The hurt locker room

Newcomer Lloyd Harvey shed 20 pounds, his dreadlocks, some insecurities and his pants to play a gay baseball stud in Uptown Players’ ‘Take Me Out’

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THE FULL HARVEY | Lloyd Harvey bares all — along with most of the cast of the baseball drama ‘Take Me Out’ from Uptown Players. (Photo courtesy Mike Morgan)

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

Lloyd Harvey has something to confess — an outing of himself, if you will.

He hates sports. Well, not hate, it’s just that “I’m more of a comic book nerd. I like movies. I never played sports so I never had the ‘locker room experience.’”

This might not be relevant, except that this week, Harvey will find himself not only in a locker room, but naked there. And pretending to be a god among athletes.

If one wasn’t frightening enough, together they are almost too much to take.

Harvey has the lead role in Take Me Out, the Pulitzer Prizewinning play about a mega-star of the baseball diamond who comes out as gay, setting the sports world — especially his diverse bunch of largely homophobic teammates — into a tizzy.

When Harvey auditioned for it, though, he didn’t really expect to get it — he’s tried out for shows at Uptown Players before without success. Plus, he was able to see his competition.

“I was looking around the room and seeing all these chiseled, fit guys and I’m thinking, ‘I won’t get it,’’ he relates. “Then I got a call-back, which was great, but now I’m seeing all these guys with six-pack abs and I’m the guy with a keg.” That’s when he told the producers he would lose 10 pounds. He even cut off the dreadlocks he’d been growing for three years to get the role.

To his surprise, they cast him — and took him up on his offers to cut and trim. That’s when the real work began.

“I started on P90X [workout] and stopped eating fast food that day,” Harvey says. “One of my friends is a personal trainer,  and he made a 20-minute workout to do on top of the P90X. It’s been a total physical change. I weighed 200 pounds in December and now I weigh 180.”

So focused was Harvey, he almost forgot to be nervous about stripping down for the famous shower scene of locker room grab-ass.

“Being an actor — or any kind of artist — you’re putting yourself out there for whatever you do. This is like putting yourself out there double-time. You’re trying not to break the fourth wall while there are a few hundred people watching us. But all you have to do is say ‘Fuck it!’ and have the confidence to go out there and put your heart and your body on the line … though telling my mother I had to do a nude role was an interesting conversation.”

She wasn’t the only one. Harvey has performed at Dallas Children’s Theater and had major roles in community theater productions of Rent and Sweeney Todd, but this is certainly his professional break-through. But it’s also the first time he’s been able to get his friends interested in what he does.

“Before I would do a show and not all my friends would see it. But as soon as I started saying, ‘Yeah, there’s gonna be full nudity in it, ‘every one of my friends bought tickets to see my penis onstage. Some of them threatened to bring cameras. I told them that’s a no-go. ‘Take a picture and I hope you get kicked out of the theater,’ I said. ‘And we certainly won’t be friends anymore.’”

He probably won’t have a hard time making new friends after this anyway.

………………….

Oh, ‘Pluck’ it

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Steven Walters will be the first person to admit his play Pluck the Day wasn’t the best. You can’t blame him for thinking that — he wrote it 10 years ago, when he already thought he knew everything. When an actor called wanting to submit it to a festival, he thought he was joking. “Sure,” he agreed, “for all the good it’ll do.”

Only it got in, and Walters realized something terrible: He was actually going to have to rewrite it. And re-rewrite. And then again.

It’s almost opening night and he’s still trimming and fixing, whittling down a 2-1/2 hours show into a tight 80 minutes with no intermish.

Pluck the Day was first performed by Second Thought Theatre, which Walters co-founded, in its inaugural season; a decade later, it kicks off STT’s 10th season. It’s like revisiting a long-lost friend. Or maybe frenemy.

“I have a healthy dissatisfaction for everything I do,” Walters says over a beer and burger. “The old script was not good — it was talky and too long. It had no point of view. Now it does.”

The biggest change in the revision, he says,  is in the character of Bill, who we learn is gay. Bill is the only man sitting on a lopey West Texas porch who actually develops; the others remain blissfully content to nurture their decaying way of life. But it’s still a comedy.

“It’s a farce,” Walters assures. “That’s one thing that hasn’t changed.”

— A.W.J.

Bryant Hall next to the Kalita, 3636 Turtle Creek Blvd. Through Feb. 26. Second ThoughtTheatre.org.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition February 3, 2012.

—  Kevin Thomas

I ride because ‘You’re only as old as you feel’

Tammye Nash – Team Dallas Voice

Tammye Nash
Tammye Nash

Last year in October, I turned 49. It wasn’t any big deal, really, and at first, I didn’t think much about it. It was another birthday; considering the alternative, I was glad to be turning 49.

And then a few days later, it hit me: Reaching my 49th birthday meant that I would be 50 in a year. A year! That’s not very long at all in this my-how-time-flies world we live in.

And I was surprised to realize that the idea bothered me. I have never been distressed by any of those so-called milestone birthdays that can send others into a tizzy of depression. But the idea of turning 50 — it was really getting under my skin.

Oh, not because of the number, the Big 5-0. That, after all, is just a number. One more than 49; one less than 51. So what? It wasn’t being “50,” that bothered me; it was the idea of being “old.”

I have always believed that old cliché about age just being a state of mind (“If you don’t mind, it don’t matter”). The problem was, I was afraid that I was going to “feel old” when I turned 50. And I don’t want to feel old. Ever.

But what to do to avoid that? I pondered for a bit and then it hit me: Lone Star Ride Fighting AIDS.

See, last year in September, I volunteered as an event photographer for the ninth annual Lone Star Ride. Other folks were out there pedaling across North Texas, but my co-worker and co-volunteer photographer, Terry, and I had the hard job. We had to spend two days driving around North Texas in a convertible sports car, taking photos of the cyclists.

And I loved it — every minute of it. Even though I had covered Lone Star Rides in the past for Dallas Voice, last year was the first time I had participated. And I was amazed and awed by the spirit of the people, those who worked to organize the ride and those who rode and those who volunteered as crew.

All those people, strung out across the Metroplex on bicycles and in support vehicles, were all working together for a common goal — the goal of helping someone else. It was such a soul-shaking feeling to know that I was part of that, that I was in my own small way helping to make life better for people with HIV.

I knew without a doubt that I wanted to be a part of Lone Star Ride again in 2010, and Terry and I had already talked about volunteering again as photographers.

But a month later, as I contemplated reaching that half-century mark, I changed my mind. I decided I wasn’t going to volunteer. Instead, I was going to register as a rider.

That way, when mid-October rolled around and I turned 50, I could look back and say with confidence, “Hell no! I am not old! Look what I just did; I just rode my bike for, lo, these many miles to raise money and help someone else. Could an old person have done that?!”

There were other reasons, too, of course. I wanted to participate this year for the same reasons I volunteered last year. I want to help people living with HIV/AIDS today in memory of and in honor of the many friends I have already lost to the epidemic.

I am participating in Lone Star Ride for Dennis Vercher, who I worked with for more than 15 years, and for all the other Dallas Voice staffers we have lost through the years; I do it for people like Bill Hunt and John Thomas, who showed me by example what true activism looks like; I do it for Jessie Waggoner, my “little brother” who made me laugh with his crazy-legged “Fred Flintstone” dance. I do it for all the others, the list of names far too long to fit here in this space.

Yes, I know I could have honored my friends this year the same way I did last year, by volunteering for the crew. I know that without the crew, there would be no Lone Star Ride. And it’s possible that next year, I will set aside the bike and once again be a crew volunteer.

But this year is different. This year, I’m riding. I’m riding to prove — mainly to myself — that I can do it. I’m riding to prove I am not old, no matter what that calendar says. I’m riding to remember. I’m riding because others can’t.

Come join me if you can. And I won’t even ask how old you are.

Tammye Nash is a member of Team Dallas Voice. Donate to her or to another Lone Star Ride Fighting AIDS participant at LoneStarRide.org.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 6, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens