REVIEWS: ‘The Hand,’ ‘Pippin,’ ‘Abe Lincoln,’ ‘Sexy Romp’

Mano a mano: The Hand

Two men — one showering naked — share an uncomfortable silence during their morning rituals in the bathroom. “When are you leaving?” one asks. Maybe it’s a trick gone bad.

But the other man — the poorer one — has no intention of leaving. Not without the rich man’s hand.

The Hand, a world premiere translation from Broken Gears Project Theatre, is a juicy, rather simple, short (45 minutes!) allegorical play, though what exactly it is an allegory for I’m still not quite sure: The poor man is missing his hand, having sold it to the rich man’s doctor three years ago for a transplant. Only now he wants it back. Class warfare? Obamacare? The idea of men touching each other with the same mitt but not being gay?

Actually, there’s an undeniable homoeroticism to the show as the men spend all the time wearing towels in bathroom. It’s especially apparent when Joey Folsom plays the rich man with a fey, continental air. (He and co-star Jeff Swearingen swap roles for each performance; during the final week, they will actually mount the show as a twofer: Act 1 with one cast, then followed by Act 2 with the roles reversed.) When Swearingen says to him, “I’ve come to ask for your hand,” you wonder if they’re living in Massachusetts.

(During the recent Horton Foote festival, Folsom appeared in a one-act playing a man who lost his arm to a thresher and demands justice from his employer. This is a weird companion piece to that.)

This is absurdist theater with a sickly twisted sense of humor: Waiting for Godot as directed by Quentin Tarantino. (Director Andy Baldwin even kicks it off with Tarantino-esque mariachi music.) It’s a deliciously evil mindfuck of a play, part Sleuth, part Bunuel film, where the concept of “a pound of flesh” takes on an odd meaning. It’s a great capstone to Broken Gears’ second season, where they have continued to reconfigure their space for a diverse slate of plays.

The three men involved here — Folsom, Swearingen and Baldwin — invest tremendous energy in this one-act, which gives it a momentum that is shocking and refreshing, like plunging your face in ice water. Give these guys a hand.

— Arnold Wayne Jones

3819 Fairmont. Through June 25. Folsom plays the rich man June 11, 14, 16 and 18; Swearingen play the rich man June 10 and 17; they will do two performances a night with each cast June 22, 23, 24 and 25. $15. BrokeanGears.weebly.com.

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Cirque du so lame: Pippin

The opening number of Pippin is called “Magic to Do.” Here’s thing: If it’s not magical, you’ve lost the audience for the rest of the show. (“Come and spend an hour or two,” is one of the lyrics; opening night got close to three hours. And still no magic.) It needs to wow you. But the circus-inspired production now at Theatre Three is played as if the entire cast had Epstein-Barre syndrome and had just decided to show up for a rehearsal. It’s on quarter-power at best. And with all the garish costumes and paste-white face paint, it feels more like the slo-mo feverdream on a mind-addled opium addict than a play.

It never recovers from the false start. Pippin is a part of a genre of musicals, popular in the early 1970s, that tried to take classical or historic stories from antiquity and gussy them up with Hair-like pop-culture relevance and a rockish score: Cyrano, The Two Gentlemen of Verona, Candide, Godspell, Jesus Christ Superstar. They were all fine in their day, but once Chicago opened and turned a modern eye on the circus-atmosphere of the past, they immediately seemed dated, like a watching silent film in 1945 or making one in black and white today. With the possible exception of Candide, none are true classics (the latter two have staying power beyond their warrant). Despite a few passable songs (“Corner of the Sky, Just No Time at All,” “Spread a Little Sunshine”), Pippin really isn’t in need of a revival as much as a wake.

It feels like it is getting that. N. Wilson King, in the gender-bending role of Leading Player, is vocally unsuited for the part. She has a rich, gospelly voice, but not the Broadway-pop range to get the crowd going, as if Marlon Brando were playing a high school cheerleader. As Pippin, Max Swarner acts out every lyric with broad gestures, as if appearing in a children’s theater production of Green Eggs and Ham. It’s not his fault; director Bruce Coleman should have reigned in such limp choices, just as he should have tapped into King’s sense of fun.

Lee Jamison perks up Act 2; she has a strong comic sense that fits into the presentational style of the show. Bradley Campbell is fine as Charlemagne, and LisaAnne Haram gives a kicky rendition of a dotty grandma, but these are islands of competence floating in a sea of wrongheadedness.

A few weeks ago, Dallas Theater Center mounted a revival of Cabaret, creating a shabby, gaudy memory of a culture in decline that burrowed under your skin. There’s nothing intentionally unnerving about this version of Pippin — it’s just ugly and dull.

— AWJ

Theatre Three, 2900 Routh St. in the Quadrangle. Through July 2. Threatre3Dallas.com.

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Planet of the Abes: Abraham Lincoln’s Big Gay Dance Party

Four score and seven years may be the most famous lapse-of-time reference in history, but two hours and forty minutes seems like a close second. That’s the running time (not including two intermissions) of Abraham Lincoln’s Big Gay Dance Party from Level Ground Arts. This is one really, really long comedy. But you know what? It’s filled with so many pleasures and moments of delicious subversiveness that, other than a severe case of numb-butt, it’s not a bad trade.

This is a bare-bones production, with set pieces made of foam core. That’s not a jab — these days, some people don’t feel like it’s real theater unless a chandelier comes crashing over their heads or Spider-Man stunt doubles go spiraling toward near-death. Sometimes less is more.

The show is enhanced by a skilled young cast. It’s all about solid performances, a daring, sometimes-moving script and some old fashioned experimentation. The plot is surprisingly intricate. It all starts with a children’s holiday pageant about Santa Claus getting a presidential pardon. When one of the children (apparently played as special-needs, which is completely unnecessary) spouts off about Abraham Lincoln’s love of another man, the teacher is vilified by the conservative Illinois town and put on trial for indecency.

What follows the setup is far more interesting. Big Gay Dance Party presents the same story from three characters’ perspectives. Through the democratic process (natch) an audience member is chosen to select which character’s version we see first. So, theoretically there are six different ways the plot can unfold. It’s fascinating. The entire third act, I found myself wondering what the show would’ve been like had that one been first, or even second. All in all, it’s an enjoyable mechanism that fills in plot mysteries like pieces fitting snuggly into a puzzle.

Between scenes, during set changes, and just about any time they feel like it, the cast busts a move—sometimes with elaborate choreography and matching stovepipe hats and beards. This is a big gay dance party, after all. Glow sticks, sadly, are not included.

— Steven Lindsey

KD Studio Theatre, 2600 N. Stemmons Freeway. Through June 25. Fridays–Saturdays at 8:15 p.m. $20. LevelGroundArts.com

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Logo, your next sitcom is ready: Outrageous, Sexy (Nekkid) Romp

Alejandro de la Costa’s Outrageous, Sexy (Nekkid) Romp, MBS Productions’ latest show, could well be a pilot pitch for a TV sitcom. They could approach Logo with Two Gays and a Girl, or maybe Our Fairy Dragmother … but as a play … well, it’s complicated.

De la Costa wrote a semi-complex farce about relationships for a cast of four. He pits male couple Casey (Andrew Bryan) and Keith (Philip Gage) into an emotional whirlwind of a night. Drag queen friend Lovely Uranus (Sonna) is moving in temporarily, and happens to have hitched a ride with Casey’s ex-girlfriend, Lara (Emily Murphy). Yes, girlfriend. Upon Lara’s arrival, Keith is confused by his attraction and constant hard-on when she’s around. Could he be straight? Bi? Do we care?

Well, yes and no.

Set in the couple’s apartment, we’re introduced to the boys waking up to coffee and some potential morning sex. It doesn’t happen as Lovely is early with her belongings and Lara. Sure the coincidence is unlikely, but easy to ignore as merely plot device. Other things weren’t.

For whatever reason, the cast was clearly off this night. They flubbed several lines or ad-libbed to maybe cover up some forgotten ones. These nights happen, I get that, but a week into the run, you expect more mojo.

The chemistry of the male couple never coalesces. Even that Bryan and Gage come off wooden, they were at least awkwardly convincing as an item in the first half, albeit minus any nuances. Those charms somehow devolve completely in the second act. In the blowout after Casey and Lovely discover Keith and Lara having sex, arguments ensued that played like an acting workshop rather than a fighting couple. The closed lip kisses and strange hugs didn’t help, either.

Lovely Uranus is not the most glamorous of drag queens, but Sonna made the most out of facial gestures, lots of makeup and some really short lingerie. It didn’t make complete sense that he’d be in drag while moving, but it wasn’t a distraction.

Lovely is the loud conscience of the show, but not always successfully. Sonna’s big monologue veers into a somber, dramatic moment, but he nails it with delicacy that doesn’t stray too far from Lovely’s outlandish persona.

Two things really kept the play afloat for me. Despite the flubs, de la Costa’s clever script is conceivably ready for prime time. The wit is there, as is substance. He wrote a play that ultimately isn’t just about a gay guy having sex with a girl and the shenanigans around it. He brilliantly weaved a story that looked at how relationships are defined and the fluidity that goes with them (or maybe needs to go with them). He fit in discussions on open relationships, gay/straight labels, single versus partnered and even the sex appeal of drag without stuffing it in. One political jab disturbed the flow, but otherwise, de la Costa created a gem.

The second was the luminous Emily Murphy, a stunning actress with a body to die for. She’s part sexual predator, part bitch, but she puts it behind a smile. Lara has ulterior motives but also doesn’t confuse sex with feelings. Murphy delivers on all fronts in commanding fashion.

Romp unexpectedly had something to say. While some of the acting didn’t make strong impressions, I couldn’t get a lot of what de la Costa had written out of my mind. And that made it worthwhile.

— Rich Lopez

Stone Cottage Theatre, 15650 Addison Road. Through June 18. $18¬–$22. MBSProductions.net.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Tasteful endeavors

IMG_0385
WHAT A GRIND | Ted Allen used to run from ‘Queer Eye.’ But now he jokes about it with a signature campy twinkle. (Arnold Wayne Jones./Dallas Voice)

‘Chopped’ host Ted Allen still keeps his queer eyes on the prize

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

Ted Allen wants people to enjoy their food and enjoy their wine. He just wants to make sure they are doing it the right way.

“If you’re a white zinfandel person, we’re not gonna be mean to you,” he says to a roomful of gourmands gathered for the kickoff of Taste Addison last month. Not mean, huh? Well, not too mean.

But Allen can be fussy in that oh-so-gay way we all enjoy. He emphasizes that “bruschetta” is properly pronounced “broo-SKET-uh” (“some people pronounce it ‘broo-shet-uh’ … and they are wrong” he chastises) and he defends “arugula, which sounds like a fancy east coast lettuce, but it’s not — it’s very peppery.”

He’s composing his own chimichurri, dressing a “Texas sized” piece of flank steak and pairing it with a California cab. He leaves nothing to chance.

Allen has a sense of humor, too. He’s doing a cooking demonstration alongside Dallas restaurateur Richard Chamberlain, who hands him a giant peppermill. Allen brandishes the unit like a pro.

“You are aware of how I got my start in television, right?” Allen jokes. The room laughs, Chamberlain included. “This is supposed to be a family show.”

Actually, everyone does know how Allen got his start in TV.

Unlike a lot of TV culinary experts, Allen was never a chef or caterer — “the only cooking I’ve ever done is for my family and friends,” he says. Rather, he was a journalist, best known as a restaurant critic and food writer for Esquire and other publications, when he was tapped, in 2003, to join a new Bravo series where gay men give metrosexual makeovers to hopeless heteros. Queer Eye for the Straight Guy exploded on the pop culture scene, winning Allen and his co-hosts an Emmy Award and, it’s safe to say, giving a fun, friendly face of gay to middle America.

Queer Eye went off the air in 2007, and, despite its influence, ran only 99 episodes (“They thought it was 100 but somebody miscounted”). Yet there are still “people who only know me from that,” Allen says.

Top Chef, on which he served as a judge for four seasons after Queer Eye went off the air, doubled QE’s ratings, but still his moniker as “the Food Guy” became his inescapable shorthand. It used to bother him, but not anymore.

“When [the show] was starting to tail off, I thought, ‘I need to get away from this.’ But you can’t. It was futile. It opened all these doors for me.”

His gig for the last few years has been hosting Chopped on the Food Network, which he describes as a “completely self-contained culinary game show” where, round-robin style, chefs go head-to-head in cooking a full meal, with one emerging victorious. “Those are 12-hour days,” Allen says, “and I am standing the whole fucking day!” It’s even worse for the contestants, he asserts. (The seventh season of 39 new episodes launches at the end of July.)

Then there’s his role as spokesman for the Robert Mondavi Discovery Wine Tour, which is what brought him to Taste Addison for the third time. And a new cookbook coming out. And … Well, let’s just say life did not end with Queer Eye.

It’s not only sweet for Allen, it’s something he savors. Especially with a Thai fish stew and three-layer cake.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition June 3, 2011.

 

—  Kevin Thomas

Drawing Dallas • 05.13.11

YendorrFNL_3Yendor Reese stands against transphobia and homophobia —in heels

MARK STOKES  | Illustrator
mark@markdrawsfunny.com
Name and age: Yendor Reese, 27

Spotted at: Kroger’s on Cedar Springs

 

Occupation: Mortgage case worker
Yendor received his unusual name from his father Rodney, who had a unique sense of humor (it’s “Rodney” backwards). With his strong religious upbringing, it was a natural that this handsome Taurus would pursue a career in music. Originally planning to become a music minister, he first pursued a vocal performance (opera) major at TCU before switching to communications/human relations with a minor in religion and music. The change gave him a deeper understanding of other religions and lifestyles, providing him a gateway to his own coming out. He was the first African-American to win “Mr. TCU” in the history of that university.

Yendor was the lead singer for the soul/rock group Soulever Lift, but the group’s plans were set back when their lead guitarist was picked up by Erykah Badu. Yendor writes music and poetry, and plays tennis whenever he can find time in his busy schedule.

His thoughts on International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia: An occasional cross-dresser, Yendor takes a live-and-let-live approach to human understanding. “Why should anyone tell another person who they should love or how to dress or what sex they relate to more? Humans need every color to be a complete rainbow. This day is
a reminder that life is a little bit better with every color — even if it is pink.”

TracieFNL2_1Tracie Hardin combines a green thumb with an artist’s eye

MARK STOKES  | Illustrator
mark@markdrawsfunny.com

Name and age: Tracie Hardin, 26

Spotted at: FedExKinko’s on Greenville Avenue

Occupation: Botanist/creative director

Indigenous interests: This slim Sagittarian has spent his entire life in Texas, graduating with a biology degree from Tarleton State University. He originally pursued a career in fashion but got disillusioned with the “fickle, cutthroat” retail industry. His lifelong interest in plants led him to his current job, working in a greenhouse. Unlike the fashion business, “plants only yield, and they don’t talk,” he quips.

Art and music: Tracie’s varied interests include creating portraits using recycled materials. “My work is mainly people’s faces and the stories behind them.” His music tastes veer toward rock/hip hop/soul (a fave is Nina Simone). Tracie also practices religious fasting twice a month.

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

—  Kevin Thomas

Postcards from the edge

Screen legend Shirley MacLaine talks about everything under the sun …. and a few things beyond it

shirleymaclaine
‘EVENING’ STAR | Shirley MacLaine, left, gives audiences the dish on her films in her one-woman show at Bass Hall Saturday. She’ll also talk up her life, possibly her past lives and anything the audience asks.

RICH LOPEZ  | Staff Writer
lopez@dallasvoice.com

Maybe Shirley MacLaine is onto something with all her talk of otherworldly topics. When I asked the screen legend about her iconic status in the gay community — due to appearances in such films as Steel Magnolias, The Children’s Hour and even Postcards from the Edge — her phone cuts out. She doesn’t skip a beat on the return call.

“See how it went dead when you said the word ‘iconic?’ That’s a sign!” she says with a true guffaw.

At 77, MacLaine is still a spitfire who can quickly turn a question back on the interviewer. She’s a veteran at talking about her work and life, but admits that there are some things she doesn’t know about herself.

“I don’t know why the gays might think of me that way. What do you think?” she asks. The humor for one thing, I say — and how gays can’t resist a good, strong-willed woman.

“I’m curious what strikes me and what doesn’t,” she says. “Oh, and I think Madame Sousatzka is also popular. It’s the humor and that’s what I loved about those parts. There’s nothing more sophisticated than the gays’ sense of humor.”

So true — especially when it comes to Broadway. MacLaine raves enthusiastically over The Book of Mormon by South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker and the musical version of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. Both show an irreverence as well as artistic merit, which MacLaine thinks is just what art needs right now.

“I just got back from New York and the audiences were so receptive,” she says. “Mormon is quite astonishing. You’ve just got to see it. You know, the world is in such bad trouble that [artists] don’t give a shit anymore. The feeling is, ‘We’ll make humor out of it.’ And Priscilla was moving and well done and over the top. It was such an exercise in imaginative clothing and shoes and humor. I had no idea.”

She has less to say about Promises, Promises, the musical revival based on her famed film, The Apartment. “Everyone keeps asking me that, but I just haven’t seen it,” she says.

MacLaine is onstage in North Texas with her show An Evening with Shirley MacLaine, which stops at Bass Hall Saturday. Despite her musical theater cred (she was Sweet Charity, after all), don’t expect singing and dancing —  she’s over all that. Instead, the Oscar winner will talk about her movies, her life and her loves.

She’s been doing that a lot lately. She’s been making the media rounds lately for her 13th book, I’m Over All That: And Other Confessions, including a spot on Oprah. But the show isn’t necessarily the live version of her latest autobio.

“The show is really fun and just a retrospective of my life — I tell stories about my films and Broadway, television, travels, love affairs,” she says. “It’s just me and a remote control up there.”

Screen shot 2011-04-28 at 5.36.00 PMHopefully that will includes anecdotes about another screen legend, her late friend Elizabeth Taylor. MacLaine was part of the Golden Age that introduced the world to the likes of Paul Newman, Jack Lemmon and Taylor. But Liz’s passing (from this world, at least) struck MacLaine the hardest.

“That affected me more than I thought it would, to tell you the truth,” she says. “I met her when I was 20. I knew how she was feeling and I knew this would happen. I’ve been calling her and am talking to her still, but I don’t like to think of a world without her in it.”

Umm, still talking to Taylor? Well, MacLaine is almost as famous for her new age beliefs as for her acting prowess. She has written books that cover topics such as reincarnation, spiritual exploration and transcendentalism. So when she says she’s talking with Elizabeth Taylor … well, who can doubt her? A headline in a British tabloid recently labeled her “kooky,” but that’s nothing new to her. For years, she’s been mocked about her beliefs, but she uses the same thick skin needed for her acting career and she never let the media get to her.

Even having reached living legend status, MacLaine says that there is one thing she still hopes to accomplish in this lifetime.

“I’d like to go into space,” she says. “But not with an astronaut — an extraterrestrial spacecraft. I know a lot of people who’ve been taken aboard one. I haven’t done that yet in this lifetime.”

Of course, there’s always the next one.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition April 29, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Starvoice • 03.25.11

By Jack Fertig

CELEBRITY BIRTHDAYAmySedaris_Born_13994096

Amy Sedaris turns 50 on Tuesday. There are so many things we love about Sedaris and it all starts with her creepily funny character Jerri Blank in Strangers With Candy. Her books are just as hilarious, whether collaborating with her brother David or on her own with 2010’s Simple Times: Crafts for Poor People.

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THIS WEEK

With Mercury turning retrograde in Aries, be careful of spontaneous speeches and actions. Mars conjunct Uranus makes it way too easy to leap before you look — metaphorically and literally. The good news is that mistakes and missteps will show up immediately. Be very ready to make corrections and apologies.

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PISCES Feb 19-Mar 19
Reconsider life’s priorities. Rude financial shocks should stimulate brilliant new ideas, although any new ideas now will need revision later. Stay patient.

ARIES Mar 20-Apr 19
You’re certain to make a fool of yourself one way or another, so lighten up and let yourself be in on the joke. While taking yourself too seriously is surely disastrous, do be serious about safety.

TAURUS Apr 20-May 20
You need to worry better. Get clear on what’s provoking your anxieties so you can resolve them once and for all. Resolution won’t come instantly, but insights now will prove helpful later.

GEMINI May 21-Jun 20
Arguments with friends are blamed on miscommunications. If you can’t patch things up now, a little time apart could be helpful. New friends could cause more confusion than they solve.

CANCER Jun 21-Jul 22
Anything you do will be observed. Consulting with your boss will help disperse any blame and make those mistakes more interesting. A good sense of humor will get you through.

LEO Jul 23-Aug 22
Only get into arguments if you want to be proven wrong. You could learn a great deal, but don’t jump on any bandwagons. Novel notions will require closer examination and corrections.

VIRGO Aug 23-Sep 22
Experimental sexual techniques will teach you more about what you don’t like than what you do. Scratch things off the list. Avoid anything risky for now. These are accident-prone times.

LIBRA Sep 23-Oct 22
Arguments and misunderstandings with your partner are expected. Every relationship has challenges. Breaking up now is a mistake. Committing to a new relationship now is a bigger one.

SCORPIO Oct 23-Nov 21
Moderation is the key to fitness. Pushing too hard will do harm. Take disruptions at work in a calm, even stride. Are you being fair to colleagues? Consider those problems now. Decide later.

SAGITTARIUS Nov 22-Dec 20
Daring gestures blow up in your face and creative efforts backfire. Stay in good humor and treat it all as a grand experiment. Learning what doesn’t work will serve you well in the future.

CAPRICORN Dec 21-Jan 19
Household accidents are likely. Write down and design any bright ideas you have, but review them next month before fiddling with wires.

AQUARIUS Jan 20-Feb 18
Your mouth is getting way ahead of your brain. Be very careful to converse only with people who aren’t easily offended. Writing is safer than talking —unless you’re worried about evidence.

Jack Fertig can be reached at 415-864-8302 or Starjack.com

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition March 25, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Hey, hey, hey, Paula

IN FOR A PAULA, IN FOR A POUNDSTONE | The queermedian plays the Majestic Theater Friday, Feb. 25.

After 30 years, comedian Paula Poundstone still keeps ’em rolling in the aisles

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

Paula Poundstone celebrates her middlebrow tastes. It’s probably what has kept her a popular comedian for more than 30 years. While others have crashed and burned with edgy, sometimes alienating humor, Poundstone represents the everyman. Or everywoman.

Take, for instance, that quintessential high-brow cultural undertaking: The opera.

“Just talking to you is the closest I’ve ever been to the opera,” Poundstone says on the phone from her home. “I’m glad it’s there and I feel uplifted by knowing someone likes it, but have no interest in it myself. Like, I find it sad to see a folk art museum close down, but will I go to a folk art museum? I will not. ‘Ooh, look! An entire village constructed of broom straw!’ Not my thing. So, opera is on my list of things I haven’t experienced that I’m not sure I’d like to do — like butter sculpture.”

Butter sculpture? You mean, like what you see every year at the State Fair of Texas? That’s exactly what she is referring to.

“I was just talking to my kids about it yesterday,” says the fair-going veteran. “It’s hard for me to understand why someone would learn that skill. You can’t give it as a gift. How do you make a living doing butter sculpture? With ice sculpture, at least there’s an event and there’s a charm watching it melt.” But who would stick a knife into a gigantic dairy version of Elvis? Not Paula.

These observations are hardly earth-shattering insights into the human condition … but then again, maybe they are. Poundstone’s organic, randomly quaint stream-of-consciousness sense of humor is ticklishly grounded in every life. She talks about being the single gay mom of three kids, ages 12 to 20 — and one with limited domestic skills at that. (“I’m not much of a cook. I can heat water and make salad and it pretty much ends there. I once called my math teacher to ask how to make a baked potato,” she says.) Her jokes are sometimes about the bizarre daily occurrences that make up her life, but they could just as easily make up yours. And there are no gimmicks — it’s just her personality peeking through, a befuddled but optimistic take on life.

“I’m lucky in that everywhere I’ve been, I have a good time,” she says. She even likes coming to Texas, despite its conservative rep. She always seems to find an audience.

“There’s no area that’s entirely one thing,” she says. “Whatever the size of the city, the people who would be amused by my point of view tend to gather on that night.”

That night in Dallas will be Feb. 25, when she returns for a show at the Majestic Theatre.

But Dallas isn’t even a hard market for her. Heck, even in Utah — often regarded as the most conservative state in the union — you can find the gay-friendly crowds. And you don’t even have to look that hard.

“I did an outdoor festival [in Salt Lake City] and they were wild,” she recalls. “A man dressed as a woman presented me with a gold purse filled with items they thought I’d need to survive there. This guy was so flamboyant, it was kinda jaw-dropping. But [the crowd] couldn’t have loved it more.”

Likewise, Poundstone says even gay-accepting communities like Provincetown, Mass., have their pockets of closed-mindedness.

“P’town has an enormous gay community — its like you’re in some sort of a production when you’re there. But it’s still old New England, and there are people who have been there forever but still haven’t caught on, these fisherman who think it’s a coincidence or something gay that a man walking down the street looks like a lady. They don’t seem to realize what’s risen up all around them.”

Poundstone herself is aware of what has risen up around her. She started in standup in 1979 or 1980 (she can’t even recall which), in the heyday of comedy clubs like The Improv. She weathered the circuit, building up a fan base enthusiastic about the observational style of comedy she and others of her era (Jerry Seinfeld, Ellen DeGeneres, etc.) pioneered.

“It was so much about time and place and had nothing to do with me,” she modestly claims. “The fact I did it there and then made a huge difference in what I was able to do. I worked really hard and I still work really hard, but I didn’t plan and make decisions that led me on a certain path. I worry that my kids don’t get that, that my formula won’t work again.”

Maybe not. But as long as it worked once, we’re good.

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

—  John Wright

What’s Brewing: GLAAD slams SNL commercial; UT study on gay cheating; civil unions in Illinois

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. GLAAD is outraged over a Saturday Night Live spoof commercial for “Estro-Maxxx,” which the organization says mocked the lives of transgender people. If the commercial were the least bit funny, we’d accuse GLAAD of not having a sense of humor. GLAAD is demanding that the commercial be pulled from Hulu and all future airings of the show. At the same time, the controversy ensures that thousands of smart people who don’t watch SNL because it’s not funny will see the commercial, which is above.

2. Half of men would forgive their female partner for cheating with another woman, while only 21 percent of women would forgive their male partner for cheating with another man, according to a study by researchers at the University of Texas at Austin. This could mean  straight guys are more forgiving and tolerant of homosexuality than straight women, or it could mean they’re just pigs who see a lesbian affair as an opportunity for a three-way.

3. Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn will sign a civil unions bill today, in a ceremony that’s expected to draw a capacity crowd of about 900 gays. Meanwhile, a Wyoming House committee voted down a civil unions bill on Friday.

—  John Wright

Deaths

Robert  Allan Turnipseed, 62, formerly of Dallas, was murdered in his home at Riberas del Pilar in Jalisco, Mexico, on Jan. 6 (See related news story in this issue.)

Turnipseed immigrated to the United States from Calgary, Alberta in Canada as a child and grew up in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. He was active in the Stonewall Business and Professional Association in Dallas, a precursor to the North Texas GLBT Chamber of Commerce. He and his partner fulfilled their dream of moving to Mexico in 2004 when they bought a home in the Lake Chapala area.

Turnipseed is survived by his partner of 40 years, Bob Tennison.

Mark A. Bieson, 48, died Jan. 10 at Parkland Hospital in Dallas following a prolonged illness.

Born in Indiana, Biesen had lived in the Dallas area for the past 16-plus years and had worked as a demo specialist at Whole Foods Market in Highland Park. Friends remember him as a very kind and gentle person with an amazing spirit. Guests to and his coworkers at Whole Foods Market loved him very much and will remember him always for his sense of humor and good-natured spirit.

Biesen is survived by one sister and two brothers, all of Indiana.

A memorial service is set for 2 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 29, at Unity Church of Dallas, 6525 Forest Lane.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition Jan. 28, 2011.

—  John Wright

Meet our Spring 2011 intern, Jefferson Johnson

Hello, and allow me to introduce myself: My name is Jefferson W. Johnson and I’m the new Spring 2011 intern for the Dallas Voice.

For starters, I’m a Southern Methodist University junior. My major is journalism with an emphasis in broadcast. However, as I begin to finish the curriculum I find my focus torn among many new journalism avenues, such as photojournalism and multimedia journalism — with my favorite quickly becoming blogging.

Follow me on Twitter and Facebook and check out my YouTube channel, and find out what it takes to be an intern and a full-time university student while maintaining a grade-point average above 3.0!

It is a great honor to be a part of the Dallas Voice team. I hope to earn the respect and readership of the community and reach new people.

Last, three things about me:

One, I am a military veteran and yes, I had a gay ol’ time.

Two, I actually have a sense of humor — LOL.

And three, the “W” stands for Whitney, as in Whitney Houston.

Keep your eyes peeled. You never know where I’ll turn up.

—  admin

WingSpan tackles 2 early Albees

Being gay figures less concretely in playwright Edward Albee’s work than do his skewed ideas about the nuclear family (owing, in part, to his chilly adoptive parents). But his plays almost always deal with people on the outside of society.

Two on the Aisle: The American Dream and The Sandbox is a festival of two early one-acters from Albee, which WingSpan Theatre Co. is reviving at the Bath House Cultural Center, starting this week. In The Sandbox, an elderly relation’s (Elly Lindsay, pictured) usefulness is minimized as her materialistic family plot to get rid of her; The American Dream continues that family’s story with deep stabs at middle class values.  In true Albee fashion, the absurdism is girded by a dark sense of humor and an ample dose of satire.

— Arnold Wayne Jones

Bath House Cultural Center, 521 E. Lawther Drive. Presented by WingSpan Theatre Co. Through Oct. 23. Thursdays–Saturdays at 8 p.m., select weekend matinees at 2 p.m. $17–$20. 214-675-6573. WingSpanTheatre.com.

—  Kevin Thomas