Victoria, victor

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

!Victoria-Weston-Miss-IGRA-2012_img4619

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

2011 Readers Voice Awards: Ultimate Diva!

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MONEY CHANGES EVERYTHING Ultimate Diva! winner Stacy McKinney accepts the donation made to her favorite non-profit from Dallas Voice Promotions Manager Terry Thompson.

You go, girl!

In spectacular fashion, a straight woman surrounded by gay men wins the Ultimate Diva! contest. And it’s not just the photo of Stacy McKinney — it’s how she lives her life

When Stacy McKinney entered a photo competition with the goal to be named Dallas Voice’s Ultimate Diva!, she encircled herself with hot gay men. It was more than a photo — it is a metaphor for her life. McKinney joined DIVA (the Dallas Independent Volleyball Association) not knowing it was a gay league but stuck around even after she found out. She’s been a tireless cheerleader for the group, donating her $1,000 winnings to it. Such a diva thing to do.

Dallas Voice: How do we know you? McKinney: I thought everyone knew me!

OK, for those of us who might not, what’s your involvement in the LGBT community? I got involved with DIVA and found that our Miss DIVA Pageant donates all the money to the Food Pantry. It went from there. I put my name on the volunteer list at the Resource Center Dallas. I started volunteering for GayBingo. Also, DIVA has given back to the city of Dallas recreation centers for the past 21 years. DIVA just hosted their bachelor auction and raised $5,000 for the pet charity, Mazie’s Mission.

How did you end up in the community? I went to try out for DIVA and ended up in the Competitive Division. When the vice president of memberships, Brian Borski, was thanking everyone and saying their main goal is to provide a social outlet to the gay and lesbian community, all the blood rushed out of my body. I freaked. When we were done I ran to the registration table and said, “Oh my gosh, is it OK if I am straight?” They were like, “Girl we knew you were as soon as you hit the door.” That was four years ago.

So what does DIVA mean to you? DIVA is a social volleyball sports organization but has also always given back to our LGBT community from its very beginning. We hold various fundraisers that benefit a local LGBT charity with the proceeds raised.

Is this Ultimate Diva! title going to make you just impossible to be around? Well, I already have a title within the organization as “First Lady of DIVA.” This is just the cherry on top.

When do you take off the tiara? I only take it off a few times a day — when I swim and when I am playing volleyball. But I do wear it to the court.

OK, are you really just a fruit fly? Yes, as it should be. I really don’t like straight people.

Will you ever surrender the title of Ultimate Diva!? Sure. I am always up for a good fight!

Apparently straight women can be ultimate divas: Don’t be jealous, I was born this way!

OK, Gaga.

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

—  John Wright

2011 Dallas Voice Yellow Pages hits the streets

DV promotions manager Terry Thompson sent this over:

Who loves ya, baby? Here’s the list of DFW businesses that want your business. The 2011 edition of Dallas Voice Yellow Pages is fresh off the presses and at our newsstands now. Pick up a copy to see who wants to do business with you. Not only does it list GLBT-friendly businesses, it also features a Visitor’s Guide (great for when you have out-of-town guests), a Relocation Guide, Community Resources and a Calendar. It’s a great reference for everything from Plumbers to Gayborhood Guides to seating charts to show you where your seats are for venues throughout the Metroplex. It’s a great reference to have at home. Pick up your copy with this week’s Dallas Voice, at our newsstands. We’re in 50 different zip codes in 11 cities.

New this year: There’s an App for that! Load us up on your iPhone at http://itunes.apple.com/app/gayyellow/id366273341?mt=8

—  John Wright

Dallas Voice Yellow Pages advertiser Michael Smith wins raffle for American Airlines tickets

Michael Smith, pictured right, of Michael Smith Agency — Farmers Insurance, was the lucky winner in the Dallas Voice Yellow Pages‘ recent 2011 American Airlines Ticket Giveaway. Dallas Voice Promotions Manager Terry Thompson, pictured left, presented Smith with the tickets.

Smith’s name was drawn from the DVYP 2011 directory of advertisers.

The new edition of the DVYP directory hits the streets Dec. 3.

—  admin

LSR: Don’t ride but wanna make a difference? Join the Crew

TERRY THOMPSON Team Dallas Voice

Terry Thompson - LSR Team Dallas Voice
Terry Thompson – LSR Team Dallas Voice

Lone Star Ride 2009 was an exciting year for me.

It was my first experience with this organization. I was not a bike rider then. And while I’ve since taken up the sport and will participate this year as a rider, I’d like to focus this journal on the people who really make things tick: The Crew.

As someone who didn’t even enjoy riding a bike last year, I wanted to find other ways to participate in Lone Star Ride.

As a member of Team Dallas Voice, I crewed our training rides. I had many opportunities to play host when riders met at our house before heading out. I sent them off with a wave and a smile and welcomed them back with mimosas and hot lunches.

When it came time for the actual ride, I was there with my camera, recording all of it as the ride’s official photographer. I did group shots in the pre-dawn, photographed crew, and documented pit stops. I rode shotgun in a convertible, rolling alongside riders, taking snapshots as I worked to capture the magic of the ride. And in the process of pitching in and helping, I grew to love this organization and all it stands for.

By the closing ceremony, I’d really begun to take in just how many talents were engaged to manage and facilitate a ride this big. Before, I thought of LSR as people riding bikes. Now, I see it a larger and far more diverse group of not only the obvious — riders on bikes — but also of a talented army of support people we call Crew.

Long before the first biker arrives, and long after the last biker leaves, there are Crew.

There are Crew that set up the registration, the camp, the gear, the ceremonies. There are Crew that deliver and set up the pit stops, Crew that deliver snacks, lunch and drinks to the stops, Crew that serve it to the riders, Crew that return and take down the stops. There are Crew that mark the route, Crew on motorcycles giving direction and encouragement, Crew in trucks and vans that pick up riders when they need assistance, and Crew that repair bikes to get riders back on the road. There are Medical Crew and Massage Therapy Crew. There are Ceremonies Crew and Event Management Crew. There are Traffic Crew and Bike Parking Crew and even Cheerleader Crew. And, of course, there’s Crew to pack it up for next year.

I think this just may be the year for you to Crew! The fact that you don’t ride a bike is no reason to avoid being a part of this year’s ride. Honey, if you want to participate, trust me, they have a job for you! And by time it’s all over for another year, you’ll feel proud to have participated in this honorable event benefiting AIDS Outreach Center of Tarrant County, AIDS Services of Dallas, and Resource Center Dallas.When is the last time you did something that you felt genuinely proud of?

We all have lost friends to HIV/AIDS. We all want to be a part of the solution, to engage, and the make this place we call home a better place. We all have a reason to participate.

Make this year the year you joined in. Go to LoneStarRide.org and check out the possibilities.

Terry Thompson is a member of Team Dallas Voice. You can contribute to him or to any other Lone Star Ride participant online at LoneStarRide.org.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 9, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens