Through the ‘Looking’ glass

How the Texas Bear Round-Up impacted one of the stars of ‘Looking,’ and other thoughts on the legacy of a groundbreaking series about modern gay life


It was “goodbye for now” as the cast and crew of HBO’s modern-queer dramedy Looking stood in the rising San Francisco sun tearfully hugging as they concluded production on the story-ending made-for-TV movie. Just like in the film’s final scene, Daniel Franzese, who plays Eddie, reminisces, “We broke night.”

Of course they did. Looking was, ultimately, extraordinarily ordinary, a time-capsule of contemporary queerness revolving around a chummy, could-be-your-own friend group navigating love and life in the Mission/Castro district.

That final diner scene — which bowed on July 24 and will be re-aired on HBO — wasn’t just our last time with Patrick and Dom and Agustin and the others who became part of our lives during these last few years; for the actors, it was, provisionally, their last time, too. “It was like the last two of weeks of high school, like the weekend after everyone graduates from college,” Franzese muses.

Premiering in 2014 to critical praise but a modest following (the series reached a peak of 519,000 viewers its first season), Looking was divisive from the get-go, with viewers either drawn to its languid style of storytelling or vehemently against it. Was it too gay? Not gay enough? When Doris, the group’s straight girlfriend, comments on a squabble between main-gay Patrick and his ex’s new boyfriend during the film, she spoke for many: “Ohh, I love it when gays argue with other gays about being gay,” she cracks.

Still, there’s no arguing that Looking broke ground merely by existing. Beyond that, however, creator Michael Lannan and director Andrew Haigh (who helmed the gay love story Weekend in 2011), spent the last several years tapping into the queer Zeitgeist, past and present. The result was special, relevant and sincere.

Jonathan Groff, who portrayed neurotic boy-next-door video game designer Patrick, shared that sentiment even before Season 1 premiered, saying, “I feel so excited to be a part of a show that could potentially be a great moment for the gay community, because it’s crazy how few shows there are where there are a lot of central gay characters. I feel really lucky to be a part of this specific show because I believe in it so much as a television show.”

So did Lannan. The screenwriter never believed his idea for Looking could be more than the images swirling around in his mind, and even when they did land on the screen, and Season 1 aired, and then the show got HBO’s go for a second season, “I don’t think I ever thought it was really happening.”

Before Looking, Lannan was living in New York, where his own group of friends and their stories became the catalyst for the series, which he initially wrote as an indie film script before HBO expressed interest. They envisioned his idea as a series.

“I always thought it should be a show,” says Lannan, whose 2011 short film Lorimer was the seed for Looking. “I think one of the reasons HBO wanted to do it, and we all wanted to do it, was because the world has changed so quickly in the past 10 years. This isn’t the Queer as Folk world — it’s a different world, and we wanted to do a show about people just living their lives in a time of great change.”

Now, he says, in the wake of its final-for-now chapter, it feels “bittersweet.” Looking: The Movie is a heartfelt send-off with Patrick, currently living in Denver, returning to San Francisco for a wedding and meeting up with BFFs Agustin (Frankie J. Alvarez) and Dom (Murray Bartlett), Doris (Lauren Weedman), Eddie and former flames Kevin (Russell Tovey) and Richie (Raúl Castillo).

“We wanted to find some midpoint between resolving their stories and sending them off on their way for new adventures and leaving that door open,” Lannan explains. “It’s tricky to do both of those things.”

Lannan confirms that they’d already been plotting a third season when HBO announced the show’s cancellation, optioning, instead, to tie up loose ends with a feature film (and to finally offer closure to Patrick’s ongoing romantic drama). And so, though “we were heartbroken,” Lannan and the writers condensed the storylines into an 86-minute movie.

“We just went back to the heart of the show, which is Patrick, and we let him drive the story,” Lannan says. “I think everyone’s lives are really reflecting on Patrick, and his on theirs. At its heart the show was really as much about friendship and the family of friends as it was about anything else.”

Eddie, one of the show’s popular periphery characters, plays a pivotal role in Patrick’s life in the film. It almost wasn’t supposed to happen that way. Initially, Franzese was only booked for a few episodes. That changed once showrunners witnessed his natural chemistry with Alvarez during his debut on the Season 2 premiere, “Looking for the Promised Land.”


Daniel Franzese, above left, had an epiphany about the important of his ‘Looking’ character — an HIV-positive man of size — when he met a sero-discordant couple at TBRU. (Photos courtesy HBO)

Even though Franzese’s HIV-positive bear character may not have had as much screen-time as his co-stars, the actor and his watershed onscreen part left an indelible mark on the show and the people who watched it. And for many reasons. According to GLAAD, Eddie was the first poz character in six years on scripted TV (since an arc on ER). His character represented what it means to be HIV-positive today, introducing PrEP to the TV landscape as he pursued a relationship with Agustin, who’s HIV-negative.

“Andrew told me, ‘Eddie will never get sick, that’s not what this is about,’” Franzese recalls. “Knowing that, I just kind of put it to the side and didn’t really think about the impact it might have. I was more happy and excited to be a larger guy, a man of stature, on a television show and shown in a sexual light and not as castrated comic relief.”

Because it was “just shown,” the feedback from viewers has been rich, which demonstrated to him that, “Representation matters, and education matters.”

Still, bears continue to reach out to him on Instagram expressing an admiration for a character on TV they can finally identify with. But “most moving,” he professes, was meeting a “magnetic” couple — one HIV-positive, the other negative — when Franzese made an appearance during the Dallas Bears’ annual Texas Bear Round-Up in 2015.

“[The HIV-positive partner] said to me, ‘You know, I hope that I’m with my partner forever, but if I’m ever not and somebody wants to date me I’m going to show them Season 2 of Looking and say, ‘If you can get through this, then you can date me.’”

Franzese leaves Looking with a fondness for his influential character, the show and also the cast. Inside jokes, that already-established vibe, the camaraderie — sometimes, he says, speaking from experience, joining a show after it’s already launched feels like a “fleeting relationship.” But Looking was different. “When I’m a regular on a show and I have a guest star coming in, I will treat them with the same grace and respect and friendship that I learned on this set.”

Franzese was only recently out when the show premiered. Now newly engaged, the 38-year-old acknowledges that Looking was “profound for me in a lot of ways.”

“I had just come out and this was my first job after that,” he recalls. “To not only be accepted for being gay but to be celebrated and to have it not be a big deal — like, it was cooler to be gay on that set — it was so freeing and reaffirming.”

Not just for Franzese. Looking’s greatest legacy could be, perhaps, how it rendered the gay experience as simply the human experience. It wasn’t about coming out. It wasn’t about gay people dying of AIDS. The narrative felt fresh because finally gay people could just… be.
Before Season 2, Tovey said, “It’s such a true voice for gay people. This is, right now, where it’s like to be a gay man who can get married and adopt.”

As the show’s creator, Lannan has been forced to contemplate the show’s legacy, and if anything, he says, he wants it to represent a moment in time… and also the passage of time.

“We wanted to see what happened when Patrick grew up,” he says about the finale, “and I think it’s exciting to see Patrick in command of his sexuality in a different way. He certainly hasn’t solved all of his problems, sexual or otherwise, but he has grown throughout the seasons and throughout the movie and I love seeing that.

“Patrick was always a character who had one foot in the past as a gay man. He grew up with the shadow of AIDS in the background, yet he wasn’t a part of that generation, so he had one foot in the past and one in the future. I hope that’s part of the legacy of the show, that it spanned a transitional period for gay men like Patrick.”

As advances in the queer community continue to evolve, could Looking become an ongoing TV narrative where we check in with these characters every now and again? What will Patrick be like in 2026? What will we all be like then?

The thought has crossed Lannan’s mind.

“We’ve definitely talked about it,” he reveals, “and I think if the stars aligned we’d all love to do it again in the future. I think it depends on a lot of things, but I would say, none of us would count it out.” He says that “one of our spirit-animal shows while we were making Looking was The Comeback ” — the Lisa Kudrow cult sitcom was renewed for a second season after a nearly decade-long hiatus — “so maybe we’ll do sort of a Comeback thing and check in again in the future.”

Franzese still has plans for Eddie and for the lives of the young transgender characters who were a part of the character’s story arc while working at a homeless shelter for LGBT teens.

“That would’ve been such a beautiful thing,” he says. “That would’ve unfolded in Season 3. I would really look forward to that in the future.”

So the end may not be the end after all. Maybe the sun hasn’t fully set on Looking just yet.

“Who knows — later on down the line I’d love to revisit these characters again,” Franzese says. “Knowing the people I worked with, I can’t even think of a production assistant who would say they wouldn’t want to be back on that set again. But I think this movie is a beautiful next step in the story, and if we all love each other and we love these characters, and I think if Andrew and Michael are inspired with some story, why not?”

— Chris Azzopardi

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 29, 2016.


—  Dallasvoice

Sunday TV drinking games for your viewing pleasure

Looking20152This Sunday is chock full of LGBT-favorite TV entertainment. Trying to figure out which one to watch? Our Mikey Rox has devised this drinking game that makes it all the more fun. Choose the game that looks the best for you … of DVR it all and enter rehab on Monday!

The Golden Globes (NBC, 7 p.m.). Take a sip of beer or wine when: 1. Hosts Tina Fey and Amy Poehler change gowns. 2. Music is cued to hurry a lengthy acceptance speech that by that point is probably spilling over into soapbox territory anyway. 3. A winner recognizes his or her same-sex partner by name. Take a shot when: 1. A presenter and/or winner appears visibly drunk or high on stage; the likelihood of this will increase exponentially as each hour passes. Or if Sean Young is invited.  2. An acceptance speech turns into a political speech about freedom of speech. You’ll probably want to pick up a big bottle of tequila this year. 3. North Korea and Sony are mentioned in the same sentence.

Girls (HBO, 8 p.m.). Take a sip of beer or wine when: 1. Hannah bears her breasts. 2. Adam mentions his dick. 3. Somebody rides a bike (because nobody has a driver’s license on this show). Take a shot when: 1. Marnie laments about her music career, or sheds a tear. She’s prone to do both; sometimes simultaneously. 2. One of the girls physically hits another. These chicks are violent, yo. 3. Elijah flashes his sweet cheeks.

Looking (HBO, 8:30 p.m, pictured). Take a sip of beer or wine when:  1. You hear the words “top,” “bottom” or “vers.” 2. They refer to social media and/or dating sites and apps. 3. You see butt. Take a shot when: 1. Richie takes it off. 2. Patrick and Kevin get it on. 3. Somebody can’t get it up.

Downton Abbey (PBS, 8 p.m.). Take a sip of beer or wine when: 1. The Dowager Countess throws shade. 2. Thomas Barrow talks smack. 3. Mary acts like a bitch. Take a shot when: 1. A sexual tryst takes place that transcends the class system. 2. A new invention of the era is introduced. 3. A correspondence containing bad news arrives in the second post.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Russell Tovey: The gay interview

LOOKINGSeason 2Episode 02Day 05

Russell Tovey of ‘Looking’

Despite roles in the BBC supernatural drama Being Human and The History Boys, both on stage and screen, it’s the HBO dramedy Looking that has presented Russell Tovey with considerable exposure. Premiering one year ago, the show centers on a group of gay friends in San Francisco as they navigate relationships, family and sleeping with your boss. When Kevin (Tovey) and Patrick (Jonathan Groff) finally got down to business during a steamy lay at the end of the first season, the hunky Londoner revealed more than his acting chops.

As Looking returns to the network this Sunday,  Jan. 11, the openly gay  33-year-old opened up on a variety of topics: his mom’s reaction to his thigh thump with Groff, the advantages to shooting a sex scene with a fellow gay actor and how, despite his famous butt, fans of the show who meet him aren’t “rape-y.”

Chris Azzopardi for Dallas Voice: The Season 1 finale set the stage for a whole lot of drama. What does that mean for this upcoming season?  Tovey: Season 2’s gonna pick up three months on with the fallout from that experience with Patrick, Kevin and Richie (Patrick’s boyfriend played by Raúl Castillo). They go away on a big adventure and it all unravels. What it means is there’s gonna be tension, and what unfolds is going to be very good television. And I love it. I love seeing hashtag Team Kevin / Team Richie. People are really loyal to Kevin or Richie. They’re like, “Sorry — I really like you, Russell, but I’m Team Richie.” “Kevin’s a cheat!” “Leave Patrick alone!”

What’s your hope for Kevin and this love triangle he’s gotten himself into?  I want Kevin to be happy, but I want him to find his way to happiness with a lot of drama that’s gonna be entertaining for an audience watching an HBO show. [Laughs] But he has to fuck things up, and I think that’s part of his personality. The more Patrick gets to know him, that’s gonna unravel.

Soooo: Team Kevin or Team Richie?  Hmm … would I fuck myself? Or would I fuck Raúl? If I could have a threeway, it’d be quite nice. You know, a bit of both. But in reality, you’d want a boyfriend like Richie because he could cut your hair, and that’s great — you don’t have to worry about that expenditure every month. He’d do that for free! And he can play guitar, so he can entertain you.

Or, of course, there’s Kevin, who appears to be at least from the Season 1 finale experienced in bed.  Oh yeah, he’s very good. A lot of me went into that!

I hear you’re a method actor  Totally. I’ve done all the research.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

There’s still time! More (super gay) Halloween costume ideas

The big street party in Dallas was last Saturday, but truth is, Friday is officially Halloween … and some folks still have a party or two to go to. While we already ran a cover story on costume ideas, we thought we’d add these from our friend Mikey Rox, who suggests the gayest costumes you can still pull together in the next two days.

Thomas-Barrow-thomas-barrow-35847989-300-382Early 20th century underbutler. You don’t have to blackmail your blue-blooded undercover lover to play the part of Thomas Barrow — the conniving gay underbutler on the sharp and soapy PBS period drama Downton Abbey — this Halloween. Dress to impress both nobles and peasants without dropping too much dough by assembling your post-Victorian-era attire from thrift shops and consignment finds. Pleated black trousers and a crisp band-collar button-down lay the foundation for this outfit that’s completed with a white bowtie, U-shaped satin vest and tuxedo tailcoat. Part your full head of hair on the side (or don a bowler) and puff on a fag (the British term for cigarette; not whatever you’re thinking) to fully embody the baddest bitch in Grantham House.

Dancing with the Stars contestant.  Aaron Samuels (Cady Heron’s crush in the insta-gay-classic Mean Girls) played it straight at North Shore High School, but his real-life alter ego — sometimes actor Jonathan Bennett — has had the Internet abuzz about his sexuality since the film’s release in 2004. Now that J.B. and his twinkle toes are back in the spotlight on the couldn’t-be-gayer Dancing With the Stars, there’s no better time to pay homage to the guy who may or may not have (he’s not officially out) already broken a million girls’ (or boys’) hearts. To pull off this light-on-your-feet look, tango your way into a brightly colored button-down, an equally-loud-but-contrasting satin skinny tie, black slacks, black suspenders, and the snazziest tap shoes you can find. Because you never know when the rhythm is gonna get you.

PoseyTeen Wolf. It’s hard to put your finger on the queerest thing about MTV’s Teen Wolf: the quiver-inducing howls? the rampant homoeroticism? Colton Hayne’s Instagram profile? But that just makes pulling together pieces for this costume all the easier. You can go as protagonist Scott McCall (played by self-professed Gindr user Tyler Posey), or you might prefer sticking to your own kind as Danny Mahealani (Keahu Kahuanui), Beacon Hills High’s out-and-proud lacrosse player/computer whiz. Suit up in authentic lacrosse gear that you can find at a second-hand sports store (or by pilfering through your cousin’s super bro-y wardrobe) and work your makeup magic on a canine bite for the ages — which we know you wouldn’t mind getting legit if you lived in their world.

The cast of Looking. However you feel about HBO’s Looking, showing up at a party as the show’s cast is not only tres chic this Halloween, it’s also perfect for a coordinated group costume. You’ll have to pull up past episodes (which you can watch on demand) to get a better idea of each character’s personal style, but you’ll likely discover that you can recreate their looks from your own wardrobe. Tack on a commitment issue or two and throw in a penchant for threesomes for posterity’s sake, and you’ve got the looks down pat. Do us all a favor though, won’t you? Post photos of your group’s Russell Tovey; the world needs more of that going around.

Michael-SamDallas Cowboys fan. Given the staggering amount of negative publicity that the NFL has received this season (thanks to woman beaters, child abusers and drunken drivers), it should consider itself lucky that the gays are finally getting in on the game. And it seems that no team is embracing its friendly neighborhood homosexual makeover more than the Dallas Cowboys. First there’s the addition of defensive end Michael Sam to the roster (even though they eventually cut him), but there’s also a new DirecTV Sunday Football commercial depicting a gay couple — one of whom is a Cowboys fan — that has largely flown under the radar. Give the latter the relevance it deserves this All Hallow’s Eve by pulling together whatever Dallas gear you can find (and convincing your boo to sport a Giants jersey) while trying your best to avoid a brush with the law. A night in the slammer only sounds good in theory.

Hedwig. The East German transgender singer with an “angry inch” between her legs experienced somewhat of a renaissance this year as actors Neil Patrick Harris, Andrew Rannells and Michael C. Hall all stepped into the punk-rock role on Broadway. And now you too can milk John Cameron Mitchell’s cash cow for your own benefit by raiding your wacky Aunt Barb’s closet for late ’70s/early ’80s-inspired fashion, BeDazzling a pair of cutoff Daisy-Duke-style denim, and rockin’ a sick ‘Hed’-wig that you can score on Etsy.

Lovechild of Jared Leto and Justin Theroux. There’s been a sizeable amount of buzz about what’s beneath Jared Leto and Justin Theroux’s respective boxers lately — and nobody’s complaining. Justin gave us full-frontal floppage in a few jogging scenes on his very violent and ultra-strange HBO drama The Leftovers, while the ghost of Jordan Catalano will not be satisfied until he’s officially crowned Biggest Cock in Hollywood. And for this, they both should be celebrated. To imitate these forces of nature yourself, mash-up the pair’s signature styles (Justin’s into leather; Jared is a little more “la boheme”) and stuff a swingin’ Richard down your crotch. Even better if you’ve got the natural goods so you don’t disappoint the evening’s potential paramour(s).

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

HBO renews ‘Looking,’ sets premiere date for ‘Normal Heart’

normalheart02HBO knows a good formula when it sees one. Last year, it premiered its gay-themed made-for-cable movie Behind the Candelabra on the last Sunday in May, and it’s doing so again with its latest tentpole telefilm, The Normal Heart. The screen adaptation of Larry Kramer’s Tony Award-winning play about the fight against AIDS (and the ignorance of the Reagan Era) is set to air at 8 p.m. on May 25. The production, directed by Glee creator Ryan Murphy, features out actors Matt Bower, Jim Parsons, Joe Mantello, Denis O’Hare, Stephen Spinella, B.D. Wong and Jonathan Groff, as well as Julia Roberts, and Mark Ruffalo and Taylor Kitsch, pictured.

Groff had some more good news this week as well: His HBO series Looking got a second-season pickup. The drama about 20something gay men navigating the dating life in present-day San Francisco will return next season.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

WATCH: Preview of episode 2 of HBO’s new gay series ‘Looking’

Groff1The excellent new gay series Looking, which began airing last Sunday on HBO, is a mature and sexy look at the modern urban gay male. We spoke with the series’ star, Jonathan Groff, here, but you can also check out a preview of episode 2, which airs on Sunday, after the jump. (Take, note, though! Episode 3 will air next Saturday, not Sunday, so as not to compete with the Super Bowl.)

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

‘Looking’ star Jonathan Groff: The gay interview

Jonathan Groff

Jonathan Groff has had a pretty good week. The animated film he stars in, Frozen, was just nominated for two Oscars and his new HBO series, Looking, debuts on Sunday. So it was a good time for our Chris Azzopardi to sit down with Groff to discuss all his gay projects, idolizing Mark Ruffalo and how Looking freaked out his family.  

Jonathan Groff is remembering a scene he shot for the upcoming HBO adaptation of The Normal Heart. It’s his only part with Julia Roberts, and he doesn’t have a single line with her.

“She plays a doctor and I collapse on the street, and then they take me into her office and she’s like, ‘He’s dying,’” the actor recalls. “So I didn’t get to act with her because I’m, like, hyperventilating on a stretcher. I was foaming at the mouth. She was probably all, ‘This kid is really going for it.’ But she was really nice, very chill, very undramatic and easy.”

The same could be said for Groff. The affable Pennsylvania native got his start on stage, nabbing a Tony nomination for his role in the 2006 Broadway musical Spring Awakening before battling it out with New Directions on Glee, portraying a young David Sedaris in the recent feature film C.O.G. and voicing Kristoff in Disney’s hot winter hit Frozen. Now the actor plays Patrick, the charmingly clueless lead in the new gay-friends-living-in-San-Fran series Looking, which debuts Sunday on HBO. Will there be foam? Probably, but only if it’s at a party.

Dallas Voice:  With Looking and The Normal Heart, it must be nice knowing that HBO is gonna pay your bills for at least the next year.  Jonathan Groff: Right? It’s great. But I’ve already been paid for those jobs in 2013!

In the Looking pilot’s opening scene, after a phone call interrupts a hand-job hookup, you tell your friends you worried it was your mom calling. Has your own mother seen the show?  My mom has always been really supportive of my work. When I was doing Spring Awakening she took bus trips of people to come and see the show — like, seriously, 40 people on a touring bus up from Pennsylvania. That was before she had even seen it, so she was shocked when she saw the sex and the nudity and me hitting Lea Michele with a stick, but she obviously enjoyed it … because there were three more bus trips after that! So she overcame the awkwardness of seeing my butt on stage, but ever since they cast me in Looking, the big question in my family has been: “Are they gonna watch it or not when it comes on TV?”

When I came home for the summer to Pennsylvania, I brought the pilot home on DVD and I just said, “I don’t know if you wanna watch this or not, but I feel like if you do watch it, you probably won’t wanna watch it with me in the room.” I think that really freaked them out.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

WATCH: Debut trailer for upcoming HBO series about gay guys, ‘Looking’


January is fast becoming the season of gay TV premieres. Yesterday, I shared a video for Chozen, a gay animated comedy for FX; today, HBO one-ups FX with a live-action show that’s just as gay.

Looking is the highly anticipated new series from out actor-producer Jonathan Groff (guest actor on Glee and co-executive producer on Happy Endings). Groff stars as a gay man looking for love in San Francisco. Not surprisingly, it’s set to debut immediately after the third season premiere of Girls on Jan. 19 — so, we have the girls and the boys right after.

Based on the trailer — which you can see after the jump — it’s apparently along the lines of Queer as Folk with honest portrayals of love and sex … and some nudity (don’t worry, the trailer, at least, is safe for work).

Looks like the winter is heating up!

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Go with the flow

Trying yoga for the first time can be an intimidating experience. But that misses the point of this ancient practice that combines stretching, breath … and peace

Yoga instructor Petri Brill strikes a pose at her studio YogaSport, which provides beginners’ classes for the uninitiated. (Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)

Yoga instructor Petri Brill strikes a pose at her studio YogaSport, which provides beginners’ classes for the uninitiated. (Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)

JEF TINGLEY  | Contributing Writer

Some do it for their mind, some do it for their body, some do it for both. But all yoga students have one thing in common: Making the first step and taking up the practice. And while this age-old combination of stretching and breathing is meant to calm the mind and strengthen the muscles, a maiden voyage into a posterior-lifting position like downward-facing dog in a room full of strangers can send one’s heart racing. But that doesn’t have to be the case.

“People new to yoga should remember that everyone in class was a beginner at one point,” says Petri Brill, manager of YogaSport Dallas on Lemmon Avenue. “Yoga is a journey, not a destination. There is no perfect practice or perfect yogi or perfect yoga body. I think people worry about they’ll look [or] feel foolish in their first down-dog [and] that they’ll be judged. Our [yoga] community is diverse, encouraging and accepting: no judgment here!”

Mary Pierce Armstrong, who teaches at MarYoga, agrees that you should always look inward. “Yoga will come to meet you no matter where you are starting from. As long as you take the breath and the breaks you need, you will be doing awesome.”

For Wendy Moore, a 44-year-old yoga newbie, has taken these words of wisdom to the mat — literally. Moore recently completed her second MarYoga class as part of her new year regime. Any inhibitions she had about the experience were dispelled during her first visit.

“[I was] concerned about my general lack of bendy-ness, and not knowing where to put what arm and leg,” she says, “but if you look around you will figure out where your limbs are supposed to be by what others are doing.” Moore has continued to work on poses between classes with some slight variations mimicked by “what her cats are able to do.”

Keith Murray, a 37-year-old registered nurse, tried yoga for the first time more than eight years ago and was immediately hooked. He was taking classes three times a week before long. “I was a little intimidated about the whole thing at first,” he says, “but after my first couple of sessions my intimidation grew into excitement.”

A busy work schedule has kept Murray from his regular routine over the years, but he is trying to change that. “I still maintain a crazy life and work routine, but building yoga back into my life has really helped me to find balance again.”

According to yoga teacher Jennifer Lawson of SYNC Yoga & Wellbeing, it’s not just busy schedules and bundled nerves that keep people from the practice of yoga; it’s also our cultural fixation on success. “There tends to be so much emphasis on achievement and perfection that many of us are becoming accustomed to playing it safe in order to avoid the possibility of shame.”

Lawson recommends coming together as a group in a class with experienced and inexperienced yogis to create an environment that emphasizes the experience and process of yoga and not the destination or end result.

For Anisha Mandol, a 42-year-old business development manager who has been practicing yoga for about two years, these words ring true. “Once you understand your expectation from practicing, no one else’s matters. The benefits of yoga are fluid and dynamic, and each person has their own unique experience. Own yours,” she says.

And so it would seem that just as the journey of a million miles begins with one step, the journey toward a yoga-filled life begins with a single stretch on the matt (and maybe a little Namaste for good measure).



Options are plentiful for the budding yogi looking for a class. Get your stretch on at these studios in and around the gayborhood. You can also find information on their class offerings and schedules on their websites.

Yoga Sport Dallas
4140 Lemmon Ave, Suite 280

SYNC Yoga & Wellbeing
611 N. Bishop Ave.

MarYoga at Chi Studio
807 Fletcher St.

Sunstone Yoga
2907 Routh St. (and other locations)

Gaia Flow Yoga Uptown
3000 Blackburn St., Suite 140B

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition February 17, 2012.

—  Michael Stephens

Part(y)ing shot

A little needle work can turn a dull soiree into a face-saving event


Dermatologist John Proffitt, above, has begun offering Xeomin treatments in a more festive fashion. Injections are less stressful in a comfortable, fun atmosphere — and he even brings munchies.

Dermatologist John Proffitt, above, has begun offering Xeomin treatments in a more festive fashion. Injections are less stressful in a comfortable, fun atmosphere — and he even brings munchies.

RICH LOPEZ  | Staff Writer

How’s this for a Saturday evening: You head to a friend’s soiree, pick through the nibblies, grab a cocktail and then have someone stab a needle into your face.

That may not sound like your typical fun weekend get-together, but if there can be parties that peddle jewelry or give away swag bags, why not one that leaves you looking a little refreshed — even if it is with a shot?

Dr. John Proffitt and his team at Oak Lawn Dermatology have begun offering this new service, mixing a little bit of pain with a lot of pleasure.

As a glorified house call, it’s a chance to both do shots and get shots. Proffitt will come to your home with units of Xeomin (similar to Botox) and gladly inject those interested with a little touch-up around the eyes. He’s found the domestic setting, while fun like any party, also has therapeutic advantages.

“The atmosphere is very relaxed and people can get to know me better,” Proffitt says. “They can get comfortable if they are hesitant, and can see their friends do it. The procedure is simple and my syringes are tiny. Usually people have had it done before at these parties.”

The idea for in-home transformations came to Proffitt when a patient was impressed with his results and thought his friends would be interested in getting the procedure. Instead of convincing them one at a time to make appointments, his client had a party with Xeomin on the menu.

“It was like any typical party. I brought food,” Proffitt says. “Usually I’ll give a talk before to explain everything and people get interested and watch others before them.”

So you want to have your own party? There’s nothing to it other than giving his office a call. Well that and shopping for liquor and hors d’oeuvres.

“All anyone has to do is just call our office. We’ll talk about it and make the arrangements,” he says. “We talk about prices for the injection units and even a reduction for groups.”

His parties are also smart P.R. He’s won new clients from home parties and the firm hosts get-togethers at the office. For a firm that has only been present in the community for just over eight months, Proffitt knows how to make an impression — even if it is putting a needle in your face.

For more information, call 214-526-8100 or visit

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition February 17, 2012.

—  Michael Stephens