Luna launches Kickstarter campaign “For Jesus”

I imagine that Israel Luna’s resume lists three skills: (1) make movies; (2) throw parties; (3) stir up controversy. It’s not enough that he pissed off a few members of the trans community with his campy blaxploitation-esque grindhouse Ticked Off Trannies with Knives (even though the movie was all about empowerment); now he’s doing his best to anger the Christian right with his latest. The title? Kicking Zombie Ass for Jesus. (We imagine the zombie libby won’t be too happy, either.)

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Israel Luna’s “Ouija Experiment” screens at Inwood’s midnight movie this weekend

Israel Luna is used to working just as hard getting his movies to his public as making them — such is the life of the independent filmmaker. His Ticked-Off Trannies with Knives made it to the Tribeca and other film fests, but he’s taken an old-school roadshow approach to his latest, The Ouija Experiment.

Without a distributor, Luna has been taking the print of his low-budget horror film around the country himself, showing it wherever there’s an audience. And what better audience than his hometown for a traditional midnight screening? Ouija will show Friday and Saturday nights at the Inwood — fitting, since the movie was shot locally.

It looks pretty scary to us, too — just check out the trailer below.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

My life with a Drag Racer: Willam Belli

A NEW pic of Willam, who didn't like how he looked in the last one.

I didn’t get a preview screener of RuPaul’s Drag Race, Season 4, which premiered last night on Logo… probably because last year, they were pissed that I spilled the beans a few days early that Dallas’ Shangela would be the series’ first returning contestant. Maybe to get back at me — maybe to toy with me — this season began with Shangela again jumping out of a box as if she’d be the surprise 13th contestant… only it was a fake-out: She was in fact booted instantly with Ru reminding everyone this is her show, her rules.

Fair enough.

The premiere was pretty good, with lots of other past queens returning as drag zombies. But what really piqued my interest was the appearance of my former roommate, Willam Belli.

I wrote about Willam living in my house for two weeks (scroll down) about three years ago, when he was in Dallas filming Ticked Off Trannies with Knives. Aside from the “drag bomb” that turned my guest room into a clothes hamper, Willam was a very agreeable roommate with lots of experience as an actor. (I remembered seeing him on My Name Is Earl.) But he has already become “the bitchy one” on Drag Race, irritating the other queens by, apparently, reminding them that he is not a club dancer, but a cross-dressing actor who has worked with Oscar winners. You really get a sense for how much he antagonizes the more insecure queens on RuPaul’s Untucked after-show.

Still, I have nothing negative to say about Willam. But it will be interesting to see how the series plays out. Watch the first episode after the jump.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Queer locals of 2010

Twelve months isn’t all that long a time, but the impact someone can make on an entire year during any part of it can reverberate well beyond the calendar year. When we thought back on the culture in 2010, these are the 10 men and women who stood out most — for good or bad.

— Arnold Wayne Jones

Israel Luna, filmmaker, left

Kelli Ann Busey, ticked-off activist, center
The most vocal debate in the gay community about the arts that occurred on a national scale started in Dallas, as Busey, a trans woman, objected to the title of Luna’s “transploitation” revenge melodrama Ticked-Off Trannies with Knives. GLAAD got involved, protests were lodged when the film played at a festival in New York City, accusations and insults flew … it wasn’t always (ever?) pretty, but it did get people talking.

Mel Arizpe, Voice of Pride winner, right
After numerous attempts, Arizpe delighted her fans by winning VOP in August as a soloist and for a duet with her girlfriend … who herself came in second overall. Talk about keeping it all in the family.

……………………………………………………

Jorge-Trinity

Jorge Rivas, photographer, left
Following Adam Bouska’s NOH8 photo campaign, Rivas started Faces of Life, a series of portraits of locals aimed at raising money for AIDS Arms. Like Bouska, Rivas hopes to take it nationwide.

Trinity Wheeler, theater queen, right
Wheeler hasn’t lived in Texas for a while, but when he returned to his hometown of Tyler to direct The Laramie Project, he faced vocal resistance. The play was still put on, and became a success.

……………………………………………………

Jeffrey-Jack

Jeffrey Payne, leathermen, left

Jack Duke, leathermen, right
Payne, the outgoing International Mr. Leather of 2010, was nearly replaced by Duke, who ended up in third place overall. Payne set a high standard as IML champ, having an award named after him and starting a foundation to help the hearing impaired within the gay community. Duke has led an active role in the leather scene locally, statewide, nationally and internationally, showing the world Dallas knows leather culture — and gentlemen.

……………………………………………………

Danielle-Harold

Danielle Girdano, cyclist, left
Girdano wanted to raise money to bring awareness to teen
suicide even before the issue made national news, so she biked from Minnesota to Dallas, pulling in just in time for the Pride parade.

Harold Steward, arts visionary, right
Steward gave the black LGBT community a shot in the arm, co-founding the Fahari Arts Institute which hosts the popular Queerly Speaking series at the South Dallas Cultural Center.

……………………………………………………

TKO-Softball

Team TKO, softballers
Member teams of the Pegasus Slow-pitch Softball Association did gangbusters at the annual World Series in August, but none did better than the players on Uptown Vision’s TKO, who collectively won the B-
Division trophy by defeating the Long Beach Rounders in the NAGAAA tourney in Columbus, Ohio. When it comes to sports, it’s hard to beat a Texan — Tony Romo notwithstanding.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 24, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas

Why Doesn’t GLAAD Bust Porn Studios For Marketing ‘Trannies’ and ‘She-Males’?

Hey porn lovers! The Adult Video Network just named its nominees for Best Transsexual Performer. And though I prefer gay porn, the AVN Awards are like the porn Oscars and so I had to take a look. Most of the movie titles had words like "tranny" and "she-male" which made me wonder, Why is GLAAD not all over the trans-porn industry?

CONTINUED »


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—  admin

Best bets • 10.01.10

Friday 10.01

Shakira
Shakira

They are still pretty ticked off
Just when you thought you were out, Israel Luna pulls you back in. The local filmmaker screens his controversial Ticked Off Trannies With Knives for two midnight showings. If you missed all the hubbub over the film, now’s your time to catch up. And what better way to see a throwback exploitation film than late at night on the plushy sofas of the Inwood?

DEETS: Inwood Theatre, 5458 W Lovers Lane. Through Saturday. Midnight. $10.

…………………..

Friday 10.01

The hips don’t lie, but they shake
We never hear much about Shakira. Unlike many a pop star, she sidesteps the usual fame trappings and lets the music speak for her. That doesn’t mean she’s any less fabulous. Her rollerblading and motorcycle riding in her video for “Loca” is steamy, sexy and fun — just like the non-diva diva she is.

DEETS: American Airlines Center, 2500 Victory Ave. 8 p.m. $20–$160.Ticketmaster.com.

………………….

Sunday 10.03

Nothing secret about these gardens
The Rainbow Garden Club brings back its third annual Garden Tour 2010. Travel to the six gardens of members and friends of the group. Just don’t snip any flowers for yourself. Not cool.

DEETS: Various stops at residents’ homes. Noon. $10. Visit RainbowGardenClub.com for details.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 01, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens

‘Ticked-Off Trannies With Knives,’ ‘March On’ and more at Austin gay film fest this weekend

If you’re in Austin this weekend, you may want to stop by the Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar, site of the 23rd Annual Austin Gay & Lesbian International Film Fest.

Gay Dallas filmmaker Israel Luna’s controversial “Ticked-Off Trannies With Knives” is showing at 9:45 tonight, and will be followed by a talkback discussion.

And at noon Sunday, Dallas activist Laura McFerrin’s documentary about last year’s National Equality March, “March On,” will make its world premiere. We’ve heard  most if not all of the folks whose stories are featured in “March On” will be on hand for the screening.

Of course these are plenty of other films at the festival worth seeing, too. For example, we’re intrigued by “Faith of the Abomination,” about a lesbian couple (shown above) that went undercover and infiltrated an evangelical church in Austin a few years back.

For a full schedule, go here.

—  John Wright

Making use of a chance to educate

Instead of working to block controversial film, TENT wants to put transgender issues on the front burner at Austin film fest by sponsoring discussion of movie

Recently, Transgender Education Network of Texas has made a very difficult decision. We have been following  the controversy surrounding the film, “Ticked-Off Trannies With Knives.” We have been discussing the issue with Austin Gay and Lesbian International Film Festival (AGLIFF) and both organizations believe that there needs to be dialog surrounding the film.

To that end, AGLIFF will bring the film to their well-attended festival in the fall, and TENT will facilitate a discussion afterward. This was not a decision we made lightly and we want to take a moment and clarify our position.

Many trans activists, as well as GLAAD, have been very vocal critics of this film and the “negative portrayal of trans people in it.”

The majority of our board has screened this film and, though many of us don’t think the film the greatest piece of celluloid art out there, we all pretty much agree that on its surface, it doesn’t portray trans folk too negatively.

Quite to the contrary, it shows drag queens (part of the trans community) fighting back against people who want to hurt them (and are very successful … at least physically).

I’d like to lay all of our cards on the table here. Originally, we were looking at this film to use as a fundraiser for TENT. After all, with all the controversy and shouting, it was bound to be a money-maker.

And we felt strongly that we needed to have a conversation around what was really making us angry; as an organization whose mission is to educate folks about the gender diverse, we felt an obligation to facilitate a conversation.

But after our second viewing and subsequent discussion, it became clear to many of us that using this film as a fundraiser would be adding more fuel to an already over-stoked fire.

We also felt that doing nothing was not an option either. You know, if folks didn’t raise a fuss about this film it may not have even made a ripple in our community.

As a matter of fact the controversy, arguments and protests have done more to pique the interest of viewers than any standard marketing that La Luna Entertainment had planned to do.

So, it is out there; we can’t do anything about that. So we feel it is necessary to talk about it.

We also feel that to have an intelligent discussion about the film, it is necessary to actually see it. Many of the protesters have not seen it and don’t plan to for fear of giving the appearance of condoning the film. We hope they change their minds when it comes to Austin.

Let’s take a moment to talk about what the critics are saying.

One of the biggest issues early on was the use of the murders of Angie Zapata and Jorge Mercado in the trailers marketing the film.

The film gives a nod to the “blacksploitation” films of the 1960s and is graphically violent, shot in high contrast and is very campy. The protesters (rightly, in my opinion) strongly objected to the use of the two very real and very tragic murders in the marketing of this admittedly violent and campy film.

The filmmaker listened to the critics and quickly removed those quotes. I didn’t see that trailer (it had already been pulled) and when I spoke to Israel Luna, the maker of the film, I said to him that had I seen the original trailer, I would probably be equally as offended.

I asked him if he understood that and he answered, “Yes, and that is why I removed those references.”

Although they have been removed from the trailer, this is still an issue that the critics hold on to as a reason to protest.

The other reason that the protesters and GLAAD would like to see the film banned is because “… it demeans actual transgender women who struggle for acceptance and respect in their day-to-day lives.”

We’re not so sure we agree with this statement.  Whereas drag queens are not indicative of all or even most of the gender diverse community, they are a part of the community and, I for one, am proud to stand side by side with them.

After all, it was the drag queens that hurled the first bottles to start the protest at Stonewall, a protest that launched a movement.
Now drag queens, by definition, are usually caricatures of women. We all know what it means to wear “drag queen” make-up, and few women wear the exaggerated make-up and clothing on the street in their day-to-day lives.

But that is the nature of being a drag queen; they are performers wearing a costume. And guess what?  They exist in real life. I know quite a few and are honored to call them friends.

In my opinion, the drag queens characterized in the film are pretty darn accurate. For the most part, I liked these characters. They were real!  Yes, I said it: Real.

Finally, there are a couple of criticisms that I may agree with. The first is the title.

I don’t condone the use of the “T” word; I don’t use the “T” word, and I advocate that no one use it.

The other criticism that has a bit of credence is the speed in which the film goes from a relatively realistic portrayal of horrendous violence perpetrated against these trans women to a “check your brains at the door” campiness. I have some real problems with that and would have a few suggestions for Mr. Luna for a re-edit if he wants to hear them.

But, all of those things aside, it is time to watch the film and talk about it.

It is for that reason that we are not blocking AGLIFF from bringing it to the film festival. In interest of full disclosure, we were given the opportunity to block it; if TENT said “no,” AGLIFF would not have brought it in.

But we feel strongly that this controversial film can open a dialog that can do a lot of good. So we said, bring it in and let us sponsor the discussion after. We hope to have the filmmaker, the critics, the supporters, and GLAAD all participate in this important discussion.

Lisa Scheps is executive director of Transgender Education Network of Texas, based in Austin. The talk-back will be held immediately after the screening of the film on Friday, Sept. 10 at 9:45 p.m. at the Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar. Everyone is welcome to attend.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 27, 2010

—  Kevin Thomas

Trannies Director Israel Luna Explains How To Get Jarrett Barrios To Give You a GLAAD Award

Ticked-Off Trannies With Knives filmmaker Israel Luna is still smarting from GLAAD's attack on his transexual slash flick that debuted at Tribeca. So he put together this little item about how to win a Gay & Lesbian Alliance All About Defamation Award. Fake GLAAD head Jarrett Barrios guest stars!

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—  John Wright

Dallas activist’s National Equality March documentary to premiere at Austin gay film fest

Lesbian Dallas activist Laura McFerrin sends along word that the long-awaited premiere of her directing debut, “March On,” will take place during the Austin Gay & Lesbian International Film Festival in September. The full-length trailer is above. From McFerrin’s press release:

March On documents the 2009 National Equality March through the lives of five families who put aside their daily routine, packed up their hopes and went to Washington DC to demonstrate that they believe in Equality. Along with footage from past marches, interviews and powerful speakers, March On takes you to this fantastic and historic event. In addition, March On includes Lt. Dan Choi, Lady Gaga, Cleve Jones, Cynthia Nixon, Stacyann Chin and Michelle Clunie.

McFerrin says she will attend the premiere along with some of the men and women featured in the documentary. The showing will be at noon Sept. 12 at the Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar, 1120 South Lamar Blvd. in Austin. Also featured at AGLIFF will be Dallas filmmaker Israel Luna’s “Ticked-Off Trannies with Knives.”

—  John Wright