Del Shores’ “Sordid Confessions” tonight at the Rose Room

Del-iver us from evil

Del Shores returns to Dallas for one more go-round of his Sordid Confessions. He goes for the jugular with stories about his life that are crass and comical. He’ll also be taping the shows for his DVD release of Confessions so that his rants on Southern Baptists, Hollywood and maybe even a teeny bit about his recent break-up will be preserved for all time.

DEETS: The Rose Room (inside S4), 3911 Cedar Springs Road. 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. $10–$30. DelShores.tix.com.

—  Rich Lopez

BUSINESS: Beaming with Pride

Gay couple Mark Reed and Dante Walkup fulfill their decade-old dream of installing LED lights on Reunion Tower

Wiedamark.Reed.Walkup

GLOWING NEW SHOWROOM | Dante Walkup, left, and Mark Reed recently moved Wiedamark Lighting to a new showroom and warehouse on Harry Hines Boulevard. (Patrick Hoffman/Special to the Voice)

DANIEL VILLARREAL  |  Contributing Writer
editor@dallasvoice.com

When Mark Reed and Dante Walkup became a serious couple in 2000, they agreed they wanted to have fun in their 50s. But to do that they’d want to leave their respective jobs as a furniture salesman and a psychologist and start their own business.

Having spent the last year installing LED lights around their Las Colinas home, the couple decided they’d use their sales and communications skills to start an LED lighting company — a relatively new business idea at the time.

They converted their three-car garage into a warehouse and turned their basement, bedroom and kitchen into workspaces for them and five other employees.

Since then, Wiedamark has grown into a $3.5 million dollar company with about 300 retailers internationally and a brand new showroom and warehouse on Harry Hines Boulevard. But from their very first year, Reed and Walkup knew they wanted to put their business on the map by updating one of Dallas’ most iconic buildings — they wanted to refit Reunion Tower with their LEDs.

Tower

HIGH LIGHTS OF THE JOB | A technician from Ropeworks installs one of the 259 new fixtures. (Frank Huster/Special to the Voice)

If you’ve ever been on Cedar Springs, chances are you’ve probably seen some of Wiedamark’s lights. The fiberglass chandelier hanging over the bar at Sue Ellen’s, the mood-lighting wall sconces in the Rose Room at S4, the colored lighting at the Legacy of Love Monument — that’s all Wiedamark.

Reed and Walkup don’t usually install the lights themselves. They order the fixtures from China and Taiwan, then resell them to retailers who install them for companies looking to add a splash of color to their venues.

After several years on Oak Lawn Avenue near Maple, Wiedamark recently relocated to Harry Hines. Their new digs are easy to ignore by day but lit up in turquoise, emerald and ruby at night. Inside, it seems more like an art gallery than a commercial space.

Over their reception desk hangs four large lime-green letters spelling “LOVE.” A wall-size LED screen in their conference room displays an unfurling rainbow, its bows opening up like the pages of a book. But the colorful hallway in the back contains the real wonders: sculpted walls that seem to breathe in the golden-to-violet light, dance floor tiles that change color with each step and a mirrored lounge with a glistening ceiling of twinkling LED stars.

Interiors, exteriors, landscapes, pools, bars, bathrooms — you name it, they can put lights in it.

They’ve provided resort lighting in Jamaica and highlights at the Maya Bar in New Zealand, just to name a few. A wealthy Saudi Arabian once wanted them to install high-end lights in his palace. Instead of traveling to his home country, they invited him to meet them during a trip to Vienna.

Reed and Walkup say that in their nine years of business they have never made a single cold call. As one of the first online shippers of LED equipment, the customers found them.

Their first year in, the Hyatt Hotel hired them to light its Christmas party, giving Reed and Walkup the perfect chance to share their Reunion Tower idea with Hyatt’s head of engineering, Brett Killingsworth. The idea instantly intrigued him.

In many ways LEDs were better than the tower’s older, 130-watt bulbs: LEDs use a fraction of the energy, stay cool to the touch and can last up to 10 times longer than old-fashioned bulbs. But unfortunately for Reed and Walkup, 2004 technology had not yet advanced far enough to make LED lights visible on the tower from miles away.

So immediately, Reed and Walkup’s team began working on an improved LED design that would take five years to complete.

To help make the light more visible from a greater range of view, they fitted a spherical dome onto a flat-surfaced LED, creating something resembling the Jetsons’ space car.

At 4 a.m. one day,  Walkup took the prototype and held it off the top of Reunion Tower while Reed checked whether he could see it clearly from four different locations several miles away. He could.

But the prototype had a major design flaw — it couldn’t keep out rainwater. A high-pressure water test left its circuit board drenched, something that would cause it to fail in a storm.

So over the next few years, they bolted the LED dome to a hexagonal metal base which increased the size and weight while preventing seepage. But even then, their design corroded when exposed to salty air conditions.

Frustrated with their failed attempts, Reed and Walkup turned to an engineer friend for help. He streamlined their design

Ball

SHINING DEBUT | The tower was fittingly awash in rainbow colors on New Year’s Eve.

into a lighter, less clunky model made entirely of non-corrosive stainless steel. And best of all, it kept out rainwater.
Sixteen weeks later, they had manufactured all the lights they needed.

But now that they had a workable design, they had an even bigger task ahead — installing 259 lights on the tower’s 118-foot geodesic sphere, all without endangering their workers or dropping the 20-pound fixtures onto someone 560 feet below.

Seattle’s Space Needle, Mount Rushmore and the Hoover Dam all need regular maintenance and inspection by certified professionals willing to work hundreds if not thousands of feet off the ground.

The group who does this kind of work is Ropeworks, a team of certified technicians from Reno, Nev., trained in rope access, tower climbing, rescue and fall protection. After seeing Ropeworks’ presentation, Reed thought they could best handle the high wind speeds and low temperatures atop Reunion Tower in the fall.

So from Oct. 30 through Nov. 21, from 5 a.m. till 6 p.m., seven days a week, four certified master electricians from Ropeworks rappelled from the top of the tower and hung along the dome’s 260 intersecting aluminum struts to disassemble the tower’s old fixtures and install Wiedamark’s new ones.

The Woodbine Development Co. (which owns the tower) hoped to keep the new lights secret until a surprise showing 15 minutes before New Year’s Day. But on Nov. 21 at 4:30 a.m., a Dallas photographer captured some footage of Wiedamark testing the lights.

The photographer then sent photo and video footage to WFAA-TV and the Dallas Observer.

By the next morning, everyone knew that for the first time in its 33-year history, the Reunion Tower had new lights.

“I was happy [the news] was out,” says Walkup. “We couldn’t talk about it in public, but our friends had known about the project for a long time. [Waiting for the unveiling] was like being pregnant for nine months, but then having the birth delayed to 10 months, then 11 months, then 12 months. And all this time you’re just waiting for it to finally happen.”

On New Year’s Eve, Reed and Walkup stood on the ninth floor balcony of their friend’s downtown condominium, the unlit dome of Reunion Tower clearly in view. Then the dome lit up at a quarter till midnight, a digital countdown on the ball ticking off each second.

Then, at midnight sharp, the Reunion Tower dome sparkled in a ecstatic wash of reds, greens, blues, and purples while Reed, Walkup and the rest of Dallas rang in the New Year.

After a 10-minute light show, the numbers 2012 encircled the dome in bright yellow until 5 o’ clock that morning.

Mentioning the new Omni Hotel and the other colorful LED-lit projects that have joined the Dallas landscape in the last few years, Walkup notes: “Dallas is a colorful city. We want to make it an exciting place to live and colored light helps people recognize that. Light is modern and fresh. It conveys youth. Dallas, a city of young ideas.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition January 27, 2012.

—  Kevin Thomas

GayBingo tonight at the Rose Room

GayBingo 2.0

Before heading out to 2012’s first GayBingo, check out our online interview with new director Johnny Humphrey. He tells us some of the changes that are going down with this new version and they all sound good. Then, bust out that bingo marker and take no prisoners when your number comes up.

DEETS: The Rose Room (inside S4) 3911 Cedar Springs Road. 6 p.m. $25. RCDallas.org.

—  Rich Lopez

GayBingo gets an updgrade

I talked with Johnny Humphrey this morning about taking on the role as the Resource Center’s programs coordinator and mostly the upgrade GayBingo is getting. Starting with a few changes to this Saturday’s event, he proclaims that GayBingo is going to be bigger and better.

“I was very fortunate to come into such an established program,” he said. “Now that we’re in our 11th year, we wanted to make something fresh with it. We didn’t want to assume the status quo. I got a lot of positive feedback from our dedicated volunteers. That was important to me. So we’re claiming this year as a ‘new decade of decadence.’ That’s the unofficial tag line.”

The official one now (on their new logo) is “More gay, more fun, more fabulous,” and with the plans for GayBingo 2.0, the changes now already look to add a level of excitement.

—  Rich Lopez

Best Bets • 01.20.12

LorettaLynn_SetD_0347_FinalColor(1)Saturday 01.21

GayBingo 2.0
Before heading out to 2012’s first GayBingo, check out our online interview with new director Johnny Humphrey. He tells us some of the changes that are going down with this new version and they all sound good. Then, bust out that bingo marker and take no prisoners when your number comes up.

DEETS:
The Rose Room (inside S4)
3911 Cedar Springs Road
6 p.m. $25.

RCDallas.org.

…………………

Sunday 01.22

You’ll be lookin’ at country
Normally we have to venture to Fort Worth to see Loretta Lynn, because she seems to love her some Billy Bob’s. This time, the legendary country singer graces Dallas and the opera house’s acoustics should be ideal for every note of her signature songs.  Classics like “Coal Miner’s Daughter” and “She’s Got You,” won’t just be sung, but instead painted with Lynn’s twangy but heartfelt voice.

DEETS:
Winspear Opera House
2403 Flora St.
7 p.m. $38–$58
ATTPAC.org.

…………………

Thursday 01.26

Too haute to trot
Turn up the volume on your outfit and head out to Dish, where DIFFA/Dallas will announce its Style Council Ambassadors for the 2012 Smoking Haute collection.

DEETS: Dish
4123 Cedar Springs Road
7:30 p.m. RSVP at 214-352-6701.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition January 20, 2012.

—  Kevin Thomas

A Del in concert!

(And he won’t cancel!) Shores returns to his native Texas bruised but busy

Del-Shores-32

NATIVE SHORES | Winters provided the backdrop for Del Shores’ comedy, but his Hollywood connections include directing Oscar hopeful Octavia Spencer in her next film role. (Photo courtesy Alan Mercer)

RICH LOPEZ  | Staff Writer
lopez@dallasvoice.com

Already, 2012 looks to be a busy year for Del Shores. That wasn’t among his New Year’s resolutions, but it has ended up being a blessing for him right now. Having something to do distracts him from those empty moments. After separating less than two months ago from his partner of almost 10 years, singer/actor Jason Dottley, spending quiet times alone was the last thing Shores wanted.

“With something this tragic, I have to stay busy,” he says. “This is a huge tragedy in my life. The depression comes in so I’m taking care of myself by writing or preparing other works. Just keeping occupied is so important. I couldn’t survive otherwise.”

As irony would have it, 2012 could end up being Shores’ biggest year yet. The Winters, Texas, native kicks it off in the Rose Room with a standup performance Jan. 27. For this show, he specifically returned to Dallas to film his performance for an upcoming DVD release. And for good reason: He feels the love here.

“I’d rather just go to Dallas,” he says. “I have the hugest fan base there and I should go back to the city that loves me the most to film the show. I love it so much.”

Just a year ago, Shores started a new phase of his career by adding “standup comedian” to his resume with a performance of his new act, Sordid Confessions, at the Rose Room. In fact, he’s less a comic than whip-smart storyteller, but he acknowledges that audiences who saw him last year should expect new stuff this time.

Does that mean he’s adding some of his recent personal drama to the bit? Not just yet.

“I haven’t yet put anything about it in my show,” he admits. “I can’t pretend that the elephant isn’t in the room, but I don’t plan to disrespect what we had … not yet at least!”

The closest he plans to get right now is reciting some letters of support he received after he announced his divorce publicly last November.

They were genuinely heartfelt, but hilarious enough to add to the show.

Shores is also writing the screen adaptation of his play Yellow, and is completing a new play about four women called This Side of Crazy. He’s also collaborating with his Sordid Lives star (and long-standing best friend) Leslie Jordan on the mockumentary The Happy Hullisters, about a gospel family hanging onto their last shred of fame. The plan is to begin shooting it in Dallas starting in June; Tony Award-winner Levi Kreiss and comedian Caroline Rhea (who MC’d this year’s Dallas Black Tie Dinner) attached to the project.

“I’m getting my acting company back together for this. And I’ll be in the Hullisters!” Shores beams. “I am embracing the actor in me. I’m still in negotiations to do one more Sordid Lives film that would be a sequel to the movie, but a prequel to the series. And I’m hoping to open [the play] Yellow in Dallas as well. Maybe I’ll be busy for the next two years!”

Shores is also in post-production of his play-turned-movie The Trials and Tribulations of a Trailer Trash Housewife starring newly-minted Golden Globe winner and likely Oscar nominee Octavia Spencer. Spencer is reprising her role she originated onstage for the play as LaSonia (pronounced “lasagna”) Robinson. Shores admits that if she wins an Oscar it could help his movie, but he was already suitably moved by her Globes win.

“This couldn’t have happened to a better person,” he says. “When she won, my daughter and I were sobbing like Mexican women at a funeral.”
When Shores posted a note on his Facebook page last November (it began, “It saddens me to inform you that Jason Dottley and I are divorcing”), the obvious question among his friends was, “What happened?” But even Shores doesn’t quite seem sure. Soon after his announcement, Shores received notes of support, but also some not so friendly. That added to the shock of his marriage ending. (Dottley was contacted for this piece but declined to comment.)

“We were this couple held up to the light as an example of gay marriage in a working relationship,” he says. “I had no idea this was coming.

My marriage ended, just like straight people. I had to start a process of healing.”

But were there no signs, no inkling of what was to happen? Shores searches for the words, but stammers as he decides whether to answer and what to say. And then finally:

“Let me put it this way,” he begins, “I’ve been working in the entertainment business for a really long time, I get a lot of actor-auditions. For some, I come up with reasons I don’t cast certain ones, but the bottom line is, ‘I don’t want you to play this role.’ And so no matter what was said or the reasons behind it, the bottom line was Jason said, ‘I don’t want to be married to you anymore.’ And there was no negotiation on any level.”

For a moment, he pauses. That inevitable lump jumps into his throat and one of Texas’ funniest funnymen all of a sudden isn’t laughing.

“There is never a great day,” he admits, choking up. “There are partial good days but good days … not yet. It happens.”

Creative types have the luxury of turning pain into their art and it’s easy to imagine Del Shores turning this pain into a comic masterpiece. He insists he’ll heal and move on. Eventually. Born gay into a Southern Baptist family in Texas, life hasn’t always been the easiest. And at the very least, he may take the advice of one fan, a straight woman, who wrote him.

“She told me there was one thing good about a breakup,” he says, “New dick!”
Badum-bum.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition January 20, 2012.

