DRAMATIC INTERPRETATION: Paul J. Williams, left, and Coy Covington react to sharing their Readers Voice win for best actor. – DANIEL A. KUSNER/Dallas Voice

It probably says something significant about the gay community than when voting for their favorite male actor, readers split their choices between two men best known for donning dresses. Although Paul J. Williams, left, and Coy Covington ply their stagecraft sparingly — each appears in a handful of productions every year — virtually every time one trods the boards he leaves a red mark on the funny bone. How could you not vote for them?

But aside from their cross-dressing comic chops, their styles distinguish each of them. First there’s the fact one (Covington) is blond, the other (Williams) brunet: the Chrissy and Janet of Dallas theater.

Covington’s forte is dry ironic melodrama. He’s stolen the show in several Charles Busch plays, such as "Red Scare on Sunset" and last year’s "Die Mommie, Die!" at Uptown Players (which Busch himself saw, and for which he gushed about Covington’s interpretation). Covington effortlessly howls in exaggerated pain and boundless joy, but never without finding his key-light. And when he pulls on a pair of trousers and tailored jacket over his slender frame for a "straight" performance, it’s as if Fred Astaire has been inhabited by the soul of Robert Benchley: Funny and elegant.

If Covington is uptown, Williams is downtown. Williams’ humor is organic and quick-witted. Although well-known as a stand-up comedian, he’s really more an actor with a comedy routine. When he performs his signature character, the frumpy Right Wing bible-thumper Sister Helen Holy, it’s a form of guerrilla theater. He grills audiences about their religious background, shooting off hilarious barbs with machine-gun speed, improvising as expertly as another funny Williams (Robin). But he can act, too, as he proved early this year when performing "Revolutionary Costume for Today" from "Grey Gardens" at Uptown Players’ "Broadway Our Way."

Say what you want about the heft of Broadway or the fleshy realism of Chicago theater. If it’s wrong for Dallas to love two comic cross-dressing actors, we don’t want to be right.

— Arnold Wayne Jones


Paul J. Williams
In 2007, Williams wrote and starred in "From Fifth Grade to Fabulous" at WaterTower Theatre’s Out of the Loop festival, March 9 at the Addison Theatre Center, 15650 Addison Road.
The show was also presented by Uptown Players at KD Studio Theatre, 2600 N. Stemmons Freeway, Suite 180
Coy Covington
Often performs with Uptown Players.
In 2007, starred in "Die Mommie, Die!" (Apr. 13-May 6) at the KD Studio Theatre, 2600 N. Stemmons Freeway, Suite 180

– BRYAN AMANN/Dallas Voice

Landmark Magnolia Theatre
3699 McKinney Ave. Suite 100. West Village.

Movies are all the same wherever you screen them, so all movie theaters must be the same, right?

Not a chance.

Sure, there’s the obvious: Newer theaters have fresher facilities and state-of-the-art sound and projection equipment. (Nowadays, stadium seating is the rule, not the exception.)

But we rely on so much more when picking a favorite moviehouse. Ineffable qualities make the difference: What kind of audience does it attract? How’s the concessions selection? Is the staff knowledgeable (better: enthusiastic) about their product? And how well does management book films you want to see?

And by those criteria, the Magnolia in the West Village easily won us over.

First is the location in the heart of Uptown, which serves as a focal point for entertainment and dining convenient to the urban filmgoer. Then there are the extras, like the Magnolia Bar (you can bring mixed drinks into the theater with you) and the digital projectors (some of the few in North America.)

But it’s the art house aesthetic that sells it. This is where "Brokeback Mountain" played for months to lines wrapping around the block, and where the OUT TAKES Dallas gay film fest takes place every fall. In other words, the Magnolia shows films the gay community wants to see — and it’s why we keep coming back.

— Arnold Wayne Jones

I’M LOOKING FOR … TapeLenders shift manager Eric Delockroy holds copies of "In the Wild," left, a journey about 15 rough men looking for big adventures in the great outdoors, and "Into the Wild," Sean Penn’s film about Chris McCandless, who starved to death in the Alaskan wilderness. – DANIEL A. KUSNER/Dallas Voice

3926 Cedar Springs Road
Sun.-Sat. 9 a.m.-midnight

TapeLenders opened in 1981 in half of the space that Zen Salon now occupies. Back then, they had 100 Betamax tapes and a copier that the owner purchased on his American Express Card. Their "system" consisted of an index-card file with customers’ info and rentals handwritten on them.

Two years after they opened, VHS came onto the market, and soon the store was split between the two. And when DVDs came out, a new era for TapeLenders began once again.

They soon outgrew their location and took over the entire space that is now Zen. And in 1992, they moved into their news digs, where they remain today.

In 1992, they branched out — opening a Skivvies and a TapeLenders on Austin’s Fifth Street. (The owners also own Outlines and Skivvies here in Dallas.)

TapeLenders didn’t start off carrying adult films, but once they did, they swiftly became a considerable success. Owner Dave Richardson says in the beginning of the adult days, only one or two percent of their films were adult. Now the percentage is closer to 15. They carry a number of theatrical releases, of course, like the ones you’d find in a typical video store. But TapeLenders is anything but typical. Richardson boasts that the store is "the most complete LGBT film library in the world." Apparently, some producers of new queer films call the store and ask to have their films featured on the shelves.

In 1995, Richardson overheard a local say to some visitors, "No need to stop in there. It’s just a video store."

Not something he wanted to hear. So began carrying items for non-rental shoppers. Their inventory focuses on entertainment-related items, novelties and even sex toys.

— Jenny Block

WHAT’S THE FREQUENCY? Krys Boyd hosts "Think," Mondays-Thursdays, from noon to 2 p.m. on KERA, 90.1 FM. – DANIEL A. KUSNER/Dallas Voice

90.1 KERA-FM
Public radio for North Texas.
3000 Harry Hines Blvd.

We admit it: We’re news junkies. If you read the Dallas Voice — or, lord help you, write for it — then you’re still an old media consumer. The kind who wants news in all its forms: hard, breaking politics, like last year’s Dallas mayoral race that pitted gay candidate Ed Oakley against the eventual winner, Tom Leppert; softer, mushy stuff about things like Gay-Bi-Gay-Gay, a queer music fest spun off from SXSW; even navel-gazing think-pieces about how homosexuality was finally removed from the list of psychiatric disorders in 1973.

You could have read about those between these pages. Or you could have heard about them on KERA 90.1 FM, the National Public Radio outlet for North Texas.

Most of KERA’s coverage of gay issues comes from its national shows — late-night’s "Fair Game," the weekend staple "This American Life" (which often includes contributors like David Sedaris, David Rakoff and Sarah Vowell) and Terry Gross’ probing morning talk show "Fresh Air." But locally produced "Think" with Krys Boyd has covered some GLBT topics like Oakley and Sheriff Lupe Valdez. (And we forgive Jeff Whittington, host and producer of "Anything You Ever Wanted to Know," for not knowing the significance of the Human Rights Campaign’s "equality" symbol on a recent show.)

But what’s really appealing about KERA is that it runs the gamut of cultural programming without sensationalism, demagoguery or (bless them) endless commercials blasting at you between sets of Top 40 hits dictated to the station by corporate pencil-pushers. Being a KERA listener is akin to belonging to a club that cares about being in touch with the real world.

— Arnold Wayne Jones

Uptown Players
The 2007 season included productions of "Hair," "Tick, Tick Boom," "Twilight of the Golds," and "Die Mommie Die!"
Productions held at KD Studio Theatre, 2600 N. Stemmons Freeway, Suite 180.

Liz Mikel
Recently starred in the title role in Theatre Three’s "Caroline, or Change"June 4 -June 30 2007), at Theatre Three, 2800 Routh St.
Mikel also plays Corrina Williams on "Friday Night Lights," which airs Fridays at 8 p.m. on NBC.

Robert L. Camina
Wrote-directed "Hunter4Love," which screened June 1, 2007 at QCinema, Fort Worth’s Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, and screened Oct. 1, 2007 at Out Takes Dallas.
Wrote-directed"DripTease," which screened Aug.15, 2007 at Station 4 and Sept. 10, 2007 at JR’s Bar and Grill.

"Queer Anarchy" produced by Queer Voltage at the McKinney Avenue Contemporary, 3120 McKinney Ave. on Sept. 6-8, 2007
Writer-producer, Christopher Soden
Director, Mark-Brian Sonna

Paul J. Williams
Host, "Broadway Our Way: Valley of the Divas"
Jan 11-20 2008
Venue: KD Studio Theatre
2600 N. Stemmons Freeway, Suite 180

Tina Parker
Co-artistic director and administrative director of Kitchen Dog Theater at the McKinney Avenue Contemporary, 3120 McKinney Ave.

Directed Kitchen Dog’s "End Times" June 8-30, 2007; and "Our Lady of 121st Street," Nov. 17-Dec. 16, 2007.
Co-directed Kitchen Dog’s "Man from Nebraska,” Sep. 14-Oct. 13, 2007.

Dallas/Fort Worth Channel 8
Local ABC affiliate
606 Young St.

Bill’s Hideaway Club
4144 Buena Vista St.
Mon.-Sat. 8 a.m.-2 a.m.
Sun. noon-2 a.m.

Anton Shaw
Performs at Alexandre’s Lounge, 4026 Cedar Springs Road, on Thursdays at 9 p.m. — except for the first Thursday of each month.

Cassie Nova
Hosted "Something to Be Thankful For" a fundraiser-auction for the Resource Center of Dallas. Nov. 7 at JR.’s, Bar & Grill, 3923 Cedar Springs Road.
Regularly performs at Rose Room, 3911 Cedar Springs Road.
Showtimes: Thu.-Sun. 11 p.m., midnight, and 1 a.m.

Liz Mikel
Regularly performs at "Open Mic Night" at Bill’s Hideaway Club, 4144 Buena Vista St. on Sundays at 8:30 p.m.

Regularly performs at “Terrific Tuesday Jam” at The Tin Room, 2514 Hudnall St. on Tue. at 9 p.m.

These articles appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition March 21, 2008

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