What’s Brewing: Round-Up co-owners Gary Miller, Alan Pierce named Pride grand marshals

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. Round-Up Saloon co-owners Gary Miller and Alan Pierce have been selected as grand marshals of the 28th annual Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade, set for Sept. 18, according to an announcement by the bar this morning on Facebook. The Round-Up celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2010.

2. A former U.S. Navy commander has been censured for allowing an ensign to receive anti-gay call signs including “Romo’s Bitch,” “Fagmeister” and “Gay Boy.” Ensign Steve Crowston, an East Texas native and avid Dallas Cowboys fan, filed a complaint against Cmdr. Liam Bruen over the incident. Bruen abruptly retired from the Navy in May. Read our previous coverage of the case here.

3. The festivities continued Monday in New York, with 46 gay couples tying the knot in a joint ceremony at Niagara Falls, and three more marrying on stage at a Broadway theater following a performance of Hair. Watch video of the post-Hair ceremonies below. Meanwhile, an anti-gay group has filed a lawsuit seeking to overturn marriage equality.

—  John Wright

10 singers, 3 groups make Voice of Pride finals

Yesternight at the Round-Up Saloon, 10 vocalists and three singing groups made it through to the Voice of Pride finals. Dallas Tavern Guild Executive Director Michael Doughman said this is probably the best crop of talent to come through VOP, and he was pretty much on target. As one of the judges, it was tough to whittle the list down to 10.

Five groups competed, but Steelos, AMPH (pronounced “amp”) and Spare Parts made the cut and will compete Aug. 14 in the finals at the Rose Room.

The 10 singers to move on were Dru Rivera, Angie Landers, Joel Canales, Vanessa Guzman, Juliana Jeffery, Blake Askew, Steven Patterson, Carlos Saenz, Christine Pradia, Kristen Philips. They ranged from classic rock to American standards and everything in between. Just like last year, the field is split evenly with five ladies and five gentlemen advancing.

Perhaps a surprise to some — and definitely to his fan club on hand (with T-shirts) — was the omission of Robert Olivas. Having been named a finalist the last two years, Olivas’ supporters were brought to tears by him not advancing. However, he does still get to compete with Angie Landers as Spare Parts in the group category, and with a solid performance last night, they could be the one to beat.

Now a note to the contestants: I get it – black is slimming and easy, but after the first, oh, like 10, it got really  tiresome. Color isn’t a bad thing. Don’t be afraid of it. Or bedazzle the heck out of those black shirts and pants.

There were some pretty great voices and personalities on stage last night, along with host Victoria Weston, pictured, but dare I say this couple stole the show during the tallying of scores? They pretty much got a 10 from everybody. When they guy pulled her hair (I KNOW!), and dropped her to the floor only to catch her it was better than anything on Dancing With the Stars. I’m hoping fellow judge Gary Floyd will share some of the video he caught of the two wowing us during Donna Summer’s “Last Dance.”

—  Rich Lopez

PHOTO: Miss LifeWalk winner crowned

LOTTA TALENT | Lotta Pink is crowned Miss LifeWalk 2011 during the highlight of the annual pageant, held Sunday, July 17, at The Round-Up Saloon. Heather Thomas was first runner-up, and Mowlawn Rouge was second runner-up. The pageant, produced by the Guys and Dolls LifeWalk Team, raised $18,000, which will go toward the annual LifeWalk event, set this year for Oct. 2 in Lee Park. Hosts for the pageant were Ima Lush and Victoria Weston, and Ivanna Whataburger made a special appearance. Lotta Pink also won the Miss Spirit of LifeWalk award, the Miss Money Bags award, the evening wear competition and the talent competition. Mowlawn Rouge was named Miss Congeniality.

—  John Wright

PHOTOS, VIDEO: Lotta Pink wins Miss LifeWalk

CLICK HERE TO VIEW MORE PHOTOS FROM MISS LIFEWALK

I was asked to be one of the five judges at the Miss LifeWalk 2011 contest, which took place Sunday night at the Round-Up. It’s the first time I’ve judged a drag show, but the talent was evident — not only from the contestants, but from the other entertainers. Jenna Skyy gave a rousing performance (before she sat down alongside me to judge, with Dr. Bill Henderson, John Loza and Dallas Voice Ultimate Diva! Stacey McKinney), while Iona Trailer camped it up hilariously. One of the remarkable discoveries was former Voice of Pride Jason Huff, who donned a dress and gave a roaring church-revival-esque performance late in the show.

The crowd responded. Money was free-flowing for all three contestants, with Lotta Pink — who bested runners-up Heather Thomas and Mowlawn Rouge — in total money raised (before she even entered the club, she came with $7,000 in benefits for the LifeWalk). Lotta won the whole she-bang, largely as a result of having elaborate choreography (including dancing boys, pictured) during the talent portion.

Keeping everything going were co-hosts Ima Lush and Victoria Weston (who sang without lip-synching).

(Watch some reader video of Lotta Pink performing Pink’s “Raise Your Glass” after the jump.)

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Miss LIfeWalk 2011 at the Round-Up on 07.17.11

Photos by Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice

 

—  John Wright

What’s Brewing: Gov. Perry’s camp prepared to address gay rumors if he runs for president

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. Gov. Rick Perry’s team is prepared to address longstanding rumors that he’s gay if he jumps into the Republican presidential race, according to Politico. The story doesn’t specifically say how Perry’s team plans to address the rumors, and the fact that they’re still around after seven years — and that Politico is writing about them — would seem to indicate that their efforts haven’t been overly effective to this point. Then again, how do you prove you’re not gay, especially if you are? Perry’s top political strategist, Dave Carney, told Politico that the rumors must be false because the governor has survived several well-funded political challenges in Texas. But needless to say, there’s a monumental difference between running for governor of Texas and running for president. Dallas Voice was contacted by a reporter from the Huffington Post on Monday about the Perry gay rumors, so clearly the national media is starting to pick up on them. And Perry hasn’t even declared his candidacy yet. (Yes, that sound you hear is us licking our chops.)

2. A vote by the New York State Senate on marriage equality legislation could come at any time, as negotiations continue over language related to religious exemptions. Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s marriage equality bill has already passed the state Assembly but remains one vote short of the majority needed to pass the Senate.

3. Harry Potter star Emma Watson was spotted at the Round-Up Saloon in Dallas last Thursday, according to the Round-Up’s Facebook page and now TMZ. Oddly, the TMZ report doesn’t mention the fact that the Round-Up is a gay bar. Watson, who plays Hermione Granger, reportedly is the world’s highest-paid actress.

Emma Watson dances at the Round-Up last Thursday. (Via Facebook)

 

—  John Wright

Final bets at the finale of Team DV’s P-P-P-Poker Tourney

Ante up to the table

Team Dallas Voice and Pocket Rockets Dallas are raising money for the Lone Star Ride Fighting AIDS by holding a P-P-P-Poker Tournament at clubs across town. After three weeks, the event has come to the grand prize final.

Because this is Dallas, not Vegas, the game play is free, so if you want to contribute to the LSR cause, bring cash to enter the raffle. Among the prizes available or that have been won are tickets to see Dolly Parton (we’ll resist the urge to call this one a “booby prize”), Ke$ha and Chelsea Handler,  tickets to the Texas Rangers and Lone Star Park horse races, Starbucks coffee, a set of poker chips, books, grooming supplies and much more … and the final grand prize: Two tickets on American Airlines anywhere in the contiguous U.S.

DEETS: Check out the Facebook event page here for details.

—  Rich Lopez

Thanks to Gaga, Round-Up makes Rolling Stone. Did bar inspire country take on ‘Born This Way’?

Just when you though we were done with the Lady Gaga/Round-Up love affair, we’re gonna pull you back in. In RollingStone.com’s Random Notes, they posted a pic of Gaga’s performance at the Round-Up on March 13. If you didn’t hear about it, well, get out from under that rock: Gaga performed “Born This Way” at the club on her return visit to Dallas. You can watch the exclusive video here.

RollingStone.com

Also, we wonder if the club was the inspiration for this country-fied version of her “BTW.”

—  Rich Lopez

PHOTOS, VIDEO: Lady Gaga at the Round-Up Saloon and Station 4 on Sunday night

Before her concert tonight at American Airlines Center in Dallas, Lady Gaga made another visit to her apparent gay club of choice, the Round-Up Saloon. She performed her new hit, “Born This Way,” and clearly drove the fans gaga.

As it turns out, Lady Gaga ventured across the street for an impromptu performance of “BTW” at the Rose Room. Gaga visited with the cast of the Rose Room and I hear she performed the song with just music via an iPad. Gaga’s so modern that way. While I hunt for video of that, Rose Roomer Jenna Skyy posted these pics up (after the jump) on her Facebook.

Seriously, you gotta love her for fighting for that wig.

More photos and video coming soon.

—  Rich Lopez

Sparkle, Sally Sparkles!

Dance instructor Michael Sharp works both sides of the footlights: As choreographer of real-girl pageants and as drag diva Sally

DON MAINES  | Contributing Writer donmaines@att.net

GAY TEXAS AMERICA
The Round-Up Saloon,
3912 Cedar Springs Road. Sept. 28–29 at 9 p.m.

…………………………………….

Some Texans who go overseas get homesick for football or barbecue or country music.

Michael Sharp missed beauty pageants.

While he danced for 2 1/2 years at the Tokyo Disney Resort in Japan, to give him a sense of home, Sharp’s mother sent him videos of all-girl pageants. “I became a big pageant fiend,” he laughs.

Sharp’s fascination grew to the point where he vowed to get involved in pageants when he returned to Texas — and on both sides of the footlights.

“When I got off the plane on July 7, 2006, I was already registered [as a contestant] for Miss Gay Dallas,” he says. “I had ordered all these things and there they were, stacked at my mama’s house: an evening gown, a ton of rhinestones, two separate wigs, makeup and boob pads lying on the bed.”

Sharp had also picked a name for his pageant-girl persona: Sally Sparkles, riffing on the nickname “Sally” given him by fellow dancers. “Then I thought of ‘Sparkles,’” he says. “It’s a word that’s not used enough, and it has a pretty connotation.”

His inaugural competition taught him a lot about the art of pageant drag.

Sharp — Sparkles — won the Miss Gay Dallas contest that year, but the state pageant “was definitely an eye-opener. Talk about being put in your place! I found out that little bitty hip pads weren’t going to do it. My boobs were too small, I needed more makeup and bigger hair.”

As horrible as Sharp remembers it being, Miss Sally Sparkles still placed ninth at the 2006 Miss Gay Texas.

But becoming a successful female impersonator was just half of his wish list. Next, he set out to make his other dream come true: Working behind the scenes on “real girl” pageants. While still in Japan, Sharp had e-mailed the Miss Texas Organization, which runs the Lone Star State preliminary to Miss America, offering to “do anything — be a boy dancer, choreograph, whatever they needed,” he says. The pageant’s response was to make Sharp the assistant to its choreographer, Sunni Cranfill, who had been Miss Texas 2003.

“That made me ecstatic!” says Sharp. Suddenly, he was working side-by-side with some of the beauties he had watched win their crowns, as well as a new line of lovelies vying for the coveted titles of Miss Texas and Miss America.

“Everything he touched became beautiful,” says Cranfill. “He is truly one of the most creative minds I have known.”

In his second year at Miss Texas, with Cranfill busy trying out for the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders, Sharp was promoted to head choreographer. Drawing on his dance education at Stephen F. Austin University, his work as a dance captain in professional productions and his experience as a dance studio instructor (which is still his primary day job), Sharp created three of Miss Texas’ most memorable productions.

“They will give me the music and an idea of what they want on stage, and without knowing the dimensions of the stage I come up with something I know I can place in any situation,” Sharp explains.

“I have watched him turn a mess into something amazing,” Cranfill gushes.

WITHOUT THE GLAM Michael Sharp, in his usual dance instructor garb, is a far cry from the flash of Sally Sparkles. (Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)

He’s worked his magic every year since. The 2008 pageant featured former titleholders performing “Cell Block Tango” from Chicago, with each larcenous character changed to a pageant girl sabotaging another contestant because “she had it coming.” In 2009, Sharp corralled a huge cast to recreate a USO show that spotlighted the tap-dancing talents of the reigning Miss Texas.

Earlier this summer, all 33 “miss” and all 35 “teen” contestants kicked off the show with an energetic Sharp dance number that tweaked Beyonce’s girl-power hit “Single Ladies” by crowing “If you liked it then you should have put a crown on it.” The show also gave Sharp the opportunity to work with dozens of former Miss Texas winners who returned for the pageant’s 75th anniversary, including honorary co-chairs Phyllis George and Shirley Cothran, two Texans who heard Bert Parks serenade them in Atlantic City as Miss America.

The best thing about that experience, says Sharp, was the brunch that George and Cothran hosted, at which each Miss Texas spoke about her reign.

“I took my Miss America lunch box and had Phyllis George sign it,” he beams.

On the heels of that inspirational moment, Michael Sharp hangs up his choreographer hat and dons a crown to become Sally Sparkles again. First, he hopes to perform as a former titleholder at the Miss Gay Texas America pageant, which takes place at the Round-Up Saloon in Dallas Sept. 28 and 29.

Then, with a qualifying finish at Miss Gay Heart of America in hand, Sally heads to Columbus, Ohio, to compete for the title of Miss Gay America next month. He feels like he has something to prove this time. Two years ago, Sharp finished 12th as Miss Gay Texas; last year, he topped out as third runner-up. The latter stung a bit.

“I thought, ‘You called my name too soon,’” he recalls. This year, he’s hoping to be crowned as L&T Entertainment’s national symbol of excellence in female impersonation.

“My goal is to go and do amazing,” says Sharp. “I really want it. But I lost last year. I could lose again.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 17, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens