Dr. Austin Church: Bday party at the W

—  Steve Ramos

Bracketology: The winner of the Cook Hall cocktail contest is …

The remnants of the bracket — a mess of mixing, finally ended.

The NCAA picked their champion b-ball team last night (congrats, Louisville), but today is when we reveal the most important bracket results: The cocktails at the W’s Cook Hall. We started with a Sweet Sixteen, whittled it down to an Elite Eight and now stand at a Final Four. Well, here we go: The finals!

In the Battle of the Ampersands — the Dark & Stormy versus the Gin & Sin — it was sweet rum against a surprisingly fruit gin concoction. Even I was surprised that my best pal gin couldn’t stand up to the complex delights of rum. The D&S enters the final as the longshot.

Longshot, because if there’s one thing I like more than gin, it’s bourbon, so despite the unexpected strength showed by the beery Shandy, the Mint Julep goes into the last round as the favorite.

But nothing’s for sure. I tasted and retasted the Dark & Stormy and the Julep as Cook Hall’s mixologists plotted it. The Julep had heart, the Julep had the hometown advantage … but the D&S had the points. It’s the Dark & Stormy at the buzzer!

And that’s my top cocktail at Cook Hall.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Craft closing, gastropub will take its place

Our friend Teresa Gubbins over at Pegasus News is reporting that Craft, the Tom Colicchio restaurant in the W Victory Hotel, will close by the end of the month. Despite launching a surprisingly affordable lunch menu a year ago, the high-end resto hasn’t been hot for a while. It’s too bad, because the decor is great, as has been the food. But crowds never followed.

It may be too high end for the W there, which is more flashy than Craft tried to be. According to Gubbins’ report, the new concept to take over there — called Cook Hall, and the debut of what is planned to be a series of like-themed places throughout the W brand — will add televisions; Craft was one of the last bastions of quiet fine dining in Dallas.

Colicchio has made several appearances in the kitchen over the past few years, but apparently not enough to get buzz going again. Sorry to see it go, but if it wasn’t working…

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Pride Power Hour & Sharon Needles fill up the night

Double header of Pride

Resource Center Dallas gets Pride off the ground — way off —with its Pride Power Hour on the Wet Deck of the W Hotel (that’s the 16th floor, folks) tonight. An open deck looks over Dallas providing a grand backdrop and DJ Avenger as your music guide. You will also be automatically entered in the prize drawing of a free night’s stay at the hotel. Fun for sure.

DEETS: W Dallas Victory Hotel, 2440 Victory Park Lane. June 28 at 7 p.m. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased at the door.

In the most recent season of Drag Race, Sharon Needles immediately stood out as an early favorite for her shocking, Elvira-like makeup and equally bizarre behavior and dark humor. Even her name proved divisive among the viewers.

So when she made it to the final three, almost every fan of the show was rooting for her to win. And she did.

Now you can see her do that shock-drag in person tonight.

DEETS: The Rose Room at Station 4, 3911 Cedar Springs Road. 9 p.m. $5. Caven.com.

—  Rich Lopez

Gay Dallas couple legally weds in Texas, aims to bring ‘e-marriage’ to the same-sex masses

Mark Reed, left, and Dante Walkup

John Wright  |  Online Editor
wright@dallasvoice.com

Each year countless gay and lesbian couples travel from Texas to places where same-sex marriage is legal to tie the knot.

But Mark Reed hopes same-sex couples in Texas will soon be able to conveniently — and legally — marry without even leaving the state.

Reed, a board member for the national LGBT direct action group GetEQUAL, recently married his longtime partner, Dante Walkup, at the W Dallas Victory hotel.

Their “Skype” wedding was officiated via teleconference from Washington, D.C., where same-sex marriage is legal, and they received their license in the mail a short time later.

It’s called “e-marriage,” and it’s a sort of high-tech version of the proxy wedding traditionally held when one of the parties can’t be physically present — because, for example, they’re in the military stationed overseas.

“The reason we wanted to do it this way is because we wanted to have a wedding here in Dallas with our family and friends,” Reed said. “It was very important that all of our family came. It was the first time they actually met, even though we’ve been together 10 years. If we had to go to D.C., there’s no way we could have had the people there who we wanted to be there.”

Reed and Walkup, co-owners of WDM Lighting on Oak Lawn Avenue, were married in a conference room at the W hotel on Oct. 10, in front of about 80 people with a 6-by-8-foot screen looming behind them.

The couple had rented a similar room at a W hotel in Washington, where marriage quality activist Sheila Alexander-Reid officiated the wedding.

“When we walked down the aisle, as soon as we reached the front, she comes on the screen like The Wizard of Oz,” Reed said. “It was beautiful. It wasn’t make-believe. It was like she was really there.”

Although Reed and Walkup were able to hold their ceremony in Dallas, they had to go to D.C. beforehand to register. And Reed said while D.C.’s marriage law has no provision against e-marriage, the validity of the procedure could theoretically be challenged in court.

That’s why the couple is now working with legal experts and legislators from states where same-sex marriage is legal to draft statutes that would solidify the practice. Reed and Walkup traveled this week to Michigan for a symposium on e-marriage.

While the couple has no intention of using their case to challenge Texas’ bans on same-sex marriage, Reed said they want to make it more convenient and less expensive for same-sex couples to legally wed.

Reed is also in the process of changing his surname in a Texas court, and he’s been fighting The Dallas Morning News — thus far unsuccessfully — to print their announcement in “Weddings” instead of in another section called “Commitments.”

“It’s like the more equal we can get through creative ways, we’re going to do it,” Reed said. “It’s just important to do anything we can to find creative ways around inequality.”

—  John Wright

Swarm up for Black Tie Dinner at Ghostbar tonight

‘Get wired for Black Tie Dinner’

Black Tie Dinner knows how to tease us social media folk. They’ve planned a social swarm party that caters to the Foursquare and Tweeter in all of us. Once you unlock your Foursquare swarm badges, then you can drink the night away, socialize with fellow Twitters (you thought we’d say “twits,” huh?) and hang with party host Kellie Raspberry from “Kidd Kraddick in the Morning.” Consider this the mixer of the week. We are.

DEETS: Ghostbar at the W Hotel, 2440 Victory Park Lane, Suite 3300. 6 p.m. RSVP required.

—  Rich Lopez

Gay getaway: Some updates for SoDec

In this week’s print edition, I wrote about New Orleans as a great gay destination, especially for Southern Decadence, which starts early next month over the Labor Day weekend. Well, there are some updates to sweeten the deal even more.

The Marriott Hotel has introduced the Rainbow NOLA Getaway for SoDec. Starting at $134 per night (two-night minimum), it comes with a complimentary bottle of champagne, a $50 food and beverage credit and complimentary Internet access. And even if you don’t get to town over Decadence, the rate is valid until July 31, 2011. Ask for rate code VIQ at its website or reservation line (800-228-9290).

I can also give a shout out to another GLBT publication, the travel magazine Passport, which again is teaming with the W Hotel New Orleans, pictured above, for a party over SoDec. For a $10 donation at the door benefitting Project Lazarus, you can get Szambelan vodka drinks and a chance to win prizes. It takes place at the W on Friday, Sept. 3.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

A curtain falls

Propmaster Rick Gilles, DTC’s butchest employee, leaves to be with his man

RICH LOPEZ  | Staff Writer lopez@dallasvoice.com

Rick Gilles
GO WEST | While finishing up work at DTC’s production studio, Gilles is planning his big move to California — for love. (Rich Lopez/Dallas Voice)

Two loves separated by long distance. One left for his future. The other stayed for their future. But now, happily ever after is about to begin.

Quick, what is that? Tagline in a movie trailer for the next sappy Reese Witherspoon rom-com? No, but it is based on a true story. After 14 years in Dallas, Rick Gilles is packing up and heading west to be with his partner Shannon Swindle. Once they are reunited after a year-and-a-half separation, the plan for Gilles is to settle in, get a job and begin planning their wedding next year (initially scheduled for this year). It’s a real-world romance just in time for Prop 8 being overturned.

“I started realizing that I wasn’t going to get the wedding I wanted,” Gilles laughs. “We had been talking about it for a little while, but with the stress of moving, we postponed until next year. We want it outdoors in Napa Valley with close family and friends. And that isn’t going to come particularly cheap.”

Swindle built a sweet reputation as the pastry chef at Craft in Dallas’ W Hotel, but last year he was transferred to the Los Angeles location. He’s been living in an apartment, waiting for Gilles. But as the properties master for the Dallas Theater Center, Gilles had his own full plate — namely, moving into the new Wyly Theatre. After 14 seasons working at the DTC, he couldn’t bring himself to just leave without seeing it flourish.

“Part of the reason the move didn’t happen earlier was I had been working on getting this theater open,” he says. “I really wanted to see that to fruition and see it go through a full season.”

When Gilles wasn’t constructing sets and working on props for the stage, he was an active member of the Leather Knights (see sidebar), where he found something beyond his leather interest: He could also make an impact on the local LGBT community that he doesn’t foresee in L.A.
“When I lived there before it took a lot more effort, time and money to be involved,” he says. “With Leather Knights, I could fit into my schedule and help the community and contribute my talents.”

Perhaps the hardest part of Gilles’ move isn’t just leaving his longtime tenure at DTC, but chiefly because, he isn’t all that ready to leave Dallas. Coming here from Buffalo (though originally from California), Gilles has made his connection to the city.

“I’ll be really sad to leave here,” he admits. “Dallas has treated me exceptionally well. I love this job and I love Dallas a lot. But ultimately, I’m really excited about the future. We’ve been living apart long enough.”

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

—  Michael Stephens

W hotel responds to alleged anti-gay incidents

Malcolm Gage

Thomas Caramucci, general manager of the W Dallas – Victory hotel, issued a statement Sunday responding to our inquiry about two alleged anti-gay incidents at the hotel on Friday night following the Lady Gaga concert at the American Airlines Center. Both incidents reportedly involved the same off-duty Dallas police officer who was working security at the hotel. Derrick Brown, chair of the North Texas GLBT Chamber of Commerce, alleges that the off-duty officer used excessive force by choking him during a confrontation that occurred as Brown was making his way to Ghostbar, inside the W. Another gay man, Malcolm Gage, said his group was unfairly denied access to the hotel when they tried to visit friends who were staying there. Brown and Gage, who are both black, indicated that they planned to file an internal affairs complaint against the officer today.

“Thank you for reaching out to us,” Caramucci said in an e-mail sent Sunday. “We are aware of the incident and are currently looking further into the details of the situation, in cooperation with the Dallas Police Department. Please know that the safety and comfort of our guests is our top priority and any and all situations receive our utmost attention. Again, thanks for your inquiry. As you are aware W Dallas – Victory and the W brand are a strong supporters of the LGBT community and we appreciate the opportunity to respond.”

It’s worth noting that Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, which owns the W Dallas -Victory, received a perfect score of 100 on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index in 2010. Stay tuned to Instant Tea and Dallas Voice for details about the investigation.

—  John Wright

Win a trip to Dallas' 2010 gay Pride celebration! (Assuming you don't already live here)

PRIDE13

National Pride Month is officially under way, and already the city of Dallas is gearing up for Dallas Pride in September. As they have done in past years, the GLBT arm of the Dallas Conventions and Visitors Bureau is giving away a vacation package to some lucky out-of-towner and a companion. The winner can spend Sept. 17–20 being hosted by the W Hotel, being fed at Craft, spend Gay Day at Six Flags and fly in on American Airlines, plus some more swag.

The online contest goes through July 29. To enter — or get your cheap-ass out-of-town friends to enter — go to GLBTDallas.com. and follow the prompts. You can learn more about Pride Weekend at DallasPrideParade.com.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones