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A Daily Conversation About Dallas

Television

The Best Documentary Out of Corsicana Is Not About Fruitcake

| 2 months ago

I watched the first few episodes of Cheer last night, the new Netflix documentary from the producer of Last Chance U. It follows the national championship cheer team out of Navarro College in Corsicana, one that even the locals weren’t particularly aware of. It has hard luck stories. It has grit. It has heart. It has broken noses and concussions and shockingly-difficult-to-apply hair ribbons. It’s as poetic as football and almost as violent, and it’s certainly better than fruitcake. Here’s a great article about it. Watch it.

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Television

A Vital Local TV Program Enters a New Era

| 6 months ago

Remember television? No, not the screen where you watch all your Hulu streams and Amazon rentals. Broadcast television: the thing you turned on and watched no matter what was on. It had channels, they aired shows, and you were completely at the mercy of some mysterious station manager who decided what you were going to watch at any given time.

I know, it sounds horrible. Now we have dozens of streaming options, monthly subscriptions, video on demand, plenty of content to binge and serials to suck up hours—heck, we can even decide to spend the evening watching kids play video games live on Twitch. What wonderful times we live in, right?

Well, I’m not so sure. Yes, we now have dozens of specialty streaming services to satisfy any movie nerd’s quirky cinematic appetite. And yet, all it takes is one corporation to change its distribution strategy—as with what happened with Filmstruck last year—and a heap of classic cinema disappears from the streaming universe overnight. Where can you watch Ozu films these days? The video stores are all closed. Where do you go?

Now you’re wondering: what does this all have to do with anything? Well, oddly enough, the proliferation of competing streaming services have left us in a position where television—and local television in particular—may become relevant again. Case in point: a program called Frame of Mind on KERA that has been around for nearly three decades and will kick off its fall season at 10 p.m. this evening on channel 13.

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Television

Dallas Wide Receiver Markiese King Is the Tragic Hero of Last Chance U

| 7 months ago

I spent most of last week getting over a cold, so I caught up on some TV viewing. If you haven’t already watched Season 4 of Last Chance U on Netflix, you should. The series follows a junior college football program in Independence, Kansas, where players are getting a last chance to make the grades and get the tape they need to ideally advance to a D1 school and on to the NFL. Except we, the viewers, know just how heartbreakingly impossible these kids’ dreams really are.

What Season 4 lacks in the character development and drama of earlier seasons, it gains in terms of the clarity of the tragic sacrifices these young men are making in terms of their bodies and their brains. They are commodities, despite the best efforts of well-meaning professors.

Dallas native Markiese King is perhaps the most tragic example of all. He suffers three concussions during the season, plus breaks his finger and a bone in his ankle. After one game, where he is knocked unconscious for minutes and then is sent back in to play, we watch as he has to be physically restrained by teammates after the game as he gets incoherently violent, clearly still in the throes of having his brain rattled. Later, he doesn’t recall any of it.

The wide receiver played for South Oak Cliff High School, initially catching the eye of TCU and Texas Tech. But poor academic performance preventing him from enrolling. So he was relegated to JUCO.

During the show, King takes viewers on a tour of the housing project where he grew up, telling stories of gun violence and stopping at Hardeman’s BBQ to talk with his high school coach. Filmmakers interview his mother, who talks about her longterm illness, which often interfered with King’s high school academic career. As the credits for the season roll, we learn that King still hasn’t managed to get his grades up and his mother’s health has deteriorated, so he returns home to help care for her, with no football options in sight.

Meanwhile, the stogie-smoking, expletive-hurling, emotionally unstable head coach Jason Brown, who kicks King off the team before the last game for allegedly smoking marijuana, has been charged with eight felony counts for allegedly impersonating a lawyer in Johnnie Cochran’s law firm in order to threaten a news outlet. He’d already been fired as the head coach after texting a German player, “I’m your new Hitler.”

These young men have so much heart. They deserve better. From all of us.

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Pop Music

A’Keria C. Davenport Has a Cameo in Taylor Swift’s New Video

| 8 months ago

Among the multitude of cameos in Taylor Swift’s new video for “You Need to Calm Down” is A’Keria C. Davenport as Nicki Minaj. Houston may now claim her, but Gregory D’Wayne grew up in Dallas and graduated from Oak Cliff’s Carter High School. And just look at her now, hanging by the trailer park pool with Katy Perry, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Ellen DeGeneres, Adam Lambert, the Queer Eye guys, and–gasp!–Ryan Reynolds.

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Dallas Pride

Alyssa Edwards Will Be Lady Liberty in NYC Pride Parade

| 8 months ago

Alyssa Edwards, our hometown RuPaul’s Drag Race star, will be riding on the Smirnoff float for NYC Pride at the end of the month dressed as Lady Liberty. I chatted with her on the phone from Los Angeles about what drag queen she’d want to have her back in a bar fight, her recipe for a tongue-popping cocktail, and where she hides those rainbow Jell-O shots.

It is an honor and a privilege to get a chance to talk to you. Well, thank you so much. I’m so very excited to be talking to D Magazine because I am a proud Dallas resident.

So that was one of my questions. You’re in Los Angeles now. You’re going to be on the Smirnoff float in the NYC Pride parade at the end of the month. You’ve been on the Werq the World tour. Are you planning to keep Dallas as your home base? I was asked yesterday at an interview, “What is your favorite place in the world you’d like to travel?” And I said, “There’s no place like home.” You know, I just purchased a home. We all got to see that on my Netflix series, Dancing Queen. And I tell you, it is a struggle for me to leave and travel because, you know, I was born and raised in Mesquite. I didn’t have the appreciation for the Dallas community until I traveled. And I’ve visited a lot of beautiful places, but Dallas is home for me.

How do you think Dallas Pride compares to others that you’ve been to around the country? Whenever I ride in the Dallas Pride parade and I see all the smiling faces and all the waving of  the fans and the flags, I know those people. I see those eyes, and I know that person.

And I think for me, there’s like an extra feeling of warmth and an appreciation of my community and the amount of support that has been selflessly given to me. I think that’s the biggest difference, you know? I think moving our Pride this year to Fair Park was such a great move in my opinion, because it gives us opportunities to really grow and to really elevate our Pride experience.

That’s good to hear. The one criticism I have heard is that you can no longer bring your Smirnoff rainbow Jell-O shots because it’s not in the gayborhood anymore. Well, listen. You weren’t supposed to bring those out on Oak Lawn either, right? Well if you’ve got a good handbag or a nice clutch, you throw those right in there and go on in. And you know, when people were talking about this, I’m like, “You guys, we couldn’t do that on the streets. We just did it anyway.” Right?

Right. Get that cooler and let’s all come have a good time and celebrate life.

Alyssa, what’s your favorite recipe for a tongue-popping vodka cocktail? Oh my gosh. OK, I’m put on the spot now. Here we go. A tongue-popping vodka cocktail recipe. Well, I am a classic martini kind of gal with a little bit of Smirnoff and some rainbow olives. However, I think I love the Red, White & Berry flavor with a little bit of Pop Rocks around the rim.

OK, this is turning into something good. And my God, OK, what can I have in it? A little bit of pink lemonade!

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Television

Alyssa Edwards Named Fifth Most Powerful Drag Queen in America

| 9 months ago

S. Holland Murphy, D editor extraordinaire (who recently abandoned me on behalf of her children), alerted me on Monday to New York Magazine’s series of four covers honoring drag queens. I finally had a chance to look at them today. They are spectacular.

I also finally had a chance to review Vulture’s ranking of the most powerful drag queens in America. Dallas has six queens in the top 100 (although I believe A’Keria Chanel Davenport may have already moved to Houston), including Asia O’Hara and Plastique Tiara. Tongue-popping Alyssa Edwards topped the list at #5. Her new Anastasia Beverley Hills makeup kits, released at the end of May, are already creating a buzz. And you can currently catch her on the World of Wonder’s Werq the World docu-series (see trailer below). The international tour hits Dallas November 11.

And my wife alerted me to the fact that on November 21, Drag Race choreographer Todrick Hall is bringing his Haus Party tour to The Bomb Factory. The album is now her favorite tennis pump-up jam.

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Television

A’Keria C. Davenport Loses ‘Drag Race,’ Moves to Houston, and Starts a Charity

| 9 months ago
Via VH1 (that’s A’Keria, top right)

If you watched the grand finale of RuPaul’s Drag Race last night, you know the real winner wasn’t [spoiler alert] Yvie Oddly but Vanessa Vanjie Mateo, when her girl on the street segment concluded with a shot of her sitting on a throne on a Los Angeles sidewalk giving out some improvised fake digits (555-VANESSA-VANJIE-VOTERS-DOT-MINGLETHING).

 

Despite some impressive acrobatics, local contender A’Keria C. Davenport, the last Dallas drag queen standing, lost her first-round lip sync battle to Yvie, who was dressed as a Vitamixed version of Sesame Street.

But best-dressed had to go to A’Keria’s mother and grandmother. Mama Davenport even turned around to showcase her assets and prove that Miss Ass Almighty’s apples don’t fall far from the tree.

Sadly, A’Keria told the Houston Chronicle yesterday that she recently left the Big D and moved to Katy. She also told Metro.co.uk that, post-finale, she plans to create a skincare line as well as start a charity that will provide support for transgender women and homosexual youth. She told the website: “So when things aren’t going as planned in your life, whether your family are putting you out because of your lifestyle, or you’re a victim of transgender gay-bashing, which takes place a lot. I lost a close friend, so that’s something that’s very dear to me.” In addition to her friend, she also knew Muhlaysia Booker, a transgender woman who was fatally shot in Dallas two weeks ago.

This year is the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, and RuPaul provided a moving retrospective of the gay civil rights movement as part of the show. Dallas Pride starts tomorrow, for the first time in Fair Park. A’Keria won’t be there, but the cast of the Rose Room will. Catch Asia O’Hara, Cassie Nova, Jenna Sky, Kelexis Davenport, Krystal Summers, Layla Larue, and Valerie Lohr on the main stage at 2:15. Or head to the Rose Room to see them at 11 tonight.

Show these queens, and yourself, some love this weekend. Because if you can’t love yourself, how the hell are you going to love somebody else?

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Television

The Last Dallas Drag Queen Standing

| 10 months ago

Of the three Dallas drag queens who started out on this season of RuPaul’s Drag Race, only one remains. A pair of busted burlap pants took out Ra’Jah O’Hara, and Plastique Tiara succumbed last week to a failed catfight and insufficient face-kini. (But you can’t keep the Vietnamese-American beauty down for long–she took the opportunity to release her glam single, “Irresistible.”) The last one standing is A’Keria Davenport, a pageant queen from the Davenport Dynasty, which was founded by Oak Cliff native Kalexis Davenport.

A’Keria has, for the most part, stayed under the radar with passable performances like her take on Tiffany Haddish for Snatch Game at Sea. Then came that twerkerrific improv opposite guest judge Cheyenne Jackson (aside: I was once at a penthouse cocktail party where the Broadway star tickled the ivories). So, since you’ve done your civic duty and voted for our next mayor already and anything else you had planned will probably be rained out, tune in tonight.

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