Couple gets engaged at Razzle Dazzle

Matthew Kowalewski

To some, the Razzle Dazzle Dallas Main Event in downtown Dallas last Saturday was just to party. But for one local gay couple, it also turned out to be an engagement celebration.

Matthew Kowalewski wrote to thank the Razzle Dazzle Dallas committee for throwing him and his partner a wonderful party, according to an email forwarded to Dallas Voice.

“He proposed to me at the event, and as we finally left, beaming, he said, ‘So how did you enjoy our engagement party?’” Kowalewski wrote. “As I walked around with my new life partner, he commented about the fact he never thought this could or would happen in Dallas, especially in his life time. He’s a native of Dallas and turning 70, Aug. 3.”

No word on when the wedding is.

—  David Taffet

This week’s takeaways: Life+Style

Van Cliburn

Van Cliburn

The big news in entertainment this weekend is the 14th quadrennial appearance of the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition — the first without its gay founder (Cliburn died in February of cancer). The six finalists will compete until the winner is revealed on Sunday.  Miss it, you and you’ll have to wait another four years for the next one.

Razzle Dazzle weekend is in full swing, with Thelma Houston headlining the MetroBall at Station 4 Friday night, then the big downtown party coming to Main Street Gardens Saturday night. It’s family-friendly and there are buses running from the event to locales in the gayborhood.

Sister Act, written by gay scribe Douglas Carter Beane, continues at Fair Park Music Hall for more than a week, before moving over to Bass Hall in Fort Worth. Meanwhile, the new cirque-ish show Traces opens at the Winspear on Tuesday. And the Festival of Independent Theatres — and Kitchen Dog Theater‘s New Works Festival — continue through June 22.

To get a little skin in the game, check out Adam and Eve in the Garden of Delights at the Stone Cottage Theatre in Addison, or move inside to the WaterTower Theatre mainstage for the light comedy Black Tie starring out actor Stan Graner.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

WATCH: Taylor Dayne at Friday’s MetroBall

Photo via Facebook.

As part of Razzle Dazzle Days, Friday’s MetroBall was the big dance party for the event, which singer Taylor Dayne headlined. A hefty crowd turned out for the pop singer as seen in this video. She sings her signature hit “Tell It To My Heart” and the boys are singing right along with her. Dayne spoke to the Voice prior to the event and mentioned she sees performing gigs like this that benefit the community more a privilege than an opportunity. Cool.

Watch the video after the jump.

—  Rich Lopez

Razzle Dazzle Dallas releases 2012 schedule

Razzle Dazzle Dallas — the gay Pride Month celebration and fundraiser on Cedar Springs —  today announced its 2012 beneficiaries and preliminary event schedule. According to a press release, Razzle Dazzle Dallas runs June 6-9 and will include a Wine/Dog Walk on Wednesday, a Pub Crawl on Thursday, the 7th annual MetroBall on Friday, and a street party on Saturday night.

Singer Taylor Dayne, who appeared at Black Tie Dinner last year, will return to Dallas to headline MetroBall, which benefits the Greg Dollgener Memorial AIDS Fund. Also this year, Saturday at Razzle Dazzle Dallas will include LifeWalk Waterpalooza, in addition to the sidewalk sale, street fair and antique car show. On Saturday night, according to the release, Cedar Springs will become “a big crazy dance club with LIVE ‘80s music and DJs on the Main Performance Stage!”

Razzle Dazzle Dallas, which distributed more than $60,500 in 2011, this year will benefit Resource Center Dallas, AIDS Interfaith Network, Turtle Creek Chorale, Legacy Counseling Center, Legal Hospice of Texas, AIDS Arms, GLBT Leadership Education & Advocacy Program (LEAP), Uptown Players and the Cedar Springs Road Beautification Fund.

Razzle Dazzle is also planning three events in April: a bus trip to the WinStar Casino, a Rising Star Show featuring D Alexander at the Rose Room, and a Razzle Dazzle-sponsored installment of GayBingo.

The full press release from Razzle Dazzle marketing director Kris Martin is below.

—  John Wright

The good, the bad & the ‘A-List’

These arts, cultural & sports stories defined gay Dallas in 2011

FASHIONS AND FORWARD  |  The Jean Paul Gaultier exhibit at the DMA, above, was a highlight of the arts scene in 2011, while Dirk Nowitzki’s performance in the NBA playoffs gave the Mavs their first-ever — and much deserved — world title. (Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)

FASHIONS AND FORWARD | The Jean Paul Gaultier exhibit at the DMA, above, was a highlight of the arts scene in 2011, while Dirk Nowitzki’s performance in the NBA playoffs gave the Mavs their first-ever — and much deserved — world title. (Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)

A lot of eyes were focused on Dallas nationally in 2011 — for good and bad — but much of what made the city a fun place last year has specific queer appeal. CULTURE The rise of the reality TV star. 2011 was the year Dallas made a big splash across everyone’s television sets — and it had nothing to do with who shot J.R. (although that’s pending). From the culinary to the conniving, queer Dallasites were big on the small screen. On the positive side were generally good portrayals of gay Texans. Leslie Ezelle almost made it all the way in The Next Design Star, while The Cake Guys’ Chad Fitzgerald is still in contention on TLC’s The Next Great Baker. Lewisville’s Ben Starr was a standout on MasterChef. On the web, Andy Stark, Debbie Forth and Brent Paxton made strides with Internet shows Bear It All, LezBeProud and The Dallas Life,respectively.

‘A’ to Z  |  ‘The A-LIst: Dallas,’ above, had its detractors, but some reality TV stars from Big D, like Chad Fitzgerald, Leslie Ezelle and Ben Starr, represented us well.

‘A’ to Z | ‘The A-LIst: Dallas,’ above, had its detractors, but some reality TV stars from Big D, like Chad Fitzgerald, Leslie Ezelle and Ben Starr, represented us well.

There were downsides, though. Drew Ginsburg served as the token gay on Bravo’s teeth-clenching Most Eligible: Dallas, and the women on Big Rich Texas seemed a bit clichéd. But none were more polarizing than the cast of Logo’s The A-List: Dallas. Whether people loved or hated it, the six 20somethings (five gays, one girl) reflected stereotypes that made people cringe. Gaultier makes Dallas his runway. The Dallas Museum of Art scored a coup, thanks to couture. The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk not only featured the work of the famed designer, but was presented the designs in an innovative manner. Nothing about it was stuffy. Seeing his iconic designs in person is almost a religious experience — especially when its Madonna’s cone bra. Gaultier reminded us that art is more than paintings on a wall. (A close runner-up: The Caravaggio exhibit in Fort Worth.) The Return of Razzle Dazzle. ­­There was speculation whether Razzle Dazzle could actually renew itself after a near-decade lull, but the five-day spectacular was a hallmark during National Pride Month in June, organized by the Cedar Springs Merchant Association. The event started slowly with the wine walk but ramped up to the main event street party headlined by rapper Cazwell. Folding in the MetroBall with Deborah Cox, the dazzle had returned with high-profile entertainment and more than 10,000 in attendance on the final night. A Gathering pulled it together. TITAS executive director Charles Santos took on the daunting task of producing A Gathering, a collective of area performance arts companies, commemorating 30 years of AIDS. Groups such as the Dallas Opera, Turtle Creek Chorale and Dallas Theater Center donated their time for this one-of-a-kind show with all proceeds benefiting Dallas’ leading AIDS services organizations. And it was worth it. A stirring night of song, dance and art culminated in an approximate 1,000 in attendance and $60,000 raised for local charities. Bravo, indeed. The Bronx closed after 35 years. Cedar Springs isn’t short on its institutions, but when it lost The Bronx, the gayborhood felt a real loss. For more than three decades, the restaurant was home to many Sunday brunches and date nights in the community. We were introduced to Stephan Pyles there, and ultimately, we just always figured on it being there as part of the fabric of the Strip. A sister company to the neighboring Warwick Melrose bought the property with rumors of expansion. But as yet, the restaurant stands steadfast in its place as a reminder of all those memories that happened within its walls and on its plates.  The Omni changed the Dallas skyline. In November, The Omni Dallas hotel opened the doors to its 23-story structure and waited to fill it’s 1,000 rooms to Dallas visitors and staycationers. Connected to the Dallas Convention Center, the ultra-modern hotel is expected to increase the city’s convention business which has the Dallas Visitors and Conventions Bureau salivating — as they should. The hotel brought modern flair to a booming Downtown and inside was no different. With quality eateries and a healthy collection of art, including some by gay artists Cathey Miller and Ted Kincaid, the Omni quickly became a go-to spot for those even from Dallas. SPORTS The Super Bowl came to town. Although seeing the Cowboys make Super Bowl XLV would have been nice for locals, the event itself caused a major stir, both good and bad. Ticketing issues caused a commotion with some disgruntled buyers and Jerry Jones got a bad rap for some disorganization surrounding the game. But the world’s eyes were on North Texas as not only the game was of a galactic measure, but the celebs were too. From Kardashians to Ke$ha to Kevin Costner, parties and concerts flooded the city and the streets. The gays even got in on the action. Despite crummy weather, the Super Street Party was billed as the “world’s first ever gay Super Bowl party.” The ice and snow had cleared out and the gays came out, (and went back in to the warmer clubs) to get their football on. The XLV Party at the Cotton Bowl included a misguided gay night with acts such as Village People, Lady Bunny and Cazwell that was ultimately canceled. The Mavericks won big. The Mavs are like the boyfriend you can’t let go of because you see how much potential there is despite his shortcomings. After making the playoffs with some just-misses, the team pulled through to win against championship rivals, Miami Heat, who beat them in 2006. In June, the team cooled the Heat in six games, taking home its first NBA Championship, with Dirk Nowitzki appropriately being named MVP. The Rangers gave us faith. Pro sports ruled big in these parts. The Mavericks got us in the mood for championships and the Texas Rangers almost pulled off a victory in the World Series. With a strong and consistent showing for the season, the Rangers went on to defend their AL West Division pennant. Hopes were high as they handily defeated the Detroit Tigers in game six, but lost the in the seventh game. Although it was a crushing loss, the Texas Rangers proved why we need to stand by our men.

— Rich Lopez

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition January 6, 2012.

—  Michael Stephens

Razzle Dazzle Dallas called ‘a home run’

Organizers thrilled with attendance, expect big sums for beneficiaries

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

More than 10,000 people filled Cedar Springs Road for the Razzle Dazzle Dallas Main Event on June 4, according to organizers who said they had no way of knowing how well people would respond to the revival of the party that was last held in 2003.

“You just never know when you’re throwing a party,” said Razzle Dazzle Dallas President John Cooper-Lara.

Cooper-Lara said despite all the planning for the event, the board wasn’t sure whether people would show up. Cooper-Lara also serves president of the Greg Dollgener Memorial AIDS Fund, the beneficiary of Friday night’s MetroBall at Station 4. Although he didn’t have final figures he said the night set a record for the event.

“Deborah Cox was over the top,” he said. “And we were up in every category — ticket sales, silent auction, pre-event sales.”

He said GDMAF should be able to provide more assistance than ever as a result.

The fund steps in to help financially when other AIDS agencies can’t, meeting needs such as rent, medical co-payments and emergency utility assistance for low-income people living with AIDS.

Before final returns were counted, Cedar Springs Merchants Association President Scott Whittall said he was delighted with attendance. He said since all costs were covered in advance by sponsors, any money taken at the door in donations, at the booths and in beer sales goes to the beneficiaries.

Normally Dallas police estimate crowd size, but LGBT Liaison Officer Laura Martin said they didn’t get an estimate on Saturday night, June 4.

Although the street was blocked, admission was free and no one was counting the number who came through the gates.

The five-day event ended with a final party at the Brick, where Mr. and Miss Razzle Dazzle Dallas were chosen.

Gerald Alexander Paige and Weezie Davis were the winners and will end their year’s reign by performing at next year’s event.

The first runners-up were Kenny Bramlett and Vanessa Styles.

Lara-Cooper said the week’s events were more successful than the board expected.

“I think we hit a home run,” said Lara-Cooper.

—  John Wright

Razzle Dazzle Dallas gets off to a busy start

Razzle Dazzle Dallas kicked off with a Wine Walk on Wednesday and continues through the weekend.

A 25-year tradition returns to Cedar Springs with the Main Event on Saturday

DAVID TAFFET | StaffWriter
taffet@dallasvoice.com

The five-day Razzle Dazzle Dallas revival began Wednesday, June 1, with a wine walk on Cedar Springs Road.

“I think last night went really well,” Chet Whisenant, owner of Subway at the Crossroads, said Thursday. “Foot traffic was way up. It was a great kickoff for Razzle Dazzle Dallas.”

Thom Dance, owner of the UPS Store on the other end of the strip said: “We had more people in our store than on any similar event. The street was alive.”

Skivvies owner David Richardson said: “Last night was great. For us, I haven’t seen that large a crowd for a wine walk event.”

Richardson, the former owner of TapeLenders and OutLines, has been a Cedar Springs merchant since the early 1980s. Several retailers said that although they stocked double the amount of wine they pour for other wine walks, they still ran out early.

Many people brought their dogs, and most retailers were allowing dogs into their stores throughout the evening.

Party express buses were scheduled to run Thursday night until 1 a.m. Friday, shuttling patrons to four clubs located off the main strip.

Metroball begins at 7 p.m. at Station 4 on Friday, June 3. Raffles and a silent auction as well as admission tickets benefit the Greg Dollinger Memorial AIDS Fund. Deborah Cox performs. VIP ticket holders are invited to a catered reception after the show to meet Cox.

On Saturday, the Cedar Springs Merchants Association will stage a sidewalk sale and classic car show during the day. More than 50 members of Classic Chassis Car Club plan to display their antique and classic cars along Cedar Springs Road.

Sale tents, food booths, an artist pavilion and activities will be set up along the sidewalk. The street will remain open to car traffic during the day.

The Main Event begins Saturday at 7 p.m. Cedar Springs Road will close to traffic at 4 p.m. to set up the stages and booths.

Sales from The Midway, community booths, art vendors and food and beer vendors all benefit Razzle Dazzle’s eight beneficiaries.

Jenna Skyy and Michael Doughman will host the live entertainment stage. Performers include Cazwell, Chaz Marie, Dallas Pride Cheer, Billy Halliday, The Bright, Uptown Players, the Gary Floyd Trio, Anton Shaw and Something Fabulous!!! On the dance stage near Cedar Springs Road and Knight Street, Dallas DJ Mickey Briggs will trade off with DJ Tim Pfleuger from Oz in New Orleans. BJ’s NXS will provide the go-go boys and girls.

For VIP ticket holders there will be two VIP-only areas. At the north area, Axiom and Dish will serve samplings. At the south area, Al Biernat and Doug Boster Catering will host a food tasting.

Free valet parking at ilume will be provided to VIP ticket holders on Saturday night.

Admission to the street party is free.

On Sunday, closing parties begin at TMC: The Mining Company with an afternoon tea dance.

The Mr. and Miss Razzle Dazzle Dallas contest takes pace at the Brick at 10 p.m.

Richardson said he was looking forward to the rest of the Razzle Dazzle weekend.

“It looks like we’re going to see a lot of new faces,” he said, “and a lot of people we haven’t seen around for awhile.”

He offered special recognition to Jimmy Bartlett, the Razzle Dazzle board member who first pulled the idea to revive the event together.

“I greatly appreciate Jimmy and all of his efforts to bring Razzle back,” Richardson said. “I think this is going to be a bigger and more exciting Razzle than any I remember.”

—  John Wright