‘Sordid’ blowout tonight at Texas Theatre

Sordid-Wedding-4Since it opened in April at the Texas Theater to preview the USA Film Festival, A Very Sordid Wedding has been a big draw in Dallas. Tonight, it concludes its run at the historic Oak Cliff moviehouse with a blowout double feature. Festivities start at 7 p.m. with a screening of what started it all: The original 2000 film Sordid Lives. Then at 9:30 p.m., you get your final chance for a while to see A Very Sordid Wedding, with producer and co-star Emerson Collins introducing. (Tickets have to be purchased separately for each film.) Come laugh with those screwy, trashy folks from Winters, Texas!

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

‘A Very Sordid Wedding’ adds more Dallas screenings (VIDEO)

As I wrote about last week, A Very Sordid Wedding had its Dallas debut Friday at the Texas Theatre, and added more screenings over the weekend, in addition to two more tomorrow. They have all be sell-outs, so the Texas Theatre has already added five more dates, through May 4. The dates/times are: Wednesday, April 26 at 9:15 p.m.; Sunday, April 30 at 6 p.m.; Tuesday May 2 at 6 p.m.; Wednesday, May 3 at 7 and 9:20 p.m.; and Thursday, May 4 at 6 p.m.

If you need even more reasons to see it, check out this clip from the film — a Dallas Voice exclusive.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

REVIEW: ‘Danny Says’


Pristine Condition and Danny Fields

Danny Feinberg was just another “little faggot from Long Island” when he came of age just after World War II. He went to college and was admitted to Harvard Law School while still in his teens because he was fairly brilliant, although he would eventually drop out. No wonder; he preferred to smoke dope and hang out with the other outsiders and faggots and generally serve as handmaiden to the shakers in the underground art movement in Greenwich Village that would really set the tone for the second half of the 20th century.

He remembers seeing Nina Simone for the first time and being wowed. He knew instantly that Edie Sedgwick was a transformative presence. He was responsible for circulating John Lennon’s claim that the Beatles were “bigger than Jesus.” And he knew Lennon was right.

By the mid-1960s, Feinberg — now known as Danny Fields — was himself what today we might call an “influencer.” He was a talent manager for Elektra Records just as that label was leading the way for the psychedelic rock era. There are some that say punk rock wouldn’t have existed without Fields… probably among them, Fields himself.

He burned bridges, spoke truth to power, coddled infants terribles like Jim Morrison and had a hand steering careers from the Ramones to Iggy Pop to Alice Cooper. He led, in short, an amazing life.

And he’s still living it, in more retrospective form (he’s 77) in the documentary Danny Says (which plays Saturday at the Texas Theatre at 7 p.m. with filmmaker Brendan Toller in attendance). Danny Says — it takes its title from a song Joey Ramone wrote about Fields — premiered at SXSW in 2015, and is finally getting a theatrical release, and thank heavens. It’s a fascinating and exhausting film, as much a piece of pop art itself as the people it’s about. The director pieces together interviews with Fields, John Cameron Mitchell, Cooper, Pop and countless execs and friends who lived this amazing roller coaster of sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll. Toller comes close to overdoing it, though, with a degree of sensory overload: Conversations, photos, subtitled and a required working knowledge of pop culture that taxes the memory of even a professional writer of pop culture. But the payoff is a nearly orgasmic expiation of the alt-rock-art scene.


Director Brendan Toller, sporting a famous Stones cover, will be in attendance at a screening of ‘Danny Says’ at the Texas Theatre Saturday at 7 p.m.

It’s an exhilarating exploration of  journalism, sexuality, art and the counterculture from the framework of a smart-mouthed cynic whose arrogance is undercut by his incomparable instincts and insights. Fields refers to 1965–66 as “the year that everything wonderful happened,” and snarkily observes that “everything good starts by being hated by the New York Times.” This is a history lesson like the world might not be able to tell anymore. We’re culturally obsessed with Kim Kardashian’s ass and Brangelina divorcing; Fields & Co. were surviving, then thriving. The photo collages alone are amazing, especially compared to the soulless eyes of Instagram selfies and self-indulgent Snapchats and brain-dead Trump supporters. Danny Says reminds us that once, long ago, art mattered.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Best Bets • 08.12.16

Tuesday 08.16 — Sunday 08.28


Tony musical favorite ‘Gentleman’s Guide’ opens at Winspear

In 2014, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder beat the odds, winning the Tony for best musical against heavy-hitters like Aladdin and Beautiful. Certainly it won over voters with its plot, taken from the old Ealing Studios comedy Kind Hearts & Coronets, but also a jaunty score, lush sets and a showcase for versatile actors, including one who plays eight characters — all the intended victims of a social-climbing killer. But it’s all in good fun. The national tour debuts in Dallas this week, kicking off ATTPAC’s Broadway Series season.

Winspear Opera House
2403 Flora St.

Friday 08.19


Texas Theatre screens restoration of John Waters’ classic ‘Multiple Maniacs’

Many people know John Waters from his popular successes like Hairspray and Cry-Baby (and their musical adaptations), but he really put cult camp filmmaking on the map with micro-budget counterculture films including the rarely-seen Multiple Maniacs. Now, a restored version of this gloriously grotesque 1972 vehicle for Divine gets a proper theatrical showing. Prepare to be hilariously appalled.

The Texas Theatre
231 W. Jefferson Blvd.
10 p.m. $10.

Sunday 08.14

AIN marks 30 years of service with music and cupcakes

The AIDS Interfaith Network has been serving the HIV community for decades — 30 years to be exact. And this weekend, they will mark that anniversary with a little party, featuring snacks from the Original Cupcakery, champagne and live music courtesy of Denise Lee, above. Stop in and say “congrats!” … and also “thank you.”

Interfaith Peace Chapel
5910 Cedar Springs Road
4–7 p.m.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 12, 2016.

—  Dallasvoice

Anthem for toilets

Former ‘Letterman’ writer Steve Young celebrates the weird, campy underground art of industrial musicals


Humorist Steve Young explores the crazy world of forgotten musicals, written for trade shows and other avenues of corporate America, in his touring comedy show.

Lavish, costly, performed only once, industrial musicals were like Broadway shows written for boardrooms. Often starring top talent and written by folks (like the gay composing team Kander and Ebb) who’d later have Broadway hits, they sang of toilets and tractors, dog food and Dodge trucks.

Longtime Late Show with David Letterman and Maya & Marty comedy writer Steve Young has become an expert on and champion of vintage “industrials.” He’s collected more than 200 shows on LP, co-written a book (Everything’s Coming Up Profits, with fellow enthusiast Sport Murphy) and now is on a cross-country show-and-tell tour of stories, plus film and audio clips, titled The Lost World of Industrial Musicals, coming to the Texas Theatre Thursday.

It was in dusty bins of LPs at used record stores and then in listings on eBay that Young came across discarded gems issued as souvenir albums for sales meetings and trade shows. Ford-i-fy Your Future was a 1959 Ford tractor musical written by Sheldon Harnick and Jerry Bock, years before they hit big with Fiddler on the Roof. Go Fly a Kite, a recording of a 1966 GE employee extravaganza, was by John Kander and Fred Ebb, later famous for Cabaret and Chicago. (You can hear some of the tunes online at IndustrialMusicals.com.)

Broadway performers loved doing industrials, says Young, because they paid better than union minimum. Bob Fosse, Chita Rivera, Florence Henderson, Hal Linden, Sarah Jessica Parker and queer Texas legend Tommy Tune all did them, as did Adam Lambert in his pre-American Idol days. Linden has said income from gigs like Diesel Dazzle, done by GM in 1966, kept him from having to drive a cab or wait tables.

Before arriving in Dallas, Young took a break to preview what to expect in his appearance here and just how gay those old industrials were allowed to be.

— Elaine Liner

Screen Shot 2016-07-28 at 10.52.55 AM

Dallas Voice: Many of the performers in them were gay, but how campy could these industrial musicals be in the gray flannel Mad Men era?  Steve Young: The corporations were generally very conservative socially, though occasionally you see them being a bit progressive in casting people of color in the mid ’60s, or trying to portray women as more than wives or scantily-clad dancers. I don’t recall any gay overtones in any show… however, a performer once told me about a car company dress rehearsal in the ’60s attended by all the top company brass. During a demonstration of a truck’s lift gate, one cast member accidentally pinched another’s finger. The man was obviously in great pain, and the other guy, not knowing what else to do, kissed him. There was a sudden silence. Everyone thought, oh, now there’s going to be trouble with the executives. But it was never mentioned. I guess “show people” got a certain amount of leeway.

Mary Kay’s annual convention in Dallas still employs scads of performers for entertaining its sales force. Are any of those shows in your collection? I have a record album that was part of a 1972 Mary Kay training kit, which has a batch of popular songs rewritten to be about selling Mary Kay. “Gentle On My Mind,” “Deep in the Heart of Texas,” “When the Saints Go Marching In”… apparently Mary Kay folks were encouraged to sing along. There’s definitely a proud history of the direct sales companies like Mary Kay and Tupperware having fun conventions.


Steve Young

Do you have a favorite industrial show? It’s a tie between Diesel Dazzle, the Detroit Diesel Engine show from 1966, and The Bathrooms Are Coming!, the American-Standard 1969 show about plumbing fixtures. Both have truly impressive, catchy music that juxtaposes wonderfully with the wildly improbable subject matter. The Bathrooms Are Coming!, or TBAC as insiders call it, had songs by the late Sid Siegel, who I got to meet and interview before he passed away last year at 88. Diesel Dazzle was by the great team of Hank Beebe and Bill Heyer. Beebe is 90 and I’ve gotten to know him quite well. There’s no film of Diesel Dazzle that I know of, but I will screen a film of another Beebe/Heyer project, the extremely entertaining 1973 General Electric silicones film. And I am thrilled to say that I will be screening The Bathrooms Are Coming! Quite often the material was very creative, even surreal. Many of the film clips I’ll be showing in Dallas are out-of-this-world strange, intentionally or not.

Your old boss, David Letterman, is executive producing a documentary based on your book. Was that your idea?
The film, which is in production, wasn’t my idea. Some talented filmmakers got interested after the book came out. In my show I’ll have a four-minute sample of the documentary. I’m delighted to mention it’s one of four documentaries selected by Sundance Producing Lab to mentor over the coming year.

Do you miss having a nightly show to write for with a target like Donald Trump to skewer? I have to admit, I was relieved that I didn’t need to think about Trump jokes during the past year. I don’t naturally gravitate toward political humor. I don’t know whether the best possible Trump jokes and bits from Dave would have made any difference in how things have played out. Almost all political humor seems to be preaching to the choir. I do miss being part of a nightly show, though, where a silly idea at 9 a.m. could be a fully-produced bit making an audience laugh later the same day

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 29, 2016.

—  Dallasvoice

Texas Theatre hosts month-long tribute to gay filmmaker

Fox-and-his-Friends-FassbinderRainer Werner Fassbinder was one of the most prolific filmmakers in history — he wrote and/or directed more than 20 features and documentaries, tons of TV movies and a mammoth miniseries, Berlin Alexanderplatz, and acted in a score of others. He was also openly gay — and very outre at that — in his life and films; at a time when gay cinema was consider underground, he was one of the most acclaimed international directors of his generation. He died, in 1982, of a drug overdose; he was only 37.

Oak Cliff’s Texas Theatre will spend the month of July looking back on Fassbender — first with a new documentary about his life, Fassbinder: To Love without Demands (showing July 7), followed by weekly screenings of three of his films: His uber-gay, full-frontal story of social climbing Fox and His Friends (1975); his most critically-lauded film, The Marriage of Maria Braun (1979), starring his muse, Hanna Schygulla; and a restored of Kamikaze ’89, in which he starred (his last film appearance) for director Wolf Gremm.

Each screening is on Wednesday and starts at 7 p.m.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Best Bets • 02.05.16

Friday 02.05


Texas Theatre, Cine Wilde team for screening and party of ‘The Hunger,’ honoring David Bowie

The death of the pioneering artist David Bowie continues to resonate, and Cine Wilde — the monthly gay film fest — has paired up again with Texas Theatre to screen one of his most outrageous and stylish films, Tony Scott’s 1983 film The Hunger. Bowie and Catherine Deneuve play modern-day vampires in a cat-and-mouse pursuit of Susan Sarandon. The screening with be followed by a after-party featuring punkish DJ music. Come ready to dance.

The Texas Theatre
231 W. Jefferson Blvd.
9:20 p.m. screening;
11 p.m. after-party

Friday 02.05 — Sunday 02.28


Dallas Theater Center revisits the Bard with ‘Romeo & Juliet’

For the first four full seasons with Artistic Directed Kevin Moriarty, the Dallas Theater Center performed one of Shakespeare’s plays — a comedy, a history, a tragedy and a so-called romance — each season. The tradition dropped off, though, after King Lear. Well, it’s back, with another of the major tragedies, Romeo & Juliet. Unlike the last four, Moriarty isn’t directing this one (that role falls to the talented Joel Ferrell) and it moves from Downtown’s Wyly Theatre back to the DTC’s Uptown haunts at the Kalita Humphreys.

Kalita Humphreys Theater
3636 Turtle Creek Blvd.

Saturday 02.13


BalletBoyz dance troupe makes its Dallas debut with graceful muscularity

With its innovative combination of weightless elegance and brute muscularity, the U.K.’s BalletBoyz is one of the most intensely exciting dance troupes in the world today. The company makes its Dallas debut on Feb. 13 with a sensual performance at the Winspear. This may be the most anticipated local premiere of TITAS’ all-dance season.

Winspear Opera House
2403 Flora St.
8 p.m.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition February 5, 2016.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Meet Whit Stillman at 25th anniversary screening of ‘Metropolitan’ Wednesday

StillmanMy top film of 1990 was a quirky, intelligent romantic comedy about the idle rich called Metropolitan. It came out of nowhere to become an indie hit and win its first-time writer-director, Whit Stillman, an Oscar nomination for his screenplay. (He lost to the writing for Ghost; let that sink in for a second.) Stillman was initially heralded as the successor to Woody Allen, but with only four feature films to his credit (Barcelona, Last Days of Disco, Damsels in Distress), he’s been much more careful about his projects than the prolific Woodman. So getting a chance to parse his brain about the state of film is a rare opportunity. Which I will get on Wednesday night at the historic Texas Theatre in Oak Cliff. That’s where, at 7:30 p.m., the USA Film Festival will be screening Metropolitan for its the 25th anniversary, with Stillman in attendance. And I will be conducting a post-screening Q&A with him. Hope to see you there (you can get advance tickets here)!

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

John Waters: The gay interview

John Waters 2John Waters has taken many deviant turns during his influential career as a cult icon who’s constructed a legacy out of the poop-eating, mom-murdering outrageousness of his filmography. But he hasn’t stopped there.

Even in conversation one recent afternoon from his Baltimore home, Waters — who will appear live at the Texas Theatre on Sunday in his one-man show of hilariously inappropriate stories — is appropriately inappropriate as he considers a smorgasbord of provocative topics: his disdain for adult babies, the resurrection of Brad Renfro, how James Franco is too good looking to look at, and why, at 68, he may never make another film.

— Chris Azzopardi

Dallas Voice: I can’t imagine much shocks you, but these days, does anything?  John Waters: The things that I don’t like that I don’t wanna be shocked by — $40-million gross-out Hollywood movies. Really ugly porn — – like rape porn. Stuff I don’t wanna look at. I mean, we have to put up with that for the freedoms of free speech, but also, some romantic comedies I can’t take.

What’s the biggest limit you’ve overcome?  Maybe sploshers. You know, people who are sexually attracted to food. And I still have problems with feeders. I have real problems with adult babies. Lock those fuckers up.

How do you feel about the plushies movement?  I think it’s bullshit. I think Vanity Fair made that up [with a 2001 story called “Pleasures of the Fur”], and then once they did the article, people became them. I’m not sure I believe that’s true even.

And grown men obsessed with My Little Ponies — “bronies”?  They’re trying too hard to be kinky. Plushie sex holds no interest for me. If people are into it, I don’t wanna know more about their life, really. Do it in private or — as that expression that I hate goes — “get a room.” I think I feel that way about plushies and people that wanna fuck people in unicorn costumes.

Fans adore you — I adore you — because you’ve always been the voice of the voiceless. As a youngster coming into himself, I remember you introducing me to so much more than morning cartoons did.  [Laughs] Morning cartoons are a good start, though! There’s always insane puppeteers and fairy tales. You know, when I was young I loved Slovenly Peter. That was a great one. I loved him. I still have that up by my bed. And Chicken Little — liked that one, too!

Today we’re getting shock-value films like The Human Centipede and the 2013 German drama Wetlands, which features vegetable masturbation — did you see it?  I did see Wetlands. I enjoyed it! It was the only movie I’ve ever seen about hemorrhoids. It started its own genre.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

REVIEW: Documentary short films

OUR_CURSE_stillIn the current issue of Dallas Voice, I preview the animated and live action short films, currently playing at Magnolia; the documentary shorts also screen this week, though for one-time-only showings at the Texas Theatre.

The shorts are divided into two programs — the first runs tonight at 7 p.m., and features two docs; the second on Sunday at 6:30 p.m. and features the other three. That’s a shame, because the best of the lot are in separate programs. It’s a toss-up between Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1 (showing tonight) and Our Curse (showing Sunday) as to which is the best … and which will win the Oscar.

Crisis is a profile of the folks who work at the Veterans Administration’s call center for vets suffering from PTSD. With minimal explanation, we listen into the counselors’ sides of stressful calls from suicidal men and women suffering from depression and shock — sometimes from their war experiences, sometimes from adjustments as civilians afterward. These are serious, painful calls met with calm and care by ordinary folks who do their best to save lives.

It contrasts with Our Curse, a hand-held documentary from Poland made by a married couple whose young son suffers from a devastating and incurable disease where he cannot breathe a night without use a ventilator. The stress it puts on their marriage — and their even-still devotion to a child who will never get better — is chilling and hopeful, dark and tender in turn. Don’t mistake it for Joanna, another Polish doc about a woman dying and trying to make her life seem as normal as possible to her young son. It’s not nearly as good (and screens with Crisis anyway).

THE_REAPER_stillThe remaining two films — both about 20 minutes — deal with unusual jobs: In White Earth, folks in North Dakota talk about the stressful necessity of working in the oil fields; in The Reaper, a title person acts as the point man at an abattoir, having butchered 500 cattle a day for the last 25 years. Being surrounded by death has taken its toll.

Expect Crisis to nudge out Curse at the Oscars — unlike the divisive reaction to American Sniper, this shows the effect of war without any political controversy — with White Earth a possible spoiler. Or see them for yourself and decide.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones