Drawing Dallas • Digna

Singer and spokesmodel Digna Mederos balances multifarious interests in her life

MARK STOKES  | Illustrator

Name and age: Digna Mederos, 26

Spotted at: 7-11 at Oak Lawn and Maple

Occupation: Marketing/promotions, spokesperson, brand ambassador, actress

This lovely Cuban-Mexican-American with the warm smile and long legs was born in Dallas and raised in neighboring Ennis. She was a gorgeous child with personality to boot and her Cuban father nourished her burgeoning interest in performing with ballet classes (since age 3), singing, dancing, voice and piano classes.

Her World, the Stage. Digna attended community college for commercial music, and then switched her study to music theory and dance at a performing arts school in Corona, Calif. Her student life was put on hold when she was chosen as one of the finalists in “La Academia,” a Big Brother/American Idol type program produced in Mexico by Azteca-America. Although she didn’t ultimately find herself in the final cast, the experience gave her a new perspective on the world of performing for television. You can also spot her in numerous local television commercials.

Digna has an incredible singing voice, honed from an early age. Her natural beauty and vocal chops won her the title of Miss Kaliente, after three nights of stiff competition. The competitors were selected from three categories: swimsuit, formalwear and talent. She borrowed a dress from a drag queen, who helped her adjust it to fit her. Her win was guaranteed when she sang “No Me Queda Mas,” one of Selena’s most popular songs.

Digna’s hobbies include attending art shows, tennis and Asian cuisine

(Korean, Thai and Vietnamese are her favorites).

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

—  Michael Stephens

Drawing Dallas

Cortney Guy makes one of the hottest Texas summers on record a little hotter — and we think that’s pretty cool

MARK STOKES  | Illustrator


Name and age: Cortney Guy, 27

Spotted at: Kroger’s on the Strip

Occupation: CEO/founder fashion P.R. firm

Born in East Texas and raised in Mesquite, this handsome Gemini has a major in marketing/communications and a minor in graphic design. Entrepreneurial by nature, he is co-founder of a public relations company which specializes in branding up-and-coming fashion designers.

An “editorial beauty,” Cortney is comfortable in front of the camera as well and has been commercial, print and promotional modeling since age 15. A highlight of his career was when one of his photos taken by Marta Azevedo garnered international recognition. He considers himself “retired,” but he still models occasionally when a good opportunity arises.

Cortney loves the outdoors and when he’s not working you may find him rollerblading, rock climbing or simply cloud watching or star gazing. Eco-friendly by nature, he’s big on conserving, recycling and minimizing waste. A lover of the arts, he also enjoys all forms of live entertainment, including dancing and music.

Studious by nature, he excelled in school, but also competed in football and track. He has a teaching certificate and future career plans include teaching general communications.

Yo, big bro: Big Brother Cortney has been a member of Big Brothers/Big Sisters for several years, and he also has a god-daughter with whom he is very close. He wants to leave a legacy for children. He’s interested in instilling morals and values into the younger generation.

This down-to-earth and non-assuming gentleman considers himself “a country guy that lives in a big city.”

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

—  Kevin Thomas

Drawing Dallas

Cosmopolitan designer Douglas Allen is always a stranger, yet always at home

MARK STOKES  | Illustrator

Name and age: Douglas Allen, 48

Spotted at: Carlisle and Knight, walking his beagle, Belle

Occupation: Designer

Dallas is the landing pad for this world-traveling designer, who splits his time between the Big D, San Francisco, Chicago and London. This grey-topped quadragenarian certainly doesn’t blend in with his heavy black frames set against thick salt-and-pepper hair.

Born in Alabama, at 14 Douglas moved with his family to Saudi Arabia — the first leg of a life-long journey that has led him across the globe and back, and continues today. He speaks Arabic, French, Italian and a bit of Swedish. His trek continues next month, when he leaves for Cartagena, Colombia, where he’s designing a home interior. As soon as it gets hot, he’s off to London.

Definitely a character, for three months in London he only wore pajamas. “I threw a proper English summer jacket over them when I went out. I got some interesting looks.”

Grey hares: Inspired by Bugs Bunny, Douglas’ musical instrument of choice is a ukulele. He began playing on a whim. His favorite tunes include “Aba Daba Honeymoon” (a turn-of-the-century musical composed by Arthur Fields) and Hawaiian medleys.

Social currency: Douglas doesn’t take much of an interest in money, fancy clothes or the trappings of excess. He uses what he calls “social currency,” a value that is unquantifiable. With roots everywhere and friends scattered all over the far-flung corners of the world, Douglas says, “I’m always a stranger, yet always home.”

His philosophy: “There is only one person, one power, one life, and each of us is a finger puppet on a big hand. Don’t freak out over the journey or circumstance of your finger puppet identity because in reality you are the big hand. Accept 100 percent where you are. Don’t resist. Accept and let go. That is the only way forward and out.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition June 17, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

Drawing Dallas • 05.27.11

Fidel Cabrera-Pineda has gotta dance

MARK STOKES  | Illustrator

Name and age: Fidel Cabrera-Pineda, 23

Spotted: Taco Bell at North Central Expressway and Lemmon

Occupation: Hip-hop instructor/choreographer

This native of Laredo, Mexico, has resided in Dallas since age 2. Born under the sign of Cancer, tall, handsome Fidel is a self-taught dancer who began moving his feet to music almost from the time he first learned to walk. His mother showed him how to Cumbia at an impressionable age, and that inspired his lifelong interest in dance.

With a natural grace, an instinctive rhythm and a lot of hard work, Fidel has turned his love into a career, burning up dance floors all over Texas, both solo and as part of the FLS Dance Crew. His talent has garnered him three consecutive salsa championships. He is also sought after as a choreographer and creative director in the DFW area. His musical interests include jazz, soul and R&B.
You can watch him bust a move on his YouTube page, FID3LC, and follow him on Twitter @Sopadefide0.

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

—  Kevin Thomas

Back to the Drawing Board


NOT IN THE EYE! | The Dallas Collection will include some denim jackets and hot models, below, but co-creative director Jan Strimple and event director Steve Kemble, above, promise even more eye candy from a variety of disciplines.

DIFFA Dallas starts over with a new attitude and a new concept — but some experienced talent behind the scenes

ARNOLD WAYNE JONES  | Life+Style Editor | jones@dallasvoice.com
MARK STOKES  | Illustrator | mark@markdrawsfunny.com

2010 was a strange year for the Dallas chapter of DIFFA, the Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS.

On the heels of its 25 anniversary blowout, the group decided to bifurcate the main event last year: A collection of soft goods and accessories (pillows, hats, even doghouses) at a bash at Union Station, followed about a month later by the famed Collection, a runway show of denim jackets at a pricey gala to take place at the new Winspear Opera House, hosted by Queen Latifah.

Only Queen Latifah canceled. “We’ll reschedule,” DIFFA said.


No collection event took place that year, which may have been a good thing. With 2011 here, DIFFA is regrouping.

This is a rebuilding year, for sure, but also one with lots of promise. With co-creative director Jan Strimple back in charge, and Dallas doyen of style Steve Kemble serving as event director of DIFFA 2011 — branded Dramatically Different — there’s some starpower behind the scenes. And that promises to make for a spectacular, if unusual, show.

For one thing, the I in DIFFA represents a plural word: Industries. It’s not just about clothes. Yes, the event will take place at the Anatole; yes, there will be a cocktail reception where attendees can inspect the collection. But there will not be a runway show; instead, a sit-down dinner with live auction. The event used to end there; now it will transition into a lounge where people can enjoy one another and the various other fashion specialties making a contribution, from art to architecture to music.

It’s a great challenge for Strimple, one of the founders of DIFFA who returns to a management role.

“While [the] Dallas Collection is an astounding amount of work and takes a massive coordinated team effort, it’s also creatively rewarding because the non-commercial format allows my imagination to go wild,” says Strimple. “I have a lot of fun with what I call a ‘take no prisoners attitude’ towards designing the fashion components: kill them with glamour, seduce them with beauty, rock it out with the unexpected and leave ‘em begging for more!”

“I could not be more thrilled to be producing this year’s event,” adds Kemble. “DIFFA is such an important part of the fight against HIV/AIDS, and I know this fabulous event will bring even more attention and support to a worthy cause.”

Strimple sees the change in keeping with the development of AIDS research and treatment over the years, which this summer marks 30 years since its designation as a disease.

“DIFFA was on the forefront of funding services to the earliest victims as well as funding prevention education once the disease was fully understood. As AIDS reaches newer audiences, they are being caught unprepared. DIFFA’s stance on prevention education, combined with continued service funding, make it a key combatant in the new war on AIDS,” she says.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition April 8, 2011.

—  John Wright

Drawing Dallas

Even without TBRU in town, Bear Hamilton’s name says it all … or maybe it doesn’t

MARK STOKES  | Illustrator

Name and age: Bear Hamilton, 49

Spotted at: Kroger on Cedar Springs

Occupation: Theatre technician

Beginnings: Born to a Marine Corps officer father and New England schoolteacher mother, Bear’s early years were nomadic, living in North Carolina, Virginia, California and Okinawa, Japan. Living overseas left an indelible impression. Maturity came to him early. He sported a beard and already had a pipe smoking habit by the time he was in high school: “My peers found me odd and different and reminded me of that on nearly a daily basis.”

The world is his stage: This 6-foot-11, 250-lb. hunk of a man always dreamed of being an actor and singer, and now performs in plays and musicals across North Texas (he’s played Daddy Warbucks in Annie, Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof, Jud Fry in Oklahoma!, Bill Sykes in Oliver! and a slightly crazed-looking biker on billboards around the Metroplex), and he leads Black Hat Saloon, a country rock band.

Bear likes to cook, camp and fish. He loves classic cars, trucks and Harley-Davidson motorcycles. He has an eclectic taste in movies, and a large DVD and videotape collection to prove it. It’s no secret that he enjoys good food and has a wide, varied taste for it. He also enjoys a good pipe or cigar, often with a glass of bourbon or a good beer.

Bear It all: Bear looks to be the quintessential gay bear, though he doesn’t wear his sexuality on his sleeve. “I see myself as a man first, a homosexual second. I don’t feel any more ‘pride’ in being a homosexual any more than being male, or white, or a person of size. What pride I have comes from the achievements I’ve made. My faith plays an important role, but I don’t usually profess it. I am grateful for my faith family who embrace me for what I am and who I am.” As he stares down the barrel of his 50th birthday, Bear has been reminded of late how much life changes with one of his favorite sayings: “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.”

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

—  John Wright

Drawing Dallas

With interests ranging from science to hip-hop to cross-dressing, Anthony Ray is a study in diversity

MARK STOKES  | Illustrator

Name and age: Anthony Ray, 19

Spotted along: Buckner Boulevard and Military Parkway, Pleasant Grove

Occupation: Food industry; student

Nature and nurture: A lively and vivacious Aries, Anthony is the baby in his family, and made the courageous and life-changing decision to come out at 15. His nurturing nature, along with an interest in math and science, has lead Anthony to pursue a career as a medical assistant, for which he is currently studying. This Dallas native has spent his entire life in the Big D and loves to hip-hop dance and sing R&B.

Budding Drag Racer? Anthony is in touch with his feminine side and occasionally likes to dress in women’s clothes and paint his toenails. “I couldn’t wait to get out of my mama’s house to put on girl clothes.” His two best girlfriends, Trice and Red, support him fully, often helping him do his hair and providing fashion assistance.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition March 4, 2011.

—  John Wright

Drawing Dallas: Mikael Andrews

Mikael Andrews considers a Pekingese his best friend, but is himself a great friend to the gay community

MARK STOKES | Illustrator

Name and age: Mikael Andrews, 49

Occupation: HIV/STD behavioral change counselor

Spotted: Walking his dog in East Dallas

Zodiac sign: Aries

Blue, but not blue: Mikael is a stand-out in any crowd with his trademark bright blue hair. This native North Texan (he grew up in Waxahachie) is a retired singer, dancer and baton twirler. He holds a bachelor’s degree in vocal performance and has taught dance on the university level. Performance opportunities allowed him to travel to 21 states, Canada, Mexico and Guatemala in his younger years.

Active and activism: Mikael has been involved in LGBT activism for more than 20 years on the local, state and national levels, and headed up his own fundraising foundation, Don’t Just Sit There Productions, from 1999 to 2001. He has held three titles in the gay male contest circuit, most notably as the first person to represent Oak Lawn at the 2000 Mr. Gay Texas All-American contest. The resulting involvement in various LGBT charities and benefits allowed him more travel opportunities and helped pave the way for his present occupation, work that he has been humbled and proud to be a part of for the past 10 years.

On the move: During his various travels, Mikael loved Toronto, Ontario, Quiche and Antigua, Guatemala, and San Francisco, where he dreams of settling someday. But when he isn’t working or traveling, Mikael enjoys cruising thrift shops. He also loves to eat, and enjoys dining at the many mom-and-pop restaurants in East Dallas. Mikael feels blessed to have wonderful friends and a very full and active life, but his greatest joy is hanging with his best buddy, Toby Dog, a 4-year-old Pekingese.

A dog’s life: Toby Dog belonged to one of Mikael’s dear friends, so when life circumstances changed for Toby Dog’s daddy, he asked Mikael to let the pooch come live with him. He truly is this man’s best friend.

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

—  John Wright

Drawing Dallas • 01.07.11

Music has always been the spice of life for late-blooming sexagenarian Bill Prather

Ebony and Ivory

MARK STOKES  | Illustrator

Name and age: Bill Prather, 70

Profession: Accounting

Spotted at: Lemmonwood Shopping Center

Mathematics to music: Bill Prather has had a unique life and career. Mathematics has always held a grip on this Aquarius, which led to a career in accounting as well as a life-long love of music. Born in Donna, Texas, near McAllen along the Mexican border, Bill worked at Amarillo College for 32 years, and was the organist at Paramount Terrace Christian Church for 30.

Formerly married for 26 years, Bill is the proud father of two grown daughters, and has four grandchildren. “I was so happy to come out, I came flying out of the closet!”

Activities and activism: Bill was always taught to count his blessings, and never to discriminate. Bill spent many years on the governing committee of the Federal Club, he served on the HRC steering committee, and was co-chair of Lambda Legal leadership team. He has been a Black Tie sponsor for the last 15 years, and he also volunteers for Supper Club, preparing meals for Hillcrest House.

Travel is another great love of this finely-tuned septuagenarian, and his adventures have lead him to visit 45 states and five continents (Asia and Africa are on his agenda; New York is his all-time favorite city). His latest trip was a 16-day cruise to Antarctica. “It was heck to pack for!” His voyage took him from the balmy breezes of Chile to the sub-zero temperature of Antarctica and back again, relaxing all the way.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition January 7, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Drawing Dallas • 12.24.10

All we want for Christmas

MARK STOKES  | Illustrator mark@markdrawsfunny.com

In the season of miracles, meet miracle baby Luis Rios

Name and age: Luis “Lulu” Rios, 25

Spotted at: Throckmorton and Rawlins streets

Occupation: Cashier

Sleek and sexy Plano-born Luis Rios is a miracle baby, being born unexpectedly from a mother who had her tubes tied, then surviving a heart murmur and seizures at 5, which led to a major heart operation at 7. Luis came out at 15. “I did my research about how to be gay and what all comes with it. I knew it would be difficult, especially for my mom.” Luis’ family has been amazingly supportive, welcoming his partners and friends as part of the family. “My friends love my parents.” His hobbies include dancing, music, and fire dancing.

The boy with something extra: This enigmatic Libra has a sixth sense, which runs in his family. He has experienced telepathy and sometimes sees the future in dreams. This empathic ability makes him a go-to guy when his friends need psychological counseling. “It’s a gift, and a curse.”

Happy holidays! Luis plans to spend Christmas on the strip, singing R&B and ballad karaoke at Hungdinger.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 24, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens