Victoria, victor

Michael Fulk, aka Victoria Weston, basks in the warmth of an IGRA title

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RIDE ’EM COWGIRL! Victoria Weston brought the IGRA title back to Dallas with her win last month in California. (Terry Thompson/ Dallas Voice)

STEVEN LINDSEY  | Contributing Writer
stevencraiglindsey@me.com

In 25 years of International Gay Rodeo Association pageants, the top honors have only been won by a contestant from the Texas Gay Rodeo Association three times — one of which was late last year, when Michael Fulk’s alter ego Victoria Weston walked away with the Miss IGRA 2012 crown, a first for Dallas and a victory decades in the making.

“I have been dressing in female attire ever since I could open my mom’s closet door,” Fulk laughs.

His drag career started in earnest, however, at a Halloween ball in St. Louis in 1988. One month later, he was doing his first fundraiser, “and within a year I had moved to New York City,” he says.

After many successful years as a full-time entertainer in New York City, Fulk returned to Dallas shortly after Sept. 11, 2001.

“My career switched upon my move,” he explains. “In NYC, I was an entertainer full-time and a hair and makeup artist part time. Now I am a full-time hair and makeup artist, makeup coach and educator for Artistic Salon Spa across from NorthPark. Entertainment was relegated to a passion rather than the breadwinner part of my life.”

But that didn’t stopped Fulk from competing and performing in drag — a description he’s proud to wear.

“We are all born naked, everything that comes after that is drag, honey!” he laughs. “Drag comes in all shapes and sizes: leather drag, business drag, casual, cowboy, club kid … the list is endless. I have no issue being called a drag queen, female impersonator, illusionist, yadda, yadda, yadda. If that size 11 pump fits and looks fabulous, I wear it. For the most part, though, when people around me speak of what I do, more often than not they simply refer to me as an entertainer.”

Victoria Weston stands out among many other drag performers because rather than lip sync, she sings live.

“The entertainers from before Stonewall were live,” Fulk explains. “Some sang, some danced, some stripped, but back then there wasn’t as much syncing and/or surgery as today. I think I am a throwback to that era. I am first and foremost closely related to the big band singer. That is my passion, whether it is blues, jazz, Broadway or standards.”

Since returning to Texas, Fulk has upped the quotient of country-western and pop music in Victoria’s act.

“I have heard people say my singing style resembles Shirley Bassey and I have always been compared to the look of Ann-Margret. I couldn’t ask for better comparisons. I’ll take both of those as high compliments,” he says.

Still, he insists, it’s best not to take himself too seriously.

“I take the illusion I portray serious enough to not make it a joke. I don’t want to be insulting or a cartoon of a woman. Every time I sit down to bring Victoria to life I view my job as putting together an ideal,” Fulk says. That means Victoria “doesn’t drink, smoke or do drugs. Old Hollywood glamour is my mainstay. Even though I am wearing a lot of makeup, hair jewelry, rhinestones, gowns and great shoes, I guess I want to appear to simply be a red carpet version of what I think a woman looks like: Totally put together. Besides that, I like to think of Victoria as a grounded, drama-free old soul with a wry sense of humor and a heart as big as all outdoors.”

Perhaps it’s this philosophy and a healthy sense of humor that has kept Fulk from suffering a fate foretold years ago by his drag mother from St. Louis, Miss Tracy.

“God rest her soul, [she] told me to be ready for a lonely life. She said, ‘They are either going to hate you as a drag queen and love you as yourself or they are going to love you as a drag queen and hate you as yourself. And be prepared for lesbians to hate and resent you.’” Fulk recalls. “I have found that to be false on all levels.”

And few things symbolize that overcoming of obstacles better than a really, really big crown.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition January 13, 2012.

—  Kevin Thomas

Spirit of giving

2011 Toy Drive for children with cancer

Dr. Christine J. Coke of Allen is once again collecting new, unwrapped toys and gift cards from Toys R’ Us, Target or WalMart to donate to the Children’s Cancer Fund to benefit children undergoing treatment for cancer.

Donations can be dropped off at Dr. Coke’s office, 107 Suncreek Drive, Ste. 200 in Allen by Saturday, Dec. 17. You can also arrange to have donations picked up by calling Dr. Coke’s office at 214-383-1380, or by calling Linda Lucky any time at 214-632-9271.

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Cocktails for a Cause Red Ribbon Bash

The Cocktails for a Cause Red Ribbon Bash, benefiting Resource Center Dallas, begins at 6:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 9, at Central 214 at Hotel Palomar, 5300 E. Mockingbird. Admission is $25.

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Hardy Candy Christmas benefit show and auction

Miss IGRA Victoria Weston, Trisha Davis and Donna Dumae host the 25th annual Hardy Candy Christmas benefit show and auction, presented by TGRA-Dallas and the United Court of the Lone Star Empire on Saturday, Dec. 10, starting at 8 p.m., at Dallas Eagle, 5740 Maple Ave.

Proceeds benefit TGRA and UCLSE and the organizations they have chosen as beneficiaries.

Other events coming up at Dallas Eagle include the Stocking Stuffers Auction benefiting PPF on Dec. 16 and UCLE’s Jingle Ball Golden Rings 5 benefiting Youth First Texas on Dec. 17.

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Christmas Stocking Auction at The Round-Up

The Round-Up Saloon, 3912 Cedar Springs Road, will hold its annual Christmas Stocking Auction on Sunday, Dec. 11, at 7 p.m. Doors open at 6 p.m., and preview baskets will be on display in the bar on Saturday, Dec. 10.

Proceeds benefit Legacy Counseling Center and Legacy Founders Cottage.

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Black Tie Dinner check distribution party

The Black Tie Dinner committee will distribute checks representing proceeds from its 30th annual dinner, held last month, to the Human Rights Campaign and the dinner’s 17 local beneficiaries on Thursday, Dec. 15, at 6 p.m. at the Dallas Museum of Art, 1717 N. Harwood. Those attending will also have the chance to visit the exhibit The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk, now on display at the museum.

Go online to BlackTie.org for information.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 9, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

CSMA raises money with dinner and cabaret

Linda Petty

Cedar Springs Merchants Association presents the Holiday Dinner and Cabaret in Friday, Dec. 2 at The Rose Room. Money raised benefits Oak Lawn beautification projects funded by CSMA.

Victoria Weston will emcee the event. Sax player Rusty Johnson is the dinner entertainment and Linda Petty performs in the after dinner cabaret.

Doors will open at 6 p.m. Dinner will be served at 6:30 p.m. and the cabaret beings at 7:30 p.m. Individual tickets are $75, which includes a buffet dinner, wine and the show. Tables of 4 and 6 are available.

Contact Chris Bengston to purchase tickets at 214-528-3316.

The Cedar Springs merchants will also hold their next sidewalk sale on Saturday, Nov. 19 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

In addition to savings in the stores, they plan sale tents, food booths, an artist pavillion and activities along the street.

—  David Taffet

10 singers, 3 groups make Voice of Pride finals

Yesternight at the Round-Up Saloon, 10 vocalists and three singing groups made it through to the Voice of Pride finals. Dallas Tavern Guild Executive Director Michael Doughman said this is probably the best crop of talent to come through VOP, and he was pretty much on target. As one of the judges, it was tough to whittle the list down to 10.

Five groups competed, but Steelos, AMPH (pronounced “amp”) and Spare Parts made the cut and will compete Aug. 14 in the finals at the Rose Room.

The 10 singers to move on were Dru Rivera, Angie Landers, Joel Canales, Vanessa Guzman, Juliana Jeffery, Blake Askew, Steven Patterson, Carlos Saenz, Christine Pradia, Kristen Philips. They ranged from classic rock to American standards and everything in between. Just like last year, the field is split evenly with five ladies and five gentlemen advancing.

Perhaps a surprise to some — and definitely to his fan club on hand (with T-shirts) — was the omission of Robert Olivas. Having been named a finalist the last two years, Olivas’ supporters were brought to tears by him not advancing. However, he does still get to compete with Angie Landers as Spare Parts in the group category, and with a solid performance last night, they could be the one to beat.

Now a note to the contestants: I get it – black is slimming and easy, but after the first, oh, like 10, it got really  tiresome. Color isn’t a bad thing. Don’t be afraid of it. Or bedazzle the heck out of those black shirts and pants.

There were some pretty great voices and personalities on stage last night, along with host Victoria Weston, pictured, but dare I say this couple stole the show during the tallying of scores? They pretty much got a 10 from everybody. When they guy pulled her hair (I KNOW!), and dropped her to the floor only to catch her it was better than anything on Dancing With the Stars. I’m hoping fellow judge Gary Floyd will share some of the video he caught of the two wowing us during Donna Summer’s “Last Dance.”

—  Rich Lopez

PHOTOS, VIDEO: Lotta Pink wins Miss LifeWalk

CLICK HERE TO VIEW MORE PHOTOS FROM MISS LIFEWALK

I was asked to be one of the five judges at the Miss LifeWalk 2011 contest, which took place Sunday night at the Round-Up. It’s the first time I’ve judged a drag show, but the talent was evident — not only from the contestants, but from the other entertainers. Jenna Skyy gave a rousing performance (before she sat down alongside me to judge, with Dr. Bill Henderson, John Loza and Dallas Voice Ultimate Diva! Stacey McKinney), while Iona Trailer camped it up hilariously. One of the remarkable discoveries was former Voice of Pride Jason Huff, who donned a dress and gave a roaring church-revival-esque performance late in the show.

The crowd responded. Money was free-flowing for all three contestants, with Lotta Pink — who bested runners-up Heather Thomas and Mowlawn Rouge — in total money raised (before she even entered the club, she came with $7,000 in benefits for the LifeWalk). Lotta won the whole she-bang, largely as a result of having elaborate choreography (including dancing boys, pictured) during the talent portion.

Keeping everything going were co-hosts Ima Lush and Victoria Weston (who sang without lip-synching).

(Watch some reader video of Lotta Pink performing Pink’s “Raise Your Glass” after the jump.)

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Miss Firecracker pageant tonight at the Eagle

Camping out

The 23rd Annual Miss Firecracker pageant returns just in time for July 4. Heavy on the camp and actual singing, the contest is also a benefit for TGRA and its charities. The winner goes on to compete for Miss Charity America. The lovely Victoria Weston will serve as one of the hosts.

DEETS: Dallas Eagle, 5740 Maple Ave. 7 p.m. DallasEagle.com.

—  Rich Lopez

Best bets • 07.01.11

Friday 07.01

Do not mess with the lez rocker
Otep Shamaya is quite the unpredictable rock star. She’s dead serious about her place in heavy metal and her band OTEP. Last time we interviewed her, every joke we cracked went by without even so much as a chuckle. Or maybe we’re just not funny. She and her boys in the band are on the road supporting their new album Atavist.

DEETS: Trees, 2709 Elm St. Doors at 7 p.m. $15–$19. All ages. TreesDallas.com.

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Sunday 07.03

Camping out
The 23rd Annual Miss Firecracker pageant returns just in time for July 4. Heavy on the camp and actual singing, the contest is also a benefit for TGRA and its charities. The winner goes on to compete for Miss Charity America. The lovely Victoria Weston will serve as one of the hosts.

DEETS: Dallas Eagle, 5740 Maple Ave. 7 p.m. DallasEagle.com.

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Thursday 07.07

‘Beat’ of a different drum
Chicano beat poet Christopher Carmona signs copies of his new book Beat. He’s a staunch LGBT ally challenging notions of gender roles in his poetry. Sounds like a cool guy to us.

DEETS: Cliff Notes, 1222 W. Davis St. 7 p.m. Free. Facebook.com/OakCliffNotes.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 1, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

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