‘SYTYCD’ choreographer Wade Robson says Michael Jackson molested him

WadeRobson

Wade Robson

When Wade Robson was a kid, he was a talented dancer, appearing in several videos with Michael Jackson. He also defended Jacko, saying the pop star never molested him.

Only now he’s saying he lied. Robson, who has been a judge and choreographer on So You Think You Can Dance, now says Jackson abused him “for years,” from ages 7 to 14.

In the interview on Today, Robson describes the abuse as sexual in nature. Of course, Jackson’s family and lawyers are shooting down the allegations. But it is interesting that Robson does not say he had “repressed memories,” but that he knew all along he was lying about not being molested, and has never forgotten it.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

The gay interview: Travis Wall

In this week’s Voice, we published a review of the new reality series All the Right Moves, which stars gay former So You Think You Can Dance phenom Travis Wall and premieres tomorrow, July 31, on Oxygen. Travis sat down with our intrepid reporter Chris Azzopardi for a one-on-one interview with the 24-year-old as he tries to launch his own dance company. The eight-episode stint follows Wall and his bendy buddies — Teddy Forance, Kyle Robinson and fellow SYTYCD gayboy (and Season 1 winner) Nick Lazzarini — as they go through business challenges, power struggles and friendship drama. Wall dishes on his roommates, his first big movie and why gay dancers shouldn’t dance gay.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

“So You Think You Can Dance” holds auditions

If you want to get on a Fox reality show and couldn’t carry a tune if it came with a handle, you might wanna show up at McFarlin Auditorium on the SMU campus Friday. That’s where they’ll be holding auditions for the ninth season of So You Think You Can Dance. Registration begins at 8 a.m., and you must be prepared to be available for up to two days, in the event of call-backs.

To see all eligibility rules, visit Fox.com/Dance.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Reality TV roundup: Dallas playas and the gaying of ‘So You Think You Can Dance’

Two gay North Texans on original summer programming reality shows are continuing to thrive.

Lewisville’s Ben Starr and  Dallas’ Leslie Ezelle have been standouts on their respective series — Starr on Fox’s MasterChef and Ezelle on HGTV’s Design Star.  Starr was a top-three finisher in this week’s episode on Tuesday, while Ezelle made a strong impression Week 1 of Design Star and has never been in the bottom of the pack since. (Another Dallasite, local chef Carrie, has been most known as the object of hatred among her team on Fox’s Hell’s Kitchen.)

The rest of the summer’s reality life will continue to gay it up: Local pastry chef  Lina Biancamano, who works in the kitchen at Stephan Pyles, is a contestant on Top Chef: Just Desserts starting next month, and the series Most Eligible: Dallas debuts in three weeks on Bravo. And tonight on Lifetime, the new season of Project Runway premieres.

But what has really interested me this summer on reality TV has been the rotating guest judges on So You Think You Can Dance. A few seasons back, senior judge and exec producer Nigel Lythgoe took it on the chin for making comments perceived as homophobic — an odd claim, considering that SYTYCD has among the gayest (though least out) cast of contestants on reality TV (as well as many gays behind the scenes.)

Maybe that controversy led to Lythgoe intentionally gaying up the lineup this season. Starting with the mass auditions, guest judges this season have been gay choreographers Adam Shankman and Jason Gilkison. Then during the live elimination weeks, the first round of judges included gay faves Megan Mullally, Kristin Chenoweth and Debbie Reynolds, then in the past three weeks the 1-2-3-4 punch of Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Neil Patrick Harris (pictured), Rob Marshall and Lady Gaga. All have made pretty out-there comments for the family-friendly show. “Do you have a boyfriend?” Ferguson asked one of the female dancers. “So do I,” he said. Harris joked that one girl was so good even he was attracted to her, and last night Gaga joked that she “loves a queen” … and she wasn’t talking about Elizabeth II.  Can’t wait to see who’s up next to judge.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

What’s gay about this year’s Emmy noms

The Emmy nominations came out this morning, and there are, as usual, lots of gays in the mix.

The most obvious is the continued domination of Modern Family in the comedy category. Last year’s winner for best comedy series was nominated again for that, as well as the entire adult cast (pictured) in supporting categories, including out actor Jesse Tyler Ferguson, who plays half of a gay couple with straight actor Eric Stonestreet. Also up for best comedy series at the very gay (or gay-friendly) Glee (from gay creator Ryan Murphy), The Office, The Big Bang Theory, Parks and Recreation and 30 Rock. The Modern Family men will be up against Chris Colfer, so touching as Kurt, on GleeBig Bang‘s out actor Jim Parsons competes with his castmate Johnny Galecki and prior winner Alec Baldwin of 30 Rock.

Last year’s winner for supporting actress in a comedy, out actress Jane Lynch from Glee, is nominated again, alongside Modern Family’s Sofia Vergara and Julie Bowen, Jane Krakowski (30 Rock), Betty White (Hot in Cleveland) and Kristen Wiig (SNL). Archie Panjabi, who won supporting actress in a drama last year for The Good Wife playing a bisexual lawyer, is also up again, going against Christina Hendricks from Mad Men.

There were big nominations for Emmy (and gay) favorites Mad Men and Dexter, and some real love for the Texas-filmed series Friday Night Lights, which finishes its series run tomorrow on NBC. The cult hit The Killing got several nominations, but best drama series was not among them.

Kathy Griffin’s My Life on the D List was nominated for reality series, with gay hits American Idol, Top Chef, Project Runway, So You Think You Can Dance and Dancing with the Stars are up for reality competition. Gay-ish comedy shows The Colbert Report and The Daily Show are frontrunners for variety/comedy series.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Lady Gaga: The gay interview

Lady Gaga doesn’t give too many interviews — lord knows we’ve tried to get them.

But contributor Chris Azzopardi snagged a rare sit-down with the music (and gay!) icon, who talked a lot about her gay fans. Read the entire interview after the jump.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Queer Music News: Farewell tour for Judas Priest; Lady Gaga video to premiere tonight

• This week’s Rolling Stone reports that Judas Priest is embarking on their final world tour — kinda. While they are sparing no expense on this tour with all the special effects and props, the band isn’t a) breaking up or b) saying no to future dates. So basically it’s the spectacular productions that the bands seems to be saying bye to. The Epitaph Tour is scheduled to start Oct. 12 in San Antonio. They hit the Dallas area Oct. 16 at the Allen Event Center.

Frontman Rob Halford also mentioned a new album for next summer. So thankfully, the guys aren’t really aren’t going away.

“We do have some completed tracks that we’ve been talking about in the last few days, as to how we can feed those out to our fans. We wanted to make at least one more great metal album that really represents all the wonderful things we’ve tried to do. If things go as planned, we want to get this out by the summer of next year,” the out singer said.

The band ripped through North Texas back in August 2009 and killed the then Nokia stage for their 30th Anniversary Tour of British Steel, pictured. With songs from all their other albums, the tour should likely slay once again.

• Lady Gaga’s “Edge of Glory” video premieres tonight in an “extended preview” during So You Think You Can Dance? on Fox. The entire video of her third single can be seen (soon after?) on Vevo.com.

—  Rich Lopez

Everybody dance now

HOT TO FOXTROT  |  Pasha Kovalev and Anya Garnis bring some of the sexy moves to ballroom dancing with ‘Burn the Floor.’

Out ballroom dancing champ Jason Gilkison keeps ‘Burn the Floor’ on track — from behind the scenes

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

It’s an hour before showtime, and Jason Gilkison is busy making sure his dancers are ready for the opening night in Oklahoma City of their show Burn the Floor. There’s a lot to coordinate, but Gilkison stays cool, despite having to mount a show with eight dancing couples and two singers, including American Idol finalist Vonzell Solomon and So You Think You Can Dance married heartthrobs Ashley and Ryan DiLillo.

Those may be the marquee names, but the real star of Burn the Floor is the show itself, an energetic and sexy two hours of ballroom-on-Red Bull.

And that, as director and choreographer, is Gilkison’s responsibility.

It’s not as if Gilkison didn’t have his day in the footlights, too. He got rhythm early — his grandfather opened the first ballroom dancing studio even in Australia, in 1931 — dancing from a young age with his partner, Peta Roby. At age 16, he and Roby moved to London, then the epicenter of ballroom training anywhere in the world. By 1988, he and Roby were world champions.

If the story vaguely conjures images in your brain of the Baz Luhrmann film Strictly Ballroom, that’s not really an accident: “Peta and I were loose prototypes for those characters,” he modestly concedes in his charming Down Under accent. “I actually just met with Baz last week.”

You might not see Gilkison on the stage of Fair Park Music Hall when Burn the Floor opens, but his stamp is on it.

“It came too late for me,” says the still-boyish Gilkison, who has been dancing and choreographing for an astonishing 37 years. He and Roby retired in 1997 — just about the time Burn the Floor was conceived of at, of all places, Elton John’s home.

“The executive producer was Elton’s manager, and for [Elton’s] 50th birthday party, eight ballroom dancing couples came for a 15-minute display.

No one had ever seen a group of dancers have such a hold on people,” he explains.

That party became the germ for the show; it debuted in 1999, and Gilkison joined it soon after. He never thought it would be a career. He may not have thought it would last a season.

“Eleven years ago, it was very experimental to take ballroom dancing and put it into a theatrical form,” he says. It has evolved over the years, as well. “The original show was 45 dancers, not eight or nine couples. We redid it — the new version is more dancer-friendly.”

And it has become its own animal. Burn the Floor has toured non-stop for more than a decade, including a five-month run on Broadway that Gilkison directed and choreographed (it ended last year). That production features Dancing with the Stars veterans Maksim Chmerkovskiy and Karina Smirnoff.

So how does a serious dance expert like Gilkison feel about such pop-competition TV shows like that and So You Think You Can Dance? He loves them.

“It’s the perfect time for something like Burn the Floor with [the popularity of DWTS and SYTYCD]. These obscure dance forms have now been popularized. Dancing that had been dormant is now seen in a contemporary way.”

Not always in a good way, though. He admits Kate Gosselin’s lead-footed stomping on last season’s DWTS made him cringe. “She really struggled,” he says.

Gilkison himself has been a choreographer and judge on SYTYCD. Just a few days before, former gay contestant Ade has been in the house (he is dating one of the current dancers), and Gilkison even shares a bit of news for the show’s diehard fans: “Mary Murphy will be back!” (Murphy is a ballroom expert whose shrill enthusiasm was sorely missed last season.)

Burn the Floor needn’t worry about guest visits from Gosselin, though. While Gilkison’s chief job is effortlessly substituting new acts and “special guests” as the show has developed, that been easier due to its reputation for excellence.

“The right dancers have always gravitated toward us,” he says. “I think what surprises the ballroom dance masters is that technically they are at a high level — these are not cruise ship dancers.” (One downside: The energy level starts out so strong, it has no place to built to.)

It certainly has a lot to offer an audience primed for sexy athleticism: In tight black pants, and with hips swinging from their killer abs, the show sometimes resembles a muscular Tom of Finland catalogue, including a shirtless pas de deux between two male toreadors. And it concludes with a Cher song. Hey, put the gays in charge, and they know how to end strong.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition April 1, 2011.

—  John Wright

Best Bets • 09.17.10

Saturday 09.18

This Room will be jam packed
These are fun days at Station 4 and the Rose Room. Not only does Aisa O’Hara, pictured, host this month’s GayBingo Glam, Jason Dottley and Lady Bunny will also perform in the Rose Room over the weekend. Of course, who could miss aerialist Vincent Pickard over the Station 4 dance floor? Bingo, indeed.

DEETS: Station 4, 3911 Cedar Springs Road. 5 p.m. $25. RCDallas.org.

Wednesday 09.22

How about reality TV in real life?
Fans of So You Think You Can Dance will actually have to get out of their living room for this episode. The SYTYCD tour comes to town with Season 7 contestants like Kent Boyd, right, and season 6 winner Russell Ferguson who will bring their sweet moves live and in 3D.

DEETS: Verizon Theatre, 1001 Performance Place. 7:30 p.m. $37–$55. Ticketmaster.com.

Thursday 09.23

The return of the Tuna
Flower Mound Performing Arts Theater brings back Ryan Roach and Chris Robinson as the famous residents of Tuna, Texas. They capture the spirit of the original with hilarity, along the way making Tuna taste, or smell, ever so good.

DEETS: FMPAT, 830 Parker Square. Through Oct. 10. $20–$25. FMPAT.org.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 17, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas

Ellen’s out: DeGeneres quits ‘American Idol’

Ellen DeGeneres won’t return to American Idol as a judge next season, she announced Thursday night.

DeGeneres came on board as a “replacement” for Paula Abdul, although it was generally acknowledged she was added to the lineup to provide continuity once Simon Cowell, the tart-tongued judge who, let’s face it, made the show a hit in the first place, left at the end of last season. DeGeneres admitted her contract allowed her to have a say in who would replace Cowell. No replacement for him has been named yet, and nationwide auditions are set to begin next month.

DeGeneres cited how hard it is to be mean as a reason for her departure, but the show is undergoing other shakeups. In addition to Cowell’s departure, this season was generally seen as one of the weakest, with talented but lackluster singers, too much chatter from four judges (instead of three) and declining ratings (though it’s still a mammoth hit). Nigel Lythgoe, who executive-produced American Idol before leaving a few years ago to run So You Think You Can Dance, has been brought back on board. He reportedly dislikes the four-judge panel

Ominously, he seemed to like Randy Jackson, who is embarrassingly banal deadweight whose critiques are repetitive and childish. At least Paula was watchable, like a train wreck. Kara DioGuardi is more flotsam.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones