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 Readers Voice Awards: Entertainment

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ULTIMATE DRAG DIVA
Jenna Skyy

Hosts monthly GayBingo event at
the Rose Room inside Station 4,
3911 Cedar Springs Road
214-526-7171
Caven.com

Since this was the Ultimate Diva! edition of the Readers Voice, it behooves us to explore that aspect of gay culture for whom divadom seems inherent: The drag queen (of the 10 finalists, in fact, eight were drag characters). A diva certainly has attitude — and smarts, and talent, and personality — all of which describes Jenna Skyy, who in a few short years has becomes an essential part of the Dallas scene. But Skyy (aka Joe Hoselton) has something more still: A philosophy. Drag feels almost like a political statement the way Hoselton does it, an act of defiance. An act of Pride. She represents something great about being gay and out and open, whether she’s powering down the runway like Jan Strimple or revealing a costume of Gagaesque flamboyance — or, for that matter, calling numbers at GayBingo, the monthly AIDS fundraiser she co-hosts in the Rose Room — Jenna Skyy makes us happy to be … well, just to be.

— Arnold Wayne Jones

 

BEST LOCAL ARTS ORGANIZATION
Fahari Arts Institute

214-521-3362
FahariArtsInstitute.com

 

BEST LOCAL SINGER
Anton Shaw

AntonShawMusic.com

 

BEST LOCAL BAND
Anton Shaw and the Reason

AntonShawMusic.com


HORSING AROUND | Uptown Players had a banner season according to Voice readers, having the favorite play, ‘Equus,’ above, and tying itself for best musical.

BEST LOCAL PRODUCTION (PLAY)
Equus (Uptown Players)

Performed Feb. 26–March 21 at the
Kalita Humphreys Theater
214-219-2718
UptownPlayers.org

 

BEST LOCAL PRODUCTION
(MUSICAL) • TIE
Forbidden Broadway’s Greatest Hits (Uptown Players)

Performed Aug. 5–29 at the Kalita Humphreys Theater

Closer to Heaven (Uptown Players)

Performed Oct. 1–24 at the Kalita Humphreys Theater
214-219-2718
UptownPlayers.org

 

BEST LOCAL THEATER DIRECTOR
Harold Steward


BEST MAINSTREAM VENUE PRESENTING MUSIC FOR THE GAY MASSES
Gilley’s Music Complex: The Palladium, The Loft, South Side Music Hall, Jack Daniel’s Saloon

GilleysMusic.com

Thanks to the trio of Kris Youmans, Brad Ehney and Nate Binford, the venues of the Gilley’s Music Complex on the Cedars have been very welcoming to the gays. Once Ehney, who is gay, got on board after his stint at the Granada Theater (another queer-friendly venue), he was intent on bringing a contingent of acts geared toward attracting an LGBT audience. Binford and Yeomans, the straight guys, just wanted a full house. It’s worked out beautifully. Lesbian duo Tegan & Sara filled the huge-ass space of the Palladium Ballroom while Lady Gaga openers Semi Precious Weapons rocked the shit out of the smaller Loft. The gays then came out en masse for Robyn, packing the mid-sized South Side Music Hall. Upcoming acts of queer interest include MEN, Of Montreal and Vivian Girls. (Upcoming non-gay acts aren’t bad, either: The Avett Brothers, George Clinton and Coheed and Cambria.) These guys prove that gays do like their live music and will step out of the gayborhood to get it.

— Rich Lopez

 

OPEN  AIR | Groups like Middle Ground rock the night air at Jack’s Backyard in Oak Cliff, a favorite venue for enjoying live music. (Gregory Hayes/Dallas Voice)

BEST LIVE MUSIC VENUE • TIE

Jack’s Backyard

2303 Pittman St.
Open daily until 2 a.m.
214-741-3131
JacksBackyardDallas.com

Sue Ellen’s

3014 Throckmorton St.
Open daily 4 p.m–2 a.m.
with after-hours dancing
214-559-0707
Caven.com

It’s notable that these two venues would tie for readers’ favorites, because they represent polarities of live music locales. In one corner is Sue’s, the urban Cedar Springs club where the upstairs Vixin Lounge boasts a quality sound system and decent space for an indoor concert. Jack’s, by contrast, takes the music to the outdoors of Oak Cliff, making a nice nighttime event even better, especially in the warms of Texas spring, summer and autumn. Both venues often book gigs for local regulars like Ciao Bella and Anton Shaw, but each has also featured smaller touring artists like Anne McCue and Hunter Valentine.  If the boys want to get it on the live music game, they have lots of catching up to do. The mostly lady-based venues have a lock on bringing the live sounds to the gayborhoods.

— Rich Lopez

 

BEST SMARTPHONE DATING APP
Grindr

Yes, we named this category a “dating app.” Yes, we know for a lot — most? all? — guys who download it, Grindr is more about hookups than long-term relationships. But consider: At one time, admitting you met on Match.com was considered as cringe-worthy as saying you met at a bar while one of you was dancing naked on the pool table. (Oh, right, that’s more a straight-couple thing.) Maybe one day, app-love may become so common it loses any stigma. Anyway, how were we supposed to guess Grindr would win? And truth be told, some of us have found, if not true romance, at least an on-going love connection. And we enjoy chatting with other guys even if we don’t end up as a couple. That’s what dating is, right? Seeing what’s out there and deciding what you want from a partner? Grindr does that. And we’d all be a little lonelier without it.

— Arnold Wayne Jones

 

AIN’T NO BULL | Ragsdale’s standout performance in a one-woman show was enough to win her a lot of fans — enough to name her Dallas’ favorite local actress.

BEST LOCAL DRAMATIC ACTOR (FEMALE)
Q-Roc Ragsdale

Perhaps only Q-Roc Ragsdale could have pulled off her performance in The Bull-Jean Stories last year. Best theater director Harold Steward of Fahari Arts helmed this one-woman show, written by dramatist Sharon Bridgforth. The Bull-Jean Stories takes a look at the struggles of a fictional woman-loving character in the rural South of the 1920s, and her endurance during tough times. Like her character, Ragsdale is a powerful woman using her work as a film director, photographer and actor to stretch the artistic visions of both the black and same-gender-loving communities of Dallas as well as harkening to the strong will and spirit of black LGBTs who have come before her.

— Rich Lopez

BEST LOCAL DRAMATIC ACTOR
(MALE)
Rick Espaillat


BEST LOCAL MUSICAL ACTOR
(FEMALE)
Liz Mikel


BEST LOCAL MUSICAL ACTOR
(MALE)
Cedric Neal


BEST DVD RENTAL

TapeLenders

3926 Cedar Springs Road
214-528-6344
TapeLenders.com

 

BEST ADULT DVD RENTAL

TapeLenders

3926 Cedar Springs Road
214-528-6344
TapeLenders.com

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

—  John Wright

Forget Gaycities — tell everyone what’s great about Big D with the Readers Voice Awards

The web site GayCities.com released its list of the best about dozens of cities worldwide, from bars to sex clubs to restaurants to fundraisers. And just how well did Texas do? Not great, actually.

Sure, we have several of the top hotels (a W, two Kimptons, a few Hyatts) and Resource Center Dallas came in fourth overall for best LGBT center (preceded only by those in San Francisco, New York and Toronto), but otherwise, the Lone Star State was practically overlooked: Splash Weekend in Austin came in sixth for an event to cross the country for, and Austin’s Kiss & Fly landed on the best strippers, but otherwise we were pretty much shut out. (Neighboring New Orleans’ Southern Decadence landed on best events list, too.)

This is, to put a fine point on it, bullshit. Dallas has so many great bars, businesses, boys and babes, it’s hardly possible for the staff here to list them all.

And that’s where you come in. We’re currently conducting the Readers Voice Awards, which single out the best of the best across the Metroplex: Favorite eateries, role models, doctors, drag queens, dog walkers, bands and more than 100 other categories. When you vote, you get to register to win two free tickets on American Airlines almost anywhere in the U.S. and its nearest neighbors. You can also vote for your favorite local Ultimate Diva!

So let’s make sure everyone knows that it’s not just NYC and San Fran and L.A. that have great gay cultures — so does Dallas. And we do it in cowboy boots.

Vote now — just click here.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

WATCH: Chris Tina Foxx Bruce on discrimination

Chris Tina Foxx Bruce, a transgender personal fitness trainer who’s become something of a celebrity since being profiled by Dallas Voice a few months ago, talks about some discrimination she suffered recently at the hands of a Dallas gym owner.

In her latest video blog posted on Saturday, Foxx Bruce explains that she was interested in contracting with the owner to use his gyms, which are convenient to many of her clients.

“When I walked in, you would have thought I had beaten his child,” she says. “I’m used to the looks. I just would have thought in north or downtown Dallas, it wouldn’t have been such a shock, but he didn’t even allow the time to really discuss credentials, resume. It was just pretty much that he didn’t think I was a good fit.”

Foxx Bruce also confirms in the video blog that she plans to run for the U.S. Senate seat held by Kay Bailey Hutchison in 2012. And she encourages people to vote for her as DFW’s Ultimate Diva.

—  John Wright

VOTE: Who will be the “Ultimate Diva!”?

Everyone knows Dallas has more than its fair share of divas. So when we decided to hold the Ultimate Diva! contest — which comes with a photo spread in the Readers Voice Awards Ultimate Diva! edition on March 18, a $1,000 donation to the winner’s charity-of-choice and best of all, bragging rights — we knew we’d get some fabulous entrants from which to cull our top 10. And we did.

Not surprising (considering the charitable contribution) was that many of those who put themselves in the running as the Ultimate Diva! were locals with proven track records as fundraisers for gay nonprofits: Edna Jean Robinson (aka Richard Curtin); Victoria Weston (aka Mike Fulk); Jenna Skyy (aka Joe Hoselton); Linze Serell (aka Bill Lindsey); Ima Lush (aka Jerry McDonald); and SheGotta Moustache (aka Greg Smith). Perhaps also not surprisingly, these Ultimate Diva! wannabes are all members of that sub-classification of divaliciousness: The drag queen.

But this was not, per se, a drag competition — far from it. It’s about style, balls, attitude. It’s about being proud of who you are without apology and bringing the force of your personality into any discussion. So we happily added M-to-F trainer Chris Tina Foxx Bruce to the lineup, representing the trans community.

It’s also not just about those born as biological who dress (or identify) as women — we had some biological girls enter the Ultimate Diva! contest, too. Stacy McKinney’s photo surrounded her feminine self with hot gay guys — always a plus. And Brandi Amara Skyy (real last name: Garcia) has the name of a drag queen, perhaps even the soul of one, but the plumbing of a girl. (She calls herself  a “biologically challenged drag queen”).

Individual divas are all well and good, of course, but a group diva? Totally. So we were excited to see Dallas Pride Cheer, the prideful group of sissy-boom-bah athletes, wade into the fray: If anyone qualifies as an Ultimate Diva!, it’s someone who forms a human pyramid to make their point.

Of course, this is just the start of these contestants’ claim to diva glory — you play a part, too. Go to dfwReadersVoice.com
and read up on each of the contestants who believe they deserve to be named Ultimate Diva! Review their photos and their charity of choice; and tell your friends to come out and support their favorite diva, whether drag queen, trans role model, woman or group. And once you vote, enter yourself in the drawing for a round-trip ticket for two on American Airlines. What a diva thing that would be to win!

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Best Bets • 12.17.10

LoniLove_MG_6016
Loni Love

Friday 12.17

It’s gonna be a Love fest
When Loni Love speaks, you better listen; especially if she’s talking about celebrities on Chelsea Lately or The World’s Dumbest. Her stand-up isn’t too bad either.  When Variety and Comedy Central name her as one of the top 10 comics to watch, well, that goes a long way. But it’s her snarky wit and diva fab humor that will keep you laughing for days after.

DEETS: Improv, 309 Curtis Mathes Way, Arlington. 8 and 10:30 p.m. Through Sunday. $15. Symfonee.com.

Saturday 12.18

Not the time to be modest
Being humble is charming, but it won’t get you anywhere in the Dallas Voice’s search for DFW’s Ultimate Diva. Don’t think diva and drag queens. Musicians, activists, allies; If you’re the best at it then go for it. The incentive? How about winning $1,000 for your favorite nonprofit or charity. Gotcha.

DEETS: Deadline is Dec. 23. Visit DallasVoice.com/Diva for rules and application.

Sunday 12.19

These herald angels sing with glory
TeCo Productions stages Black Nativity, the retelling of the story of the birth of Christ by gay playwright Langston Hughes. With gospel, dance and poetry as elements of the show, Hughes’ version is both stirring and uplifting.

DEETS: Bishop Arts Theater Center, 215 S. Tyler St. 3 p.m. $15–$20. TecoTheater.org.

Monday 12.20

The Chorale keeps tradition going
Director Jonathan Palant says this year the Turtle Creek Chorale is going back to basics. O Holy Night will feel like going home for the holidays with all the songs and carols we know. But it wouldn’t be a TCC Christmas without some flair. With some new arrangements on hand, we figure they won’t disappoint.

DEETS: Meyerson Symphony Center, 2301 Flora St. 8 p.m. $20–$65. TurtleCreek.org.

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

—  Kevin Thomas

Are you DFW’s Ultimate Diva?

[youtube GVHgAG_gMz4&feature=player_embedded youtube]

—  John Wright

WATCH: Are you DFW’s Ultimate Diva?

—  John Wright