at the 11 a.m. service on Sunday.

Cazares-Thomas said the visit would heal the divide created when Cathedral left the denomination. Before coming to Dallas, Cazares-Thomas was pastor of Perry’s former church in Los Angeles.

Mayor Mike Rawlings will be presented the Hero of Hope Award at the church’s Aug. 27 11 a.m. service. A reception on Aug. 26 at Hilton Dallas/Park Cities Hotel honors the mayor’s work for equality in Dallas.

— David Taffet

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition June 23, 2017.

—  Dallasvoice

Pet of the week • 06-23-17

Simba

Say hello to Simba, a bona-fide house panther with sleek black fur and bright yellow-green eyes. Ok — he’s actually a 2-year-old domestic shorthair mix. But like his namesake, he is friendly, loyal, playful and adventurous. He will roar — or meow — excitedly every time you come to visit him. He loves being petted, playing with all kinds of toys, eating yummy treats and making new friends. He is positive for FIV, a manageable but transmittable disease, so he’ll need to be the only cat in the home. Simba has been neutered, microchipped, tested negative for FeLV and has received all age-appropriate vaccinations. #148301

Simba is waiting for you at the SPCA of Texas’ Jan Rees-Jones Animal Care Center in Dallas, 2400 Lone Star Drive near I-30 and Hampton Road. Hours are noon-6 p.m. Sun-Wed, noon-7 p.m. Thurs-Sat. Regular adoption fees are $250 for puppies, $125 for adult dogs 6 months or older and kittens 0-6 months, $75 for adult cats 6 months or older and $50 for senior dogs or cats 7 years or older and VIP dogs and cats (available for adoption for 30 days or more.) Fee includes spay/neuter surgery, age-appropriate vaccinations, a heartworm test for dogs six months and older and a FIV/FeLV test for cats 4 months and older, initial flea/tick preventative and heartworm preventative, a microchip, 30 days of PetHealth Insurance provided by PetPlan, a free 14-day wellness exam with VCA Animal Hospitals, a free year-long subscription to Activ4Pets, a rabies tag and a free leash. Call 214-742-SPCA (7722) or visit today.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition June 23, 2017.

—  Dallasvoice

OBITUARY • 06-23-17 • Nathan Cullen Terry

Nathan-Cullen-Terry

Nathan Cullen Terry, age 50, went to be with his Lord Thursday, May 25. He is survived by Raymond B. White III (Trey), sister Elizabeth C. Moore of Abilene, brother Clay Terry of Elizabeth, CO., brother Marshall C. Terry of St.George, Utah many nieces, nephews, extended family and lifelong friends.

There will be a Celebration of Life at 7 p.m. on Thursday, June 29 at White Rock Community Church 9353 Garland Road.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition June 23, 2017.

—  Dallasvoice

The Gay Agenda • 06-23-17

Gay-Agenda-image-06-02-17

 

Have an event coming up? Email your information to Managing Editor Tammye Nash at nash@dallasvoice.com or Senior Staff Writer David Taffet at taffet@dallasvoice.com by Wednesday at 5 p.m. for that week’s issue.

Weekly: Lambda Weekly every Sunday at 1 p.m. on 89.3 KNON-FM. This week’s guests are Brian Price and Theresa O’Donnell from LGBT Employee Association of Dallas; United Black Ellument hosts discussion on HIV/AIDS in the black community (UBE Connected) at 7 p.m. every fourth Tuesday of the month at 3116 Commerce St., Suite C; Core Group Meeting every 1st and 3rd Tuesday of the month at 7 p.m.; Fuse game night every Monday evening except the last of the month at 8 p.m. at the Fuse space in the Treymore Building, 4038 Lemmon Ave, Suite 101; FuseConnect every Wednesday from 7 p.m. For more information call or e-mail Jalenzski at 214-760-9718 ext 3 or Jalenzski@myresourcecenter.org. LGBT square dancing group Pegasus Squares meets every Sunday from 3-5 p.m. at Dallas School of Burlesque, 2924 Main St #103; Dallas Frontrunners meet for a walk or run on the Katy Trail at the Robert E. Lee statue in Lee Park every Wednesday at 7:15 p.m. and every Saturday at 9 a.m.; Leadership Lambda Toastmasters practices and develops speaking and leadership skills from 6:30-8 p.m. on Tuesdays at First Unitarian Church, third floor of the Hallman Building, 4012 St. Andrews.; Gray Pride support group from 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. followed by mixer every Monday at Resource Center, 5750 Cedar Springs Road; Lambda AA meets at 7 a.m., noon, 6 p.m. 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. and has a men’s meeting at 10 a.m. on Saturdays and meets at 10:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Sunday at 1575 W. Mockingbird Lane #625. Call 214-267-0222 for details; DVtv in Spayse, news and entertainment discussion live streaming every Friday, 4-5 p.m., on the Spayse Station YouTube channel.

JUNE
• June 23: Friday Night Trivia Fight
Legal Hospice of Texas and NexBank present a fundraiser that pits teams of eight against each other in a four-round trivia bout made up of crazy, fun categories and questions in this ultimate battle of wits from 7-10 p.m. at Fair Park, Hall of State, 3939 Grand Ave.

• June 23: Gay Pride Shabbat
Congregation Beth El Binah, TE-LGBT and Temple Shalom LGBTQ Pride celebrate the ancient Jewish holiday Gay Pride Shabbat. Pre-service Oneg Shabbat at 6:30 p.m., service at 7:30 p.m. at 11211 Preston Road.

• June 23: Oak Lawn Band
Fourth annual March for Freedom Concert. This year’s theme is Express Yourself, and the band will present its Pillar of Freedom Award to Don Jenkins, aka Donna Dumae, at 8 p.m. at the Latino Cultural Center,
2600 Live Oak St.

• June 23: Angels After Dark
Be An Angel dinner is sold out, but tickets are still available for the delux afterparty, Angels After Dark, honoring LeeAnne Locken, The Reverend Dr. Neil G. Cazares-Thomas and Dallas Red Foundation hosted by Sister Helen Holy with entertainment by Vince Martinez at 9 p.m. at Seven for Parties, 150 Turtle Creek Blvd #107. $45-65. Tickets at bit.ly/legacyangel2017.

• June 24: Queerbomb
From 5 p.m.-2 a.m. at RCB, 2617 Commerce St. A free Pride Month event.

• June 24: Brave Spaces
The Humanities Division of the Dallas Public Library screens Human Rights Campaign’s documentary Brave Spaces exploring issues of sexuality, faith and intersectional justice at 3 p.m. in the Erik Jonsson Dallas Public Library, First floor auditorium, 1515 Young St.

• June 24: Sharon Needles
Friends With Benefits presents Dezi 5, several comedians and at 11 p.m. Sharon Needles to benefit local nonprofits and LGBT individuals in need from 7 p.m.- 1 a.m. at food truck venue Backyard on Bell 410 North Bell Ave., Denton. $10-15.

• June 24: Spades & Waves
A day of lunch and cocktails on Cedar Creek Lake with proceeds going to HRC from 11 a.m.-8 p.m. with location provided upon RSVP. $100. Room block under Human Rights Campaign for overnight stay at La Quinta Inn, 210 Heritage Parkway, Gun Barrel City.

• June 25: InterWaco-LGBT town hall
InterWaco-LGBT, Equality Texas, Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas and Centex Action Network will host a Texas Special Session Town Hall to address bathroom bill, access to healthcare, and education legislation. The event will take place on June 25 from 2–4 p.m. at the Lakeshore Baptist Church, 5801 Bishop Drive, Waco.

• June 25: TAG Picnic
TAG — Tyler Area Gays — holds its annual picnic at Southside Park, 455 Shiloh Road in Tyler, from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. For information visit TylerAreaGays.com or call 903-312-2081.

• June 25: Divas and Desserts
Ms. Texas Leather 2017 presents Divas and Desserts benefiting the charities of the United Court of the Lone Star Empire. A drag king and queen show accompanies desserts crafted by Chef Sharon Van Meter from 6:30-9 p.m. at 3015 at Trinity Groves, 3015 Gulden Lane. $75. Tickets at DivasandDesserts. Eventbrite.com.

• June 25: PriDenton 2017
Denton Trans-Cendence, GlitterBomb, Oak Street Drafthouse, Outreach Denton, Pan Ector, Pride Alliance, Stonewall Democrats of Denton County and Texas Queerlesque Festival sponsor Denton’s LGBT Pride Month celebration from 2-8 p.m. at Oak Street Drafthouse, 308 E. Oak St.

• June 25: Fears for Queers LGBT Film Festival
Seventh annual film festival includes world premiere of Carlos Suarez’s Thieves and benefits GALA Youth from 1-6 p.m. at the Texas Theatre, 231 W. Jefferson Blvd.

• June 27: GALA Mixer
Monthly family-friendly, networking, socializing mixer benefits GALA Youth from 5-8 p.m. at Durkins Pizza,
8930 TX-121 #594, McKinney.

• June 29: LGBT loss support group
Support group for LGBT people who have lost a same-sex partner or spouse at 7 p.m. at Oak Lawn Library, 4100 Cedar Springs Road.

• June 30: Tyler equality rally
Area LGBT and progressive groups will join the East Texas Stonewall Democrats in a celebration of equality. The Stonewall Equality Rally & Progressive Pub Crawl begins at 5 p.m. on the downtown square. Facebook.com/EastTexasStonewallDemocrats.

JULY
• July 1: Boom Goes the Dynamite
Charity America show celebrating America’s freedom benefits Rhonda Mae’s Wall of Food, Tucker’s Gift and the Texas Red Ribbon Wish Network at 7 p.m. at BJ’s, 3215 N. Fitzhugh Ave.

• July 7: Big Bowling Blow-out
Bowl for Hope supports the mission of Cathedral of Hope from 6-9 p.m. at AMF Richardson Lanes, 2101 N Central Expy., Richardson. CathedralofHope.com/47years.

• July 7-9: Beyond Vanilla
Judy Tallwing is the keynote speaker.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition June 23, 2017.

—  Dallasvoice

‘Ann,’ frankly

Linda Leonard transforms into the  firebrand guv

Ann399

The current production of Ann, about firebrand Texas Gov. Ann Richards, begins with the actual video of her infamous keynote address at the 1988 Democratic National Convention. Then actress Linda Leonard walks onstage to take over, and I’ll be damned if there aren’t several moments (especially if you just listen) where you forget you’re watching a performance. Leonard manages the same folksy bite — a steel claw masked by a velvet glove, dripping in Texas honey — that made Richards iconic, whether you liked her or not.

The play itself has structural issues — it opens on a bare stage at a commencement address for an unknown college, transitions to a long stretch of one day inside the governor’s office, then goes back to the lecture — but the portrait it paints is pure Ann: Her feisty, foul-mouthed, not-always-correct, indecisive, exacting, troubled comic energy. I was never in a room with the woman in real life, but I feel like I was after this uncanny performance. 

— Arnold Wayne Jones

Irving Arts Center,
3333 MacArthur Blvd., Irving.
Through July 8.
StageWest.org.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition June 23, 2017.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Cassie Nova • 06-23-17

Hello, my lovelies! Run! Run for your lives!

The oppressive heat of Texas summer is here, and it turns me into a recluse for most of the day. My vampire instincts take over in the cool darkness of my house. I hiss at the brightness of the day knowing I should endure a little sunshine to help build up some vitamin D. But the heat… the humidity… I can’t… I am… a heat pussy. And apparently a little dramatic.

Last week, I watched the reunion episode of this season’s RuPaul’s Drag Race. I love the show and have watched every episode. There is a young, beautiful Latina queen named Valentina that got folks on the social medias going crazy. Raquel, a fellow drag queen and personal friend, made a Facebook post about not liking Valentina, and people lost their damn minds. Raquel got called names and even received death threats over not liking a drag queen on a reality show. What the actual fuck?! What has this world come to?! If you disagree with someone and you feel you have to respond, then have a good ol’ debate about the subject. If some of y’all woulda been as passionate about this last election as you are over some queen on TV, then we wouldn’t be in the mess we are in right now.

I appreciate fans defending their favorites. Lord knows I love knowing I have fans who love me, who will argue for me and defend me if ever I need it. But threatening someone is ridiculous. Just because it seems that the world is tolerating bullying doesn’t mean that we have to do it. We as a community are better than that. Hiding behind a keyboard and saying awful things doesn’t make you look cool, it makes you an asshole. Argue, disagree, have a heated discussion … but show respect, please. We don’t all have to always agree, but we should strive for understanding. Oh and entertainers, if your fans are crossing a line in their defense of you, it’s on you to tell them to chill out. A true fan will respect your wishes. I know there will always be folks that wanna be mean, but we can choose to ignore them and move on.

Speaking of moving on, let’s take some callers.

Dearest Cassie, Hi — long time listener, first time caller. I am also a drag queen and wanted to get your advice on something. I was recently asked via Facebook to perform at a wedding for a cute little gay couple. I have been Facebook friends with one of the grooms for a few years, and I know they have been to a few of my shows, but I have never actually spoken to either of the grooms — my point being that we are not close friends. I asked how much they were going to pay me, and they seemed upset that I asked for payment. They proceeded to tell me it was an open bar, and they promised I would have a good time. Gurl, I’m kind of worked. What would you do in this situation? Signed, Help a sista out!

Sista Gurl, You should be worked. I would be. I may piss people off for saying this, but those grooms are cheap-asses! Look, drag queens do our fair share of benefit work — every queen I know will do a charity event at the drop of a hat. But a wedding is not a charity! It might be different if you were close friends with them; I am ordained and have been asked on numerous occasions to officiate for couples, but even my friends know to pay me if they want me at their function.

I was recently asked to do an event on a random Thursday afternoon at a big company. They wanted a funny drag queen, so someone gave the guy my name. We messaged back and forth a few times and I asked about payment. Pause. It took a while for him to get back to me on that one, then  he asked if they could pay me with gift cards. I don’t know about you, but I can’t pay my bills with an Applebee’s gift certificate. I don’t think that people realize that for some of us lucky few, drag is our job. I wouldn’t ask you to do your job for free. So I said “no, thanks — I prefer cash or a check,” and a few days later, he informed me that they were “going in a different direction.” It bothers me that some people don’t see what we do as a job. Yes, it is fun, but drag is still a lot of work.

If you are good at what you do — and I am, toot-toot — you should get paid a decent wage for your services. I appreciate drag’s charitable roots. But if you are being asked to perform at a private function, you have every right to be paid.

I hate it when they ask “How much?” I never want to offend the person with some crazy amount, but I also don’t want to devalue myself. I usually ask what their budget for entertainment is and go from there. I take into consideration if I have to take off from a show or if I can still make it to my regular show after the function.

I am past the phase of being in drag just to be in drag. Drag is my livelihood. Anyone who wants a drag queen at their party just for the coolness factor… pay that bitch! For all the companies that want to be trendy and show how open-minded your company is… pay that queen! And just because you go out to the shows and tip a drag queen on a regular basis does not mean that queen wants to be at your party in full face, even if it is an open bar. So good luck Sista Gurl. Get your coins.

Speaking of paid bookings, years ago I was asked to perform at a bachelor party in The Colony. They paid me $250 and all I had to do was perform one number and hang out for about an hour. It started off being one of the most horrible experiences of my life — nothing but uncomfortable straight guys and a few catty bitches laughing at how awkward the whole situation was.

I brought my friend Lee so I would know at least one person there. The lady that booked me kept passing out shots, so by the time I did my song, everybody was feeling good. It ended up not being as bad as I thought, but that first hour there almost killed me. The other awkward thing was that I was dancing around their living room with giant hair and platform shoes and I kept hitting my hand on their ceiling fan. It was so weird. They literally just moved the coffee table so I would have a place to prance around. There were looks of disgust, confusion and a few guys loving every second of it. It was crazy, but I got paid!

Remember to always love more, bitch less and be fabulous! XOXO, Cassie Nova.

If you have a question of comment, email it to AskCassieNova@gmail.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition June 23, 2017.

—  Dallasvoice

QueerBomb takes Pride back to its roots

Celebrating Pride is an ‘act of revolution,’ organizer says

Queer-bomb

Photos Courtesy Tom Rubeck

Tammye Nash | Managing Editor

 

We started QueerBomb four years ago because we sensed a need for change in the community, specifically in the way we celebrate Pride,” explained QueerBomb organizer Daniel Mullens-Spencer.

“We wanted to do a Pride celebration that was in Pride Month, one that was free from any corporate entanglements,” he continued. “We wanted a celebration that was a truly raw representation of our whole community, something that was free and fun and some place that everyone can come to and feel welcome.”

QueerBomb is being held Saturday, June 24, from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. at RBC, located at 2617 Commerce St. in Deep Ellum. It will include a rally and a march as well as a dance party featuring live entertainment, and it is designed, Mullens-Spencer noted, to be as much a political statement as a celebration.

Q-Bomb-2“We’re going to a have a rally full of all kinds of local organizations. We will have LGBT artists and crafters there. Lawna Jocqui [with the DFW Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence] will emcee the rally, and we will have a whole line-up of beautiful speakers from different parts of the community, parts of our community who don’t normally get their voices heard,” he said.

Those speakers include trans activist Drew Jones, 2017 South Central Leather boy Dontrel Johnson and Niecee X with the Black Women’s Defense League.

“We really want to bring all these voices forward,” Mullens-Spencer said.

At the heart of the QueerBomb philosophy, he said, is the idea of “taking Pride back to its roots. The original Pride parades were protests and marches, and they were extremely political. Being out there, being ourselves and being proud is an act of revolution, in our opinion — especially in this current political climate.”

Right-wing politicians currently in power — in the federal government and especially here in Texas — have put the LGBTQ community clearly in their sights. Mullens-Spencer said QueerBomb and its supporters aren’t going to let them keep the community down.

“Yes, Pride is a celebration,” he said. “But we embrace the political side of celebrating who we are. They [right-wing politicans] want us to be afraid.

They want us to disappear. In QueerBomb, we say nope. We are not going anywhere, and we are not going to be silent.”

That’s one reason that QueerBomb is held outside what is commonly thought of as the gayborhood. “We go into a straight club, in a straight area to hold our celebration, our rally. Because we want people to see us, to see who we are and that we will not go away,” Mullens-Spencer said.

Last year, QueerBomb was dedicated to the victims and survivors of the massacre at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub. This year, it is dedicated to LGBTQ youth. “They are some of the bravest, most amazing young people in the country, and especially here in Texas, where our governor and lieutenant governor have put them under attack,” Mullens-Spencer said.

While some have seen QueerBomb’s more activist Pride events in June as being at odds with Dallas’ traditional Pride events — the Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade, this year sponsored by Lakewood Brewing Co., and the Festival in the Park, held each year in mid-September — Mullens-Spencer said there’s room for both.

Mullens-Spencer said that while he personally tends to be more on the in-the-streets, in-your-face end of the LGBT activism spectrum, he knows that those who work behind the scenes play an important role as well. He sees these difference between QueerBomb and the September Pride events as similar to the differences between in-the-street activism and behind-the-scenes activism.

“I certainly don’t want to try and put any rules on what you can and can’t be proud of, or what and how you can and can’t celebrate,” Mullens-

Spencer said. “We chose to have our Pride event at the end of June because that is the actual anniversary of Stonewall [June 28]. We got tired of people not knowing why we celebrate Pride, why June is Pride Month. QueerBomb is a remembrance of Stonewall and everything it stood for and everything it meant.”

Q-Bomb-3He also pointed to a recent controversy over the city of Philadelphia’s decision to add a black stripe and a brown stripe to the usual six-color rainbow Pride flag as an example of why QueerBomb strives to be as inclusive as possible.

“I’ve heard people — mainly white cisgender [LGBT] people — complaining about the extra stripes, saying that the flag already represented everyone,” Mullens-Spencer said. “I tell them to think about it this way, think of the brown and black stripes as a reminder of the diversity of our community. Those two stripes represent the parts of our community that are in the most danger right now, that are the most under attack. It is absolutely appropriate to lift up those people right now. It is the right thing to do at this juncture.

“I think,” he continued, “that we really need to stop and take a step back and look at ourselves right now. We want people to treat us better, but we have to be better, too. We want to get to a place of equality, but if we want to get there, we have to take everybody with us.”

Again, though, he said, Mullens-Spencer isn’t saying that those who choose to stay with the six-stripe rainbow flag are wrong.

“Every expression [of Pride] is valid and has weight,” he said. “I’m not saying everyone has to be the same or think the same. I personally find the brown and black stripes to be be very beautiful. I think adding them to the flag mends some rips in our community. There is lots of baggage we have carried with us for a long time; we have to move beyond that. That’s what QueerBomb is about.

“A ‘bomb’ can mean a lot of things,” Mullens-Spencer concluded, “and sometimes, things have to come apart to be rebuilt better. We have to have conversations like these. We will end up being a healthier community because of it.”

……………….

QueerBomb Dallas 2017
Saturday, June 24
Rally, march and party
RBC, 2617 Commerce St., Deep Ellum

5 p.m.: Rally Yard opens, with DJ Shams, local organizations and artists hosting booths.
6 p.m.: Countdown to Impact with spoken word artists Lady BSmoove, Gayle Bell and Rodd Gray, followed by a performance by Mercury Rocket.
8 p.m.: Pride Rally, hosted by Sister Lawna Jocqui of the DFW Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence and featuring speakers South Central Leather boy 2017 Dontrel Johnson, Niecee X of the Black Women’s Defense League, trans activist Drew Jones, artist and QueerBomb organizer Alex Stone and activist/artist and QueerBomb organizer Daniel Mullens-Spencer.
8:30 p.m.: QUEERBOMB, when the LGBTQ community takes to the streets of Deep Ellum to celebrate Pride.
9:30 p.m.- midnight: Big D Queer Dance Freakout and Celebrate on the Rally Yard stage with DJ Wiley, DJ Athena and DJ Night Nurse.
10 p.m.: Bombshell Drag Spectacular on the RBC Main Stage, hosted by Raquel Blake, with special guests BLEACH! Nicole O’Hara Munro, Kandy Cayne, Fantasha and a special midnight performance by Starfruit.

……………….

Big Pride in Little D

A coalition of groups is celebrating Big Pride in Little D — or PriDenton — with several events on June 25.

The day’s activities begin with Denton Trans-Cendence hosting the first Denton Trans March. The group will gather at Denton Square at 2 p.m. and march “to the Denton Pride Event at Oak Street Drafthouse, where we will join the rest of the LGBT community in celebrating PRIDE in Denton,” Denton Transcendence wrote on its Facebook page.

Oak Street Drafthouse, several blocks east of the square, hosts PriDenton from 2-8 p.m., billing it as “a family-friendly gathering of fun and fellowship with our beautiful diverse community.” Located in one of the oldest houses in Denton, the drafthouse’s outdoor yard has picnic tables and is dog-friendly. Food trucks will be parked on the street for the occasion.

One PriDenton sponsor is t-shirt printer Pan Ector that will offer on-site printing of Denton, Pride and LGBT t-shirts.

Other sponsors include University of North Texas Pride Alliance, Stonewall Democrats of Denton County, OUTreach Denton, Glitterbomb, CRUZ Consulting and Diversity Training and Texas Queerlesque Festival. OUTreach Denton began with LGBT youth programming by the Unitarian Church in Denton and has expanded to offer other LGBT social and activist events. Glitterbomb performs a variety show weekly at Mable Peabody’s.

Mable Peabody’s, Denton’s LGBT bar that is located close to Texas Women’s University of East University Drive, hosts a weekend of Pride events beginning Friday, June 23 with Queeraoke. Saturday is Omni-Freak Dance Night and on Sunday doors open at 4 p.m. for free hotdogs and chips.

On Saturday, the food truck venue Backyard on Bell, 410 North Bell Ave. in Denton hosts comedians, Dezi 5 and RuPaul Drag Race star Sharon Needles. Proceeds from the event benefit local nonprofits and LGBT individuals in need. The event takes place from 7 p.m.-1 a.m. Needles is set to take the stage at 11 p.m.

— David Taffet

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition June 23, 2017.

—  Tammye Nash

Organizers expect bigger crowd at 2-day Pride

Survey: Parades as relevant as ever in today’s political climate

Doughman.Michael

Michael Doughman

 

DAVID TAFFET | Senior Staff Writer

Many in the LGBT community are more likely to attend a Pride event this year than last, and most believe Pride is as relevant now as ever, according to CMI Community Marketing & Insights annual survey of the community nationwide.

Last year, 47 percent of survey respondents said they attended Pride. That number jumped to 63 percent this year. Whether or not they attended, 84 percent said the political climate made Pride important, and 82 percent feared a rollback of recent equality gains.
Full results of this year’s survey will be released on July 5.

Thousands of people traveled to Washington, D.C., from around the country for the June 11 Equality March. Visitors added to the crowd at D.C.’s Pride parade held the day before.

The only large parade held in Texas in June is in Houston. That parade takes place on June 24 and already attracted hundreds of thousands, even before the political climate turned sour.

Dallas Tavern Guild Executive Director Michael Doughman coordinates the Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade and Festival in the Park in September.

He said organizers are “preparing for more people. The theme is Stand Up, Speak Out. In this political climate, we have to raise our voices.”

This year, the parade and festival in the park will take place on separate days — the festival on Saturday, Sept. 16 and the parade on Sunday, Sept. 17. Although he expects more people, Doughman said spreading Pride out over two days makes it logisitcally easier, especially regarding security concerns. When the parade continued from Cedar Springs Road down Turtle Creek Boulevard into Reverchon Park, police were needed along the entire parade route and additional police were positioned in the park, he explained. But this year, the parade ends at Turtle Creek Boulevard, and the shorter route will be easier to secure.

While some police presence still will be required along Maple Avenue for the Saturday festival, there won’t be the same flood of foot traffic crossing the street, since no one will be coming from the parade.

Because of recent terrorist events, Doughman said Homeland Security has required a couple of extra meetings to discuss additional security procedures.

“It’s the times and escalating anger, which leads to random acts of violence,” Doughman said. “It all blossomed out of the Trump campaign.”

He said safety for the event requires more vigilance, security and planning. In the festival, only clear bags will be allowed for safety.

“See something, say something,” Doughman said. “People have to do their part. We can’t just rely on the police.”

Doughman said they’re preparing for possible disruptions like those that happened in D.C. by protesters who said the parade was too corporate.

Without corporate participation, he said, Dallas wouldn’t be able to afford the security the city requires to stage the parade or the festival.

He said the parade doesn’t accept every company or political candidate that applies to participate. Those companies in the parade offer same-sex partner benefits and have LGBT employee organizations.

“We’ve vetted companies and candidates for years,” he said.

This year’s festival should be more inclusive with Teen Pride moving into the park with other community groups and events.

“We’re getting additional mainstream vendors at the festival,” Doughman said. Among the largest group of new booths are vendors from Puerto Vallarta and Canada plus visitor/convention bureaus and LGBT chambers of commerce from other U.S. cities and other Pride events.

A second stage will be added to this year’s festival featuring local talent. Auditions to appear on the stage take place from 1-4 p.m. on July 22 and 29 at The Rose Room.

Doughman said this year’s parade and festival will be as welcoming and inclusive as possible.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition June 23, 2017.

—  David Taffet

2 sharp cookies

Mera Tucker is already known for her cookies. Now she and her spouse Jimmie are putting their reputation to work

Cookie-art

Tammye Nash | Managing Editor

It all started with some Surly Bitches. Surly Bitch cookies, that is.

It was back in 2004, shortly after Mera and Jimmie Tucker first became a couple, when Jimmie showed Mera a cookbook that had been put together and sold as a fundraiser for the leather community in Portland, Ore. It was called The Doomed Rabbit cookbook, and one recipe that caught Mera’s eye was the one for Surly Bitch cookies.

She made the cookies — “The directions were like, ‘Put in the eggs and beat ‘em til they scream.’ It was a cookbook put together by the leather community, after all” — and they were a hit. Before she knew it, Mera had become known for the beautifully decorated — not to mention tasty — cookies that she and Jimmie donated by the dozens for all kinds of charitable efforts in the LGBT community.

“In the gay community, we do a lot of community building and a lot of fundraising in the bars,” Mera said. “Somebody was also looking for a donation for some kind of fundraiser. Jimmie and I couldn’t always afford to donate some expensive item. But we always had the ingredients for cookies!”

Now, some 13 years later, Mera is “semi-retiring” from her job with Neiman-Marcus, and she and Jimmie are setting out on a new adventure: Cookies not just for fun, but for profit, too.

As of Monday, June 26, Mera will be semi-retired from her job as the office manager for the service teams handling maintenance for Neiman-Marcus facilities in several regions. She had planned, she said, to retire completely, but her boss talked her into still working mornings four days a week. Most of the rest of her time she will spend on her own brand-new business, Tucker Inn Cookies.

“We never really planned to go into the cookie business, but it happened,” Mera said with a shrug. Jimmie added with a nod, “Yeah. It has really snow-balled.”

It was Angela Aaron Winchester [aka Charles Aaron Grimes-Winchester) and Jeffery McGuire, empress and emperor XXIX of the International Court de Fort Worth/Arlington, who were “the first to ask us for a large order of cookies” for a court event, Mera recalled. “We made snowflakes with stained glass centers. They were beautiful.”

She continued, “She was the very first one to give us a chance with a big order like that.” And after the former empress passed away early this year, her husband “asked me if I would take all of Angela’s cookie-making stuff,” Mera added. “It was a huge honor to me that he asked me.”

Tucker’s Inn Cookies has provided cookies for numerous coronations and other court events since then, for the Imperial Court de Fort Worth/Arlington and for the United Court of the Lone Star Empire in Dallas. (The fact that Jimmie was Emperor XXXVI for the Dallas court means the Tuckers have a special connection and dedication to the court system.)

Mera and Jimmie “donate cookies almost every weekend to somebody” — from leather community organizations and events like the International Leather Sir/boy contest, to court events, to TGRA and more. Every spring with the Texas Bear Round-Up comes to town, they bake up batches and batches of cookies and sell them all weekend long at the TBRU host hotel as part of the United Court’s TBRU bake sale.

“The first year [of the TBRU bake sale], we raised about $4,000 selling cookies to bears,” Mera laughed. “But we are equal opportunity cookie donators. We donate to all the organizations. In fact, I always say that I owe my artistic ability to court and the other organizations because they always have a theme, and it’s always a different theme. They’ve had every freakin’ theme you can imagine, and I have made cookies for every theme they’ve had!”

Mera and Jimmie’s homes — first in Oak Lawn, then in Richardson and now in Irving — have always been known as Tucker Inn, since they always seem to end up housing those who come in from out of town for events or who need a place to stay for whatever reason. Their recent move from Richardson to Irving has given them a chance to set up Mera’s cookie-making paradise, even though it’s a little smaller than their home in Richardson.

Now in the living room, she has her “office” set up — an armoire that holds the equipment she uses to decorate, like the dehydrator and the edible image printer and the enlarger that she uses to create logos and designs. There’s also a huge drawer full of “sprinkles,” because “you can never have too many sprinkles,” and a desk that holds her computer. That way she can watch TV while she decorates the cookies.

But it’s the kitchen and the “cookie rooms” in the back of the house where the wow factor lives. Huge boards on the walls in two rooms hold hundreds and hundreds of different cookie cutters, all meticulously arranged. More cookie cutters are housed in bins beneath the board in one of the rooms.

The other room holds a new, giant freezer where the dough and cookies can be safely stored, and a small round table, that can be expanded to seat up to eight people for the cookie-decorating parties she hopes to hold there.

The kitchen, complete with double ovens, offers plenty of room for the baking part of the process — a part that many people might not realize that Jimmie handles. “Jimmie does all the baking,” Mera said with a grin. “I always get distracted and burn them. Jimmie gets them just right.”
Jimmie also makes a mean batch of brittle, from the usual peanut brittle to her specialty, pecan and bacon brittle. (Yes, really. Bacon.)

And when there’s cake baking to be done, that’s Jimmie’s job, too. “I can’t bake a good cake to save my life!” Mera noted.

“I just love this house,” Mera continued. “It’s really nice that we are so centrally located now, and it’s not hard to get anywhere from here. And we have the house set up really well for the cookie business. I am really looking forward to the classes and the parties.”
Mera and Jimmie admit they have a bit of trepidation, as anyone would embarking on a new business venture. But they are going into it with a bit of an advantage.

“We’re kind of in a unique spot,” Mera said. “Because of the donations, we already have a following and a reputation. Still, we’re just now actually opening our own business. It’s a leap of faith. We’ll see how it goes.”

………………..

Finding Tucker Inn Cookies
Brand new website goes live today at:
TuckerInnCookies.com
Facebook:
Facebook.com/pg/TheTuckerInn
214-212-179

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition June 23, 2017.

—  Tammye Nash