SEX… in a fashion

The DMA’s exhibit on the fashions of Jean Paul Gaultier exudes sex appeal with a big dose of flamboyance

Fashion-1

DRESSED TO KILL IT | Gay fashion pioneer Jean Paul Gaultier oversees his own exhibit (Below) as an Animatronic mannequin, a fascinating technology that only accentuates the brilliance of the designs. (Photography by Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)

 

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

For a man best known for creating the Valkyrie-like conical breastplate that shot Madonna into the pop culture stratosphere, Jean Paul Gaultier is a surprisingly humble person. While he’s clearly delighted to have his fashions on display — as they are at the Dallas Museum of Art in the traveling exhibit The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk, which runs through February — he makes one thing plain: He does not consider fashion “art.”

“My work is not art,” he says flatly. “My job is to make clothes that have to be worn. My role is not to create in the abstract but to be inspired by the needs and desires of the people. So I am in service to that. Art is art — it is a personal vision of the artist.” He pauses, then adds with a smile, “My collections are my babies, though.”

While the designer himself may not consider his work product “art” in an academic sense, there are probably few who would agree with him. More so than most fashion designers, Jean Paul Gaultier’s style is instantly recognizable, even without seeing the label.

He almost single-handedly moved the bustier from the boudoir to the arena stage, cladding Madonna in a corset for her Blonde Ambition tour in 1990, immediately making legends of them both.

It’s not just brassieres, but lace bodysuits, silk leotards, men in skirts — Gaultier takes fashion rules and sets them on their heads, turning out wearable art (there, we said it) that is both old-fashioned, even classical, and futuristic — but always oozing sex.

“My love for fashion belongs to the fact I saw a movie from the 1940s when I was 12,” he says. “In the movie, they did a beautiful description of couture.” (Now, when he works with a film director — as he did recently with Pedro Almodovar on The Skin I Live In, or Luc Besson on several films — “it is like I return to that [moment]”.)

But really, the germ of his style was started by what a pre-teen Jean Paul found in his grandmother’s wardrobe.

“I was fascinated by the whole world of my grandmother’s closet — it was beautiful and different,” he says. “It was underwear that could be worn as outerwear. I stole my ideas from her.”

Though not just her. Gaultier was inspired by television, by old movies, by showgirls — anything that offered a view of beauty he could re-imagine on the runway.

“My definition of beauty — there’s not one type. Beauty is beauty — you can find it in different places,” he says.

It’s a keystone not only of his design style, but of the DMA’s astonishingly exciting exhibit. (Anyone who doesn’t think a Gaultier gown deserves formal museum treatment obviously hasn’t seen the show.) In just a handful of rooms, we move from camp to punk — with many, many visits to edgy haute couture.

In the first gallery, visitors are introduced to Gaultier himself, talking about his fashions via a quasi-Animatronic mannequin that captures his actual face and voice, projected with unnerving authenticity. That happens with a lot of the mannequins, some of whom seem to look back, even judge you. (One Mohawk’d man in tights and a codpiece seemed to be flirting with me; I bet he does that with all the boys.) Lanky sailor boys in striped Apaché T-shirts look as if they leaped from a Tom of Finland drawing; that cone bra is also unmistakable.

Walk further, and the second room oozes the dark romance of a bordello, approximating (with its window-like display cases) the red-light district of Amsterdam. “I think when you exit this room, they should give you a cigarette,” I told another patron. She didn’t disagree.

Another room shows the movement of the pieces, sort of, with a moving catwalk that is like a time machine of Gaultier runway fashions, including representative designs from his famous Men in Skirts that took MOMA by storm some years ago. That’s only the most obvious example of the genderbending that is a Gaultier hallmark — and a central theme of the sexual forthrightness of the DMA’s exhibit.

“Androgyny is part of the thing that interests me,” he says, “that moment when the young can pass to adolescence [and] their beauty is between feminine and masculine at the same time. I use it to show in reality how [both sexes] can assume [the identity of the other sex]. In Scotland, you will see me in kilts and they are very masculine — it’s not feminine to wear a skirt [in that context].”

That, Gaultier says, is the essence of freedom, showing that “men can cry just as well as women can fight.”

And this exhibit shows that a designer can be an artist with a bold sense of sex — even if he doesn’t think so.

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ONLINE EXCLUSIVE

Visit DallasVoice. com/ category/ Photos to see more of the Jean Paul Gaultier exhibit at the DMA.

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

—  Kevin Thomas

Best Bets • 11.11.11

Saturday 11.12IMG_1929

We’ll fall for these Con men
With more than 150 artists auctioning off their art and for cheap (opening bid is still $20), Art Con 7 is both the best place for snagging original art and a flat out blast. With live music by the Hope Trust, KERA’s Rawlins Gilliland as auctioneer and all of it benefiting Musical Angels that provides free piano lessons to hospitalized children, it’s unparalleled in offering a fulfilling night.

DEETS:
511 W. Commerce St.
7 p.m. $10.
ArtConspiracy.org.

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Sunday 11.13

Gaultier gets his proper due
The world has oohed and ahhed over designer Jean Paul Gaultier’s striking fashions for years, but from afar. The Dallas Museum of Art brings the designer’s work up close in the highly anticipated exhibit The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk. The exhibit includes not only his fashions, but an animatronic mannequin of the designer. And it talks!

DEETS: DMA,
1717 N. Harwood St. Through
Feb. 12. $16–$20.
DallasMuseumofArt.org.

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Thursday 11.17

The man still is a “Work of Art”
Even with more than 30 years in the music industry, Morrissey still retains an air of mystery. That’s part of his mystique. Sure we’ve discovered tidbits about the former Smiths singer, but his hidden side is part of his allure and odd sex appeal.

DEETS: 
McFarlin Auditorium,
6405 Boaz Lane.
8 p.m. $40–$50.
Ticketmaster.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 11, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Suit & tide

Sand and deliver in sexy swimwear that doesn’t beat the heat but outshines it

DSC_0029bLBreaking news of the obvious: It’s hot outside. If you’re tired of everybody talking about the heat, it’s time to do something about it: Get out there and show the sun who’s boss.

Of course, in the gay community, you do that by looking better than anyone else. And you do that by sporting a sexy, skin-baring swimsuit that highlights your assets while making a bold fashion statement.

This is no time to break out the board shorts that go past your knees — you might as well swim in your Levi’s. And unless you’re sunbathing on the Baltic Sea, nobody should ever see you in G-string, T-back, thong or the ever-dreaded banana hammock. There’s an art to showing off without crossing over into full-on creepy.

That’s why we’re particularly fond of Rockstar Swimwear.

Created by fashion designers Natasha Sarah and Prashant for the South Beach community in Miami, their dramatic designs have gone global thanks to benefits like flattering fit, an eye-catching color palette, and undeniable sex appeal. Some suits even come emblazoned with crystals for anyone daring enough to sport a little bling on their weenie sling.

Rockstar has also just launched some new products for August, so even though the summer may be quickly drawing to a close, it’s never too late to have the most current style by the pool, on the boat, or hanging at the beach. They’re made in the United States, too, so really it’s your patriotic duty to buy these and make America even more beautiful (and do your part to keep the economy going).

So even if you can’t play a single chord on the electric guitar and your groupies consist only of your adoring mother and her Gin Rummy partners, you still have the opportunity to feel like a rock star. Without ever setting foot in rehab.

— Steven Lindsey

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 12, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Starvoice • 01.21.11

By Jack Fertig

CELEBRITY BIRTHDAYAlan-Cumming-2010-Emmy

Alan Cumming turns 46 on Thursday. The bisexual actor is also one of the more eccentric. In 2010, he was all over the place from the movie Burlesque with Cher and Christina Aguilera to his deliciously snide role as Eli Gold in The Good Wife with Julianna Margulies. But he might take the cake with his 2011 voice over role as Gusty in the film The Smurfs.

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THIS WEEK

Mercury is in Capricorn squaring Saturn and Eris, tending to be worried and argumentative. The good news: Venus is in Sagittarius in harmony to all three offering a pleasant negotiation between those challenges. Simply: Good times with friends will help you see more clearly through the problems.

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AQUARIUS Jan 20-Feb 18
Charm and seeming open-minded wins more agreement than  your arguments. Worrying over losses is useless. Meditate on what matters  to improve what you can.

PISCES Feb 19-Mar 19
Frustrated with your social life? Hone your social skills or focus on work for a while, be very productive and earn good notice for your efforts. The social life will kick in.

ARIES Mar 20-Apr 19
Pay close attention to colleagues and higher-ups. Not that you’re lacking, but you could learn a few tricks from them of how to be charming and sociable in ways that will prove to your advantage.

TAURUS Apr 20-May 20
Don’t be afraid of your own sex appeal. Even in an all-business situation your erotic draw will help you win friends and arguments. Some of those friends, however, aren’t to be trusted.

GEMINI May 21-Jun 20
Talking dirty can be a real turn on and being brutally frank can be refreshing. There’s a time and a place for everything, but with your partner and your good friends, don’t hold back.

CANCER Jun 21-Jul 22
The best way to stay out of trouble is sticking to business — your own. Being nice to colleagues works to your advantage if you don’t expect anything in return. Stay focused on your goals.

LEO Jul 23-Aug 22
Take your work seriously, but not too much. Be willing to laugh at your own ideas. A sense of humor is important and more effective in getting others to accept your ideas.

VIRGO Aug 23-Sep 22
Leaning on traditional values will get you through crises at hand. How did your grandparents deal with similar problems? Cooking up old family recipes can be a healing meditation.

LIBRA Sep 23-Oct 22
It’s hard to know how to be in a relationship even though the answer is obvious: Just be your own sweet self. Turn on the charm (as if that takes any effort) and you’ll be fine.

SCORPIO Oct 23-Nov 21
You control the outflow if you control your impulses. Keep an eye on your tongue as well; secrets aren’t safe with you right now, but use that openness to examine old doubts, worries and fears.

SAGITTARIUS Nov 22-Dec 20
Go to the gym and brush up on your Dorothy Parker or Miss Manners if you feel you must. There’s always room for improvement, but really, hon, you’re fine as you are.

CAPRICORN Dec 21-Jan 19
The stress for success is making you a mess. Take a break. You may think there’s no time for that, but it’s a good investment that will help you to work smarter, not harder.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition January 21, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Well, Albee

Two absurdist one-acts delve into the American pysche with humor and sex appeal

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

YOGA?BEARABLE  |  A young man (Austin Tindle) performs yoga while an old lady (Elly?Lindsay) is left to die in ‘The Sandbox,’ one of two absurdist romps. (Photo Lowell Sargeant)
YOGA BEARABLE | A young man (Austin Tindle) performs yoga while an old lady (Elly?Lindsay) is left to die in ‘The Sandbox,’ one of two absurdist romps. (Photo Lowell Sargeant)

ALBEE: TWO ON THE AISLE
Bath House Cultural Center, 521 E. Lawther Drive. Through Oct. 23. Thursdays–Saturdays at 8 p.m., select 2 p.m. matinees. $17–$20. WingSpanTheatre.com

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Most comedies — especially those written nowadays, for stage, film and TV — don’t really make much sense. Characters do stupid things because stupid leads to funny consequences. They rely on their audiences not paying too much attention. (I can’t count how many times I have been accused of “over-thinking” a comedy by people happy to be lost in the inanity of it all.)

It’s refreshing, then, to encounter a comedy that tries not to make sense … but does so smartly — so smartly, that you cease paying attention at your peril. That is the world of absurdism.

Considering that Edward Albee’s rep is based largely on his hyper-realistic masterpiece Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, it’s easy to forget he’s also America’s foremost absurdist, especially in his one-acts like The American Dream and The Sandbox, which are being revived right now by WingSpan Theatre.

WingSpan does absurdism well — Albee especially. His Marriage Play, The Play About the Baby and Tennessee Williams’ The Gnadiges Fraulein were highlights of recent theater seasons. This duet isn’t quite as strong as those, but deliciously entertaining nonsense.

Only they’re not nonsense. Albee — gay, adopted, bitter — has issues. Both plays feature basically nameless characters: Mommy (Lulu Ward), Daddy (Barry Nash), Grandma (Elly Lindsay), Young Man (Austin Tindle). This is a view of the nuclear family in meltdown.

Rhythms more than plot (plot?) provide the fodder for a couple’s obsession with materialism (their house is a hodgepodge of American flag colors, deconstructed and turned subversively critical). With annoyingly inconsequential small talk, they chatter away about the color of a hat and the content of mysterious boxes and what to do with the old lady. As with David Lynch, the logic, if any, is dreamlike — or, more accurately, nightmarish, with laughs.

Ward is ideal at conveying genteel villainy: Behind a smile cracking with anger, she exudes threatening volatility. Nash, perfectly impassive, represents a dire view of manhood.

Tindle, in contrast, captures the hearty beauty of the male form. With placid sex appeal — especially in The Sandbox, where he spends 15 minutes performing yoga in tight-fitting ‘50s-era swim trunks — he’s unattainable desire incarnate.

At least I think so. Part of the attraction of absurdism is the attraction of poetry: You can read into it what resonates with you. Director Susan Sargeant lets her solid cast loose on the material, toying with it and the audience. Don’t worry if you don’t understand it all. If it doesn’t make you laugh, it may scare the hell out of you. And feel free to over-think it. That’s what art is supposed to be about.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 15, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas

Last man standing?

As Adam Lambert rises the pop ranks, he joins a long line of musical frontmen who can really show out

RICH LOPEZ  | Staff Writer lopez@dallasvoice.com

Adam Lambert
TAKE IT EASY | Lambert will prove if he’s a worthy performer when he comes to Dallas on Tuesday.

ADAM LAMBERT
Palladium Ballroom,
1135 S. Lamar Road.
Sept. 7 at 8 p.m. $39.
Ticketmaster.com

Recently, Adam Lambert sang the praises of Queen frontman Freddie Mercury. Much of Lambert’s stylings and persona are reminiscent of the late bisexual singer, but when he asked NPR recently where are today’s flamboyant showmen, I was perplexed. If by flamboyant, he means gay, well, then perhaps I can see that. But pop and rock music today is not lacking for outrageousness in male personalities.

Lambert doesn’t have to look too far to see that the musical landscape is filled with exciting onstage personas that can equal Lady Gaga or Katy Perry. Lest he thinks he’s the only one on the radar doing up an extravaganza show, he’d be sorely mistaken. I picked out a few worthwhile singers and performers that should answer Lambert’s question.

Mika — I’m sorry to tell Lambert that Brit pop singer Mika fits the Freddie Mercury prototype like a glove, much more than Lambert does. With bouncy pop that’s also smart, Mika is exciting to watch as he rules his stage and flutters with some crazy vocal gymnastics. To add to that, he can throw down big time on a piano.  He can wear the audience out even when he’s doing all the work.

Kele Okereke — The Bloc Party gay frontman woos his audience like a lover. He has that magic that is both hypnotic and thrilling. Okereke drips sex appeal the way Lenny Kravitz used to, only he keeps it approachable enough to not make him look like a douche. Others usually miss that mark.

Brandon Flowers — When Flowers takes the mike during his band’s show, he not only sings, he leads like a conductor. The Killers pop rock drives forward with heavy guitars and drums, but Flowers owns the stage with the slightly off-kilter-ness of Johnny Depp’s Mad Hatter but makes up for it with squeaky clean good looks and guy-liner.

Justin Timberlake — It’s hard to believe I live in a world where Justin T. is a music veteran. Not only that, he’s become a respectable musician and artist. But first, he was the breakout guy from N*Sync. You could see his potential then that he was going to be big, but when he matured into pop music hotness, he proved that outrageousness and flamboyance isn’t all that’ s needed to be a great showmen. J.T.’s got the moves, the looks and also works his sex appeal to no end.

There are countless others, but Lambert can’t rule out these contemporaries just because he’ll kiss a guy onstage or wear outlandish costumes. Flamboyant showmanship is of varying degree. Glam rock hasn’t yet made its comeback, but Lambert is at least spearheading the movement and in a few years, he’ll be the next veteran that up and comers will cite as an influence.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 3, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas

Puff pasties

Patti Le Plae Safe works a whole new angle in burlesque

RICH LOPEZ | Staff Writer lopez@dallasvoice.com

VIVA DALLAS BURLESQUE
Lakewood Theater, 1825 Abrams Parkway. July 2.
Doors at 8 p.m. $20.
PinCurlMag.com/events.
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Patti Le Plae Safe

STRIPPED DOWN | Patti Le Plae Safe adds to her resume as the new host of Viva Dallas Burlesque.


Over the years, Patti Le Plae Safe has probably worn every shade of gown and makeup known to man — or woman. Come July 2, the local glam queen will wear one shade you might not have seen her in. Let’s just call it a fleshier tone.

“My first performance is a strip number and I’m gonna play with the audience big time,” she says. “I’m gonna strip down and once the last final piece is off, they might be surprised!”

That surprise will come from the not-that-really-gay show Viva Dallas Burlesque. Tapped to be the show’s new mistress of ceremonies, Le Plae Safe will be working with an entirely different audience.

She’s not concerned. In recent years, burlesque has transcended the seediness of stripper poles and lap dances into a cool retro pastime. Le Plae Safe is actually looking forward to the “Harley honeys and their husbands” in the audience, along with the hipsters and growing gay audience.

“This won’t be a wrong crowd for me to work with,” she says. “I always like to play and go off the good energy from them. Plus, it’s not just a straight crowd.”

But how does a drag queen get to host a show dominated by the sex appeal of women?

“I M.C. GayBingo every month at the Rose Room, and the owners of Viva and the Lakewood happened to be in the audience,” she explains. “They came up to me and said I’d be the best M.C. for them.”

Taken aback by their assertion, she approached with caution. Other than a vague idea of what burlesque was, she didn’t know what to expect. While entertained by the spectacle, she saw a relation between drag and burlesque: the makeup, the costumes and the performance. Le Plae Safe signed on.

“It is different in nature but it’s still a show,” she says. “We create this illusion on stage for an audience who wants a fantasy. It’s also very different. We don’t have these shows in our bars.”

Along with her regular hosting duties at GayBingo, she is the new monthly host for Viva Dallas Burlesque bringing a slightly different flavor to the erotica dance scene which has welcomed her with open arms.

“Each one of entertainers has been excited and opened the door with warmth and love. This really is a new adventure for my career that I never thought I’d be a part of.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition June 25, 2010.

—  Dallasvoice