Neiman Marcus Christmas catalogue features mind-boggling gift ideas

IMG_4888The Neiman Marcus Christmas Book is famed for its extravagant gift ideas — Fantasy Gifts, as they call the uppermost selections of once-in-a-lifetime suggestions for the richest of the rich (the top end, a custom tour of India organized by O’Harani Luxe Experiences, caps out at $400,000). For another travel experience, jewelry designer Ippolita will take you on a custom 7-10 day tour of the artisans of her native Italy, seeing how Murano glassblowers, artisan book binders and a host of other craftsmen preserve centuries of technique. (That’s just $150,000.)

To travel more one-on-one, shell out $150,000 for a customized motorcycle by Arch. Sure, that’s a lot for a bike, even a 2,000-cc performance vehicle that looks like an Anime bike made real. But there’s more to the gift — such as, a two-day bike ride across Southern California for you and a friend, with your riding partner Keanu Reeves (I’m not making this up). There’s also air fare to the factory outside L.A., a visit to the facility and accommodations, all while pretending to recreate scenes from My Own Private Idaho. If you prefer four wheels, Ford has designed a limited edition (100 only) Mustang convertible, branded for Neiman Marcus ($95,000).

IMG_4896You probably won’t wanna get the cycle and the whiskey experience from The Orphan Barrel Project, which finds old juice from bourbon distilleries and releases one-of-a-kind editions of classic bottles. The experience includes a gorgeous bar and barware as well as the chance to select and brand two bottles of your own custom whiskeys. How good are they? Well, I tasted two of them and trust me, they are worth the $125,000 price tag.

Still too much? If you have just $5k to spend, you can indulge the kid in your life with a trunk filled with his-and-hers Halloween costumes. For a more upscale trunk of goodies, though, you’ll wanna look over the portmanteau of accessories curated by Iris Apfel, pictured, from chunky jewelry (her signature look) to bags and azure crocodile belts — some antique one-offs, some designed by Iris herself, some new pieces — for a merely $80,000. “I hope someone buys it,” Iris, the glamorous style maven, told me. “Maybe someone has a good sugar daddy.”

I’d like such a sugar daddy, I told her. I think we all would.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Socially conscious shopping tips for the Dallas holiday shopper


While Neiman’s gets a miserable score, gay Giorgio Armani scores a shameful zero

If you’re still holiday shopping and want to make sure your LGBT dollars are going to companies with the best policies for its employees, one place to look is Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index.

It’s been out for awhile, but for the holiday shopping season, I’ve pulled out some highlights for local Dallas shoppers.

Department stores

Let’s say you’re looking for something from a local department store. That’s a no brainer, because what’s more gay than Neiman Marcus?

Well, local and gay friendly? J.C. Penney for one. Plano-based J.C. Penney gets a 95. Neiman’s scores a miserable 15. In the 1950s, Jack Evans was once fired from the store because he was gay. They couldn’t do that now or they wouldn’t have a staff, but they also offer few protections and no benefits to their LGBT employees.

So if you’re counting out Neiman’s, what about the rest of NorthPark’s anchors? Macy’s and Nordstrom get 100 percent. Dillards? Not so much. 30.

If you’re shopping at the Galleria, the new Belk gets a failing 15.

Elsewhere in NorthPark

Abercrombie, American Eagle, Gap, Nike and Tiffany rate 100

Kenneth Cole, Ralph Lauren: 90

Aeropostale: 85

H&M: 70

J. Crew: 30

Foot Locker, Donna Karan, Burberry, Guess, Urban Outfitters: 15

Ann Taylor, Giorgio Armani, Gucci, Versace, Express, Skechers: These are the ExxonMobils of the mall that offer no protection and no benefits to their LGBT employees. And Versace was gay and so is Armani. I guess just because you’re gay (or built your retail empire on the reputation of someone who was) doesn’t mean you don’t say fuck you to those who work for you or your LGBT customers. If Armani just had a no-cost nondiscrimination statement that included sexual orientation and gender identity, he’d get a 15. Shame on him for not saying, “Of course we won’t fire our gay, lesbian and transgender employees.”

Local chains

What about other local chains? Pier 1 and Radio Shack are both based in Fort Worth. Radio Shack: 30. Pier 1: 15.

Do the Dallas-based The Container Store or Michaels do better? Both rate a pitiful 15.

Strip centers:

Shopping for the lesbian on your list may be easy this year. Home Depot gets a 90, but, across the street, Lowe’s only gets a 30.

Target: 100

Office Depot and Staples: 100 (Office Max: not rated)

Ross: 70

Bed, Bath and Beyond go below: 30.

Big Lots: 15

Dollar stores

Dollar stores aren’t all the same. Family Dollar and Dollar Tree rate just 30, while Dollar General gets a more respectable 70.

Drug stores

Both CVS and Walgreens rank 100.


Safeway (which owns Tom Thumb) gets 100.

Kroger rates 85.

Whole Foods could do better with a 75.

Central Market: 40.

Trader Joe’s: 30.

Aldi, Fiesta and my favorite local supermarket Rio Grande: not rated.

—  David Taffet

Local Briefs • 02.17.12

Toast to Life set for Feb. 25

The 14th annual Toast to Life Gala — fundraiser for Resource Center Dallas’ programs and services that make life better for people living with HIV/AIDS — is set for Feb. 25

The event, “Lights, Camera, ACTION!,” begins at 8 p.m. at FIG–Fashion Industry Gallery, at 1807 Ross Ave. Toast to Life has an annual attendance of more than 800, has raised more than $2.4 million since it began in 1999, and is one of the most eagerly awaited events of the year.
The centerpiece of Toast To Life has always been the culinary fare presented by a collection of Dallas’ most popular restaurants, along with wines and spirits. Guests participate throughout the evening by bidding on exclusive silent and luxury auction items and enjoying stellar entertainment.
This year’s auction items include:
• VIP passes to a taping of Fashion Police with Joan Rivers in L.A.;
• A limited-edition, autographed Katy Perry tour jacket;
• Week rental of a four-bedroom private condo in Park City, Utah;
• Furnishings from Herman Miller Inc., Knoll and Neiman Marcus–Willow Bend;
• Assorted travel packages and gift certificates from casual favorites to Dallas’ most prominent restaurants; and,
• One-of-a-kind art from well-known local artists.
Toast To Life Gala is presented by Christopher A. Salerno and sponsored in part by: Nordstrom, Eric V. Culbertson & David W. Carlson, American Airlines, Christopher J. Vesy, M.D. & Alan E. Roller, Charles MarLett & Jim Vasilas, Steven M. Pounders, M.D. & Jimmy O’Reilly, United Court of the Lone Star Empire, David Hardt & Steven Hartsell, and Bud Light/Ben E. Keith.
Tickets are $100. VIP tickets, which includes private reception prior to gala, are $150. For tickets and sponsor information for the 2012 Toast To Life Gala, visit

BTD beneficiary applications online

Black Tie Dinner has opened its 31st season by making applications for 2012 beneficiaries available online. The deadline is March 2. Beneficiaries must submit a new application each year. Up to 20 organizations are chosen to receive half the proceeds from the annual dinner. The other half benefits the Human Rights Campaign.

The Dallas Black Tie Dinner has been the largest LGBT fundraising dinner since it began in 1982.
Black Tie Dinner has raised more than $15 million since it began in 1982. In 2011, the organization distributed $1.142 million to 17 North Texas groups. This year’s dinner will be held at the Sheraton in Downtown Dallas on Nov. 3. Mitzi Lemons and Chris Kouvelis are the chairs.
For more info or to submit an application, go to

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

—  Kevin Thomas

Fashion leader Alden Clanahan dies

Alden Clanahan, right

We just learned of the passing Alden Clanahan, an executive with Dallas Market Center and a frequent patron of social functions in Dallas; he was also a DIFFA volunteer.

According to Clanahan’s friend and next door neighbor, Michael A. Smith, Clanahan failed to show up at work several days ago and did not answer calls. Earlier today, police were dispatched and entered his apartment and found him dead. “His dog Bella was at his side,” Smith said.

His colleague Rawlins Gilliland, who worked with Clanahan when he was at Neiman Marcus, mourned Clanahan on his Facebook page. When Gilliland did his experimental fundraising marathon on KERA last fall, Clanahan was one of his guest hosts. “It’s too much to say goodbye,” Gilliland wrote.

No other details were available.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

DIFFA/Dallas announces Style Council

At Dish last night, a huge crowd gathered to hear the names on DIFFA/Dallas’ Style Council roster. Members of the Style Council are  responsible for getting out the word about DIFFA and fundraising for the signature event, the Collection, which this year is called Smoking Haute. It will take place at the Anatole on March 31.

Read who the 2012 Style Council Ambassadors are after the jump.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

JCPenney returns to Dallas retail

It has been an irony on the level of the Big Tobacco office building being smoke-free or the beef industry lobbying group having vegetarian options on its cafeteria menu. JCPenney, once the ruler of catalogue sales and a retail captain, is based in North Texas but has not had a Dallas store since the one in NorthPark Center closed in the late 1990s.

Well, it’s back. And with a lot of style.

The new store, which officially opened at Skillman Road and Northwest Highway last weekend, is part of a huge new complex that includes a gigantic Wal-Mart that probably warrants its own congressman. The JCP store isn’t as big, but it is fairly fancy.

JCP has always been a mid-range seller that doesn’t compete with fellow Dallas-based icon Neiman Marcus but brags that is does offer style for less. (It’s VP in charge of design, Geoffrey Henning, is a longtime supporter and designer for DIFFA.) The new store — clean and fresh as a newly minted penny — lives up to the promise.

JCP staffers brag that the store is now the exclusive retailer for what they say is the most recognized name in women’s fashion, Liz Claiborne, though the designs have been updated from the 1970s-era when the brand became famous. Credit uber-gay Isaac Mizrahi, its comparatively new creative director, with turning things around. There are a number of exclusive deals and in-house labels at JCP, including a juniors line from the Olsen Twins, but the new venue is most excited about its MNG by Mango store-within-a-store, which does fast fashions for women. Another innovation: An in-house salon where you can get your hair cut or an entire makeover if you need it, then continue on with your bargain shopping.

The men’s department is smaller than the women’s, but the J. Ferrar line of clothes, pictured, is worth a look, and if you’re a fragrance junkie, an in-store Sephora shop.

For shopaholics like me, it’s always fun to browse at a new store, not only to see what’s new (lots of fall fashions are already out, despite the 99-degree temperatures this week) but also to take advantage of the bargains and enjoy the enthusiasm of a fresh staff in a beautiful space. And JCPenney doesn’t scrimp on the sales, coupons and discounts. It’s a great place to check out something new and save money doing it.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Neiman’s event benefits Lone Star Ride

Lone Star Ride Fighting AIDS benefits from a VIP reception tonight in conjunction with Fashion’s Night Out 2011 at Neiman Marcus Willow Bend.

A limited number of people can enjoy the elegant VIP lounge with cocktails, food, and a DJ from 8 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Tickets are $50 in advance and $100 at the door.

Fashion’s Night Out events begin at 6:30 p.m. with a presentation of women’s styles, followed by the latest men’s wear at 7:30 p.m.

“From Manhattan to Milan, and across the United States, Fashion’s Night Out is the ultimate after-hours shopping extravaganza presented by Neiman Marcus each fall,” said LSRFA event co-chair Danny Simpson said. “This year, LSRFA is pleased to be a part of this exciting event, with food, drink and fashion in an elegant, fun atmosphere, this promises to be a memorable night. It will also be a great opportunity for our guests to learn about LSRFA, what we do and the three agencies we support.”

In addition to the runway fashion shows and VIP reception, additional happenings at Fashion’s Night Out include:

• Richardson Bike Mart and Harley Davidson of Allen will have new bikes on display throughout the Men’s Store

• Jewelry designer Mitchell Binder for King Baby Studio will preview his line of hip jewelry for men

• Jewelry designer Stephanie Anne will make a personal appearance

• Home accessories designer Atticus Lyon will be on hand to sign his products

• FOX Master Chef winner, Whitney Miller, will sign copies of her new cookbook Modern Hospitality: Southern Recipes with Southern Charm

• Miss Texas 2011 Kendall Morris will make a personal appearance

• Guests will have the opportunity to have photos taken with their friends at the FNO photo stop.

Lone Star Ride takes place Sept. 24-25.

—  David Taffet

Best Bets • 09.02.11

Friday 09.02

Always getting caught
The Contemporary Theatre of Dallas presents Cheaters written by Michael Jacobs and directed by Michael Serrecchia. No, this isn’t a stage version of that horrible reality show putting cheating boyfriends and girflriends on the spot. The couples here intertwine dangerously before a young couple’s wedding. It’s both funny and oh-so wrong. Did he really sleep with her?

DEETS: CTD, 5601 Sears St. 8 p.m. $22–$32.


Sunday 09.04

The way he is
We are starting to think that conductor Marvin Hamlisch has a thing for Dallas. Or at least he’s making it a habit. He was here almost exactly a year ago to the day. We don’t mind it at all if he’s going to keep playing his music from A Chorus Line, The Way We Were and so much more. After all, he’s helming the DSO pops as its principal conductor. Who wouldn’t get excited?

DEETS: Meyerson Symphony Center, 2301 Flora St.
2:30 p.m. $22–125.


Thursday 09.08

Not your usual night at the mall
Neiman Marcus hosts this year’s Fashion’s Night Out, a swanky event with both men’s and women’s collections, light nibblies and a DJ. The night benefits Lone Star Ride Fighting AIDS.

DEETS: The Shops at Willow Bend, 2201 Dallas Parkway, Plano. 6 p.m.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 9, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Local Briefs

Toast to Life set for Feb. 26

Resource Center Dallas holds its 13th annual Pride Pharmacy Toast To Life gala fundraiser Saturday, Feb. 26, to benefit the center’s HIV/AIDS programs and services. Event tickets are $100 and VIP tickets including a private reception are $150.

The event, “Cirque De La Vie,” will be held at FIG-Fashion Industry Gallery, 1807 Ross Ave.

Pride Pharmacy Toast To Life features food from some of Dallas’ most prominent chefs and restaurants, along with wines and other beverages. There is also a silent auction and entertainment.

This year’s silent auction items include: a “chef’s dinner” for 10 at Truluck’s, including private dining and wine and valued at $5,000; a weeklong vacation in Provincetown, including a stay in a private rent house and air transportation on American Airlines; a “Gayribbean Cruise” for two; jewelry from Neiman Marcus; assorted travel packages and gift certificates, and one-of-a-kind art from well-known local artists.

Pride Pharmacy Toast To Life is presented by Pride Pharmacy and sponsored in part by Dr. Christopher A. Salerno and John F. Dixon, Eric V. Culbertson and David W. Carlson,, FIG-Fashion Industry Gallery, Pinky’s Valet, Lone Star Ride Fighting AIDS, EMD Serono, Go-Lite Digital Advertising, Bravo! Entertainment, Total 360 Interiors, Artifex Art and Framing, Christopher J. Vesy, M.D. & Allan E. Roller, Chuck MarLett and Jim Vasilas, Steve S. Rayl & Scot Presley, Steven M. Pounders, M.D., and Jimmy O’Reilly, the United Court of the Lone Star Empire, BOLD Entertainment — Brandon Olds, and Dr. David Lee and Casey Wilcox. Tickets and sponsor information is available online at

DFW Pug Rescue holding Pet Walk

DFW Pug Rescue Club holds its first annual Pet Walk and Adoption Event from 9 to 1 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 26, at Villages of Bear Creek, 1509 Bear Creek Parkway in Euless.

The event will feature a pet walk, an unleashed dog park, pugs looking for adoption and more. Pre-registration for the Pug Love Fun Run is $20; registration is $25 the day of the event.

Registration fees include a t-shirt, and all proceeds will go directly to the DFWPRC.

Chamber seeks auction donations

The North Texas GLBT Chamber of Commerce is looking for donations of items for its 6th anniversary gala dinner and silent auction.

Items donated for the auction must have a value of at least $250 and must be ready for pick up by March 15. Donated items must also be accompanied by all the necessary information.

Individual tickets prior through Feb. 28 are $55, and tables of 10 are $550. For more information, contact the chamber at 214-821-4528.

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

—  John Wright

50 years together and still going strong

Evans, Harris celebrate golden anniversary with a look back at how the world has changed

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer

George Harris and Jack Evans will celebrate their 50th anniversary on Wednesday, Jan. 19. The couple met in Dallas on Jan. 19, 1961.

Evans and Harris, who tend to finish each other’s sentences, said they first met on a Sunday afternoon at the Taboo Room, a gay bar on Lomo Alto Drive across from Wyatt’s Cafeteria where Whole Foods now stands.

“We’ve been together ever since,” said Evans.

“And lived within 2 miles of where we met for 50 years,” added Harris.

At the time, Evans had recently moved back from Houston. He had been managing the antique furniture department at Neiman Marcus in the Houston store, but Edwin Marcus found out he was gay.

He lost the job, he said, because Marcus said they were afraid that if others found out, he’d be blackmailed and begin to steal from the company.

“They ‘allowed’ me to resign,” Evans said.

Harris had moved to Dallas from Washington, D.C. He had been in the Army and, for a time, had been assigned to the CIA.

“I never did basic training,” he said. “I did stenography.” (Before recording equipment became common, stenographers, who wrote in shorthand code, took transcriptions of meetings.)

“They sent me to Washington,” Harris said. “They couldn’t find male stenographers. I lived off base. That wasn’t a good thing. I was having too much fun.”

Toward the end of his enlistment period, Harris said, he was arrested.

“They rounded up 27 of us,” he said. “But they waited until the end of my three years. They wanted my skills.”

Among the group was a man who was dating Marlon Brando, Harris claimed. Those arrested were charged with fraudulent enlistment. At the time, there was a question on the enlistment form that asked if you were “homosexual,” Harris explained.

“I put no,” he said.

During interrogation, he said, officials seemed most interested in whether he had ever had sex on base or with an officer.

Harris’ three-year enlistment period ended in August, but he remained in detention until the following February when he received a dishonorable discharge.

The discharge was upgraded 20 years later, he said, with the help of the American Red Cross.

After release from the Army, Harris moved to Dallas with one of the other men that had been arrested and who was from Seagoville. That soldier had been accused of having sex with a guard at the U.S. embassy in Moscow.

Harris went to work as a manager for McLean Trucking. He said that job lasted until trucking deregulation occurred in the 1970s.

Evans had also served in the military. He spent three years in the Coast Guard and was stationed at headquarters in St. Louis and in Honolulu.

“I never once encountered anyone I thought was gay,” he said.

But Evans was 32, he said, before he admitted to himself that he was gay. He said he had been with men, but always told himself he wouldn’t do it again.

Harris was just the opposite: “I came out when I was 7,” he said. “I had a boyfriend in the first grade.”

Getting into real estate

Harris and Evans met, they said, when a mutual friend who worked at Neiman’s antiques department in Dallas invited them to a party.

In 1964, they bought their first house in Oak Lawn.

“We paid $14,500,” Evans said. “It just sold for $350,000.”

“The thing that solidified our relationship — George owned the refrigerator,” Evans said.

“And he owned the dishes,” Harris added.

After leaving Neiman’s, Evans became department manager for a savings and loan and worked there for 14 years.

For company events, he said he always found a lesbian to go with him.

“I decided I went as far as I was going to go,” he said.

With deregulation in his industry as well, Harris also thought his job would be coming to an end.

So when they were buying another property, Evans approached their broker to sponsor him for his real estate license.

In 1976, they opened an office in a small building facing Lemmon Avenue, in the same shopping center as the Taboo Room. That building was torn down in the 1990s to build a bank drive-thru.

Evans-Harris eventually became one of the largest real estate companies in Oak Lawn. Evans did the selling. Harris did the paperwork and handled the money. That arrangement continues to this day.

“I’m the president,” Evans said. “He gets the checkbook.”

He described selling property back in the time before multiple listings and secure lockboxes.

“If you wanted show a property at that time, you had to go to the listing office and pick up the key,” Evans said.

He said that since they began their business they have seen four downturns in the housing market. During one of those downturns about 15 years ago, they decided to align themselves with a stronger office.

“We tried Betty Abio,” Evans said. “We told her we were together 35 years. She said, ‘I don’t think I’ve had a woman up here who’s been married that long.’”

The group is now known as Ellen Terry and is a division of Ebby Halliday Real Estate.

A changing world

The couple describes their relationship with their families as always being good, although they never officially came out to them.

“No one ever questioned or commented on our relationship,” Harris said. “Jack’s mother always introduced me as her other son.”

They talked about how times have changed in Dallas for the LGBT community. Harris had a newspaper clipping from the Oct. 29, 1961 issue of Dallas Morning News.

The headline was “29 nabbed in raid on apartment.”

Two men were charged with sodomy and the others booked on morals charges — but what happened is unclear from the story. Evans and Harris filled in the details.
The vice squad set up parties with food and drink at apartments, they explained. Then the undercover officers went to the bars and invited everyone to come to their party after the bars closed at midnight.

When a crowd gathered, a paddy wagon drove up and whoever didn’t flee fast enough was arrested.

The Morning News story listed professions, but the Dallas Times Herald would print names and ruined quite a few people’s careers, the two men said.
Harris said an attorney they knew moved to Canada, the only place he could continue practicing law.

Teachers were fired as a matter of policy.

In addition, Harris described a bar with picture windows on Skiles Street in East Dallas.

“Kids would throw rocks through the window regularly,” he said,

They said people would drive around the block a few times before parking and going into a bar to make sure things looked safe that evening.

Community involvement

Evans and Harris have been continuously involved in the community. Harris was one of the early board members of the AIDS Resource Center.

Having lunch one day in the early 1990s with John Thomas and several other community leaders, Michael Doughman, now executive director of the Dallas Tavern Guild, commented, “Now this is what they call a power lunch.”

From that comment, the Stonewall Professional and Business Association began and Evans and Harris later became two of the founding officers of the North Texas Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce.

They served on the Turtle Creek Chorale advisory committee and on the founding board of the Fort Worth Men’s Chorus.

They received the Texas Human Rights Foundation Robert Schwab Memorial Award in 1996, given to community members who worked toward equal rights in Texas.

And in 1997, they were given the Extra Mile Award, the first men to receive that honor.

Harris served on the Black Tie Dinner committee for five years and in 1998 the group honored the couple with the Kuchling Humanitarian Award. In 2008, DIFFA named the couple Legends in the Fight Against AIDS.

About being together for 50 years, they said, “In light of Joel Burns, we want to be encouragement to people who don’t think it can be done and a model for straight people.”

In April, the couple will celebrate by going on a Mexican Riviera cruise with 14 of their friends.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition Jan. 14, 2011.

—  John Wright