Victoria, victor

Michael Fulk, aka Victoria Weston, basks in the warmth of an IGRA title

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RIDE ’EM COWGIRL! Victoria Weston brought the IGRA title back to Dallas with her win last month in California. (Terry Thompson/ Dallas Voice)

STEVEN LINDSEY  | Contributing Writer
stevencraiglindsey@me.com

In 25 years of International Gay Rodeo Association pageants, the top honors have only been won by a contestant from the Texas Gay Rodeo Association three times — one of which was late last year, when Michael Fulk’s alter ego Victoria Weston walked away with the Miss IGRA 2012 crown, a first for Dallas and a victory decades in the making.

“I have been dressing in female attire ever since I could open my mom’s closet door,” Fulk laughs.

His drag career started in earnest, however, at a Halloween ball in St. Louis in 1988. One month later, he was doing his first fundraiser, “and within a year I had moved to New York City,” he says.

After many successful years as a full-time entertainer in New York City, Fulk returned to Dallas shortly after Sept. 11, 2001.

“My career switched upon my move,” he explains. “In NYC, I was an entertainer full-time and a hair and makeup artist part time. Now I am a full-time hair and makeup artist, makeup coach and educator for Artistic Salon Spa across from NorthPark. Entertainment was relegated to a passion rather than the breadwinner part of my life.”

But that didn’t stopped Fulk from competing and performing in drag — a description he’s proud to wear.

“We are all born naked, everything that comes after that is drag, honey!” he laughs. “Drag comes in all shapes and sizes: leather drag, business drag, casual, cowboy, club kid … the list is endless. I have no issue being called a drag queen, female impersonator, illusionist, yadda, yadda, yadda. If that size 11 pump fits and looks fabulous, I wear it. For the most part, though, when people around me speak of what I do, more often than not they simply refer to me as an entertainer.”

Victoria Weston stands out among many other drag performers because rather than lip sync, she sings live.

“The entertainers from before Stonewall were live,” Fulk explains. “Some sang, some danced, some stripped, but back then there wasn’t as much syncing and/or surgery as today. I think I am a throwback to that era. I am first and foremost closely related to the big band singer. That is my passion, whether it is blues, jazz, Broadway or standards.”

Since returning to Texas, Fulk has upped the quotient of country-western and pop music in Victoria’s act.

“I have heard people say my singing style resembles Shirley Bassey and I have always been compared to the look of Ann-Margret. I couldn’t ask for better comparisons. I’ll take both of those as high compliments,” he says.

Still, he insists, it’s best not to take himself too seriously.

“I take the illusion I portray serious enough to not make it a joke. I don’t want to be insulting or a cartoon of a woman. Every time I sit down to bring Victoria to life I view my job as putting together an ideal,” Fulk says. That means Victoria “doesn’t drink, smoke or do drugs. Old Hollywood glamour is my mainstay. Even though I am wearing a lot of makeup, hair jewelry, rhinestones, gowns and great shoes, I guess I want to appear to simply be a red carpet version of what I think a woman looks like: Totally put together. Besides that, I like to think of Victoria as a grounded, drama-free old soul with a wry sense of humor and a heart as big as all outdoors.”

Perhaps it’s this philosophy and a healthy sense of humor that has kept Fulk from suffering a fate foretold years ago by his drag mother from St. Louis, Miss Tracy.

“God rest her soul, [she] told me to be ready for a lonely life. She said, ‘They are either going to hate you as a drag queen and love you as yourself or they are going to love you as a drag queen and hate you as yourself. And be prepared for lesbians to hate and resent you.’” Fulk recalls. “I have found that to be false on all levels.”

And few things symbolize that overcoming of obstacles better than a really, really big crown.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition January 13, 2012.

—  Kevin Thomas

Hill has eyes

mgpSELF TAUGHT DIVA | Steven D. Hill, top, combines his flair for drama, color and makeup in his self-portrait; right, two of his fashion shots are more monochromatic but undeniably sexy and eye-catching.

Photographer and makeup artist Steven D. Hill knows how to bring the drama

STEVEN LINDSEY  | Contributing Writer
stevencraiglindsey@me.com

When Steven D. Hill decided to showcase his two talents — photography and dynamic makeup artistry — in a local exhibit, he was turned down by every gallery he approached. Rather than accept defeat, he pooled his resources and produced one all on his own.

It’s not his first time making himself over. In college, Hill took courses in fashion design and makeup for the stage, but it wasn’t until after graduation that he discovered his talent for photography. Other than skimming through a photography how-to book, he’s completely self-taught. Hill has already made a name for himself in the local fashion community through his work on both sides of the camera.

