Teen love in Texas

Don't-Let-Me-GoDon’t Let Me Go
by J.H. Trumble (2012, Kensington). $15; 352 pp.

Nate Schaper was in love with Adam Jefferies from the moment Adam had rushed over to Nate’s locker to help another student who’d been bullied. Adam was like that: compassionate and smart, gentle and caring — not to mention so beautiful, Nate could barely stand it. They were an “us” not long after that morning by the lockers, and within weeks, they’d decided to come out together.

Adam was a senior then — a budding actor, a lover of the stage, and about to graduate. Nate was a junior and he never wanted to let Adam go.

But the following summer, he had to do it: Houston and New York City are 1,600 miles apart, and Adam had a once-in-a-lifetime chance to appear off-off-Broadway. Nate wasn’t about to hold him back.

Once in New York, though, Adam seemed not to miss Nate as much as the other way around. Adam had a new life complete with hottie roommate. He never seemed to have time for Nate anymore. Things had changed.

But Nate had changed, too. Angry with the way his life was going, he’d become a silent activist at school. He made a new friend, a straight guy who wouldn’t take any trouble from bullies. And when it seemed like Adam was so yesterday, Nate found another boyfriend.

But can you truly forget the love you lost?  Stuffing aside memories of Adam and the things they shared, Nate wondered when he ever would…

Looking to spend some time with a wonderfully satisfying love story?  You can stop your search right here, because Don’t Let Me Go will do just right.

With some not-quite-chaste bedroom scenes and a host of characters to embrace, author J.H. Trumble adds sass and spice to a tale of romance found and lost.

But love isn’t the only focus of this story: teenage Nate encounters homophobia in various forms and though it lends a certain squirmy realism, those parts of this book aren’t easy to read. Fortunately, Trumble’s supporting (and supportive) cast offsets the hate, which gives this novel meaning.

This is a great book for teens and adults alike, and it has an ending that … well, I don’t want to ruin it for you, so let’s just say it works. If you’re up for a nice boy-meets-boy story, Don’t Let Me Go is a book to get lost in.

— Terri Schlichenmeyer

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition February 3, 2012.

—  Kevin Thomas

DRAG you

Comedian/drag queen P.T. may look like Wendy Williams, but his message to queer youth is no gimmick

Drag-You
HOW YOU DOIN’? | P.T.’s spot-on impersonation of talk show host Wendy Williams got producers’ attention and could be a step toward the comedian’s dreams.

 

RICH LOPEZ  | Staff Writer
lopez@dallasvoice.com

Dallas drag queen P.T. has his sights set on one thing: The Wendy Williams Show. He has a good reason: His spot-on take on the talk show celeb was so successful, Williams’ own TV show took notice, asking him to produce a video of his work as her doing celebrity news. Now, he’s vying to be the first female impersonator on her show.

“That is my goal,” he says. “She’s had gay people on her show, but no drag.

I would love to be the first to sit with her for ‘Hot Topics.’”

P.T. just turned 50, but that doesn’t hold him back from big ambitions.

He’s worked the talk show circuit before, appearing on Maury Povich. His video made it to Williams’ producers, though was not selected. Still, he hopes to use this exposure as a springboard to get his message out.

“I’d love to do radio one day and report celebrity news,” he says. “I could still do it here in Dallas, but if the money and time are right, I’d move as well. I’d love to, even.”

People can see P.T. in action Thursday and Sunday nights at Havana. He’s been the headlining entertainment there for seven years with his sass intact. He threatens to read a queen if they get out of line during his show, but mostly, his act is sort of the Oprah of drag: When people walk out that door, he wants them to feel better inside and leave a bit more educated.

“My job is not to put someone down, but to make them feel good,” he says.

“I use my comedy for that as well as to encourage people to do unto others. I believe in that. And I will try to teach where I can. Every chance I get. So many younger folks just don’t know what gay Pride is about.”

If P.T. has one thing to say, it’s to know your history. And when it comes to Pride, he finds that much is getting lost as younger generations develop into the community. He won’t separate gay Pride from black Pride — which kicks off this weekend in Dallas — because to him it’s all the same: A struggle to be better.

“To see where we come from is to see how our rights developed,” he says.

“Kids don’t know where this Pride came from. Just because we have parties and parades, there’s a reason why I can be a drag queen or why [same-sex couples] can hold hands in public. There’s something to be grateful for.”

He knows Pride will always have the parties to go with it, but the spectacle of celebration, in his eyes, can’t overshadow the mere reason for Pride.

There’s history there, and P.T. wants to talk about it.

“I think it’s sad that some don’t know what Stonewall is,” he bemoans.

“When I went to New York, the first place I wanted to go was the Stonewall Inn — I needed to see that for myself. You only get what you fight for and you only fight for what you know about. We’re all in it for the same thing and we know it’s not gonna come to us easily.”

