QUEER CLIP: ‘A Good Old Fashioned Orgy’

At first it struck me as odd that A Good Old Fashioned Orgy would be opening in suburban theaters (Mesquite, Grapevine, Arlington) instead of urban, sophisticated Dallas. Then I saw it, and understood: There’s nothing urban or sophisticated whatsoever about this mostly unfunny, post-adolescent take on American Pie, Porky’s, and the rest of sitcomovies about losers hoping to get laid. The difference is, these losers are yuppies who should know better. (They are all supposed to be high school friends now turning 30, but most appear to be pushing 40.) When ringleader Eric (Jason Sudeikis, pictured left with Tyler Labine) finds his dad is selling the Hamptons beach house he and his friends commandeer every holiday for drunken bashes, he gets the (contrived and formulaic) idea to hold a parting orgy — just a little casual sex among friends. First, he has to convince them all to do it. Then they have to go through with it.
If it sounds naughty, it’s not. These dilettantes could learn a thing or 30 about hookups from just about any gay man, and like most comedies of this ilk, the idea of girl-on-girl action is hot; a tentative kiss between two fellas? Gross. (That doesn’t stop it from showing full frontal, though of no one worth seeing.)

Films like this are usually so smugly coy about being sexy and clever they are neither; that’s about the only bull’s-eye this lame, Labor Day dreg release hits.

— Arnold Wayne Jones

One star. Now playing in limited release.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 2, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

FEEDBACK: Cancel DMN subscriptions, Saving Easter in the Park, Tell TCA what you think

Cancel DMN subscriptions

The policy of the Dallas Morning News, which excludes same-sex marriage announcements while printing “traditional” marriage announcements, is discrimination, pure and simple. I just cancelled my subscription to the News, as I do not want my money supporting such discrimination. I urge other News subscribers to do the same, telling the News the reason for your cancellation.

Joe Ball, via e-mail


Saving Easter in the Park

Over 20 years ago, Oak Lawn was different. Known for our gays residents, artists and bohemians, Oak Lawn was a destination and a diamond in the conservative rough that was Dallas, Texas. People traveled miles for the safety, solace and solidarity provided just entering Oak Lawn’s boundaries. Events dotted the year. Obviously they were heavy on the gay side but they also were heavy with people that loved and didn’t judge us.

Easter in the Park was one of those events, and it was the most diverse of them all. Even the Dallas Symphony showed us the love by spending a cherished religious holiday with the scourge of the Christian community — we, the lowly homosexuals, and our proud brethren.

Fast forward to 2011. Those people we sought refuge from, that always showed us fear and contempt, infiltrated Easter in the Park and took our tradition away from us. The event was to be moved and made more “family friendly.”

I guess no one told them we were family already and our traditions bind us.

Gentrification is the same dance in any country and in any city. Bohemians, artists and gay people move to architecturally rich but neglected parts of town and make lemons into lemonade. Transformative magic happens, property values go up, tourism increases and good press abounds.

Then waves of yuppies come, each being a little less tolerant than their predecessor. They do not share the live-and-let-live mentality that allowed the first batch to come in the first place. They demand chain establishments and upscale amenties and folks with the income to afford them.

Long ago created to protect Oak Lawn’s character and history, the Oak Lawn Committee abandoned that mission ages ago. The last bit of history they let be destroyed were all the apartments that fell between Wycliff, Douglas, Rawlins and Hall. What were once charming duplexes and apartments are now what John Waters might call a “communist day care center.”

The committee is chock full of developers, and their last decade seems to have been dedicated to the three-story rectangle and the wonders it bestows on mankind. If you are unable to reside in one of these for $300,000, $400,000 or $500,000, then pity you, please leave. Be careful Oak Cliff. You’re next.

It isn’t just developers’ fault. The block on Cedar Springs where JR.’s resides used to be a historic collection of quaint storefronts that mirrored across the street. Now a collection of cavernous cinderblock buildings house our bars. They are so large and impersonal, they require a few hundred people to achieve the intimacy 50 used to provide. If we lose Easter in the Park, then we lose a piece of ourselves and where we came from. Those that fought for where we are today would be mortified. I hear them turning in their graves.

I intend to show up in Lee Park on Easter and have a contest with myself to see how gay I can look for the family-friendly crowd. When it comes to respect, I give what I get.

Michael Amonett, via e-mail


Tell TCA what you think

Please call the Turtle Creek Association and Cathy Golden at 214-526-2800 and voice your opposition to the hijacking of the Easter in the Park event, done apparently to exclude gays this year, which was thwarted only by heavy arm-twisting. Read the press; join the Facebook fan page and, most importantly, show up! Ms. Golden can have her own “family-friendly” Creek Craze on April 17 if she wants. I was born into a family and have a family of choice and consider myself friendly. Doesn’t that make me “family-friendly”? Perhaps not in Ms. Golden’s “hetero-Republican-marriage-and-two-kids” world, but the world has changed a lot. I remember when Lee Park was a cruise spot with a popular tee room; it was all some people had. I personally think it’s fantastic that youth today have no clue what a cruise park or a tee room is. There are real role models to aspire to today and real, healthy community events —including Easter in the Park.

This is really quite typical of how things tend to operate. We move in to an area, organization or event and make it fabulous — and then get run off. I will oppose any change that Ms. Golden wishes to bring that would take us all back to the “golden days” when gays were marginalized on a grand scale, forced into the bushes, darkened cruise spots and closets. Change is coming folks; change is here. We’re here; we’re queer; get over it! Oh and one more thing: Thank God for drag queens and trannies. If it were not for them, we as the gay community would not exist. Look back on Stonewall and remember; we must never forget to honor the bravest amongst ourselves. I stand in awe of people who are just who they are and live life day after day against threats of violence, hatred, homophobia, misogyny (which is where I personally believe that homophobia has it’s real origin), and just live out loud!

Daniel Shipman, via Instant Tea

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

—  John Wright

Queer clips

‘True Grit,’ ‘Rabbit Hole’

The Coen Brothers have always had a peculiar relationship with Texas, maybe because the sense of Wild West recklessness is still cultivated by urbanites. It’s a complex feeling, though: A lone Ranger (sans mask) named LaBoeuf (Matt Damon) endures a share of mockery in True Grit, but it’s forgiveable — the movie is just so damn entertaining.

I barely noticed a contraction in the dialogue until the waning minutes of the film, which imbues the tale with a poetic majesty without being stilted. Yet the Coens keep everything in the realm of the real; this isn’t some commonplace revenge fantasy but a devil-in-the-details character study of a girl (Hailee Steinfeld, who’s remarkable) and a wizened marshal-for-hire (Jeff Bridges, better even than his Oscar performance in last year’s Crazy Heart). It avoids predictable, touchy-feely sentimentality while still being emotionally stirring.

Less stirring is Rabbit Hole — perhaps because it tries too hard. A couple (Nicole Kidman, Aaron Eckhart) work through their grief over the death of their child in wildly different ways. It’s a prickly story about yuppies in denial where so many of the characters seem to want to be hated — or at least misunderstood. Grief is hard to portray in small doses (everyone deals with loss uniquely), and to try to make a movie of nothing but is too great a task for director John Cameron Mitchell. Kidman’s OK, but the standout is Miles Teller as a regretful teen. He and Steinfeld should make a movie together.

— Arnold Wayne Jones

True Grit: Five stars; Rabbit Hole: Two stars

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

—  Michael Stephens