“To be honest, my technique and point of view came from trial and error,” he says. “The talent was there, I didn’t know.”SG1L7107

It isn’t all just an ego trip Hill. At 26, he is ready for his art to help give back. On Aug. 18, his Heads with HeARTS exhibit debuts, benefiting Vogel Alcove, an organization dedicated to helping homeless children. (Admission is free, but patrons are asked to bring an in-kind donation such as toys, arts supplies and clothing for children aged six weeks to 5 years.)

Hill takes the principles he learned from design communication and color theory and translates that to what he sees through his camera lens. His specialty is shockingly fashion-forward imagery with splashes of supersaturated color contrasted to moody monochromes.

“I believe the interactive media side of my studies taught me how to better understand composition and how to communicate through design,” he says. “It’s my art. I really enjoy creating art and capturing it through the lens of a camera, using the unique forms of light to DSC_0205create an amazing photograph. Just like a painter, it takes tools to produce a great image.”

Hill says that his photography is his way of expressing his artistic creativity through the power of a digital process. He describes his photographic style as the foundation of fashion, pop culture and media combined — a twist on fashion and photography.

His interest in makeup, however, came years before he ever thought about looking through a lens.

“I watched my mother in the bathroom as she prepared for her day,” he says. “I have always felt the power behind what she was doing.”

That inspiration led him to the path he’s on today.

“I admire the fact how you are able to recreate the appearance of someone. How the smallest amount of color can make the pupil appear different; how lining the eye makes it pop.

“Adding false lashes changes a person 50 percent,” Hill says. “It just shocks me how people feel once I do my job as a makeup artist. It’s lovely to hear people say, ‘You just made my day, only because you made me feel beautiful.’”

His main goal in makeup is to make people feel different and look like something other than their normal selves.

“Transformation!” Hill declares. “While the traditional use of makeup is to enhance beauty, it can be used to create illusion. I do not confine its use to the standards necessary for a typical photo shoot.”

It’s clear he has a flair for the unusual. His style ranges from showcasing models who look like they’re wearing no makeup at all to avant garde uses of color and texture to create an otherworldly, super-glam aesthetic.

A rising star, he continues to evolve and learn new aspects of both his complementary crafts, while continuing to showcase them in tandem. There’s still room for him to grow and though doors have been shut in the past for the young artist, his perseverance will surely find them opening faster than ever. This year, he had the pleasure of working with Grammy -winning recording artist Erykah Badu, but that’s just the beginning of the climb for this artist whose aspirations have him dreaming really big. His ultimate goal, he says, is “to become internationally known, make a name for myself.”

The second part is already falling into place, so he’s definitely off to a great start.

………………………………………

Carved in stone

If anyone can appreciate rock-hard abs, it’s a gay man. And Scott Gentry knows how to create them in several ways: For himself, through rigorous sit-ups; and for his subjects, a hammer and chisel. And both require a lot of work.
Gentry used to call Dallas home, but he’s been in North Carolina in recent years, working on a degree in nursing while still pursuing his stone sculpture art.

Gentry gets a homecoming or sorts on Saturday, when he returns to Dallas for a showing of some of his latest work (which includes phenomenal male nudes that approximate discoveries in the ruins of Mycenae) with a one-night-only event at The Brick. Best of all, a portion of the proceeds from sales that night will benefit Resource Center Dallas. Just think: You go to a bar and can take home a hunk. And you don’t even have to buy him a drink.
— Arnold Wayne Jones

Scott Gentry: Expressions in Stone, The Brick,
2525 Wycliff Ave., suite 120.
Aug. 13, 7–11 p.m.
ScottGentrySculpture.com

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 12, 2011.

 

—  Kevin Thomas

And the Oscar goes to… Oprah

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts And Sciences announced its recipients of honorary awards, and the surprised (and surprised) recipients include two African-American actors and a makeup artist.

Oprah Winfrey will received the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award for her charitable work. (Presumably, that does not include the masturbatory final week of her talk show.) Darth Vader himself, James Earl Jones, will receive an award for life achievement. Neither has won before; Winfrey was nominated for supporting actress for The Color Purple; Jones was nominated for actor for The Great White Hope. Winfrey has appeared in only three feature films; she has lent her voice to several others, and acted in and produced TV movies.

Makeup artist Dick Smith will also receive an award from the Governors. He’s best know for his work on The Godfather and Amadeus.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones