Outrageous Oral: Four Dallas Icons On Stage Together for the First Time

Four legendary performers spoke about their careers as “charity drag queens” at the May 21 edition of Outrageous Oral in The Rose Room.

Outrageous Oral is the oral history project of The Dallas Way. Videos of the presentations are available online.

Although the four — Michael Lee, Sister Helen Holy, Edna Jean Robinson and Patti le Plae Safe — had all worked with each other many times, this was the first time the four had all performed together. All are known for what they called “charity drag,” raising money for LGBT and AIDS organizations, rather than pageants and professional drag — although Edna Jean and Patti have both won national pageant titles.

During the ’80s and ’90s, Michael Doughman performed as Michael Lee. He said he hadn’t been in a dress in several years and had to borrow the dress he wore. His performance for The Dallas Way he called his last. Rather than heels, he wore house shoes as he recounted how he became “a man in a dress,” which he called simply “funny.”

Rodd Gray continues to perform as Patti le Plae Safe. He recounted the years when he performed seven nights a week to raise money for every AIDS organization in town. He said it never mattered how much money he raised, as long as he was raising money.

Paul J. Williams told how his Helen Holy character evolved and then circulated through the audience picking out individuals and groups to show how she’s just a liiiiiiiittle bit better.

Edna Jean used video and pictures to tell her story. For more than 20 years, she’s appeared in videos, on TV, in movies and on stage, entertaining and raising money for groups throughout the LGBT community.

—  David Taffet

Tonight’s GayBingo Platoon is the last bingo event of 2011

Bring your bingo face

Get all militarized for GayBingo Platoon. This is the final bingo for the year and they go out with a bang. With LGBT military vets as the special guests, a performance by Something Fabulous and a raffle benefiting Lone Star Ride, the night looks to be jampacked with with excitement as Jenna Skyy, Patti Le Plae Safe and Beaux Wellborn guide you through the evening.

DEETS:
The Rose Room, 3911 Cedar Springs Road (inside S4). 5 p.m. $25. RCDallas.com.

—  Rich Lopez

Puff pasties

Patti Le Plae Safe works a whole new angle in burlesque

RICH LOPEZ | Staff Writer lopez@dallasvoice.com

VIVA DALLAS BURLESQUE
Lakewood Theater, 1825 Abrams Parkway. July 2.
Doors at 8 p.m. $20.
PinCurlMag.com/events.
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Patti Le Plae Safe

STRIPPED DOWN | Patti Le Plae Safe adds to her resume as the new host of Viva Dallas Burlesque.


Over the years, Patti Le Plae Safe has probably worn every shade of gown and makeup known to man — or woman. Come July 2, the local glam queen will wear one shade you might not have seen her in. Let’s just call it a fleshier tone.

“My first performance is a strip number and I’m gonna play with the audience big time,” she says. “I’m gonna strip down and once the last final piece is off, they might be surprised!”

That surprise will come from the not-that-really-gay show Viva Dallas Burlesque. Tapped to be the show’s new mistress of ceremonies, Le Plae Safe will be working with an entirely different audience.

She’s not concerned. In recent years, burlesque has transcended the seediness of stripper poles and lap dances into a cool retro pastime. Le Plae Safe is actually looking forward to the “Harley honeys and their husbands” in the audience, along with the hipsters and growing gay audience.

“This won’t be a wrong crowd for me to work with,” she says. “I always like to play and go off the good energy from them. Plus, it’s not just a straight crowd.”

But how does a drag queen get to host a show dominated by the sex appeal of women?

“I M.C. GayBingo every month at the Rose Room, and the owners of Viva and the Lakewood happened to be in the audience,” she explains. “They came up to me and said I’d be the best M.C. for them.”

Taken aback by their assertion, she approached with caution. Other than a vague idea of what burlesque was, she didn’t know what to expect. While entertained by the spectacle, she saw a relation between drag and burlesque: the makeup, the costumes and the performance. Le Plae Safe signed on.

“It is different in nature but it’s still a show,” she says. “We create this illusion on stage for an audience who wants a fantasy. It’s also very different. We don’t have these shows in our bars.”

Along with her regular hosting duties at GayBingo, she is the new monthly host for Viva Dallas Burlesque bringing a slightly different flavor to the erotica dance scene which has welcomed her with open arms.

“Each one of entertainers has been excited and opened the door with warmth and love. This really is a new adventure for my career that I never thought I’d be a part of.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition June 25, 2010.

—  Dallasvoice