‘Holidazzle Act II’ readies for Christmas release

Two years ago, a cabal of five gay North Texas theaterfolk, calling themselves DFW Actors Give Back, gathered their friends and colleagues in a recording studio and laid down tracks to seasonal carols like “O, Holy Night” and frigidly fun songs like “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” all sung, played, arranged and produced by the area’s significant local talent. The album, called Holidazzle, was sold during the Christmas season in theater lobbies throughout the Metroplex, will all proceeds raising money for Jonathan’s Place.

We don’t wanna sound ominous, but … they’re ba-aaac-k! And bigger than before.

A total of 40 singers and musicians appeared on Holidazzle; the new CD — called, surprisingly enough, Holidazzle II: Dazzle Harder (not really — I made up that last part; it’s really called Holidazzle II: Electric Boogaloo … No, I lied again; it’s really called Holidazzle Act II) — gathers 150, including a children’s chorus, on just one track, Carly Simon’s “The Night Before Christmas.”

If you can imagine it, they were doing all this work during the stifling heat of summer; as of today, Holidazzle Act II is in the can, with people like Doug Miller, Denise Lee and Bob Hess, pictured, doing their best work, and all for free.

Once again, sales — which start in November at area theaters and performing arts venues — will benefit the charity Jonathan’s Place. But you don’t have to wait till then; you can pr-order now at DFWActorsGiveBack.org. Yeah, it doesn’t feel much like Christmas to me, either, but give retailers a week — they’ll be decking the malls with boughs of holly before your first pumpkin pie.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Best Bets • 12.24.10

Friday 12.24

‘Twas the night before Christmas
You aren’t short for candlelight and Christmas Eve services. These places of worship are LGBT-friendly and offer a spiritual way to start your celebration.

DEETS: Cathedral of Hope, 9 and 11 p.m. services. CathedralofHope.com.,
Oak Lawn UMC, 5:30 and 11 p.m. services. OLUMC.org.,
White Rock Community Church, 7 p.m. WhiteRockChurch.org.,
First Unitarian Church of Dallas, 6:30 and 8:30 services. DallasUU.org.

05.28-Leslie-Jordan-2008Thursday 12.30

Getting to the church on time
Church revivals might conjure up suppressed
memories, but we think that won’t be a problem here. WIth Leslie Jordan’s Church Revival, the Emmy-winning actor makes church time funtime with his Southern boy wit and humor. Sister Helen Holy will be your guest hostess. And likely the two will keep you from speaking in tongues.
Just laughing in them.

DEETS: Sare Ellen & Samuel Weisfeld Center,
1508 Cadiz Road. 7 p.m. $100.
LegacyCounseling.org

Thursday 12.30

Here a bear, there a bear
If you’re feeling cold in these winter nights,
head to the Dallas Eagle for the Bear of the Year contest. With all that fur, you should warm up just nicely. Even if you can’t snuggle up close, the beef alone should turn the place into the hottest spot in town. Who will be Dallas’ next top bear?
See for yourself.

DEETS: Dallas Eagle, 5740 Maple Ave. 10 p.m.
DallasEagle.com

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

—  Kevin Thomas

‘Happy Holidays’ vs. ‘Merry Christmas’

Progressive religious leaders weigh in on 1st Baptist’s ‘Grinch Alert’ website, calling it everything from a marketing ploy to just plain mean

DAVID TAFFET  |  taffet@dallasvoice.com

Locally owned Viewpoint Bank is on First Baptist Church’s naughty list. They have poinsettias in their branches, but they don’t have a Christmas tree.

American Airlines made the naughty list because of “excessive use of holiday, no mention of Christmas. With a name like American Airlines, come on.”

Because what’s more American than telling someone else that they need to observe your religion?

Cracker Barrel “includes Santa and Christ in store.” That’s nice according to First Baptist.

Hopefully it’s Santa as we know him today — in the red suit that was created by Coca Cola for a 1935 ad campaign. The red was chosen to match Coke’s corporate color. Apparently, nothing says Christmas like corporate greed to First Baptist.

Previously, Santa was “dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot, and his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot,” as described in Twas the Night Before Christmas.

To combat the so-called “War on Christmas,” First Baptist Church in Dallas created a new website, GrinchAlert.com, for people to report stores and other service companies that are naughty or nice. Naughty is anyone who greets you with that offensive term, “Happy Holidays.”

The Rev. Steven Pace suggested the website shows that First Baptist isn’t paying attention to the right issues this holiday season.

“I can’t believe an institution with that kind of capacity to do real social action work could concern itself with something so trivial,” Pace said.

“They need something more meaningful to do.”

Yet emphasizing the consumer side of Christmas and penalizing retailers that don’t put Jesus in the middle of their marketing plans is, apparently, exactly what First Baptist wants.

Macy’s in the Galleria is on the naughty list because a single employee in a single transaction returned a customer’s “Merry Christmas” with the offensive “You, too.”

And no doubt it was the Muslim extremists in the small town of Crowley, Texas south of Fort Worth who hung “Happy Holidays” in huge letters in front of city hall. Or was it their massive Jewish population?

“How about peace on earth and good will to all?” suggested the Rev. Colleen Darraugh of MCC of Greater Dallas. “It’s the kind of thing that gives Christians a bad rap.”

She said that although she’s Christian and celebrates Christ at Christmas, she has Jewish friends whom she wishes Happy Hannukah.

“We want to wish happy holidays and seasons greetings to people of all faiths,” she said.

Darraugh said that by emphasizing what retailers are doing, it emphasized that Christmas was for consumers.

She questioned whether the website’s creators know about the religious part of the holidays … uh, Christmas.
Cantor Don Croll of Temple Shalom in North Dallas said, “So I guess at New York-style delis, they should just say ‘Happy Hanukkah.’”

He pointed out that The Christmas Store in Richardson has a large Hanukkah section and wondered if it offended First Baptist that a store with that name would be selling anything else, or if it should offend Jews to shop in a store with that name?

“I guess I’m old fashioned. I like saying happy holidays and including everybody,” he said.

The Rev. Jo Hudson of Cathedral of Hope was aghast at a church’s emphasis on the retail aspect of the holiday rather than the religious part of Christmas.

“It shifts focus from what it should be,” she said.

Hudson suggested more appropriate lessons from a church might be feeding the hungry, caring for the sick or, if retail must be the emphasis, buying toys for poor children.

She admired it as a successful marketing scheme. But questioned whether Christmas be used as such a blatant promotional mechanism by a church?

But Hudson did acknowledge the ploy’s success.

“The website is clever because people have responded to it,” she said.

Northaven United Methodist Church Senior Pastor Eric Folkerth agreed with Hudson, but he questioned whether the campaign appealed to prospective members or the lowest denominator of the church’s base.

“The pastor there has shown himself to be a master of publicity,” Folkerth said. “But it only speaks well to the people they already have.”
Folkerth called the campaign silly, annoying and mean.

“Among his base it sells, but it sells a theology of division. He has a remarkable way of doing divisive things,” Folkerth said, referring to Pastor Robert Jeffress of First Baptist Church.

Folkerth also suggested that during a recession, the website sends bad signals.

“Given the way the economy is, it’s such a bad message to say we’re not going to this store or that because of a perceived lack of Christian-ness,” he said.Folkerth said that religion should call us to our better natures.

“This doesn’t seem like our better nature,” he said.

“People who are secure in who they are don’t have to impose it on other people,” Hudson said, adding that people of different faiths have more in common than they have differences.

“How you greet people isn’t a measure of your faith,” she said

“How you treat people is.”

She said the GrinchAlert.com website was a good example of people not treating each other well and she found it particularly offensive during Christmas.

“Someone can wish me Happy Holidays and I can wish them Merry Christmas,” Darraugh said.

Taking either of those greetings as anything but best wishes, she said, “flies in the spirit of Christ who brought good will for all.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 17, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas

A new take on an old holiday classic: Anita Mann’s version of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas’

It’s the holiday season, and so today I thought I’d share this video that I found on Mark S. King’s blog, “My Fabulous Disease.”

King is a recovering alcoholic and drug addict, not to mention an AIDS activist since the early days of the epidemic, and this video features his alter ego, Anita Mann, reading “Twas the Night Before Christmas” as part of a fundraiser for LGBT people recovering from addiction. As read by Anita, it’s the same old Christmas story we’ve all heard a million times, but her, uh, interpretation can make you see it in a whole new light.

And when you’re done watching the video, go on over to King’s blog and explore. Be sure to read his biographical information, and then read some of his posts, which are all about keeping a stubbornly positive attitude and always looking for the lighter side of life. It might give you a new outlook on life in general, not to mention the holiday season.

—  admin