P.T. expounds on the history of black Pride in Dallas, crediting Ray Dyer as starting the celebration at the old club The Metro, now Club Elm and Pearl Street. This is also where the then-Lady P.T. started his work in Dallas, coming from Austin.

Initially, The Metro wasn’t a hotspot for drag, so he performed more as a host and entertainer, starting in 1994. That changed as Dyer saw the importance of it as well as the revenue it could bring. Lady P.T. was back on track, but it wasn’t until 2001 that he officially incorporated stand-up into his act — in and out of drag. He put in time at the Improv to hone his new skill, but it was also a sort of therapy.

“I had a tragic incident that made me look at life different,” he admits.

He doesn’t go into details over what changed his life so much. But that incident redefined his outlook on life. For P.T., he knows tomorrow doesn’t show up for everyone.

“If I did not have that wake up call, I wouldn’t be reaching for myself,” he says. “I see some gray hairs but life doesn’t feel different. This is the only time I get to do what I wanna do.”

He’s living proof of that. Fifty is a milestone birthday, but P.T. proves that no age is too old to still aim high. Only now, he has the wisdom to be patient.

“It took me about four years trying to get Wendy’s attention and she finally acknowledged me,” he says. “That told me not to give up.  Everybody deserves a chance.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 30, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

‘4’-telling

In her latest, Beyonce tries on new hats while relying on old tricks

RICH LOPEZ  | Staff Writer
lopez@dallasvoice.com

…………………..

3 out of 5 stars
“4”
Beyonce
Columbia Records

…………………..

Fans might be scratching their heads with Beyonce’s new album, 4. Where is the explosive power? What is it with all these ballads? But she might be having the last laugh. Her fourth solo album (duh) might not have as many potential hit singles, but by dabbling with different formulas she delivers a respectable package — or at least a fascinating one.
Beyonce has proved she can churn out major pop and R&B hits that are smart, fun and have a certain sass, but she holds back big time on 4, setting a mellower tone with a collection of slower tempo tunes.

She croons old-school on the opener “1+1,” her foray into deeper soul. The song is elegant and a surprise, but the second track, “I Care,” makes a far stronger impression. The more mid-tempo ballad is restrained in her verses, but goes way lush in her chorus. The build-up to an emotive guitar solo feels a tad Michael Bolton-ish, but pulls back to a definitive groove.

DROP DEAD DIVA | Beyonce channels ‘80s adult contemporary in ‘4,’ but delivers impressive surprises.

Beyonce slyly fuses her R&B vocals over an ambient electronica beat on “I Miss You.” Is it weird this recalls Haddaway’s 1993 song by the same name? She smartly works with the tune to offer the song as a package rather than showing off her voice and results in a lovely moment. Why she has to rhyme I miss you/like every day/wanna be wichu/but you’re away is beyond me. We get it, B — you’re street and glam.

We’re already getting the impression that she’s given the album a top-heavy atmosphere of ballads that might lose listeners, then comes “Best Thing I Never Had,” co-written by Babyface, which doesn’t dispel this. The pace is picked up slightly but the song recalls those overly polished ‘80s “soul” hits found on lite radio stations (echoed later with “Rather Die Young” and “Love on Top”). She’s channeling her Patti Austin-Regina Belle with cheesy background choruses and keyboards. Let’s not discuss the Dianne Warren penned “I Was Here,” which is ready for movie montages and hackneyed trailers.

Sometimes I wondered if Beyonce was trying to get into some serious soul a la Leela James or Sharon Jones, but kept missing the mark with these smoothed-out tunes that don’t lend much to her attempts. With previous ballads like “Halo,” “Listen” or “Irreplaceable,” we could hear her distinct voice — literally and figuratively. Here, she gets lost and although she’s co-written most of her songs, there’s not a unique sense of the diva.

As if she realized that, she pumps up the jam in the final quarter of the 12-song collection. There’s a relief when the beat-heavy “Countdown” hits at track no. 9. Although disjointed, it’s a welcome reprieve from all her emoting. She does far better with her immediate follow-up “End of Time,” by which time she seems obsessed with drumline beats. She’s pulled it since Destiny’s Child with “Breathe” and most recently with “Single Ladies,” but the horns and that Beyonce swagger we’re used to recall the infectious sounds of Michael Jackson’s “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’.”

She weirdly placed “I Was Here” in between the happening upbeat songs and kills the mood. But she closes out with her misfired hit “Run the World (Girls).” Again with the military beats, the song didn’t take the world by storm like she probably hoped, but it puts the energy of the album in overload. I couldn’t stand hearing it at award shows or Oprah’s farewell, but after mellowing out for over half an hour, the song saves the album, ending it with a bang. The girl-power message seems passé but that doesn’t make it less fun.
I applaud Beyonce’s efforts not to deliver the obvious. Face it: We all want another “Crazy in Love,” but instead, she opted to stick to her guns and try something new, even if some of it sounded like it was three decades old. Despite its stumbles and confusing paths, 4 could be the one album we look to as her most daring.   •

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 8, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens