1 hit, a lot of balls

Though not a perfect game, ‘Take Me Out’ scores in the bottom of the 9th

TMO_Show_StillsArnold

DESIGNATED HOTTIES | The shower scenes are steamy, but the interpersonal dynamics between ballplayers (Kevin Moore and Lloyd Harvey) run the bases in ‘Take Me Out.’ (Photo by Mike Morgan)

ARNOLD WAYNE JONES  | Life+Style Editor
jones@dallasvoice.com

It doesn’t happen often, but sometimes a first act can fool you.

Act 1 of Richard Greenberg’s play Take Me Out, is, quite simply, not very good. The exposition is lazy, the central conflict (intentionally kept close to the vest) twee, the dialogue on the stilted side. Aside from the much-hyped locker-room nudity — and this is not a comment on the actors’ bodies — there’s not much “there” there.

Then comes Act 2, and Take Me Out opens like a lily with the breaking dawn.

In Uptown Players’ current production, the second is nearly twice as long as the first, but it crackles with energy. Greenberg’s “floating narrator” device almost works, and the non-linear storytelling begins to make sense. And there’s more nudity. Nothin’ wrong with that.

Take Me Out is a buzz-worthy play, flesh aside: Set in 2002, it’s the story of Darren Lemming (Lloyd Harvey), a Major League Baseball player — the best in the pros (suggestively modeled on Derek Jeter back when there were rumors of his sexual orientation) — who at the height of his skills comes out. Putatively, the play deals with the fallout from that announcement, but really, it doesn’t. Almost all the characters are inside the clubhouse; we get only a faint sense of the public reaction (which, we all know, would be a shitstorm). Instead, being gay is used as a catalyst for the interpersonal dynamics within the dugout.

The societal element is a missed opportunity — Darren would be mobbed with talk-show requests; we’re owed at least one sit-down with Oprah — and the gay idea could be almost anything (he could have come out as atheist or Muslim or Communist, it hardly matters). But eventually, you get caught up in the story, especially the conflict between Darren and Shane Muggitt (Andrews Cope), an illiterate redneck brought up from the minors, and his financial advisor “Mars” (Art Kedzierski), a flamboyant gay man intoxicated by his newfound love of baseball.

Darren himself is a difficult character to parse; he’s arrogant though we are constantly reminded universally loved; that seems unlikely, especially for Mets fans. He’s, in turn, incredibly savvy and unbelievably naïve, smart then a dolt. Harvey eventually settles into a rhythm, though there are moments that waver.

There aren’t any with Kedzierski, who’s hilarious and touching, and really, the emotional touchstone for the audience. He’s the first person onstage who seems specific, not just a metaphor for some principle or a utility character serving a dramaturgical function. Kedzierski’s enthusiasm infects the play, carrying over to scenes he’s not even in. Cope’s take on Muggitt as more imbecile than bigot is a canny, almost daring one (as Tropic Thunder cautioned, “ya never go full retard”). Kevin Moore, as the principal narrator, adds depth to a sketchy character.

Andy Redmon’s set, suggestive of a baseball diamond, makes a great nod to an outdoor game set entirely in the confines of a locker room, and Michael Serrecchia’s direction makes the most of the weaker parts of Greenberg’s script.

Not every game has to be won on a home run, as long as you get a few hits and run the bases. Way to hustle, guys. Now hit the showers.

……………………….

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To read more reviews of new local theater, visit
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This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition February 10, 2012.

—  Kevin Thomas

DRAG you

Comedian/drag queen P.T. may look like Wendy Williams, but his message to queer youth is no gimmick

Drag-You
HOW YOU DOIN’? | P.T.’s spot-on impersonation of talk show host Wendy Williams got producers’ attention and could be a step toward the comedian’s dreams.

 

RICH LOPEZ  | Staff Writer
lopez@dallasvoice.com

Dallas drag queen P.T. has his sights set on one thing: The Wendy Williams Show. He has a good reason: His spot-on take on the talk show celeb was so successful, Williams’ own TV show took notice, asking him to produce a video of his work as her doing celebrity news. Now, he’s vying to be the first female impersonator on her show.

“That is my goal,” he says. “She’s had gay people on her show, but no drag.

I would love to be the first to sit with her for ‘Hot Topics.’”

P.T. just turned 50, but that doesn’t hold him back from big ambitions.

He’s worked the talk show circuit before, appearing on Maury Povich. His video made it to Williams’ producers, though was not selected. Still, he hopes to use this exposure as a springboard to get his message out.

“I’d love to do radio one day and report celebrity news,” he says. “I could still do it here in Dallas, but if the money and time are right, I’d move as well. I’d love to, even.”

People can see P.T. in action Thursday and Sunday nights at Havana. He’s been the headlining entertainment there for seven years with his sass intact. He threatens to read a queen if they get out of line during his show, but mostly, his act is sort of the Oprah of drag: When people walk out that door, he wants them to feel better inside and leave a bit more educated.

“My job is not to put someone down, but to make them feel good,” he says.

“I use my comedy for that as well as to encourage people to do unto others. I believe in that. And I will try to teach where I can. Every chance I get. So many younger folks just don’t know what gay Pride is about.”

If P.T. has one thing to say, it’s to know your history. And when it comes to Pride, he finds that much is getting lost as younger generations develop into the community. He won’t separate gay Pride from black Pride — which kicks off this weekend in Dallas — because to him it’s all the same: A struggle to be better.

“To see where we come from is to see how our rights developed,” he says.

“Kids don’t know where this Pride came from. Just because we have parties and parades, there’s a reason why I can be a drag queen or why [same-sex couples] can hold hands in public. There’s something to be grateful for.”

He knows Pride will always have the parties to go with it, but the spectacle of celebration, in his eyes, can’t overshadow the mere reason for Pride.

There’s history there, and P.T. wants to talk about it.

“I think it’s sad that some don’t know what Stonewall is,” he bemoans.

“When I went to New York, the first place I wanted to go was the Stonewall Inn — I needed to see that for myself. You only get what you fight for and you only fight for what you know about. We’re all in it for the same thing and we know it’s not gonna come to us easily.”

P.T. expounds on the history of black Pride in Dallas, crediting Ray Dyer as starting the celebration at the old club The Metro, now Club Elm and Pearl Street. This is also where the then-Lady P.T. started his work in Dallas, coming from Austin.

Initially, The Metro wasn’t a hotspot for drag, so he performed more as a host and entertainer, starting in 1994. That changed as Dyer saw the importance of it as well as the revenue it could bring. Lady P.T. was back on track, but it wasn’t until 2001 that he officially incorporated stand-up into his act — in and out of drag. He put in time at the Improv to hone his new skill, but it was also a sort of therapy.

“I had a tragic incident that made me look at life different,” he admits.

He doesn’t go into details over what changed his life so much. But that incident redefined his outlook on life. For P.T., he knows tomorrow doesn’t show up for everyone.

“If I did not have that wake up call, I wouldn’t be reaching for myself,” he says. “I see some gray hairs but life doesn’t feel different. This is the only time I get to do what I wanna do.”

He’s living proof of that. Fifty is a milestone birthday, but P.T. proves that no age is too old to still aim high. Only now, he has the wisdom to be patient.

“It took me about four years trying to get Wendy’s attention and she finally acknowledged me,” he says. “That told me not to give up.  Everybody deserves a chance.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 30, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Gay game-show set designer Ed Flesh dies

Ed Flesh, the gay man who designed the Wheel of Fortune wheel, has died at 79, according to the Hollywood Reporter. Flesh is survived by his partner of 44 years, David Powers. Flesh gave the game show its look by designing the wheel to spin horizontally, not vertically. He began his career designing off-Broadway sets before he was hired by NBC. He gave many other game shows their look as well. He designed the $25,000 Pyramid as well as the sets for Jeopardy, Press Your Luck, The New Dating Game and The Newlywed Game. He also designed the set for David Letterman’s original NBC talk show and special sets for Oprah. He was also the set designer for the soap opera Days of Our Lives.

—  David Taffet

WATCH: Dan Savage last night at The Kessler

Dan Savage spoke for nearly two hours at The Kessler last night to a standing-room-only crowd (OK, there were some chairs open) and the audience was putty in his beefy hands. The applause roared as he came out and instead of going with any kind of speaking agenda, he answered audience questions collected on notecards earlier in the night. Of course, most were sex-based questions and the show turned mostly into the live version of his Savage Love podcast where he doles out sex advice in hilarious, clever and poignant fashion. As you can see from the video after the jump, he even took on a question about sex robots.

—  Rich Lopez

REVIEW: Lady Gaga and Scissor Sisters on Monday night at the American Airlines Center

Scissor Sisters’ Del Marquis, left, and Jake Shears in a photo posted on Twitter around the time of their performance in Dallas on Monday night.

If you haven’t heard, Lady Gaga was in town Monday night. After two packed houses at the American Airlines Center last year, she came back for thirds and continued to fill up the arena. And the Dallas audience was all over it — whether they were seeing the Monster Ball again or for the very first time.

Not much had changed from last year’s show and I didn’t expect it to, save for the addition of “Born This Way.” She got rid of the fairy tale princess getup and skipped out on “Eh Eh,” which I didn’t realize until someone pointed it out. Despite this being a repeat, Gaga still showed up with maximum intensity. She danced hard, she sang loud and she pretty much killed that piano of hers whether banging it with her fingers or her heels after singing a slower rendition of “BTW” and “You and I,” a song slated for her next album.

All the hits were there, but at times, Gaga would disturb her own groove to preach about “being yourself, be a star, equal rights, yadda-yadda,” just a little too much. The crowd would be worked into a frenzy after a song, and then came another sermon. We were, after all, in “church,” as she put it. I’m all for the positive message, but there came a point when the show was borderline Oprah. Perhaps having already seen it took away from the initial joy of the message. Am I a bad person?

Fortunately, she quickly got back on track with her crazy spectacles of a bleeding, fiery statue during “Alejandro” – and the bigger-than-life Fame Monster puppet during “Paparazzi.” I did appreciate her free-flowing chat with the audience. She pulled up someone’s poster and read it out loud with sincere appreciation. She joked about the random prop tossed onstage: “Did someone throw a hand up here?” Those were clever moments.

As if she needed more comparisons, Gaga’s piano version of “BTW” recalled John Lennon’s “Imagine” both in sound and in meaning. But she finished the night with the song in its original form along with an energetic performance people saw on the Grammys. With a paw raised in the air, the encore offering didn’t seem so much the end of the show, but more like a preview of what’s to come. Ending with the song on a future album made me wonder what her plans are. The date of her last show is May 7 and Born This Way is scheduled to drop May 23. Methinks she plans to maintain a high blip on the radar for the near future.

Opening Act Scissor Sisters flattened the place, if only the crowd knew it. Jake Shears, with his drop-dead perfect physique, worked his body out running all over the stage building up a bigger fan base for the band. The seated crowd was into it, but sadly never got on their feet. I appreciated Semi-Precious Weapons as her opener the first time around only because it was kind of their big break, but SS is, by far, an even better choice. They fit in perfectly with the edgier pop stylings and totally gay environment.

Ana Matronic has never impressed me much but she changed all that with her snappy messages to the audience (“when all you little monsters grow up, you too can be scissor sisters!”) and keeping right up with Shears in leading the band’s jam. She spoke the truest statement of the night informing the audience, “We are Scissor Sisters. If you don’t know us, well then you’re either not gay or not British.”

They only performed for a half hour, but with songs from all three albums, they made the most of it. And the sound was dead on, capturing the dancey thump of BabyDaddy’s bass and the sharpness of Del Marquis‘ guitar work.

With a slew of more party atmosphere songs like “I Don’t Feel Like Dancing,” “Night Work” and “Take Your Mama,” they knew their place as openers, but I could have easily watched them for another hour as they just delivered a fine performance. And Shears’ final reveal of him stripping down to his thong wasn’t a bad thing, either.

So, yeah, it was a good night.

—  Rich Lopez

Oprah Buys Chaz Bono Doc

BECOMING CHAZ BONO Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato X390 (PUB) | ADVOCATE.COMBefore the movie debuts at the Sundance Film Festival later this month, Oprah Winfrey’s cable upstart OWN has snapped up the rights has snapped up the rights to Becoming Chaz, a documentary that follows Chaz Bono’s gender reassignment journey.
Advocate.com: Daily News

—  admin

Video: Claiming Oprah nurtures nature’s lies, YouTuber chooses angry lifestyle

I was five. Kindergarten graduation day. I was totally into the cute boy with the “rat tail” hair style and the hi-top sneaks with multi-colored, neon laces.

That’s my first memory of crushing on a dude. Though according to this guy, it never happened. I’m either a liar or a victim of child abuse when I look back on such puppy attractions (which would of course be received as benign and adorable if they were male-female). Oh, and a certain talk show host is a “big headed” source of rage if she gives credence to the remembrances:

But don’t worry. Somehow we think Oprah will find solace in either her blankie, a warm shoulder, or the gagillion dollar empire that bears her name.

As for this writer? Well l find solace in knowing that my biological attractions weren’t faked, because there was no reason to fake them. And this was true when those attractions had nothing to do with my junk and where I wanted to place it, and everything to do with my impetus to ditch pal Nicole whenever Ethan requested a pretend opponent for his pretend Hulk Hogan.




Good As You

—  admin

Video: Claiming Oprah nurtures nature’s lies, YouTuber chooses angry lifestyle

I was five. Kindergarten graduation day. I was totally into the cute boy with the “rat tail” hair style and the hi-top sneaks with multi-colored, neon laces.

That’s my first memory of crushing on a dude. Though according to this guy, it never happened. I’m either a liar or a victim of child abuse when I look back on such puppy attractions (which would of course be received as benign and adorable if they were male-female). Oh, and a certain talk show host is a “big headed” source of rage if she gives credence to the remembrances:

But don’t worry. Somehow we think Oprah will find solace in either her blankie, a warm shoulder, or the gagillion dollar empire that bears her name.

As for this writer? Well l find solace in knowing that my biological attractions weren’t faked, because there was no reason to fake them. And this was true when those attractions had nothing to do with my junk and where I wanted to place it, and everything to do with my impetus to ditch pal Nicole whenever Ethan requested a pretend opponent for his pretend Hulk Hogan.




Good As You

—  admin

Oprah Touches Gayle King, But Not In That Way

It used to bother me, and now I say, 'OK, if people believe it, there's nothing we can do to change their minds. Oprah has been so outspoken and I have about my dating life, my desire to have a significant other, that it's just silly that we would deny or hide that because it implies something is wrong. That's what bothers me more than anything. There's nothing wrong.

—Gayle King, echoing BFF Oprah's tearful comments about the pair not being lovers, is done stressing about those lesbian tales


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Queerty

—  admin

Oprah Confronts Lesbian Rumors

OprahLesbianRumorsx390 (Screengrab) | Advocate.comOprah Winfrey confronts rumors about her relationship with best friend, Gayle King, in an interview with Barbara Walters, saying, “I’m not even kind of lesbian.”
Advocate.com: Daily News

—  admin