‘Smarmy’ is the new black

whoopi2I’ve decided being “smarmy” is in. Well, maybe it’s always been in, but I’m slow to catch on to fads. When platform shoes were in during the 70s, I was wearing boots. When boots were in, I was wearing loafers. When it was cool to hate the new kid, I was eating lunch with him.  You get the picture. I’m just plain dumb.

But now that I’m past the half century mark and could care less about fashion, who’s cool and who’s not and the myriad other banalities that get the majority of people out of bed, I’ve made a discovery. The masses love smarmy. You know, like when Whoopi Goldberg purses her lips, looks over the top of her tinted glasses and gives someone that look that says, “I’m Whoopi, and you’re not. Sad to be you.” Smarmy.

Smarmy people can be intimidating. After all, they always have that look that suggests they know something you don’t, and we’re all mentally scrambling, wondering what it is and oh please, please, please, are they going to share it with us? You know — the little people. They never do. And do you know why? Because they don’t know diddly. It’s all smoke and mirrors.

I’ve already mentioned Whoopi, but I could spend hours adding to the list: Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin, Michele Bachman, Ann Coulter, Laura Bush (But not her husband. You have to have at least a modicum of intelligence to be smarmy.), Princess Anne, Clair Huxtable (she was a master of smarmy), the lady who works at my bank and who gives me the look every time she looks at my balance, fashion designers, Cher, everyone in the Junior League … oh god, I could go on for days.

When I think of smarmy people, I recall a high school “friend.” Charise was in choir, drama club and was the biggest whore since Madame de Pompadour. We all knew Charise was easy, but she made it appear sophisticated and cosmopolitan. After all, she spent two weeks in Europe during summer vacation.

Charise walked the halls like she was Cleopatra, her eyes not falling on anyone because no one was worthy of a glance. She knew “things.” Cool things. Things city people know but hicks like us don’t. So we thought. Now I realize Charise just loved penis, couldn’t get enough of it and had figured out a long time ago, probably when she was two, that if you act smarmy you can get away with anything. You can even become president. Smarmy is powerful.

I’ve tried to be smarmy, but it didn’t work. Everyone already knows I don’t know squat about anything, and when I tried to half close my eyes and give the look of patient disdain, it looked like I was just high. Which I was wasn’t. I’m not smarmy enough to do even that.

Yes, smarmy will open doors, legs and wallets. All you have to do is act like you know something that everyone else doesn’t, and they’re following you around, hanging on your every word. And smarmy people don’t debate or argue. They’re above that because, after all, everyone else is stupid, misinformed and not worthy of their time. Their groupies, bless their hearts, take that as a sign of the smarmy person’s intellectual superiority and fall more deeply in love with them.

They’ll even vote for you. Scary.

—  Steve Ramos

WATCH: Ex-Dallas Cowboy Ken Hutcherson compares gay marriage to man-horse marriage

Former Dallas Cowboy Ken Hutcherson testified before a Washington state legislative committee that legalizing same-sex marriage would lead to men marrying a horse. Hutcherson, the family-values pastor who officiated at Rush Limbaugh’s fourth wedding, could not give an example of any specific man who is waiting for marriage equality laws to pass so that he can marry his horse.

Ken Hutcherson

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer has little respect for Hutcherson and titled an article about his committee appearance “Ken Hutcherson knows better than God about marriage. Could it be Satan?” The newspaper said Hutcherson did not utter a complete, coherent sentence in his testimony.

The marriage equality bill championed by Gov. Christine Gregoire is moving rapidly though the Legislature. In an earlier statement, Hutcherson equated her to John Wilkes Booth, Abraham Lincoln’s assassin. Gregoire is following the lead of New York Gov. Mario Cuomo whose popularity soared after he supported marriage equality.

Hutcherson played for the Cowboys for a season in the mid-70s before he was traded to the Chargers and then the Seahawks, which is how Seattle stuck with him. He played for less than three seasons in the NFL.

Hutcherson argues about man and horse marriage in a video after the jump:

—  David Taffet

Bill Maher at the Winspear on Sunday night: ‘Your new theater isn’t gonna be clean for long’

Bill Maher

I’ve seen Kathy Griffin perform live, and Joan Rivers and Lisa Lampanelli and Chris Rock — and they are all hilarious and edgy and daring comics who say outrageous things and go places that scare a lot of other comedians — but none of them can hold a candle to Bill Maher. Bill Maher is a shock comic who doesn’t say things just to shock: He says them because they are true.

Last night, at the Winspear Opera House, Maher spoke the truth for a nearly two-hour set, and, in my mind, established himself as the pre-eminent political commentator of a generation. He’s a comedian, too, of course. But really, he’s a voice.

The concert played out more like a rally than a comedian’s concert. “Your new theater isn’t gonna be clean for long,” Maher joked early in the set, before letting loose a parade of F-bombs and angry rants that touched on some easy pop targets (Justin Beiber, Mel Gibson, Charlie Sheen), but were most concerned with weighty issues including gay marriage (Maher said people in the military and the clergy have managed to scare people into thinking that just the sight of gay people will make you gay — in other words, “cock is like dessert at a restaurant — it’s what they’re known for, maybe I should try it”); Democrats’ wishy-washy leadership (when 75 percent of the American public supported repealing the ban on gays in the military, it “was still not enough political cover for these pussies”); his avowed atheism and even Lee Harvey Oswald (“Oh, yes, I went there — even in this town,” said the former North Texas resident).

It’s that fearlessness — he acknowledged that some people would probably be uncomfortable with some of his remarks about religion, not to mention calling Sarah Palin a “cunt” (“there’s just no other word for her”) — that makes Maher the most dangerous person in comedy. He’s painfully well-informed, which means he takes no bullshit from anyone. President Barack Obama took it on the chin almost as much as Rush Limbaugh or Glenn Beck. How dare the President say he would not settle for America being No. 2 — America is already out of the top 10 in most international lifestyle and human rights categories (health care, education, social mobility, women in high political positions). “I’d be thrilled if we were No. 2,” he ranted, noting it’s nice to be behind Bosnia in life expectancy (where the chief cause of death is wolfman attacks, he joked).

Every single Republican in the U.S. Senate, he noted, refuses to acknowledge the legitimacy of global warming. One of the reasons for this, he said, is that oil is very macho: “You’ve got to drill and take it. Wind is a very gay way to get our energy. It’s drill baby drill, not blow baby blow.”

Maher kicked off the evening, though, in defense of the gays, before a largely gay (and certainly gay-friendly) audience, and came back to it time and again. “Tea-baggers have taken a gay sex act — one man dragging his balls across another man’s face — and somehow turned it into something tawdry and disgusting.” Obama was criticized for demanding additional “readiness studies” before repealing “don’t ask, don’t tell” (“How do they conduct those studies?” he wondered. “Johnson, get in here and blow me while I fire this rifle at a target and we’ll compare my scores to before”). His assaults on George W. Bush, the oil industry and all religion (especially the Mormons, though), was particularly pointed in Bible Belt Texas, where even flamers go to church every week. But that’s exactly what I loved about him. You don’t have to agree with everything he says to respect the way he says it — not just to be humorous but to make you think. If our politicians were so brave, we might not be in such deep shit. (Thanks to John Wright for writing down some of the jokes!)

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

That ’70s Show vs. Show

2 music icons who rose to stardom in the disco age — Elton John and ABBA — face off (sort of) with modern takes on classic sounds

In the decade of disco, ABBA was at the top of the charts with hit after hit on the radio and the dancefloor. At the same time, Elton John was making his mark taking glam rock to new levels with his touch of gay flamboyance.

Both have endured — ABBA mostly in nostalgia, John with new albums on a regular basis. And they both hit North Texas this week — in a manner of speaking.
ABBA Mania recreates the live ABBA experience, while John’s tour stops in Fort Worth for his newest album, a collaboration with Leon Russell called The Union.

So which will you lean toward?

In The Union, John teams with Russell, the legendary R&B Okie, and producer-of-the-moment, Fort Worth’s T-Bone Burnett, combining John’s piano boogie and Russell’s bluesy roots — with mixed results. He’s been quoted as saying he’ll make real music now instead of pop fodder. The live show has won raves, with the first half devoted to the new CD and the last filled with John classics.

With John’s new “serious” outlook, will you have as much fun as you could at ABBA Mania? It was hard enough to sit still through Mamma Mia! without singing along while dancing out of your seat. The tribute show has toured the world with the absolute goal of giving the ABBA concert most people under 50 never got to see.

We broke down the best about John and the actual ABBA to see if it could help us make up our minds, but we may just flip a coin on this one. Tough call, for sure.

— Rich Lopez

………………………………

Elton JohnElton John (with Leon Russell)

…. wore outlandish bell bottoms, platform shoes and glittered glasses in the ’70s.

…. won an Oscar for the song “Circle of Life” for the Disney film The Lion King.

…. Does gigs with anti-gay personalities. At the Grammys with Eminem (forgivable) then performing at Rush Limbaugh’s wedding (his $1 mil fee went to his AIDS foundation — still deciding)

…. recorded “Hello, Hello,” a duet with Lady Gaga for the upcoming Disney movie
Gnomeo and Juliet about  garden gnomes in love.

…. conquered Broadway with The Lion King and Billy Elliot; won a Tony for
2000’s Aida.

…. being a gay man, had no ties to disco music during the rocking ’70s, with fellow community member Freddie Mercury of Queen.

…. lost a whole lotta street cred performing a Diet Coke commercial with Paula Abdul in 1990.

…. is a gay icon for being a diva, a legend and even kind of a bitch. He’s not much of an advocate for the community but stands by its side enough.

…. performs at the Fort Worth Convention Center Arena, 1201 Houston St. Nov. 13 at 8 p.m. $53–$173. Ticketmaster.com.

………………………………..

ABBAABBA Mania

…. wore outlandish bell bottoms, platform shoes, but with the occasional ascot and lederhosen. Not cute.

…. had a hit movie with their old songs in Mamma Mia! which turned out to be the No. 1 movie of all time in Britain. Oscar their ass.

…. sidestepped most public drama. Even the marriages and divorces within the band weren’t all that controversial.  Snore.

…. inspired the 1990s clones Ace of Base who subsequently inspired the beat behind Lady Gaga’s “Alejandro.” OK, that’s reaching, we know.

…. had a fling with Broadway when Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus received acclaim and award noms for Chess and Mamma Mia!.

…. were all straight and the epitome of disco alongside the Bee Gees and Donna Summer. So straights do better dance music while non-straights can rock your face off. Who knew?

…. maintained their dignity by rarely, if ever, doing anything outside of performing their music.

…. are gay icons for their work on the dancefloor. All they really had to do to secure a spot in the gay pantheon was release “Dancing Queen.” Yes, ABBA, thank you for the music.

… plays at the Eisemann Center, 2351 Performance Drive, Richardson. Nov. 16 at 8 p.m. $40–$65. EisemannCenter.com/Tickets

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 12, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens

Farewell to ‘Dr. Laura’ as radio hosts calls it quits

As right-wing radio talk show host announces plans to end show, Dallas actvist looks back a decade to another protest against her

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer taffet@dallasvoice.com

AGAINST THE DOCTOR’S ADVICE
AGAINST THE DOCTOR’S ADVICE | Dallas activist John Selig helped organize this protest in April 2000 outside the Channel 11 studios in Dallas which aired “Dr. Laura” Schlessinger’s television show. Thanks in large part to the protests over Schlessinger’s anti-gay comments, advertisers shied away from what turned out to be a short-lived program. (Tammye Nash/Dallas Voice)

Right-wing radio host “Dr. Laura” Schlessinger announced this week that she would end her talk show when her contract runs out later this year.

The advice show host gained notoriety in the 1990s with statements that included calling gays and lesbians “biological errors” and blaming Mathew Shepard for his own murder.

Rafael McDonnell worked at KRLD at the time, and he said this week that Dallas made her career.

The Dallas talk radio station was the first to broadcast Schlessinger’s show outside Los Angeles. After its success here, McDonnell said, the program was syndicated nationwide. Dallas remained Schlessinger’s top market for years, and at her peak, she was heard on more than 450 stations. She ranked second in listeners after Rush Limbaugh.

McDonnell recalled Schlessinger’s visit to the station.

“Station employees were instructed not to look at her, not to talk to her, not to have any interaction with her,” he said, unlike with other celebrities who visited the station.

In 2000, Schlessinger was offered a TV contract. Local Dallas activists worked to keep her off local television.

Dallas activist John Selig was one of the creators of StopDrLaura.com, a website that MoveOn.org still uses in its training as a model of successful activism.

Selig laughed at the current publicity surrounding Schlessinger and said he hadn’t thought much about “the fake doctor” in years.

Schlessinger has a PhD in physiology, not in counseling, psychology or anything related to that. She claims that her advice is based on morality and is not psychological. She holds no degrees in ethics, religion or theology either.

Selig got involved in StopDrLaura after attending a protest in Los Angeles outside Paramount Studios, the producer of her TV show.

“Dr. Laura” Schlessinger

“Dr. Laura” Schlessinger

When he got back to Dallas, he organized a protest at Channel 11 that was signed to air the show that fall. He said that after the success of the Dallas protest, 35 other cities held demonstrations at their local Dr. Laura affiliates.

“Our goal was never to get her off AM radio,” Selig said.

He said AM talk radio was filled with right-wing talk shows, but their group felt that television presented a new threat, especially to LGBT teens who would take her message to heart.

“She went way overboard with us and she went way overboard again this time,” Selig said, referring to a call to Schlessinger’s radio show last week that received national attention and has led, apparently, to the end of her radio career.

In that call, an African-American woman called to talk about her white husband’s friends and family members who make racist comments in front of her.

In her answer, Schlessinger used the “N” word 11 times and advised the woman she was being too sensitive, and that if she was so sensitive about such things, she shouldn’t have married outside her own race.

When the caller became angry and tried to reprimand Schlessinger for her language, Schlessinger replied, “Don’t N-double-A-C-P me.”

Although she apologized for using the “N” word, Schlessinger never addressed the rest of her comments. Earlier this week, she announced she was leaving radio because she wanted to regain her First Amendment rights.

Selig had a different view.

“What she wants to do is to speak and not be accountable for her words,” Selig said.

John Selig
John Selig

Selig said that the current campaign to let Target know about the LGBT community’s disapproval of their political donation to a homophobic candidate is the same kind of effort he helped launch against Schlessinger in 2000.

At that time, Selig contacted a number of Schlessinger’s advertisers back then and convinced them to drop their support of her show. A number of those advertisers pulled their money from her radio program as well.

Weak advertising sales contributed to the early demise of the TV show.

Selig said he learned from StopDrLaura that when a company like Target spends money to harm the LGBT community, they need to be held accountable.

Selig said he learned from the fight against Schlessinger that there’s no use calling a company’s customer service line.
“Call media relations or investor relations,” he said. “Those numbers are always listed — and they’ll listen.”

In her announcement that she was quitting radio, Schlessinger acted bewildered at the LGBT community’s continued disdain for her.

On “Larry King Live” this week, she called committed same-sex relationships “a beautiful thing and a healthy thing.”

But in 2000, in addition to blaming Shepard for his own murder, Schlessinger said a vast majority of gay men are pedophiles. She also called gays and lesbians “sexual deviants” and said that people should keep their children away from gay relatives.

Her “biological error” comment was one she repeated on the air often.

Schlessinger, however, denied that she engaged in anti-gay speech.

“Unless I have hallucinated, I have never made an anti-gay commentary,” she said on her show.

Selig had some advice this week for the talk show host. He said Schlessinger should take some advice from the title of one of her own books: “Stop Whining.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 20, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens

Elton John's partner on why he accepted invite to perform at Rush Limbaugh's wedding

Sir Elton John
Sir Elton John

Last Tuesday, Tammye Nash wondered why Elton would sing at Rush’s wedding.

Today, People magazine gave us the answer.

Speaking for his partner, David Furnish said, “Life is about building bridges, not walls.”

Furnish said Elton was surprised to receive the invitation. When he realized it was sincere, he saw it as an opportunity “to go where people wouldn’t expect me to go.”

While John reports that he got along just fine with the couple, Limbaugh apparently tried to counterbalance John’s appearance with his choice of officiating pastor.

Former Dallas Cowboys linebacker Ken “the Hutch” Hutcherson, the anti-gay pastor at Antioch Bible Church in Kirkland, Wash., performed the ceremony, according to Seattle Weekly. Hutcherson was one of the leading campaigners to recall the state’s domestic partnership law. That recall failed and domestic partnerships remain in place in Washington state.

—  David Taffet

Activism or betrayal? Elton John performs during Rush Limbaugh's wedding

Sir Elton John
Sir Elton John

Gay rights and AIDS activist Sir Elton John raised eyebrows and ire on Saturday when he sang at right-wingnut Rush Limbaugh’s wedding (his fourth) to Kathryn Rogers in Palm Beach, Fla. John reportedly was paid $1 million for the gig.

The British newspaper The Guardian says Elton gave Rush a discounted rate, that the legendary singer usually charges more than $2 million for private wedding performances, and that the proceeds will go to the Elton John AIDS Foundation.

OK. I admit that I was totally caught off guard and experienced a true WTF moment when I first saw headlines about John’s performance at Limbaugh’s wedding.

—  admin

Some thoughts on health care reform

Rush Limbaugh

Rush Limbaugh

The debate on health care drags on but now we have the best reason to call our senators and representatives and encourage them to pass it immediately.

Rush Limbaugh said he will leave the country if the bill passes.

Limbaugh said he thought he might go to Costa Rica if we have health care reform in this country. Costa Rica, however, has universal health care.

Also, as DART decides whether or not it should be interfering in the personal life of its employees, Cuba has decided to include sex change operations in its universal health coverage. DART stopped a sex-marker change for an employee in court.

According to the New York Times, “Canada, Britain, France and Brazil offer government-financed sex changes, among other countries. San Francisco began paying for sex changes for city and county employees in 2001, and Fort Worth, Texas, is considered following suit.”

Fort Worth? Really? Seriously considering paying for sex change operations while pursuing criminal charges against six people who were at Rainbow Lounge? (See update in this Friday’s Dallas Voice).

—  David Taffet

Limbaugh tries to out-crazy Robertson

Radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh
Radio shock jock Rush Limbaugh

Usually, when one right-wing nut job puts his foot in his mouth and gets called out on it, the others shut up. Not this time.

Earlier this week, Pat Robertson said that the earthquake in Haiti was caused by the Haitians who made a pact with Satan to get rid of French rule.

So along comes Rush Limbaugh. In the face of the greatest loss of life since the tsunami, the most destruction in this hemisphere since Katrina, the utter devastation and complete loss of their government infrastructure, hospitals, homes … we get this.

The earthquake was “made to order” by Obama. OK, so he’s not saying Obama caused the tsunami. Robertson cleared that up for us earlier this week. That pact with Satan actually caused the tsunami. Limbaugh is angry because any relief effort by the United States will make Obama look good.

So he’s out to stop it. Don’t donate, he said. “We’ve already donated to Haiti, it’s called the US income tax.”

Wow. I’ve been getting slammed because I recommended donating through the Rainbow Fund to bundle LGBT dollars. I recommended giving to CARE, which is 100% volunteer, is in Haiti already distributing food and 100% of your relief dollars go toward aid. I recommended giving to Mazon, which also provides food aid, gets the money where it’s needed fast, has helped here in Dallas and was co-founded by a member of Dallas’ Congregation Beth El Binah.

However, I didn’t recommend one particular agency. I didn’t say don’t give to them. I didn’t give reasons they’re not my favorite until their volunteers kept pushing me for it. I simply recommended a variety of other agencies that are in Haiti now helping and said give here, here, here and here. WOW.

And with his outrageous statement, Limbaugh will make the news, keep a number of people from donating in the name of hurting Obama and not only be allowed to continue polluting the PUBLIC airwaves but next year can negotiate an even larger contract. His salary is estimated at $33 million per year (not including fees for speaking engagements, book royalties, investments).

So here’s my suggestion. Give to Rainbow Fund. They bundle LGBT dollars and steer the money to other groups with particular immediate needs that provide relief without discrimination. And do it in Limbaugh’s name. Let him know that his words are generating donations, not stopping them.

—  David Taffet