Work it!

Dallas is awash in places for fitness-conscious gay men to build muscles … and show off a little

There’s not a loss for gyms around the Oak Lawn neighborhood. Several fitness centers dot the healthy landscape from Uptown to Downtown and several in between. This is a list of health clubs that are among the favorites for the LGBT community.

— Rich Lopez

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Club Dallas
Exclusively serving gay men for more than 30 years, this institution actually has one of the largest gyms in the city, and is open 24 hours, 365 days a year.
2616 Swiss Ave
214-821-1990
TheClubs.com

Diesel Fitness
Located on the third floor of the Centrum, it’s right in the heart of the gayborhood.
3102 Oak Lawn #300
214-219-6400
DieselFitness214.com

Energy Fitness joins an already bustling roster of gyms in the Uptown area. Located in the West Village, this gym has garnered praise for its no-nonsense approach and competitive membership fees.

Energy Fitness
This recent gym has gained a reputation for affordable memberships and solid service right in the West Village.
2901 Cityplace West Blvd.
214-219-1900
UptownEnergyFitness.com

Equinox
Located in the old Park Place Motorcars location, it offers a full range of fitness services
4023 Oak Lawn Ave.
214-443-9009
Equinox.com

Gold’s Gym
Locations are throughout the city, but the one in Uptown serves a fit, very gay customer base.
2425 McKinney Avenue
214-306-9000
GoldsGym.com

The LA Fitness by Love Field has been a favorite for the community with its convenience to the Oak Lawn area and an impressive list of amenities and classes. (Rich Lopez/Dallas Voice)

The LA Fitness by Love Field has been a favorite for the community with its convenience to the Oak Lawn area and an impressive list of amenities and classes. (Rich Lopez/Dallas Voice)

LA Fitness
Has multiple locations, but the one at Lemmon and Mockingbird by Love Field is popular with gay clientele.
4540 W. Mockingbird Lane
214-453-4899
LAFitness.com

Trophy Fitness Club
With four total locations, one can be found in the downtown Mosaic (formerly Pulse) and in one Uptown.
2812 Vine St. Suite 300
214-999-2826
TrophyFitnessClub.com

24 Hour Fitness
Popular locations include the one Downtown and one at Mockingbird Lane and Greenville Avenue.
700 North Harwood St.
214-220-2423
24HourFitness.com

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

—  Michael Stephens

Hotel Palomar hosts Operation Kindness for Santa Paws photo event this weekend

Here at the Voice, we have a soft spot for Operation Kindness, the no-kill animal shelter which offers us a “pet of the week” in the paper. In fact, we love pets, period. We also like the gay- and pet-friendly Hotel Palomar. So we’re happy to let y’all know about Santa Paws, the pet-photo opp at the Palomar this weekend that benefits Operation Kindness. Bring by your dog (or cat or bird or snake or gerbil) and get a free pet-master photo, and help yourself to cocoa and hot apple cider and munchies for man and beast. You can also meet Troy, the new director of pet relations at the hotel and ambassador to four-legged guests.

Of course, it would be nice with all of these freebies that you drop a little cash for Operation Kindness, which will also be there offering up some pets for adoption.

The event takes place Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 10 and 11, from 2–4 p.m., at the Palomar on Mockingbird and Central.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Movie Monday: Almodovar’s ‘The Skin I Live In’

Almodovar’s psycho-sexual sci-fi comes off without a Hitch(cock)

At his best, Pedro Almodovar is a master of outrageous antics like Fellini and the tense, driving, investigative thrills of Hitchcock, though seldom in the same movie; at his worst, he allows mawkish sentimentality to be his undoing.

He’s finally hit the sweet spot with The Skin I Live In, a rangy, intoxicatingly compulsive mystery that blends spectacle with sci-fi with the cool suspense of David Cronenberg. Better yet, it explores big emotional themes that are as extreme as the crazed plot but frighteningly relateable.

The film, set one year in the future, reunites Almodovar with the Spanish actor he made a star, Antonio Banderas, for the first time in 21 years. Banderas, at 51, still has smoldering good looks and a dangerousness brooding under a controlled, respectable exterior.

He plays Robert Ledgard, a plastic surgeon who has pioneered an artificial skin that will revolutionize the treatment of burn victims — a passion, since his own wife was horribly disfigured a decade before. His methods skirt medical ethics, however, so his colleagues don’t know Robert has been experimenting on Vera (Elena Anaya), a prisoner in his house who has been changed, slowly but inevitably, into The Perfect Woman.

4.5 stars. Read the rest of the article here.

DEETS: Antonio Banderas, Elena Anaya. Rated R. 130 mins. Angelika Mockingbird Station.

—  Rich Lopez

‘Camp Death’ tonight at Pocket Sandwich

Keep that Halloween feeling

Pocket Sandwich Theatre keeps the frights going along with the laughs in their latest popcorn-tossing show Camp Death. No block parties to struggle through this time. Just sit back and enjoy as Pocket Sandwich spoofs on Friday the 13th and other ’80s horror flicks. And stock up on the popcorn. It’s just as fun to toss at your friends as it is the onstage villains.

DEETS: Pocket Sandwich Theatre, 5400 E. Mockingbird Lane, Ste. 119. 7:30 p.m. $10–$18. PocketSandwich.com.

—  Rich Lopez

TCBY to fill in Red Mango spot at ilume

Outside of the location on Abrams and Mockingbird, I really hadn’t thought TCBY was still much in the froyo game, but today’s drive-by proved me wrong. I was slightly stunned when Red Mango quietly closed about three months ago, but it doesn’t look to be an empty space much longer — or even stop selling yogurt. TCBY moves in soon.

The sign has actually been up since the Pride parade, Eric Pederson told me.

“We’re very excited to have them here,.” Pederson of the Crosland Group said. “We’re hoping that the shop will be up and running by Dec. 1.”

Pederson handles the retail leasing for the ilume. There is still some paperwork and permits to complete, but Pederson foresees the location to be a great addition to the gayborhood. Unlike the Lakewood location, this TCBY may go with the self-serve format like many of the newer froyo shops. Perhaps TCBY is finding its competitive spirit again.

—  Rich Lopez

Movie Monday: Gus Van Sant’s ‘Restless’ at the Angelika

Get a little Restless today

Any other director would almost certainly have turned Restless into a maudlin tearjerker (even the disrespectfully crass Judd Apatow made the mawkish disaster Funny People). But Van Sant operates on about two settings: Crazy genius (Milk, To Die For, Drugstore Cowboy) and disastrous boondoggle (his misguided Psycho remake) …. though he throws some impenetrable art films in as well (Gerry, Elephant, Last Days). Restless is really none of those, though it is very good — a lighthearted look at death that never seems off-beat for its own sake.

Read the entire review here.

DEETS: Starring Henry Hopper, Mia Wasikowska. 95 min. Now playing at the Angelika Film Center Mockingbird Station.

—  Rich Lopez

‘Hold Your Peace’ Dallas premiere tonight at Angelika

Free movie? Yes, please

When Southern Methodist University alum Wade McDonald set out to make his debut feature film, the one thing he didn’t want to do was make a “typical” gay film: No naked boys as the selling point, no ridiculous gay-angst drama, no coming-out story. McDonald loves romantic comedies and wanted to make his own — just with men.

His plan worked. The result, Hold Your Peace, seems to have resonated with audiences.

Read the entire article here.

DEETS: Angelika Film Center, 5321 E. Mockingbird Lane. Sept. 20 at 7 p.m. Free (passes at Buli or Skivvies). HoldYourPeaceMovie.com.

—  Rich Lopez

Princess of Persia

The lesbian romance “Circumstance’ breaks many taboos, but for director Maryam Keshavarz, it was simply a story that had to be told.

The Arab Spring has meant a significant liberalization in Middle Eastern countries. But political freedom is one thing; artistic expression is still quite another. And, for that matter, Iran is not Egypt or Libya.

Not that the revolutions in those countries mattered to Maryam Keshavarz, who made the dauntingly radical film Circumstance. Although shot in comparatively open Lebanon (where it is still illegal to be gay), the story tells a tale of two Iranian woman who enter into a romance.

Keshavarz chatted with critics recently following a screening of her film to discuss how the film was made, the price she and the crew had to pay and what it’s like taking on taboo subject matter in a country where her film cannot even be shown.

Opens Friday at the Angelika Film Center Mockingbird Station.

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Question: How much of the film is autobiographical? Maryam Keshavarz: It is not an autobiographical film, but the girls navigating the underground world is my experience as a teenager with my cousins. The structure of the family is based on a very liberal uncle I had that was at university in America, went back to Iran in 1979 and got stuck there. Since he was very liberal, I wondered what it was like for him to raise his family in a very conservative environment.

Where was this movie made, when and how? The film was completely shot in Lebanon. We could not shoot in Iran due to the subject matter, but I wanted to shoot in the Middle East. Even shooting in a liberal country, like Lebanon, was still difficult. It is still illegal to be gay there. Also there is a lot of tension in the country.

As a filmmaker, did you run into backlash or difficulty making the project? There was a lot of risk in making the film. I had serious discussions with the actors that we likely couldn’t go back to Iran after making the film.

What has the reaction to the film been like in Middle Eastern countries? Unfortunately, we cannot show the film in Middle Eastern countries. The only countries that will show the film are Turkey and Israel. But we are trying to screen in other countries soon. There have been a lot of Middle Eastern immigrants who have seen the film and their reaction has been mostly positive, but some extremely negative. In terms of the young Middle Eastern and gay Middle Eastern, it has been extremely positive.

What has been the response from the gay community? The response in the gay community has been amazing. We won the audience award at Outfest and the Jury Award at New Fest.

What were your cinematic or visual cues that inspired the look and feel of the film? In terms of the visuals, I worked closely with my director of photography. I met him at the Sundance lounge in 2007. We created an 80-page look-book where we mapped out the entire course of the film. The beginning is open and airy, with smooth dolly shots, but as the film progresses, as the brother becomes more intrusive, the image becomes more crowded and darker to make a sense of unease.

Any specific films or filmmakers you modeled the film after? Or was it mostly intuitive or organic? I love Lucrecia Martel and Atom Egoyan.

Were you pressured at any point to walk your audience more explicitly through mile-markers of Iranian history and social context? I trusted the audience in making the film. In terms of when I write, I try to write scenes that resonate with me both as an Iranian and an American. I wanted people to feel the social context, not necessarily be told about it. We painted those strokes with camera and music. There are specific references to political ideologies. There’s the whole scene from Milk.

Did you always plan for dance and music to play such central roles? Yes, music has always been a major character in the film. Especially the use of Persian hip-hop in contrast to the Persian classical music. In the beginning of the film, there is a lot of music and joy. As the environment becomes more oppressive, the music that does appear is discordant. Gingger Shankar and I worked on the music cues even before we shot the film.

How open is the broader society to that kind of Persian hip-hop? Does it ever tackle these subjects directly in the music socially? Persian hip-hop is highly political. It’s all underground, but the lyrics are very political and it’s very popular with the young people in Iran. We will be releasing the soundtrack in November and there will be a booklet with the translations of the songs.

Can you talk about your upbringing? Are you able now to go back to Iran? I grew up going between New York, New Jersey and Shiraz. Since my parents came to the U.S. in ’67, I never had any issues going between countries. I had two passports. My uncle was killed in the war between Iran and Iraq. Because of this, my mom moved my brother and I back to Iran, so I actually went to second grade in Iran. I also did some of my graduate work at the university in Iran. I love that toggling back and forth.

How important was the influence of Marjane Satrapi [Persepolis] on you? I think Marjane and I both speak to a lot of Iranis’ experiences. I think what she did was only possible in animation. The broad historical analysis of a little girl.

Were there any specific challenges or issues with filming in the Middle East? Was production ever halted? I’ve shot two films in Iran before, so I know shooting in the Middle East is a very delicate matter. It’s about flying under the radar and picking the right team. We encountered some obstacles in terms of shutting down the production, but we were able to overcome them.

I like how we don’t know at first what headmistress means by “people like you,” and how you raise issues of wealth/class. Can you say more about that? “People like you” refers to Shireen’s parents’ political background. She’s been marked because of this. In terms of class, the film shows that the girls are on parallel paths until they are arrested. This is where circumstance of class comes in to play. Atafeh’s parents can buy her way out. Shireen’s choices are much more limited.

Did you specifically try to find a beautiful cast? Casting was a huge problem. I auditioned 2,000 girls for the roles of Atafeh and Shireen. I was looking for girls that were over 18, but looked under 18, had two passports, were good actors and weren’t afraid to tackle the subject matter in the film. It’s both girls’ acting debuts.

What are men most afraid of in regards to women in a culture like Iran? Women in Iran — it’s a touchy subject. Because it’s an Islamic state, women occupy a largely symbolic position in the culture. If women show too much of their hair or dress too promiscuously, this is an assault on the state. Women are largely more harassed in the culture. But it also creates very strong women as a result. The film is sort of a love poem to strong Iranian women, who in their daily lives and small acts stand up against the state.

Given the environment, why is there not a mass exodus of women? That’s not to say women don’t create their own spaces for freedom of expression. You have a sense in the beginning of the film that despite all the surveillance cameras, the girls have found a way to still live their lives. They ride around in the city, still see their friends — like typical teenagers. The family has done quite well for themselves. The mother is a successful surgeon. So in any oppressive environment, safe spaces are created. But I was trying to evaluate, when are those safe spaces compromised?

Are you currently working on any new, similarly risky projects? I’m working on a trilogy on Iran.

Surveillance cameras have become a way of life in all countries and cultures. How do you think this changes us fundamentally as human beings? It’s only when the threat comes from within that tragedy strikes. It’s when the brother brings the state [surveillance] into the sanctuary of the home that everything starts to fall apart.

Given Mehran’s arc, are you comfortable with viewers seeing his newfound fundamentalism as its own form of addiction? Is that too pat or a viable read of the character? Mehran’s not truly a fundamentalist. He’s attracted to religion because it comes with power in Iran. His extremism is another form of articulating his addictive character. But he’s quite lost and lonely. He’s disempowered. I don’t see him as a villain. Just as someone trying to find his place in the world.

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

—  Michael Stephens

Cross-dressing B’way comedy plays at Angelikas

Lady Bracknell is one of the zoom-bang greatest characters in all theater, the pinched, appearances-heavy doyenne on Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest. The ladies, of course, always get this juicy role. Until now.

Gay actor Brian Bedford donned a frock as the director and leading lady of the current revival of the play, now on Broadway and up for three Tony Awards later this month. But you don’t need to go to New York to see it. The Angelika Film Centers in Dallas and Plano are screening the direct broadcast of the actual play three more times this week: Thursday at 7 p.m. at the Angelika Mockingbird Station, Sunday at 2 p.m. and Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the Angelika Plano.

Tickets can be purchased at AngelikaFilmCenter.com.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Weekly Best Bets

Friday 04.29

These kings wanna get rocked
The peeps behind this show are pretty brilliant — not to mention a kick-ass flyer. Drag kings and local bands make up Mustaches & Music hosted by Christina Love. After Julian 4Play and the rest of the kings perform, Screaming Red and Electro-Shock Machine bring the rock out to finish the night. Sweet.

DEETS: Sue Ellen’s, 3014 Throckmorton St. 9 p.m. PartyAtTheBlock.com.

 

Saturday 04.30

No, it’s OK to have that buzz
Festivals come left and right this time of year, but we’re prone to those encouraging us to eat and drink. The Dallas Wine and Food Festival has been doing just that for 27 years. We long for Saturday’s wine seminars at Mockingbird Station spots topped off by happy hour at Margarita Ranch.

DEETS: Mockingbird Station, 5321 E. Mockinbird Lane. 11 a.m. Through Sunday. $15–$25. DallasWineFest.com.

 

Sunday 05.01

Spoken word with purpose
Audaciously Speaking presents the 4th Annual Evolution of Spoken Word. Local out poet, Audacious brings together an impressive lineup of local poets and artists, all who are ready to drop some knowledge on you.

DEETS: Chocolate Secrets, 3926 Oak Lawn Ave. 3 p.m. $15. 682-472-9396

—  John Wright