She’s a wonder!

For drag diva Celeste Martinez, Wonder Woman isn’t an act — she’s a way of life

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

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CELESTE MARTINEZ
The Rose Room inside Station 4,
3911 Cedar Springs Road. July 1­3. Shows begin at approximately 11 p.m. and midnight. Caven. com.

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When Michael was a boy, his parents divorced and he went to live with dad, who worked all the time and was seldom home. So little Michael found a role model on TV.

“That’s when Wonder Woman came on television,” he recalls, referring to the CBS series starring Lynda Carter. “Wonder Woman was a second mother to me, one who taught me right from wrong in a way. She stood for something. Plus she was so statuesque and feminine and graceful, but still stern and strong. I watched that show religiously and as soon as the episode was over, I was back outside, reenacting what had just happened.”

The series ended in 1979, but by the time Michael had grown into drag diva Celeste Martinez, the Amazonian princess was still a powerful force. Since 1993, appearing as Wonder Woman has been the hallmark of Martinez’s drag act.

It’s not just a passing fancy, either. Martinez has every single Wonder Woman comic book since 1983. “When I got my first job, the first thing I did with my paycheck was get a subscription to Wonder Woman,” she says.

Martinez’s devotion has also made her a regular at Zeus Comics, the gay-run superhero store on Lemmon. Such a fixture is she there, Martinez even appears in the next episode of The Variants, the web-based comedy series set at Zeus. (See sidebar.)

“I’ve known [store owner] Richard Neal for years,” she gushes. “They are a fun group.”

But before her debut as a Web star, Martinez will show her patriotism this Independence Day weekend with a series of shows at the Rose Room — all in the guise of her hero, whom she sincerely tries to evoke onstage in spirit as much as appearance.

Martinez’s costume — golden lasso, bullet-deflecting bracelets, tiara, cape, boots and star-spangled panties, all in the colors of the America flag — is familiar to fans of the classic character as well as the TV series, but maybe not so much the new generation of comic readers. That’s intentional.

“With issue no. 600 [of Wonder Woman], they were trying to get a bigger audience so they updated her look, but the real Wonder Woman fans were not happy,” Martinez explains. “They are about to do another reboot with all of DC Comics characters, so as to make the original Wonder Woman fans happy.”

The timing of the show is fortuitous: Wonder Woman is a perfect image for the Fourth of July, Martinez affirms.

“She represents the best of humanity in the sense she’s non-judgmental and sees the best in everyone. She’s gracious and empowers strength and the best in all of us,” she says. “And she does it in red, white and blue.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 1, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

FW Mayor Mike Moncrief presents ‘Believing in Youth Award’ to gay Councilman Joel Burns

Joel Burns, right, and husband JD Angle

Last night, I posted a brief blog about Joel Burns being recognized for his anti-bullying efforts by Fort Worth Mayor Mike Moncrief, but I didn’t have many details. Now, here are some details for you.

Moncrief presented Burns with the 8th annual “Believing in Youth Award” Thursday night during the Believing in Youth Award Dinner, an event that benefited Santa Fe Youth Services. According to a press release from Moncrief’s office, the award “honors those who take personal responsibility for being a role model and building resiliency in our young people through formal and informal, intentional and unintentional efforts.”

Santa Fe Youth Services is a nonprofit agency that has provided services to youth and families in Tarrant County for more than 10 years.

Burns was chosen as the recipient in recognition of his efforts to combat bullying that gained national attention last October when he delivered an impromptu “It Gets Better” message to LGBT youth during a City Council meeting. Burns, in an emotional address that left many in the council chambers in tears, spoke of his own experience as a gay teen bullied by classmates and how he even contemplated suicide at one point, and how his life has gotten exponentially better in the years since.

A video of his speech went viral on YouTube and within days, the gay Fort Worth council member had been invited to speak on numerous TV shows, including The Today Show and Ellen. In December he went to Austin for a press conference announcing the introduction of anti-bullying bills in the Texas Legislature, and he returned to Austin in March for LGBT Lobby Day to call once again for the legislation to be passed.

Also in March, Burns was invited to attend an anti-bullying summit presented by President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama.

Last month, Burns received a GLAAD Media Award for his efforts.

—  admin

F-ing Kobe

The Mavs schooled the Lakers this week, but there’s one lesson L.A.’s star player still needs to learn

DAN WOOG  | Contributing Sports Writer
outfield@qsyndicate.com

OF050911
ANOTHER REASON TO ROOT FOR THE MAVS Bryant needs to behave like the role model he is.

I’m pretty sure Bennie Adams is straight. So what’s the big deal with Kobe Bryant calling him a “fucking faggot” during a nationally televised game? After all, that’s common parlance in locker rooms and on basketball courts around the country — not to mention countless school hallways, playgrounds and everywhere else.

Precisely.

Bryant’s outburst (for those of you who somehow missed it) came last month, after receiving a technical foul. Bryant (for those of you who somehow don’t know that his team, the Lakers, got schooled by the Dallas Mavericks in the playoffs) is one of the NBA’s true superstars, making about $25 million a year. In other words, he’s not some kid playing “horse” in an empty gym. He’s not a boy who doesn’t know any better, or a closeted kid trying to fit in by hurling anti-slurs.

Kobe is one of the most recognized athletes in the world. His purple  No. 24 jersey is worn by admiring fans around the globe. Millions of people look up to Kobe, admire everything he does.

And listen to every word he says.

When it became clear that his F-bomb detonated loudly, Bryant went into damage control. Through the Lakers, he issued one of those non-apology apologies: “What I said last night should not be taken literally. My actions were out of frustration during the heat of the game, period. The words expressed do not reflect my feelings toward the gay and lesbian communities and were not meant to offend anyone.”

So what are Bryant’s “feelings toward the gay and lesbian communities?” He didn’t say. If he did not mean to offend anyone, why did he call Adams a “fucking faggot?” Why not “a horrible official?” Or simply “you asshole?”

The NBA acted swiftly, with Commissioner David Stern calling Bryant’s outburst “offensive and inexcusable … such a distasteful term should never be tolerated … and [has] no place in our game.” He then fined Bryant $100,000.

Seem like a lot? Not when compared with some NBA fines: In 2007, the league fined Vladimir Radmanovic (also a Laker — and another reason to root for the Mavs) $500,000 for violating his contract by snowboarding.

Despite his “apology,” Bryant said he would fight the fine, a step he called “standard protocol,” whatever that means.

Come to think of it, “standard protocol” could mean standing up, admitting to a mistake, recognizing the power of role models and issuing a strong statement explaining exactly why words like “faggot” hurt. Describing how they hurt straight kids as well as gay ones, by reinforcing stereotypes. Then Bryant could lead a campaign to eliminate, once and for all, the use of anti-gay words in basketball.

In other words, he could do something like what NBA players Grant Hill and Jared Dudley are already doing. The Phoenix Suns teammates recently filmed a public service announcement for the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network and the Ad Council’s “Think Before You Speak Campaign” that airs during the NBA playoffs! The ads are striking; they reach an important audience during a high-powered event, and the NBA’s commitment to the campaign underscores Stern’s statement about language.

Ironically, Hall and Dudley taped their PSA just hours before Bryant demonstrated his own inability to think before he spoke.

Words aren’t the only weapons; images hurt, too. For years, the Washington Wizards have shown a “Kiss Cam” where two people appear on the JumboTron and are urged to kiss. The crowd goes crazy (hey, it’s better than watching the Wizards play). Then the camera cuts to two players from the visiting team. Now the fans really howl. The players make faces, hide under towels or pretend to ignore each other.

But what would happen if the “Kiss Cam” showed two male fans and they did kiss, because they had gone to the game as a couple? Maybe it could happen when the Wizards play the Lakers. Maybe after the game, Kobe Bryant could head into the stands, high-five the couple and pose for a picture.

That would speak far louder than his “fucking faggot” words. Or the half-hearted “heat of the moment” apology that followed.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition May 13, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

‘Becoming Chaz’ airs Tuesday night on OWN

Chaz Bono

I first heard about Becoming Chaz, the documentary about Chastity Bono’s transition to Chaz Bono, back in March, and I decided then and there I would be watching the doc when it aired on the new Oprah Winfrey Network in May. Of course, now it is May, and I had forgotten about the documentary until I saw this article, “The reluctant transgender role model,” about the program by Cintra Wilson in The New York Times.

I felt like Wilson, in her article, focused a little too much on Chaz’s mom, Cher, and what she thought about the transition. But I was impressed that Wilson admitted that while she considered herself open-minded and liberal, she discovered in watching the documentary that she wasn’t as open-minded as she thought when it comes to transgenders. I think that’s true for a lot of people.

So anyway, I thought there might be other folks out there like me who want to see the documentary but who needed a reminder, so here it is: Becoming Chaz airs Tuesday at 8 p.m. Central time. I have DirecTV, which airs OWN on Channel 270. On AT&T U-Verse, it’s Channels 256 and 1256. Charter broadcasts OWN on Channel 225, and on DISH Network, it is on channels 189 and 885. (If your cable provider isn’t listed here, check the OWN homepage here which lets you find it based on your zip code.)

And here is a promotional trailer for the film:

—  admin

Shunda K debuts new video and set to play SXSW

Now that Shunda K has gone solo, she’s making sure she has a heavy impact on the industry and that looks like she’s starting with her first video from her new solo album The Most Wanted. This is her contribution to Dan Savage’s It Gets Better campaign, but it’s a lot heavier than just giving viewers the message.

Shunda K’s “I’m Da Best” clip is a direct assault on the Westboro Baptist Church (WIKI) and concerns a young boy who is harassed by his peers, faces even more tension at home and how, with the help of his faith and the support of his role model Shunda K, he overcomes these obstacles to stand tall. The video is Shunda K’s contribution to the ongoing “It Gets Better” Project (itgetsbetter.org) started by famed syndicated sex columnist Dan Savage as a place where young people who are lesbian, gay, bi, or trans can see how love and happiness can be a reality in their future.

You can catch Shunda K at SXSW in a couple of week at the Art Disaster event at the Beauty Bar March 15. If anything, she’s one of the first real gay acts I’ve found at SXSW this year. I’m sure there are more, but damn if its hard to pinpoint those smaller bands.

—  Rich Lopez

Concert Notice: Sleigh Bells and ‘not gay’ gay band CSS come to the Granada in April

Sleigh Bells was one of the big buzz bands of last year. At first, I have to admit, I kinda hated them. That distorted loud sound pretty much drove me nuts. After being beaten into submission on many year-end lists, I could appreciate them a bit for what they were doing thanks to this one song.

CSS, however, hasn’t had a release since 2008′s Donkey. No word I can see of an album on the horizon, but who cares, their Brazilian dance-rock is fantastic fun and by the looks of their live show, I’d imagine just the same. The two bands are making their way to Dallas this spring.

Just don’t call them a gay band per se. When asked if she was by The New Gay, Luiza Sa answered: “I am gay, but that has nothing to do with our music. We’re just young people trying to make music. We don’t want to be a role model. That has nothing to do with our personal lives.” Who couldn’t applaud an honest answer like that?

CSS and Sleigh Bells play the Granada Theater April 22 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $20.

—  Rich Lopez

Gay University Park dad rejected by Boy Scouts says he’ll appear on local newscasts tonight

Jon Langbert, the gay father who’s been told he can’t be a leader in his 9-year-old son’s Cub Scout troop in University Park, reports that his story will be on three local TV news broadcasts tonight.

“Watch Fox (KDFW-4) at 9 and ABC (WFAA-8) and CBS (KTVT/KTXA-21) news at 10. I hope the reporters ask the Boy Scouts what they want me to tell Carter when he asks why they’re saying his father is a bad role model and must stop wearing the scout shirt they gave him,” Langbert said.

—  John Wright

A perfect example of the politics of fear: California Sen. Roy Ashburn apologizes for anti-gay votes

Sen. Roy Ashburn

California State Sen. Roy Ashburn isn’t really someone to point to as a role model when it comes to proud gay men. He was deeply closeted most of his life, and spent his time as a senator diligently voting against anything even remotely gay positive, including his vote last November against establishing an annual Harvey Milk Day in honor of the murdered gay rights activist. And in 2005, he not only voted against same-sex marriage in California, he organized an anti-gay-marriage rally.

But then this past March 10, Ashburn’s house of cards came tumbling down: He was stopped as he left a well-known gay bar, with a man in the car with him, and arrested for DWI.

So Ashburn owned up and came out. He admitted, he is gay. But he still defended his anti-gay votes, saying that he was following the wishes of the constituents in his district.

Now, though, the senator — in his final term — has taken yet another step forward: He has apologized for his anti-gay votes in a blog post on GayPolitics.com. He said:

“I am sincerely sorry for the votes I cast and the actions I took that harmed lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. Just as important to me, I am sorry for not stepping forward and speaking up as an elected official on behalf of equal treatment for all people.”

And why, you may ask, did he vote against the best interests of himself and his community for so long? He has an answer:

“I chose to conceal who I truly am and to then actually vote against the best interests of people like me. All this was done because I was afraid — terrified, really — that somehow I would be revealed as gay.”

He was afraid. He was afraid because he lived with a secret. He lived, as a transgender friend of mine described it, “stealth.” What better example could anyone ask for of the dangers of living in the closet?

He may have not come out all that willingly, but now that he is out, Roy Ashburn is changing his tune — and his politics. And he is calling on his party — the Republican Party — to change its politics, too:

“We stand for equality as well as opportunity. We stand for individuals living their lives without fear or limits imposed by a powerful government. We stand for a government of limited powers over citizens, including not being involved in the private lives of people. These tenets of Republican ideology call for bold action by our party when confronted with the real-life issues of discrimination against LGBT people.

“I am no longer willing, nor able to remain silent in the face of unequal and hurtful treatment of my community. It may have taken me a strange, incoherent and long path to get here, but this is where I find myself as a gay Republican senator. It’s time for Republicans to find our way and fight for equal treatment for all people, especially the freedom to be unique and have our rights acknowledged and protected.”

OK, so while his life up until this year isn’t role-model material, it looks like Ashburn is moving in that direction. I just wish it wasn’t his last term in the California Senate. And I hope his GOP colleagues will listen to him.

—  admin