Do you Peru?

Even as fans rallied to help Coco Peru get her next film off the ground, the drag goddess still likes her comedy live

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RICH LOPEZ  | Staff Writer
lopez@dallasvoice.com

Expect a lovefest when Coco Peru comes back to Dallas for Pride weekend. With memories of a responsive audience, shopping and beef jerky during her last go-round here nearly two years ago, the drag goddess is hoping for a repeat performance. Sort of. She’s back on the road with a new show, but that’s not all the legendary queen has going on.

“Well, we’ve filmed Girls Will Be Girls 2 already,” Peru (aka Clinton Leupp) says. “Right now the writer/director is busily editing. It’s just one of those things: You film it and hope for the best.”

Peru has garnered a significant amount of film work over the years, usually with notable cameos in films like as Trick, but occasionally as the star, as with Girls Will Be Girls. But she admits live performance is where she’s at her best.

“I like to think my show is like watching a theater piece,” she says. “I love film acting, but it’s exciting on a whole other level. There’s not that energy of a live audience and no feedback. So often, comic timing is how the audience is reacting to you. With acting, you mentally feel it out, try it and mostly trust the director. I find sometimes I rehearsed a line so much in my head, it takes me a few times to take direction on it.”

For Girls 2, Peru discovered just how much her fans appreciated her work. As a micro-mini indie, the film went on the website Kickstarter to raise funds. As word got out that the film was in production and that Peru was in it, the money rolled in.

“The movie was completely funded by fans,” she exclaims. “It was just incredible that they would want to pay money! And I must say, most of it came from my fans. I’m just putting that out there.”

Along with funds from Kickstarter, the crew itself was almost all-volunteer. People would just show up, willing to help out. It turned into an actual labor of love.

Along with donated help, the production even received a donated green screen. All the generosity reminded Peru that people are that genuinely kind and that it’s all right to ask for things, which usually embarrasses her. She saw this particular filmmaking experience as a good lesson on many levels.

“Let’s just hope the movie’s funny,” she laughs.

Dating back to the “early ‘90s” — that’s as specific as her website will get — Peru gives much credit to her fans along the way for the success of her career. Even if they come up to once again mention her role in the film Trick, Peru takes none of it for granted. Perhaps it’s cliché for any type of celebrity to appreciate their fans, but she  talks at length about how her fans have kept her driven.

“It’s so overwhelming, whether it’s a movie or my own shows, that they will take time to contact me to tell me whatever it is they are feeling,” she says. “I feel lucky and blessed when they reach out to me and I strive to answer every email. I remember those days that felt so lonely and sad. Growing up gay and feeling rejected doesn’t make a happy life. But when you get over 800 birthday messages on Facebook, it’s amazing!”

She’ll meet a new slew of fans on her current End of Summer Tour, as she’ll visit Tampa and Las Vegas for the first time as a performer. Even with her experience onstage, Peru is still daunted by a new audience, the same way she was before playing Dallas the first time early last year.

“The first time, I was nervous and I didn’t know what to expect,” she recalls. “I felt that audiences came wanting to have a great time. You go to certain cities and they have a bit of an edge, but in Texas, it was an immediate love fest on both ends.”

In her new show, There Comes a Time, Peru talks about getting older and reminiscing about her life. Fortunately, Dallas isn’t a punch line in her monologue. The city left a good impression on her and she only hopes to make another one of her own.

“Well, I’m happy to be coming back and they took such good care of me last time,” she says, “but I don’t wanna jinx myself. You never know.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 2, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Saloonatics

‘Wild Oats’ is over the top — in all the wrong ways

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YEE HUH? | The Old West formula goes awry when a Reformation comedy gets a badly written update to the American frontier, though Andy Baldwin and Lee Jamison, center, make the most of it.

STEVEN LINDSEY   | Contributing Writer
stevencraiglindsey@me.com

The audience reaction throughout Wild Oats says it all. Half the theater-in-the-round patrons sit with stoic looks of boredom, arms crossed in defiance to the attempts onstage to garner laughs. The other half cackles uproariously at the Old West shenanigans in this pseudo-vaudevillian melodrama from playwright James McLure.

I sided more with the arm-crossers than the cacklers, though a laugh occasionally escaped me during this production. Wild Oats is one of those unfortunate theater experiences where I found myself focused on the Playbill, counting the number of scene until intermission like an inmate anxiously ticking away the days to parole. Perhaps the fact the theater was stiflingly hot and everyone around me was sweating and fanning themselves with their programs contributed to the prison feel; maybe it was the goofy over-acting by most of the actors. Or quite possibly, it is simply source material that’s gone stale.

McLure adapted the play from an 18th century comedy by John O’Keeffe, transporting the action to 19th century Muleshoe, Texas. All the elements for a classic Old West comedy are present and accounted for: A Native American with an Irish accent. A devilish pastor. A handsome, Shakespeare-loving cowboy. A flamboyant West Point drop-out. A wealthy, unrefined heiress. So why does it go so horribly awry?

For every moment of inspired lunacy, a joke is killed by being explained. Nothing kills a punch line more than a dissertation on its funniness. And while some clever gimmicks are funny the first time, they are only mildly amusing the third and fourth and completely worn out by the 16th rehashing. There’s a lot to absorb in the frenetic action unfolding all around you, one of the pure pleasures of theater-in-the-round, and this A.D.D. approach can often translate into grand comedy. Instead, it comes across as desperation.

There are some solid performances from actors who know how to tread the treacherous line between over-acting and willful exaggeration. Watching Andy Baldwin and Lee Jamison is sublimely enjoyable regardless of what they’re doing. They’re captivating, and each knows how to make the most of what they have been given. (A same-sex near-kiss between Baldwin and James Chandler is one of the play’s greatest bits of physical comedy.)

This production is the first show of Theatre 3’s landmark 50th anniversary season, so here’s hoping like the true sowing of wild oats that this is something they just had to get out of their systems. For a company deft at switching from comedy to Broadway musicals to intense drama with such finesse, this miss is easily forgiven.

But a miss it is. Maybe you’ll end up on Team Loves It and can joyfully explain what the rest of us missed. We can tell you what was interesting in the Playbill.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 19, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Ann Coulter, the right-wing Judy Garland? Oh puleeze!

Pundit turned stand-up for GOProud’s Homocon, and the jokes were all on the gays

Hardy Haberman | Flagging Left

Ann Coulter
Ann Coulter

Last weekend, the queen of the Neocons met the queens of the Homocon in a surreal event in New York City.

The group GOProud invited Ann Coulter to speak to them. This is the same Ann Coulter who called John Edwards a “faggot.” The same Ann Coulter who claims she has “never failed to talk a gay out of gay marriage.”

The same Ann Coulter who the event organizers called “the right-wing Judy Garland.”

From reports by those in attendance, Coulter delivered less of a speech and more of a stand-up routine. I have no problem with comedians, but her show consisted of gays being the punch line of every joke, if you rule out the jokes directed at black people.

Imagine standing in a group of LGBT people listening to and laughing at a straight woman tossing off one liners like, “Marriage is not a civil right. You’re not black!”

I am waiting for the laugh, and I expect I will continue waiting for a while.

Coulter continued her routine with remarks about why gays and abortion foes should band together, “as soon as they find the gay gene, you know who’s getting aborted!”

I am again left astounded at the strangeness of these self-proclaimed conservative gays who apparently feel chumming around with Ann was worth weathering the insults she spewed.

These folk, and there were only about 150 of them, claim they focus on “federal issues” rather than “state issues like marriage.”

I keep hearing echoes of 1950s white Southerner’s talking about “states rights” when they really meant retaining Jim Crow laws.

What these alleged gay conservatives miss is that to the GOP we are just a punch line.

LGBT Americans are not a group of citizens struggling against discrimination, they are just funny fags who can be so amusing and do a fabulous job decorating and styling hair.

To tell a group of LGBT people that civil rights are the sole property of racial minorities is outrageous, but for that same group to actually stand and pay some blonde bimbo to say it while clinking champagne glasses and making chitchat is appalling.

I fully realize that there will be lots of apologists for this strange event. They will say that I misunderstood the intention of the event; it was “to start a dialogue”… etc.

But a dialogue has to have some kind of give and take. It is not just someone talking and another person waiting to talk.

Perhaps there is some common ground for Coulter and her adoring Homocons in the fiscal responsibility I hear touted by the Republicans. But isn’t it funny that she decided to go for gay jokes instead of substance?

There will also be those who defend the Homocons by pointing to the Democratic Party and saying, “Hey, what have you done for LGBT people?”

To them I would say this, “Not enough!”

Still, at least with the Democratic Party, we are part of a real conversation, and we are not thought of as punch lines. We are not limited to the sidelines and asked to passively stand by while we are insulted and demeaned.

And as to the reference to Judy Garland? Well, for those old enough to remember Miss Garland, whose performances I adored, she was a tortured and sad woman who struggled with drug dependency and emotional ups and downs wilder than any rollercoaster. I suspect a lot of gay men admired her ability to persevere in spite of her problems and let her talent soar.

She was both brilliant and sad but she was bursting with enough talent to transcend the struggle and whisk audiences away over her own personal rainbow.

Ann Coulter, on the other hand, may have charmed the self-loathing Homocons with her snappy quips and tasteless attempts at humor, but for me she would be much better cast as the Wicked Witch of the East.

Now, would someone please drop a house on her?

Hardy Haberman is a longtime local LGBT activist and a member of Stonewall Democrats of Dallas. His blog is at http://dungeondiary.blogspot.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 01, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens

Sally (Kern) rides again

You remember Sally Kern, right? She’s the Republican Oklahoma state representative who in 2008 became famous when an audio clip hit the Internet of her telling other Republicans that gays and lesbians are a bigger threat to America than terrorism.

Homosexuality, she warned back then, “is deadly, and it’s spreading, and it will destroy our young people.”

When the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund made her warnings public, Kern became more famous than she had probably ever expected to be. But not famous in the way she wanted, I am sure.

Well, guess what. Sally rides again. There’s more brilliant speechifying from her out on the Internet, this time as part of a campiagn ad for Brittany Novotny, the transgender attorney from Oklahoma City who is running against Kern this year for the District 84 seat in the Oklahoma House of Representatives,

I am posting Novotny’s campaign ad below, but here’s the punch line, an audio clip of Kern speaking on Aug. 7 — a little over  week ago — and explaining her comments from 2008. She says:

“I was talking to a group of Republican activists, telling them about a group of homosexual millionaires who for years have been working secretly to change the society of America, the political society of, America, so there will be freedom and equality for everyone.”

No, Sally! Really?! Freedom and equality for everyone?! Oh, the horror of it all! We are so lucky to have people like Sally Kern out there fighting that terrifying demonic specter of freedom and equality for everyone.

Think I’m making it up? Then just listen for yourself.

—  admin