Merck suspends Boy Scout funding

Merck became the third major company in three months to suspend funding of the Boy Scouts because of its discrimination policies.

The first two companies — UPS and Intel — suspended giving to the Boy Scouts after Scouts for Equality questioned why those companies donated to an organization whose policies are in conflict with nondiscrimination giving guidelines. Merck stopped its donations apparently after an internal “re-evaluation” that was part of a “broader review of funding decisions in 2013.”

“The BSA’s policy of exclusion based on sexual orientation directly conflicts with the Merck Foundation’s giving guidelines,” the giving arm of the drug maker announced on its website.

The foundation re-evaluated funding after the Boy Scouts of America restated its policy to continue excluding based on sexual orientation last summer. That announcement came during the visit to Dallas of Cub Scout mom Jen Tyrrell who had been removed from her position because she is lesbian. During Tyrrell’s visit, the Boy Scouts claimed to have been studying a change to their policy for two years but would not release the study or the names of the 11 people the the group claimed were on the committee that reviewed it.

Tyrrell was in Dallas at the time to deliver a Change.org petition to reinstate her that had gathered 300,000 signatures. The petition is still open for additional signatures.

—  David Taffet

UPS cuts funds to Boy Scouts

UPS announced Monday that it will no longer make donations to the Boy Scouts of America because the organization discriminates.

On its community-giving website, UPS wrote:

The UPS Foundation seeks to support organizations that are in alignment with our focus areas, guidelines, and non-discrimination policy. UPS and The UPS Foundation do not discriminate against any person or organization with regard to categories protected by applicable law, as well as other categories protected by UPS and The UPS Foundation in our own policies. These include, but are not limited to race, gender, national origin, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, veteran or military status, pregnancy, age and religion.

In October, the Boy Scouts lost its largest donor, Intel, when the group Scouts for Equality convinced the corporation it shouldn’t fund organizations whose nondiscrimination policies contradict its own. Scouts for Equality founder Zach Wahls next targeted UPS because of its 100 percent rating on HRC’s Corporate Equality Index and for its high visibility. Wahls also told Dallas Voice that the timing coincided with the upcoming Christmas package delivery season.

“As one of more than 2,000 Eagle Scouts who are part of Scouts for Equality, it pains me to watch the Boy Scouts of America undermine all of the incredible work it has done to build America’s future leaders,” Wahls said in a press release Monday. “We join UPS in encouraging the BSA to adopt an inclusive membership policy and look forward to the full restoration of corporate support as soon as this policy is over.”

The BSA stands to lose $700,000 from Intel. Now the organization will lose another $167,000.

In its statement, UPS wrote that diversity drives the company’s business success. The company’s foundation makes donations under five categories — diversity, community safety, nonprofit effectiveness, environment, and economic and global literacy. According to the UPS Foundation’s 2009 annual report, the donation to the Boy Scouts was listed under its diversity category.

—  David Taffet

Queering the occupation

LGBTs join movement in Dallas

OccupyDallas

Gay Dallas resident Dave May, who says he lost his ear to cancer because he didn’t have health insurance, marches with Occupy Dallas on Saturday, Oct. 15. (John Wright/Dallas Voice)

CLICK HERE TO VIEW MORE PHOTOS FROM LAST WEEKEND’S MARCH

JOHN WRIGHT  |  Senior Political Writer
wright@dallasvoice.com

Dave May was self-employed and uninsured when he first noticed a small growth resembling a cut on the inside of his right ear about five years ago.

May was paying out of pocket for annual check-ups, and because his trusted general practitioner repeatedly assured him the growth was eczema — a relatively harmless skin condition — he had no reason to shell out $500 to see a specialist.

But the growth in the bell of May’s ear only got worse, and when he finally went to a dermatologist in 2008, a biopsy determined it was skin cancer.

It turned out to be an aggressive form, and May has since undergone four surgeries at Parkland hospital, including removal of his ear, ear drum and ear canal.

May, now 53, said if the cancer had been caught sooner, his treatment would’ve cost a few thousand dollars — and his ear would be intact. Instead, he estimates the cost to taxpayers in the hundreds of thousands.

“Our national health care policy is just pennywise and pound-foolish,” said May, whose cancer is finally in remission. “Had there been
some type of universal health plan, I would have gone to a dermatologist much earlier.

“I’m not into self-pity,” May said, adding that he’s only broken down once during the entire three-year ordeal. “I don’t feel sorry for myself, but I’ve always strongly believed that health care is not a privilege, but rather a human right.”

May was one of several LGBT people who joined about 400 protesters from Occupy Dallas on Saturday, Oct. 15, for a march from the   group’s campsite at Pioneer Park to the The Crescent in Uptown, site of Goldman Sachs’ local offices.

In some cities, the Occupy movement has included a large and very visible queer presence — with rainbow flags flying high during protests and same-sex couples openly cohabitating inside encampments.

But so far at Occupy Dallas, which began Oct. 6, the LGBT presence has been far more subtle.

Local queer Occupiers and supporters are hoping this will change, however, and those who marched with the group last weekend said they see major parallels between the LGBT equality and Occupy movements.

“It’s all about civil rights,” transgender activist Pamela Curry said as she marched up McKinney Avenue toward The Crescent.

OccupyDallas1

STRUGGLING FOR VISIBILITY | Chaaz Quigley, shown during last weekend’s march, said it’s been a struggle to establish a visible LGBT presence at Occupy Dallas. ( John Wright/ Dallas Voice)

“It’s about the people, not corporate rights,” Curry added, repeating the popular refrain that she’ll believe GOP presidential candidate

Mitt Romney’s claim that “corporations are people” when Texas executes one.

Eric Folkerth, straight pastor of the heavily gay Northaven United Methodist Church in Preston Hollow, noted that the Occupy march came on the eve of Reconciling Sunday in his denomination — which calls for full LGBT inclusion in the UMC.

“They’re both movements about people who are marginalized and often unheard,” Folkerth said as he stood outside The Crescent, adding that he hopes more LGBT people will get involved in the Occupy movement.

Jay Narey, communications director for Stonewall Democrats of Dallas, said he didn’t plan to spend the night in Pioneer Park but wanted to show his support for the movement by marching with the group.

“I think they’re bringing much needed attention to the inequality,” said Narey, who wore a T-shirt emblazoned with “SOCIALIST” in large red letters and held a sign that read, “END the CORPORATOCRACY.”

Narey said he was disappointed there weren’t more LGBT people at the march. “They’d rather have a cocktail at JR.’s,” he said.

Bisexual activist Latisha McDaniel carried a sign containing one of the few LGBT references: “Union worker. State worker.

Independent Voter. Queer. Life-giver. Person of color. 99%!!!” it read.

“They’re screwing everybody equally,” McDaniel said. “Every minority in the country is being stepped on by these corporations, by corporate greed.”

Chaaz Quigley, a gay member of the International Socialist Organization, led the entire march for a brief period as it made its way up McKinney Avenue, carrying a sign that read “Socialist Queer!”

Quigley said he’s been the most vocal LGBT participant in Occupy Dallas, having been involved since the organizing stages and spending several nights at Pioneer Park.

But he said it’s been a struggle to establish a visible queer presence within the local movement, and he called on the community to help.

“If we can have people show up in drag, that’s what needs to happen,” Quigley said a few days later at Occupy Dallas’ new camp behind City Hall. “We need to have an incredibly visible presence. We’re not trying to co-opt anything. We’re trying to create real equality.”

For more on Occupy Dallas, visit the group’s website or Facebook page.

…………..

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 21, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

COVER STORY: Bear Hugs

 

Bear-Hugs-art
As The annual TBRU approaches, some locals talk about what it means to be a bear

ARNOLD WAYNE JONESLife+Style Editor
jones@dallasvoice.com

With the arrival of TBRU, we ask a fundamental question: What is it that makes a gay man a bear?

With the warming weather and approach of spring, bears across the continent are emerging from their winter hibernation and striking out to enjoy what life has to bring. And many of them will be headed toward North Texas.

Ahrens.John
PAPA BEAR | John Ahrens says bear culture is for gay men who don’t fit the buff, young mold.

Not, of course, the ursine variety: These bears shop in the big and tall department of the clothing store and have been known to pound back beer like men in the desert.
Texas Bear Round-Up XVI is almost here.

By the close of official pre-registration earlier this week, the annual fellowship of the hirsute gay male — which chose for its theme this time Bears of Justice: Heroes and Villains — had exceeded 1,100 confirmed attendees, and organizers say many walk-ups are expected throughout the weekend at various events. That makes it among the largest of gay-specific social events in Dallas.

But why do bears feel they need their own “runs” — the common name for the dozens of bear gatherings around the country?

“That’s a very interesting concept,” observes John Ahrens, when pressed to explain why bearevents have proliferated (See sidebar, Bear events and resources).

Ahrens has attended several TBRU events in the past and, at 6-feet, 2-inches and 270 pounds of furriness (everywhere but the top of his head, he notes), has long identified as a bear.

“Why do they have to have a bear round-up [and not a twink round-up]? I really don’t know. The whole concept of bears was originally that we never fit the cut, buff, skinny young look [that dominated gay culture]. This is a culture for the rest of us. It was to counteract the exclusivity of the rest of it — a place where big hairy guys could go to be themselves.”

The Bear Movement emerged from a reaction to a kind of cultural elitism within the gay community that tended to value youth, gym memberships and low-digit waistlines above all else. Bears dared to stake a claim on the alternative to the stand-and-model twink ideal  or the flamboyant drag queen that often defined gay culture, both in mainstream society and within the LGBT community itself.

Which raises a fundamental issue about bearhood: What, exactly, is a bear?

It’s a question that, when posed to self-identified bears, does not elicit quick or consistent responses. The term, by design or accident, has become a portmanteau word that tends to encompass all those gay men who like to identify as “other.”

But other than what is not wholly clear. (See sidebar, What is a bear?) For that matter, beardom is something that often must be embraced, almost like its own version of the coming out process: When does a bear admit he is one?

“I never thought you’d ask that,” says Rafael McDonnell, programs manager at Resource Center Dallas and a member since 2007 of the Dallas Bears, the organization which mounts TBRU.

Rafael_McDonnell
BEAR IN MIND | Dallas Bears member Rafael McDonnell says bearhood is an identity you have to claim.

“It’s a question of identity which, to a certain extent, is claimed by people. There are different parts to what our identity is; it’s where you end up fitting in the world as it is.”

“It’s very flexible and fluid and very personal,” says Ahrens. “I have a really close friend who never identified as bear for years, but there he is now, right on Bear411.com. The definition is so vague.

Generally, I want to say the bears tend to be older, but that’s not really true, either.”

Not at all. Carlos Deleon lives in Chicago and will be returning to TBRU for a fourth time later this month. And he just turned 30.

“It depends on where you come from. Some guys don’t look particularly bearish but identify deeply with it. Then there’s the big guy who goes to a bar and is told he’s a bear.

“For most of the guys around my age, it ends up being driven by an online thing: Looking at the various websites and finding one where you find guys who you think are attractive. You start dating those people. Then you spend more time in that part of the world,” Deleon says.

For a long time bears couldn’t go into regular gay bars and couldn’t find people to interact with, says Deleon, “so they kept finding safe spaces to congregate.”

That led to events such as TBRU.

But that was nearly 30 years ago, Deleon points out; “It’s a lot different than it was. Now it’s big business.”

And business sometimes leads more toward exploitation than inclusion.

“What finally put me off the whole [bear] thing is that it has become anything but inclusive — if you aren’t big or hairy, or are morbidly obese, you would be asked, ‘Why are you here?’” says Ahrens. “And that crap about bear codes? Oh, geez. The whole concept is trying to find an alternative community that accepts you. But [some in the bear community] have gone to the opposite extreme.”

Not everyone agrees with that assessment, although McDonnell says he has seen it.

“I think one reason TBRU has been successful is we are inclusive and organized,” he says. “I attended my first bear run outside of TBRU last fall in a city I won’t name. This event was disorganized and exclusive.”

Scott-Moore

LEATHER BEAR | Mr. TBRU 2007 Scott Moore says being a bear is something you grow into.

The myth of masculinity
Bear culture hasn’t always been its own beast, although the cliché has usually been that bears represent a less metrosexual, so-called “masculine” version of gay culture. (See sidebar, Celebearties.)
“Some gay men didn’t enjoy the prevailing ideas of looking and acting and being a certain way — that urban aesthete gay man,” says  Deleon. “They grew up being truck drivers and wanted to stay truck drivers even though they were gay.”

Initially many such men joined the leather community, but bears slowly carved their own, separate identity.

“There is the crossover with the leather stuff, too. There’s a basic assumption of masculinity in bear culture, which we both know is perfectly false. You can wear lots and lots of dead cow and be the nelliest person in the world,” says Ahrens.

“I think about guys who are rugby players but do leather, too — are they in both communities?” asks Deleon. “Bears were more a part of the leather community [once] and now are more separate from it. Younger guys who are attracted more to traditional daddy types may feel they are still separate communities.”
Scott Moore, who was Mr. TBRU 2007 and is the current Mr. Dallas Eagle (a leather title), is a prime example.

“I think the easy part for the crossover is that leather is a fetish, so it’s open to anyone of any type and background — it’s something you choose to be,” Moore says. “Being a bear, you grow into — it’s more of a character trait than a choice.”

“I think in my case it was both nature and choice,” says Ahrens. “I don’t like skinny hairless guys; I like big hairy guys and I am one. I just turned 60 and there’s this whole daddy thing that kind of goes along with it.”

“Here’s what I find interesting: Among the Dallas Bears, there is lots of cross-pollination with the court system, the Leather Knights, etc.,” says McDonnell. “I don’t know if that’s unique among bear clubs.”

One thing that newcomers often notice that is typical among bear clubs is that bears often engage in their own rituals and forms of, well, etiquette.

“If you can call it that at all,” laughs Ahrens. “Compare the balcony at JR.’s to the patio at the Hidden Door: There are fewer boundaries. That ultimately for me was kind of off-putting,” although he agrees it probably contributes to the conventional wisdom that bears are among the friendliest of gays.

“The boundary lines are somewhat different,” agrees McDonnell. “There’s much more of a tactile physicalness [to bear culture], but I’m not sure where it originated. The thing I have found is, it is an extraordinarily welcoming and affirming community, to borrow some religious language. You can go into a bear bar in Vancouver and receive the same level of acceptance as you would in Denver or Dallas.”

Whatever the definition, or the appeal of the culture, one thing is certain: Sometimes you can’t put your finger on something — you just have to know it when you experience it, and be open to its mystery.

“It’s pinning Jell-O to a wall. Some of it has to do with body size, but [being part of bear culture] is a combination not only of physical characteristics but that elusive thing that is chemistry,” says McDonnell. “Life isn’t the Sears catalogue.”

The Texas Bear Round-Up runs March 17–20 with events across the city. Visit TBRU.org for a complete schedule of events.

………………………………..

What is a bear?
The terminology associated with bear culture actually reaches deep into a variety of other animal identities: Bears “woof” at each other (a distinctly canine trait) and have subclassifications with the community that relate to other wild animals.
Although definitive descriptors are elusive and subject to change, here is a primer on some of the most common and the generally accepted definitions.
Bear — A member of the Bear Movement, usually identified as tallish, hairy (on the face and/or
body) and with a certain amount of meat on his bones. Can be anywhere from morbidly obese to a few extra pounds around the middle.
Musclebear — The same as a bear, but the meat is usually more muscle — often, though, while maintaining a stocky build. To be considered a musclebear, one normally has to have and keep a certain amount of body hair and not merely have a gym body.
Cub — A younger and/or smaller (McDonnell theorizes 5-feet-8 and under) bear; also, a bear who identifies more as a submissive in a sexual relationship.
Otter — A hairy guy who is usually thin; can be old or young, but often considered younger.
Grizzly — An older, heavy, often aggressive or dominant bear.
Polar bear — An older, often larger bear with white or grey hair.
Wolf — An older, sometimes thinner bear-identified male; also, one who tends to be aggressive.
Grey wolf — The same as a wolf, but with salt-and-pepper hair.
Daddy — Not strictly part of the bear culture, many bears are considered daddy-types, being older and somewhat nurturing of younger, more docile gay men.
Admirers/chasers — Gay men, usually younger, who do not personally exhibit the characteristics of a bear but are physically attracted to men of that type.
Cougay — A creation of my own, used to describe a gay man over 40 who is attracted to, or sought by, younger men, who can be bears or not. The cougay can, but does not need to be, a bear himself.
— A.W.J.

………………………………..

Celebearties
Here are some celebrities who, if they were gay, would probably qualify as bears:
Tom Colicchio, chef and TV personality on Top Chef.
Zach Galifianakis, comic and actor (The Hangover).
Steve Holcomb, Olympic bobsledder.
Jamie Hyneman, special effects whiz and host of Mythbusters.
Brian Urlacher, Chicago Bears linebacker.

………………………………..

Bear events and resources
In addition to the Texas Bear Round Up, well-known national bear events include Lazy Bear Weekend in Guerneville, Calif., International Bear Rendezvous in San Francisco, and Bear Pride in Chicago.

Several magazines and websites are devoted to bear culture, including Bear Magazine and A Bear’s Life.
Scruff is a smart phone application, similar to Grindr, dedicated to bearish guys. Bear411.com is a dating/sex website for bears.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition March 11, 2011.

 

 

—  Kevin Thomas

Love on the down load

Phil Hendricks, the mind behind Manhunt.net and now Gaydar.net, says online dating can be about more than just hook-ups

MIKEY ROX  | Contributing Writer
mikey@paperroxscissors.com

We all have our Stuart Smalley moment: That nadir of self-esteem where we feel unloved and wonder if anyone will ever ask us out again. And we also can feel invincible, as if the world is full of men seeking out someone just like us. Or maybe it’s just about getting a date for Valentine’s Day.

Whatever your mood — especially this time of year — it’s wrong to think online gay social sites are all about hookups … though there certainly is that, too.

Phil Henricks, the marketing guru currently with Gaydar.net and previously a creative mind with Manhunt.net and M4M World, is a pioneer in online dating. And he doesn’t think it’s fair to say all sites are created the same — just like gay bars, there’s something for everyone.

Henricks talks about Gaydar.net’s humble beginnings (it started so the founders’ friend could land a man), whether online dating among gays is more about Mr. Right or Mr. Right Now, which political circle has been caught quietly cruising for men and why its new mobile app is more than just another Grindr.

Dallas Voice: You have quite a history as the man behind the curtain of the world’s most popular dating sites — Manhunt, M4M World, and now you’re head of North American marketing at Gaydar. Is it true that that site was started because the founder’s friend wanted a boyfriend? Did he find one? Phil Hendricks: Yup. Necessity was the father of this invention. Gaydar began in June 1999 because the founders, Henry Badenhorst and Gary Frisch, had a friend who was desperate to find a boyfriend but didn’t have the time or interest in trawling gay bars. They recommended [the search engine] Excite, which had a personals page where one could post a profile, but it took the poor guy two weeks to get a response. Henry thought he could do better and created a personal site just for the gay market. Five months later, Gaydar launched and their friend got his boyfriend.

Great story, but be honest: Is Gaydar geared toward relationships, or are the people who are using it really just looking for hookups? I like to think of Gaydar as an online version of a typical gay bar, whereas I think of other sites as closer to being online versions of a bathhouse. At Gaydar you have people who are looking for a date, looking for love, looking for a quickie, looking to flirt or just watching the boys go by, just as you would at a gay bar. Cliché as it sounds, Gaydar is what you make it. There’s something for everyone.

Gaydar.net Exec Phil Hendricks

It seems like there are no lesbian dating sites — or at least not as many as there are gay dating sites. Why do you think that is?  There are very few lesbian dating websites. It’s a smaller market, but also I think girls prefer to meet under more traditional circumstances, such as being introduced through friends, girl bars, parties, events, cruising Home Depot. That said, Gaydar does indeed have — ta-dah — a lesbian dating site. It’s called GaydarGirls.com. It’s comparably smaller than the men’s site and not as heavily marketed, but busy nonetheless.

What’s the most popular time of day for users to log on? Can you pinpoint it? Like, for example, the third Wednesday of the month at 3:53 p.m. I have been in industry for 10 years and it is the same at every site. Believe it or not, Monday nights are hot. They’re almost always the busiest of the week. Sundays from 5 to 11 p.m. is second, followed by Tuesdays.

What your main demographic? Old, young, top, bottom? Gaydar is a very welcoming site — a friendly gay bar, if you will. There are all types, ages and sizes of guys. That said, we’re really welcoming to guys age 24 and younger, who get totally free, full-access membership. We figure younger and college guys could use a break and we could use the eye candy. As for demographics, as of six months ago, 20 percent of our members are total tops, 15 percent are total bottoms, and 65 percent are versatile.

Anybody famous have a profile on the site? You don’t have to say their name out loud, but a clever little blind item wouldn’t hurt. And then whisper the name in my ear. Apparently, Gaydar is big with British Members of Parliament, the discovery of which has been catnip to the press. They found photos of one in an act too disgusting to describe in a family newspaper.” But it’s Boy George who got Gaydar into the gossip columns after his arrest for [falsely imprisoning] a rent boy he met on Gaydar. Google it.

Who’s the person who approves them and their requisitely racy photos. I’m sure he’s seen it all. Can I shadow him for a day? Nuns. Seriously, it’s a room full of people. All kinds — gay, straight, men, women, out of work MPs  — who go at it, 18 hours a day. With over 6 million members posting in nine languages, including photos and video, it’s a daunting task — but Gaydar soldiers on.

What does it take to get disapproved? I’m sure you’ve got a story. Gaydar prides itself on its relaxed stance when it comes to profile text, so we prefer not to censor. Members can pretty much say whatever they want. When it comes to photos, of course, they have to be of the member [as in, the person in the profile] and images of children, penetration, ejaculation and sex with animals or office supplies are forbidden. We have had very few issues with member photos. We have a sexy, frisky, but well-behaved crowd.

Office supplies? I don’t even wanna know. Are you required by law to save the chat logs and e-mail between members? I bet some of those are a doozy. Logs are kept, but only for the protection of the site and our customers. Only in the case of a major harassment complaint are the logs opened, and even then they can only be accessed by the customer service director. We are exceedingly strict about guarding our members’ privacy. True, it’d be the ultimate fly-on-the-wall moment, but it’ll never happen. Your secrets — and lies — are safe with us.

Where is the future of the Gaydar site headed? A couple years ago Manhunt.net launched OnTheHunt.com, which facilitates real members hooking up on film, and the sudden popularity of Grindr sort of revolutionized the way gays connect on and offline. What’s next? Gaydar and porn? Uh, no. We’ve no interest in whoring out our members for profit. Works for some, but it’s just not what the Gaydar brand is about. Gaydar is about fun, meeting, dating, as well as gay culture. We have GaydarNation.com, which is our huge gay entertainment site, plus there’s GaydarRadio.com, with half a million listeners. Mobile technology also gets us hot. We just launched the Gaydar app for the iPhone, which was an immediate hit since we were the first major gay dating site to offer a fully integrated app, allowing app and web users the exact same access to its profiles and options. The Android Gaydar app should be ready shortly after Valentine’s Day! Beyond the app, we’re giving the website an extreme makeover, which will be really fun. Look for that in early summer.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition Feb. 11, 2011.

—  John Wright

Golden opportunity

MENOPAUSE MAYHEM | Men in drag tackle the classic TV character from ‘The Golden Girls’ in a show almost too racy to produce. (Photo by Mike Morgan)

Director B.J. Cleveland goes from kids to kink with trashy parody

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

B.J. Cleveland is gay, and in the theater, so spending every waking hour at Station 4 for the past week shouldn’t seem out of the ordinary. Only he’s having a different kind of fun from what you might expect.

“Very, very odd to be in a bar that’s deserted — it’s like being a kid in a candy store with no money,” he says with a wink. “It’s an empty bar but fully stocked, and you can’t touch a thing.”

By night for the past three weeks, Cleveland has met his cast and crew in the off-hours of the Rose Room, readying the latest camp spectacle from Uptown Players, Thank You for Being a Friend. Like the company’s two past shows in the same space — The Facts of Life: The Lost Episode and Mommie Queerest — it’s a parody of a gay fave, performed by men in drag: The Golden Girls.

Because it’s an unofficial send-up of the classic sitcom, the names have been tweaked: Rose becomes Roz, Sophia becomes Sophie, etc. But, Cleveland insists, you’ll recognize all the characters and set-ups from the series.

“It takes place in the kitchen just like on the show, until the end where it moves to Shady Pines retirement center where the girls compete against Lance Bass to win a talent contest,” Cleveland says. “It’s basically a goofy 90-minute episode: Lance Bass has moved in next door and is having wild gay orgies. The girls take him a basket of dusty muffins to convince him to keep the noise down,” but things escalate.

Uh-huh.

You won’t just recognize the Golden moments, either — this is a musical, with some original songs and alterations of Broadway standards: There’s some Dreamgirls, Chicago, Gypsy and 9 to 5 thrown in for good measure — even a spoof of Madonna’s “Vogue” video. And all played by men in dresses.

Cleveland almost didn’t do the show. He was asked by producers Jeff Rane and Craig Lynch to read the original script and offer his insights.

“It was a lot raunchier,” he says. “It went just a little too far over the line, and some stuff that really would not work,” especially in a space where TABC has strict rules about what can happen in the presence of alcohol. But a few rewrites later, Cleveland had signed on.

It’s a far cry from his current day job. In addition to his teaching gig, Cleveland is huffing and puffing his way through a Three Little Pigs play at the Dallas Children’s Theater; when he’s done there, he high-tails it to Cedar Springs and the nastiest old ladies this side of Wasilla.

“It’s a chance to blow off steam and be show-trash,” he says. “It’s like uncorking the cheap champagne at night after the children have gone to bed. This is definitely a have-a-cocktail, come-see-a-show-in-a-different-environment theater. The show doesn’t end when the curtain comes down. You’re still at a bar.”

And maybe when the show opens, he’ll get that drink after all.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition Feb. 11, 2011.

—  John Wright

Starvoice • 01.21.11

By Jack Fertig

CELEBRITY BIRTHDAYAlan-Cumming-2010-Emmy

Alan Cumming turns 46 on Thursday. The bisexual actor is also one of the more eccentric. In 2010, he was all over the place from the movie Burlesque with Cher and Christina Aguilera to his deliciously snide role as Eli Gold in The Good Wife with Julianna Margulies. But he might take the cake with his 2011 voice over role as Gusty in the film The Smurfs.

………………..

THIS WEEK

Mercury is in Capricorn squaring Saturn and Eris, tending to be worried and argumentative. The good news: Venus is in Sagittarius in harmony to all three offering a pleasant negotiation between those challenges. Simply: Good times with friends will help you see more clearly through the problems.

………………..

AQUARIUS Jan 20-Feb 18
Charm and seeming open-minded wins more agreement than  your arguments. Worrying over losses is useless. Meditate on what matters  to improve what you can.

PISCES Feb 19-Mar 19
Frustrated with your social life? Hone your social skills or focus on work for a while, be very productive and earn good notice for your efforts. The social life will kick in.

ARIES Mar 20-Apr 19
Pay close attention to colleagues and higher-ups. Not that you’re lacking, but you could learn a few tricks from them of how to be charming and sociable in ways that will prove to your advantage.

TAURUS Apr 20-May 20
Don’t be afraid of your own sex appeal. Even in an all-business situation your erotic draw will help you win friends and arguments. Some of those friends, however, aren’t to be trusted.

GEMINI May 21-Jun 20
Talking dirty can be a real turn on and being brutally frank can be refreshing. There’s a time and a place for everything, but with your partner and your good friends, don’t hold back.

CANCER Jun 21-Jul 22
The best way to stay out of trouble is sticking to business — your own. Being nice to colleagues works to your advantage if you don’t expect anything in return. Stay focused on your goals.

LEO Jul 23-Aug 22
Take your work seriously, but not too much. Be willing to laugh at your own ideas. A sense of humor is important and more effective in getting others to accept your ideas.

VIRGO Aug 23-Sep 22
Leaning on traditional values will get you through crises at hand. How did your grandparents deal with similar problems? Cooking up old family recipes can be a healing meditation.

LIBRA Sep 23-Oct 22
It’s hard to know how to be in a relationship even though the answer is obvious: Just be your own sweet self. Turn on the charm (as if that takes any effort) and you’ll be fine.

SCORPIO Oct 23-Nov 21
You control the outflow if you control your impulses. Keep an eye on your tongue as well; secrets aren’t safe with you right now, but use that openness to examine old doubts, worries and fears.

SAGITTARIUS Nov 22-Dec 20
Go to the gym and brush up on your Dorothy Parker or Miss Manners if you feel you must. There’s always room for improvement, but really, hon, you’re fine as you are.

CAPRICORN Dec 21-Jan 19
The stress for success is making you a mess. Take a break. You may think there’s no time for that, but it’s a good investment that will help you to work smarter, not harder.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition January 21, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Queer Music News: Cameras’ Joel Gibb teams with R.E.M.; Gaga tweets upcoming release

Back in 2009, I listed The Hidden Cameras in my top albums list of the year. That was mostly due to gay frontman Joel Gibb who, despite being a tough interview, manufactured a beautiful package of songs in their album Origin:Orphan. The indie folkster teams up with R.E.M. on the band’s new single, “It Happened Today,” providing back ups for the also-out frontman Michael Stipe. The single is part of R.E.M.’s upcoming album Collapse Into Now, which is slated for a March release. I love it when the gays team up with each other. The song itself is reliably R.E.M. and a decent but not overwhelming intro to the band’s 15th studio release.

The video below doesn’t show the band at all, but is reminiscent of George Michael’s “Praying for Time” video where the lyrics are the stars — literally.

—  Rich Lopez

Mary Christmas Carols: Antoine Dodson’s ‘Chimney Intruder’

You might remember Antoine Dodson’s accidental claim to fame when his spirited response on the news was converted into a dance remix and pop culture landmark for 2010. Through no fault of his own, he became an Internet sensation for speaking out loud against the perpetrator who invaded his family’s house and for saving his sister from being a rape victim. But the openly gay Dodson seems to have handled the ups and downs of all the social commentary, jokes and parodies with tremendous charm.

Dodson still has his hustle going, and why not? George Lopez had the world premiere of Dodson’s “Chimney Intruder” last night on Lopez Tonight. Gone are the awkward implications of his reactionary remix. Instead, it’s kind of a train wreck, but still, he made us look … again.

—  Rich Lopez

Movie Monday: Get your Cher fix with ‘Burlesque’ in wide release

If we could turn back time … we’d still want to see Cher in this campy hoot

In Burlesque, pop diva Christina Aguilera plays a small-town girl with a big voice who leaves the heartland to chase a predictable dream in L.A. She lands a job as a cocktail waitress at the Burlesque Lounge, meets a couple of hot guys (Cam Gigandet and Eric Dane), builds a friendship with one dancer (Julianne Hough), makes enemies with another (Kristen Bell), and learns a few life lessons from Tess (Cher), a broke, weary, but totally hot burlesque goddess with a heart of gold.

Big surprise: It’s not a great script. The mortgage is due and the moneylenders lurk and gosh, the lounge needs a miracle to survive! But who will go see it for the plot, the hokey dialogue or the not-so-great acting from Aguilera (her character is hardly full-bodied, with a backstory that is even slimmer than her hips).

But do go see it, because the movie is exactly what its audience is looking for: A campy, sexy hoot. It struts. It’s fun. It’s funny. There’s some serious eye candy with Gigandet and a box of cookies. There’s Stanley Tucci, playing Sean, the surly gay manager of the lounge.

And of course, there’s Cher. Cher still has the glam to pull the clichéd Tess off — and she still has that voice. The ups and downs of her life (both Tess and Cher) can be summed up in one show-stopping number: “You Haven’t Seen the Last of Me.”

Burlesque is not supposed to be Cher’s movie, but she steals it anyway — along with Tucci, whose one-night stand with a potential life partner is heartwarming and real. Tucci may be playing a gay BFF to a burlesque queen, but Sean is not some kind of gay caricature. He’s the heart of a film that has no brain.

Three and a half stars.

— Angela Wilson

DEETS: Burlesque, Cher, Christina Aguilera, Stanley Tucci, Cam Gigandet, Eric Dane. Rated PG-13. 125 mins. Now playing wide release.

—  Rich Lopez