Victoria, victor

Michael Fulk, aka Victoria Weston, basks in the warmth of an IGRA title

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RIDE ’EM COWGIRL! Victoria Weston brought the IGRA title back to Dallas with her win last month in California. (Terry Thompson/ Dallas Voice)

STEVEN LINDSEY  | Contributing Writer
stevencraiglindsey@me.com

In 25 years of International Gay Rodeo Association pageants, the top honors have only been won by a contestant from the Texas Gay Rodeo Association three times — one of which was late last year, when Michael Fulk’s alter ego Victoria Weston walked away with the Miss IGRA 2012 crown, a first for Dallas and a victory decades in the making.

“I have been dressing in female attire ever since I could open my mom’s closet door,” Fulk laughs.

His drag career started in earnest, however, at a Halloween ball in St. Louis in 1988. One month later, he was doing his first fundraiser, “and within a year I had moved to New York City,” he says.

After many successful years as a full-time entertainer in New York City, Fulk returned to Dallas shortly after Sept. 11, 2001.

“My career switched upon my move,” he explains. “In NYC, I was an entertainer full-time and a hair and makeup artist part time. Now I am a full-time hair and makeup artist, makeup coach and educator for Artistic Salon Spa across from NorthPark. Entertainment was relegated to a passion rather than the breadwinner part of my life.”

But that didn’t stopped Fulk from competing and performing in drag — a description he’s proud to wear.

“We are all born naked, everything that comes after that is drag, honey!” he laughs. “Drag comes in all shapes and sizes: leather drag, business drag, casual, cowboy, club kid … the list is endless. I have no issue being called a drag queen, female impersonator, illusionist, yadda, yadda, yadda. If that size 11 pump fits and looks fabulous, I wear it. For the most part, though, when people around me speak of what I do, more often than not they simply refer to me as an entertainer.”

Victoria Weston stands out among many other drag performers because rather than lip sync, she sings live.

“The entertainers from before Stonewall were live,” Fulk explains. “Some sang, some danced, some stripped, but back then there wasn’t as much syncing and/or surgery as today. I think I am a throwback to that era. I am first and foremost closely related to the big band singer. That is my passion, whether it is blues, jazz, Broadway or standards.”

Since returning to Texas, Fulk has upped the quotient of country-western and pop music in Victoria’s act.

“I have heard people say my singing style resembles Shirley Bassey and I have always been compared to the look of Ann-Margret. I couldn’t ask for better comparisons. I’ll take both of those as high compliments,” he says.

Still, he insists, it’s best not to take himself too seriously.

“I take the illusion I portray serious enough to not make it a joke. I don’t want to be insulting or a cartoon of a woman. Every time I sit down to bring Victoria to life I view my job as putting together an ideal,” Fulk says. That means Victoria “doesn’t drink, smoke or do drugs. Old Hollywood glamour is my mainstay. Even though I am wearing a lot of makeup, hair jewelry, rhinestones, gowns and great shoes, I guess I want to appear to simply be a red carpet version of what I think a woman looks like: Totally put together. Besides that, I like to think of Victoria as a grounded, drama-free old soul with a wry sense of humor and a heart as big as all outdoors.”

Perhaps it’s this philosophy and a healthy sense of humor that has kept Fulk from suffering a fate foretold years ago by his drag mother from St. Louis, Miss Tracy.

“God rest her soul, [she] told me to be ready for a lonely life. She said, ‘They are either going to hate you as a drag queen and love you as yourself or they are going to love you as a drag queen and hate you as yourself. And be prepared for lesbians to hate and resent you.’” Fulk recalls. “I have found that to be false on all levels.”

And few things symbolize that overcoming of obstacles better than a really, really big crown.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition January 13, 2012.

—  Kevin Thomas

The Republican shuffle continues

Presidential candidates’ standing in polls undergoes another change as ‘fringe’ candidate Paul rises

Ron.Paul

Ron Paul

For entertainment’s sake, it just doesn’t get any better than watching Republican candidates vying for the 2012 presidential nomination give it their all — or lack of it — for a national TV audience.

Texas Congressman Ron Paul, who is now polling as a frontrunner in Iowa and New Hampshire, is the most recent to take center stage after months of sharing his political views on the sidelines and being dismissed as a “fringe” candidate by the political establishment and the national media.

Judging from his appearance on CBS’ Face the Nation broadcast Sunday, Nov. 20, he intends to make the most of it.

TV news host Bob Schieffer often showed signs of exasperation as he struggled to get in the last word during the interview with the controversial candidate.

After the broadcast it was clear Paul, who is known as the “intellectual godfather” of the Tea Party movement, had burst out of the “media blackout” his campaign flacks claim has thwarted him since he entered the race in May.

While his fellow Texas presidential candidate — Gov. Rick Perry — might often be at a loss for words, that’s obviously not the case with Paul, who lobbed the ball back to Schieffer every time it came flying at him.

In the process, Paul probably left most federal employees — especially career bureaucrats and military brass — a bit shaken now that he is rising in the polls.

Paul’s most controversial theory focused on the reason he believes Al Qaeda attacked the U.S. on Sept. 11, 2001. He claimed it occurred because of the influence of “flawed” U.S. foreign policy on other nations, and he placed the blame on U.S. “policy makers.”

The nation’s 12,000 diplomats should be put to work in improving relations with countries like Iran rather than trying to scare other countries’ leaders into submission, said Paul, who is a medical doctor in addition to being a politician. Sanctions against other countries are a

Webb.David

David Webb The Rare Reporter

bad idea because they are a preamble to war, he said.

In connection with his peaceful approach to foreign affairs, Paul said if he were elected president, he would close the 900 military bases the U.S. now operates in 130 countries and bring the troops home to protect the country. Because the U.S. is “bankrupt,” Paul said he also would shut down several federal agencies, including the departments of energy, education, interior, commerce, HUD and FEMA.

On top of that, Paul said he wants to reduce the federal workforce across the board by 10 percent.

Clearly, Paul has thought his proposal through more carefully than Gov. Perry, who near-fatally embarrassed himself in a recent debate, because the congressman can remember the names of all the agencies he wants to close.

But what on earth is going to happen to all of those federal employees when they are put out of work, and what is to become of the programs they administer?

This can’t be a popular idea with federal employees, who make up the largest workforce in the U.S., and members of the U.S. Armed Services.

When you add in all of the relatives and friends of people who are on the federal payroll, it’s possible that Paul’s numbers are going to fall as fast as they suddenly rose.

The latest financial reports for campaign contributions show large numbers of federal employees supporting him, but those reports reflect the period ending Sept. 30. He unveiled his plan to streamline the federal government Oct. 17. It’s possible federal employees will be giving the stability of their jobs a second thought, “progressive” layoff plan or not

Paul’s stand on LGBT issues didn’t come up during the interview, but they wouldn’t appeal to anyone who considers advancement of them critical in voting for a presidential candidate, according to his past statements about marriage equality.

Paul is opposed to legalization of same-sex marriage, and he supports the Defense of Marriage Act.

In contrast, Paul opposes a constitutional amendment to protect the current definition of marriage, but that is likely based on a widespread belief that the document should be inviolate.

He did support the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” so he has gained some LGBT voter support.

On other progressive issues, Paul’s views are similarly divergent.

With a medical background in gynecology, he is pro-life and opposed to abortions, yet he supports home-schooling and the legalization and regulation of marijuana and other drugs.

At this point, the most recent national poll by USA Today/Gallup is showing that former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, at 20 percent and 19 percent respectively, are tied for the top spot in the race for the Republican presidential nomination.

They are trailed by businessman Herman Cain at 16 percent, Paul at 10 percent, Perry at 8 percent, Minnesota Rep. Michelle Bachmann at 5 percent and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum at 1 percent each. And with the exception of Paul, they are all virulently anti-LGBT.

Of course, those figures could go absolutely anywhere during the next year.

Perry and Bachmann were once frontrunners, and Gingrich has seen his fortunes rise, fall and rise again since he announced his candidacy.
Allegations of past sexual harassment will likely bring down Cain, and Gingrich’s past association as a highly-paid “consultant” for federal housing agencies Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae will likely prove to be his undoing.

Romney’s numbers have remained more stable than the other candidates, and he seems to carry less baggage. That has led many to speculate that the former Massachusetts governor will eventually wind up with the nomination.

But for now it’s Paul’s turn in the spotlight, and that’s likely to make for some pretty intriguing debates when the seven candidates get on stage together in the coming days as the media pays more attention to the Texas congressman.

It will be interesting to see if they remember their goal is to prevent President Obama’s re-election or if they succumb to another dogfight. •

David Webb is a veteran journalist who has covered LGBT issues for three decades.
E-mail him at davidwaynewebb@yahoo.com.

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

—  Kevin Thomas

Where were you on 9-11?

As the first of the World Trade Center towers to be hit, right, billows smoke, the second tower explodes in flames as the second hijacked airplane hits it.

In five days, we will mark the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. When I got to my office this morning, as I was going through my piles and piles of email, I found one from a Dallas Voice reader encouraging us to do something this week to remind people about Mark Bingham, a gay man who was on United Flight 93 that day when the terrorists highjacked it and aimed it toward Washington, D.C.

I plan to do that later this week, here on Instant Tea. But first, I want to ask readers to share their own stories about where they were and what they were doing when they first heard about the attacks of 9-11. I’ll go first:

Sept. 11, 2001 was the first day of my new job as a sportswriter for the Cleburne Times-Review. Although I didn’t have to actually go to work until later that afternoon, when I would be covering a high school tennis match, I was up and getting dressed for a meeting with my boss, the sports editor, about my schedule for that first week on the job. My girlfriend had already left for work and the kids were already at daycare, when she called on her cell phone as she headed for her job at Sabre, a company handling flight reservations for American Airlines. The offices were out near DFW International Airport.

“Turn on the news,” she told me. “Something bad has happened.” I asked what channel, and she said, “Any channel.”

—  admin

Man bearing resemblance to Jesus prevents burning of Quran in Amarillo city park

The other day we told you about the leader of a right-wing group in Amarillo, David Grisham, who planned to publicly burn a Quran on the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks. Grisham tried to go through with his plan, dousing a Quran in kerosene and placing it on a barbecue grill in a city park. But protesters, many from the local Unitarian Universalist congregation, blocked Grisham from setting fire to the book. According to the below report, some placed their hands on the grill to deter Grisham from lighting it. Then Jacob Isom, shown above, snatched away the Quran while Grisham wasn’t looking.

—  John Wright

Leader of anti-gay group in Amarillo plans to publicly burn Quran on 9/11 anniversary

A Florida pastor may have called off his plan to burn Qurans on the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. But David Grisham, the leader of a militant evangelical group in Amarillo, tells the local CBS affiliate that he plans to publicly burn the Muslim holy book on Saturday. Grisham is the leader of Repent Amarillo, which gained attention in January when it launched a boycott of Houston after the city elected on openly gay mayor, Annise Parker:

According to Grisham, he has questioned why he should go through with his plan, but in the end, he feels it is right.

“Terrorism was seeded by the ideas in the Quran. It’s the Quran that has put our troops in danger. Burning one isn’t going to put our troops in danger. It’s the ideas contained in that book that put them in danger,” said Grisham.

Grisham is a security guard at a nuclear-bomb facility called Pantex, according to media reports. Repent Amarillo goes by the moniker “Army of God” and refers to itself as the “special forces of spiritual warfare.” The group has also gained attention for a campaign to shut down a local swingers club, as well as a “warfare map” posted on its website identifying its enemies in Amarillo.

—  John Wright

Who’s the bigger threat to U.S. national security, Terry Jones or Dallas’ own Robert Jeffress?

Terry Jones is pastor of the 50-member Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Fla., which plans to burn Korans to mark nine years since the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks.

Robert Jeffress is senior pastor at First Baptist Church of Dallas, which has been promoting a video (above) in which Jeffress calls Islam a “violent” and “evil” religion that, among other things, “promotes pedophilia.” WTF?

While Jones is making headline news for his dangerous bigotry, Jeffress’ rant seems to have gone largely unnoticed. Steve Blow of the Dallas Morning News had a good column about Jeffress’ rant this weekend, but other than that we haven’t seen much coverage. (UPDATE: Robert Wilonsky notes that Unfair Park covered this before The DMN.)

Gen. David Petraeus, head of Multinational Forces in Afghanistan, has warned that Jones’ church’s plans to burn Korans will jeopardize U.S. military efforts and put us and our troops in greater danger. As Blow pointed out, Jeffress statements do essentially the same thing.

Seriously, folks, someone needs to muzzle Jeffress, who is perhaps best known to the LGBT community for his “Why Gay Is Not OK” sermon a few years back. The scary thing is that while Jones’ church has only 50 members, First Baptist has umpteen thousands.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Talking Points Memo has a post up noting that Jeffress responded to Blow’s criticism during his Sunday sermon:

“Uninformed, I am not,” Jeffress said in his sermon on Sunday as a response.

“It does incite violence. It is used to oppress women around the world,” he added, continuing that he “was not talking about this country” when referencing pedophilia. But, Jeffress said, “the worst thing about Islam is that it is a deception that leads people from the true God.”

Jeffress contended that “we do not hate Muslims” and noted: “I have a very good friend here in Dallas who is a Muslim.”

—  John Wright