—  Kevin Thomas

Best Bets • 11.18.11

Saturday 11.19

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.

……………….

Saturday 11.19

A pile of Pilobus
Dance company Pilobolus turns the world of dance on its head — as well as its dancers. The company doesn’t perform your usual dances. Instead, they create a show that’s part Cirque, part sport and all of it amazing. They are like the rebellious teens in the dance world, making this a must-see.

DEETS:
Winspear Opera House, 2403 Flora St. 8 p.m. $12–$200.
ATTPAC.org.

……………….

Saturday 11.19

Turtles in the chamber
The Turtle Creek Chorale Chamber Chorus performs its first show as part of the Chamber in the Chapel series. The 40-voice chorus will sing a variety of music that will take your breath away.

DEETS:
Interfaith Peace Chapel,
3910 Cedar Springs Road. 8 p.m.  $10.
TurtleCreek.org.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 18, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Boy wonder

Patrick Mikyles brings a decidedly masculine vibe to S4’s drag stage

NEWCOMER OF THE YEAR | Mikyles raised eyebrows when he was named newcomer of the year, defeating more than half a dozen female impersonators. (Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)

 

DRACONIS VON TRAPP  |  Intern
intern@dallasvoice.com

Patrick Mikyles raises the roof Thursday nights at the Rose Room, but he also raises some eyebrows: Entertainers dressed as men aren’t the norm at the venue famous for its drag shows. But Mikyles has made his way into the ranks of queens and kings as a pioneer in his category.

Originally from Odessa, Mikyles started dancing in a show at Club Sin City there. His break came four years ago when he was supposed to dance back-up for a drag queen. At the last minute, the queen changed routines, so Mikyles approached the show director and asked if he could do a fill-in performance. The director agreed and said he could do the second show for $30. When Mikyles asked if he had to pay before or after he performed, the director gave him an odd look. “No, honey, I pay you $30.”

That was when Patrick Mikyles was born.

Since then Mikyles has performed at multiple clubs from Amarillo to Florida. He refers to himself as a “true male entertainer.”

“I can entertain the crowd with my clothes on,” Mikyles jokes.

While he doesn’t have a classical dance background, Mikyles has a eidetic memory when it comes to dance. He describes his style as “very energetic, go-getter” and says his influences range from Michael Jackson and Beyonce to James Brown. “It’s really eclectic,” he says. “There really is a lot of choreography that goes into it.”

When he first moved to Dallas, Mikyles set as his goal to be the first entertainer to work the Rose Room as a male.

“[The Rose Room] is a staple in drag and performing arts, I think. It’s really big for the LGBT community,” he says.

While he encountered controversy upon winning the newcomer contest, Mikyles soldiered through until he was accepted. He knew it would mean a lot for the drag king community and other male entertainers to become a regular at the club. Since achieving that, Mikyles has opened the door for other male entertainers and drag kings, giving confidence to performers who don’t specialize in female impersonation.

Even though he’s a crowd favorite and gets plenty of tips each show, Mikyles still gets a few odd looks backstage.

“I’ve met a lot of people while in the community,” he says. “Layla LaRue has been a mentor, and I’ve known some of the queens up there for years; they’re not strangers. But some of the up-and-coming girls are kind of uneasy about it. I think it’s just a matter of [them] not knowing me. I’m just an easy-going guy; I’m not here about the drama.”

It’s not just the other performers — sometimes the audience is unprepared for his act. The initial reaction can be something like, “What is this guy doing on stage?”

“By the second number they usually come around,” he says. (The main performers usually do two numbers a night between the amateur acts.)

Even as an experienced performer, Mikyles still gets nervous. How does he get pumped for a show? “I take in plenty of alcohol,” he quips, then adds quickly, “No, I’m kidding.”

He still prays before every show and lets the music move him. Some of the thoughts swirling through his head include, “Don’t fall,” “Are they gonna like me?” and “Am I gonna remember the steps?” And while much of what he does is choreographed, Mikyles still improvises.

Mikyles has also won Mr. Amarillo USofA and hopes to tour while getting a few more titles under his belt before trying an acting career on radio, television, stage and in film.

When he’s not on the dance floor, the 29-year-old works as a loan officer for Cash Store. “Some people say I’m a loan shark,” he chuckles. And when the work-week plods along, he always has Thursday to look forward to.

“Dallas has been great,” he says. “I didn’t think it would open its arms as much as it did. I still feel like a kid in a candy store.”

Mikyles performs at the Rose Room inside Station 4, 3911 Cedar Springs Road on Thursdays. PartyAtTheBlock.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 16, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

Coco Peru returns to S4

It’s been almost two years since the drag comic Coco Peru descended upon the Rose Room at Station 4 with her droll drag show, but she’s coming back — and just in time for Pride.

Coco will perform a one-night-only engagement on Sept. 16 — the Friday night of Pride Weekend in Dallas. Tickets go on sale today at CocoPeruTour.com. Advance tickets are $25 for general admission ($30 at the door), and VIP passes are available.

 

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

And your 2011 Voice of Pride winners are …

Voice of Pride individual winner Dru Rivera, from left, and group winners Spare Parts, made up of Angie Landers and Robert Olivas. (Photos by Gregory Hayes/Dallas Voice)

On Sunday night, the Rose Room hosted the 2001 Voice of Pride finals and, with some surprises. The competition started in early June and whittled down from hundreds of entrants to a strong handful of talent. With 10 solo finalists and three groups competing for top honors, the night belonged to both new and old faces.

The competition for group contestants grew exponentially. Steelos and AMP(H) rounded out the group finalists but by the end of it all, one group rose above the rest. Spare Parts set a high bar delivering oodles of chemistry and charm. As soloists, both are fine performers, but Robert Olivas and Angie Landers brought out something in each other that I hadn’t seen from either before. Landers was letting the audience have it as she poured her heart into Jason Aldean’s “Don’t You Wanna Stay.” Olivas let her shine but didn’t disappear by solidly holding up his end of the vocals and even performance. It really was a great moment as they finished to rousing applause, and this was only their first song. They followed up with the punchier “Stuck Like Glue” by Sugarland. With simple but effective choreography, they delighted with a strong showing and even the bauble at the end of the song added charm rather than detriment.

“After six years, it’s finally happened,” Olivas said while walking to the Round-Up Saloon for a post-victory celebration. Their excitement on stage after the announcement was a genuinely sweet moment.

In the individual competition, the decision had to have been a difficult one. Each of the 10 finalists delivered strongly and feasibly, any of them could have deservedly taken it home. But in the end, Dru Rivera crooned a beautiful “Cryin’” and rocked out with “Dream On,” and he ended up with the title of Voice of Pride. I figured he’d place high, but thought the winner might have been between Angie Landers and Kristen Philips. Landers was riding high from her strong performances with Olivas, and Philips killed everyone in the room with her rendition of “River Deep, Mountain High.” But Vanessa Guzman rallied with a strong second song — a fun and engaging “Something’s Got a Hold on Me” by Etta James. But it was Rivera’s connection to his inner rock god that I think pushed him to the top. He body-slammed the audience with his take on the signature Aerosmith tune and proved that even classic rock can win over a gay crowd. The other top finalists included 4th runner-up Joel Canales, 3rd runner-up Juliana Jeffrey, 2nd runner-up Kristen Philips and 1st runner-up Vanessa Guzman.

It was a riveting moment because I think Rivera’s victory came as a surprise to some being that there were more familiar faces in the running, but the audience still roared and applauded his win. Interestingly, it was his first time to participate in the event. As the winner, he won a $3,000 cash prize, a trip to Puerto Rico and a performance at Pride in September.

—  Rich Lopez