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Re-Imagined ‘How Do I Live’ By LeAnn Rimes Available Now

LeAnn Rimes Strips Down ‘How Do I Live’ for Re-Imagined Version as Thank You to Fans

Re-Imagine ‘How Do I Live’ By LeAnn Rimes Available Now

(NASHVILLE)  – It has been twenty-one years since LeAnn Rimes released possibly the greatest love song ever. Today, Rimes releases Re-Imagine, a beautiful rendition where she bares her soul, breaking down How Do I Live”.

According to Billboard “How Do I Live” reached No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 in December 1997, reaching chart milestones left and right. The song eventually spent a then-record 69 weeks on the chart, nearly half of that in the top 10 alone — a record only recently broken by Ed Sheeran’s “Shape Of You” last year. And if you look at Billboard’s All-Time Top 100 songs ranking, you’ll see Rimes’ name sitting pretty at No. 4 for “Live.”

Download today!

Re-Imagine is a slowed-down version of ‘How Do I Live.” The production is less smoke and mirrors and highlights what we have known all along, Rime’s vocals can still melt your heart, and cut deep, really deep. Re-Imagine takes you on a spiritual journey allowing you to experience “How Do I Live” like the very first time.

The new song, produced by powerhouse Darrell Brown serves as a personal thank you from Rimes to her fans. Re-Imagine is available at iTunes, Apple Music, Spotify and Amazon.

Make Room for the Queens

Estella Blow Blackberri Room Bar Gayme Night

There’s no place like The Room

(SPRING, TX) — When it comes to drag queens, there are no two quite like Blackberri and Estella Blow. The duo that works together at various shows across the city (including C U Next Tuesday at Michael’s Outpost and Mary’s Comedy House at Hamburger Mary’s) have an undeniable chemistry as rare in drag as it can be in day-to-day interpersonal relationships. But this dynamic duo doesn’t restrict their talent to Montrose. As a matter of fact, both queens take their talent on the road (by Houston standards, at least) up I-45 to Spring, Texas, where they host their lively “gayme” night every Wednesday at The Room Bar.

About The Room

18582502_1174399439372751_3916616945686667170_n Make Room for the QueensWhile The Room isn’t the only gay bar in North Houston, it is only one of two. For queer people in Spring, Humble, The Woodlands, Klein, and Tomball, the options for a neighborhood LGBTQIA bar north of the loop are, well … limited. True, Humble was previously home to the gay bar Whispers, but the north side of 610 (and even the Beltway), leaves only two gay bars, without traveling so far as Huntsville. These are Ranch Hill (located at exit 73 in the Woodlands) and (host to Blackberri and Estella) the Room Bar and Lounge (affectionately referred to as ‘The Room’).

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Natalie Brackin

The Room, for those who live north of Houston, is a local staple of it’s LGBTQIA community. For the past ten years, the Room has served as a safe haven for LGBTQ locals from Spring and the surrounding area. At the risk of editorializing, it was the very first gay bar that I ever frequented after coming out, where the regular patrons and staff welcomed me with open arms. And for the last eight years, the bar has been managed by Natalie Brackin, who serves not only drinks, but as a favorite to regulars as she makes drinks with that extra ingredient: smiles.

The staff, which alternates daily, also consists of Michael Booth, Erich Barber-Horn, and co-manager Chris Vega. And with each person that keeps this bar running comes an individual personality that keeps customers coming back. From Michael (whose one-on-one interaction with customers resonates with regulars and newcomers alike), to Erich (whose jokes and charismatic perception leave no patron left behind), to Chris (whose style, flair, and sweetness resound throughout the bar even when he isn’t there), to Natalie (whom patrons new and old affectionately refer to as ‘Mama’, even after meeting her only once).

The bar is host to not just Gayme Night, but also to the monthly Roomers Show, hosted by About favorite Tatiana Mala-Nina. It’s ability to draw out Houston’s favorite drag queens has been long-standing. For years, the Roomers cast, has included the likes of Veronica Strutts, Cyn City, Akira Skye, Chloe T Crawford, and various others.

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Chris Vega, Michael Booth, and Eric Barber-Horn

Without sacrificing its comfy, hospitable feel, the Room maintains the ability to provide a relaxed, low-pressure environment while still playing host to entertainment that packs out its house. This can only be credited to its staff, though especially so to bar manager, Natalie Brackin. The woman behind the magic of The Room is known for her ability to listen to her customers, provide them with sage advice, and quip them with jokes that often result in not only laughter, but long-lasting friendship.  Even when confronted with drunk (not to mention slightly belligerent) patrons, Ms. Brackin is capable of not only maintaining composure, but also defusing the tension to a mild simmer. And why? Because, in her own words, “Everything’s perfect.” But it’s that sort of comfortability that keeps patrons coming back. The way that Brackin interacts with those at the bar—engaging in their stories, listening to their troubles, appeasing their needs for drinks and solace—is the sole driver in that force that has kept this bar running in the time that she’s been with them—increasing its population ever since. With that said, taking a trip up I-45 to the Room is a bit like following the Yellow Brick Road to the Emerald City—Ms. Brackin, the Wonderful Wizard of Oz. You know, if the Wizard had really been a wizard and not a man behind the curtain from Kansas.

About Blackberri and Estella Blow

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Blackberri performing at Gayme Night

It’s been no secret that Blackberri had a nice rise to drag queen fame in 2017, bleeding into various hosting gigs in 2018. Still, Darius Vallier, the man behind the bearded-genius that is Blackberri, was the FACE Awardwinner of Drag Illusionist of the Year and the Gayest and Greatest Award-winner for Best Host and Emcee in 2017. But that rise to fame didn’t come without work. Vallier spent time working in comedy clubs to hone his craft, as well as studying design in order to perfect his drag abilities. Now, in 2018, Blackberri’s busy schedule includes shows at Hamburger Mary’s, Michael’s Outpost, and a judging gig at Rich’s Dessie’s Drag Race.

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Estella Blow performing at Gayme Night

As for Estella Blow, whom I first saw right here at The Room a couple years back, she’s no amateur to drag. AJ Speckhard’s (the man behind the lovely Ms. Blow) credits include C U Next Tuesday at Michael’s, the Roomers Show at the Room Bar, and Mary’s Comedy House at Hamburger Mary’s. In addition to her regular shows, she’s also been a competitor in Dessie’s Drag Race at Rich’s Houston (where she now serves as a competitor mentor) every Monday night. Estella, whose comedy chops are as well timed as her drag numbers, is a Room Bar staple that’s made a mark not only on the North Houston audience, but as well as on that of Montrose.

About Gayme Night

For quite a while, the Room hosted its Wednesday Drag Bingo show, where winners won not only drinks, bar tabs, but sometimes cash. The night included not only bingo, but also performances by then-host, Akira Skye, Cyn City, Estella Blow, and various guests from week-to-week. However, after a tiny hiccup with the Texas Lottery Commission in the summer of 2017, the Room transitioned bingo into Gayme Night, where Blackberri and Estella took over following Akira’s retirement from drag.

29511166_2128730720744087_3399457407488589760_n Make Room for the QueensWhile bingo was always a night that drew in a crowd, Gayme Night has proven to be something not only different in vibe, but also in audience participation. Gone are the days of a quiet bar that listened intently while one queen or another called out ‘O-69’ or ‘B-9’ (“you ain’t got the cancer”). Replacing it is an intimate evening of two of Houston’s finest and most personable drag queens engaging an audience not distracted by their own conversations or troubles. And while the games are fun and participatory (from seeing whose inflated balloon can fly the furthest, to blowing up condoms until they pop with an air pump, to drag suicide), it’s neither the games nor the free drinks (which one is gifted if they win) that keep the audience coming back. In fact, it’s the personalities that both AJ and Darius bring to life with Estella and Blackberri. At no point do they allow the audience to drift from their consciousness. Whether that involves Blackberri asking to see the nudes in the phones of those their to see them, or Estella asking how many viewers attend Lone Star Community College like she does, only to insult her own intelligence. Their chemistry, their performances, their ‘sickening’ costumes, and their interaction with the crowd that comes and goes in waves throughout the night all contribute to the success of not only The Room, but the followings of both queens. Both Estella and Blackberri find hilarity in the audience members—”You look like my dog when she had heartworms,” Blackberri told one guest as they dragged themselves across the floor during a game—in each other—”Who’s ready for some bearded beauty?” Estella asked the bar patrons before quipping of Blackberri’s performance “Me neither.”—and in themselves—”I’m gonna head to the back and wipe the sweat from under my titties,” Blackberri teased between numbers.

But of course, neither would be able to pull off this sort of event every seven days past without the other. Each brings their own energy to the bar, each complementing the other in a way that might not quite work with other queens. Their chemistry and interaction is truly something to be admired, something that makes the audience desire more. And while each drag show throughout the Greater Houston Area is special in its own right, as is each and every drag performer, there’s no denying that this weekly show (due in part to the bar staff) is a supernova in and of itself—even if that supernova exists just a little bit outside of the Montrose galaxy.


You can catch Gayme Night every Wednesday at The Room Bar & Lounge (4915 FM 2920 Spring, TX 77388).

You can find both Estella and Blackberri in C U Next Tuesday at Michael’s Outpost every … well … Tuesday and in Mary’s Comedy House Fridays at Hamburger Mary’s. You can also find Estella in the Roomers Show on the second Saturday of each month at the Room Bar, and Blackberri hosting Eye Cons each Saturday, as well as judging Dessie’s Drag Race Monday’s at Rich’s, and as a rotating co-host for Drags to Rich’s at Rich’s beginning Sunday, March 25th.

 

REVIEW: Oscar-Winning Film “A Fantastic Woman”

The Chilean film took home the Oscar for Best Foreign Film at the 90th Annual Academy Awards tonight, making it the first trans-led film to ever win an Oscar

I recently had the opportunity to go with some friends to a screening of a new, Chilean film entitled Una Mujer Fantastica (A Fantastic Woman). I was excited to see this film because it is the first Oscar-nominated (and as of tonight, Oscar-winning) film starring a trans woman, and representation like that is hard to come by. When the film began, I was surprised at how good it felt to see a woman like me on the big screen.

largeposter-206x300 REVIEW: Oscar-Winning Film "A Fantastic Woman"The film opens with Marina (Chilean actress Daniela Vega) singing in a bar as a man comes in and watches her. She smiles at him, and they go to dinner for Marina’s birthday. The man is Orlando (Francisco Reyes), a business owner and Marina’s much older cis boyfriend. That night, they go home and make love; but later, Marina wakes in the middle of the night to find Orlando sitting up, gasping for breath, and speaking incoherently. She rushes him to the hospital, where he dies of an aneurysm. What follows is the story of Marina trying to pick up the pieces of her life and say goodbye to the man she loved. All the while she is harassed and insulted by Orlando’s family, friends, and the police.

Marina’s life was easy and happy while she had Orlando—a nice apartment and car that belonged to him and which they shared. After his death, all that is taken from her as Orlando’s ex-wife demands the car and his son orders her to move out of the apartment immediately.  As soon as she loses the protection afforded by her relationship, the world rushes in to attack. The police repeatedly question Marina under the suspicion that she had hurt Orlando, misgendering her, and suggesting that Orlando had been paying for her company. Apparently, cis people cannot actually love trans people. Orlando’s ex-wife, Sonia (Aline Küppenheim), deadnames Marina repeatedly, an insulting and delegitimizing act that suggests a trans person’s identity is a playact that can be observed or ignored as is convenient.

Interspersed with the story are dreamlike sequences—Marina walking along a sidewalk suddenly hit with a wind so strong she has to fight to not be blown away; Marina alone in a nightclub transformed from rain-drenched to glam makeup and silver-and-gold dance costumes dancing with an army of likewise beautiful LGBTQ people. These moments both highlight and give respite from the trials she faces every day.

The greatest triumph of A Fantastic Woman is perhaps showing cis audiences the struggles that trans people face daily as we are deadnamed, misgendered, and asked ignorant and invasive questions by law enforcement, healthcare professionals, and total strangers (why is it okay to ask a trans person about their genitals? I honestly don’t get it, and I never see or hear cis people ask each other such questions). Sitting in a dark room hearing a theater full of cis folks gasp in shock and disgust at moments trans people experience daily, I thought maybe that cis people don’t listen, understand, or believe trans people when we talk about our experiences; but seeing it happen themselves, to a character with whom they can’t help but identify after nearly two hours in the dark, drives it home.

A Fantastic Woman invites audiences into the world of trans women, creating understanding and compassion. By the end of the film, Marina gets a chance to say goodbye to Orlando, and has found the strength to fight back against the people who attacked her.

A Fantastic Woman is rated R and has a run-time of 1 hour 44 minutes. Spanish with English subtitles. Content-warning for deadnaming, misgendering, assault, kidnapping.

Magic in Montrose: The Broad’s Way

One of the most underrated drag/live singing performances in Montrose is at Michael’s Outpost every Monday night.

(HOUSTON) — After leaving an event last night, I went out into Montrose waiting for something to happen. I wasn’t sure what it was I was waiting for; but I knew that if I could be patient, it would manifest. Was it that I was going to meet a man? Would I run into some old friends I hadn’t seen in years? Or was it just that I might get drunk and find myself having a good time amongst strangers? I couldn’t ascertain the specifics of this premonition, but I knew that if I could wait it out, something magical would happen.

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Regina Blake-DuBois

So, I made my rounds. I started first at Guava Lamp, where I had one drink and chatted with a few friends. Fun, but nothing particularly magical about it. I jumped over to Ripcord, where—as per the usual—the Monday night crowd was light and quiet (just the way I preferred my bar scenes). I had another drink there before deciding I was barking up the wrong tree. Nothing unusual was taking place in Montrose proper; and I therefore forged my way toward Richmond for a glass of Cab at Michael’s Outpost.

And that’s where it happened. It was there that I found myself sitting in a half-full bar where before me stood a trope of entertainers performing songs from some of Broadway’s seminal hits throughout the recent decades.

Be still my beating, gay boy heart.

Hosting The Broad’s Way was the lovely Regina Blake-DuBois, a drag queen I’d seen perform a handful of times and whose performances I’ve always enjoyed. Rolling out the remainder of the cast was singer Scott Lupton, drag king Richard Long, songstress Chaney Moore, and queen Mia Opulent Love, each performing showtunes from the 70s, 80s, 90s, and 2000s.

Let me just interrupt myself to say that while, yes, this is a drag show, it isn’t just a drag show. It’s actually the only show in Houston that incorporates drag queens, kings, and live singers. And when those performers and doing the best of Broadway, there’s nothing more that a theatre-geek gay boy who has seen Wicked onstage nine times like myself could ask for. (Pause to add that I was disappointed I didn’t catch Regina on one of her Wicked performance days, as she states they are frequent).

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Chaney Moore

I entered late in the show, with Blake-Dubois entertaining her group that seemed to consist of many regulars. Her hosting style is on-point: she’s funny … but doesn’t mind roasting herself when a joke falls flat or a line doesn’t quite work. And she knows how to keep the audience paying attention (even if that means jokingly reminding them that her phone number is carved into the wall of a bathroom stall). What’s best about her as a hostess, however, is that she really knows her shit. Blake-DuBois’s own theatre nerdiness packs into each joke that she tells the audience.

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Richard Long

Now, to say that I almost lost my shit more than once last night would be a bit of an understatement. After all, when Chaney Moore (who last night joined the show as a regular performer) pulled out a show-stopping rendition of “Living in Hell” from Saucy Jack and the Space Vixens, I was done. TAKE MY MONEY! Granted, I only had three one-dollar bills on me, so I had to make sure they lasted (they did not). Her voice is so clean and smooth. The way she jumps into her upper-register sounds effortless, only to come back down and belt out a note bigger than the bar itself. I was certain that none of the other performers would be able to follow her up. Then came the glitter-beard king, Richard Long, with his comedic take on “Do You Hear the People Sing?” from Les Miserables. Who knew that Enjolras could make me laugh with a song of revolution in 19th century France?

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Scott Lupton

Of course, I would be remiss if not to mention Scott Lupton’s rendition of “We Beseech Thee” from Godspell. I’m not entirely sure what I was expecting when Lupton took the microphone, but as someone who was previously unfamiliar with his powerhouse voice, I was completely blown away. A song that is often sang with breathy haste was well-paced, lively, interactive, and downright extraordinary. Even when it came time for the key change (which Lupton funnily made sure to mention to the viewers), the entire song was flawless. As for Mia Opulent Love, the queen in her beautiful green wig danced away to a number from Sweet Charity (a favorite show of mine), which she took the liberty of not only making into a fun, vibrant performance, but one that was tinged with just a bit of her trademark sexiness that she brings to every performance.

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Mia Opulent Love

And as the show was winding down, Ms. Blake-DuBois had taken to the back to change (as Love took the mic and regaled us with improptu stories of how someone had asked her if her green hair was natural). When she returned, she donned an effervescent pink coat and knee-high red boots. I knew then, for certain, she could only be bringing to life one of two characters—Glinda the Good of Wicked, or Elle Woods of Legally Blonde. Whether she’d be tackling “Popular,” “Positive,” or any of the other numbers from either musical, I’d be pleased.

Alas, she made a point of mentioning she would not be performing from Wicked, but that she’d be doing a number that was, in her words, “a little more legal.”

Thus came her finale performance of “So Much Better” from Legally Blonde: The Musical, which opened on Broadway in 2007 scoring seven Tony Award nominations, including Best Original Score of a Musical, and Best Performance by a Leading Actress for Bundy as Elle Woods. The show would go on to tape a live performance for MTV, host a reality show in which actresses competed to be the next Elle Woods, and has seen international productions and tours.

lb Magic in Montrose: The Broad's WayIt was also the very first musical I ever saw live right here in Houston when the first national tour came through the Hobby Center stage, brought to us by Theatre Under the Stars. That year (2009), the lead actress, Becky Gulsvig, had broken her toe while on tour, and Broadway’s leading lady, Laura Bell Bundy, had stepped in to fill her shoes. It’s one of my best memories and the musical holds a very special place in my heart. So, when Regina Blake-DuBois took on the task of lip-syncing and dancing the choreography to “So Much Better” (the act one showstopper that is considerably one of the hardest numbers in Broadway history to sing, right up there with “Defying Gravity”) I knew I’d found my Montrose magic. Hell, she even demonstrated the difficult Elle Woods high-kick at the end of the song (which once ended in Bundy launching her shoe into the audience). And, as luck would have it, I’d run out of ones at that point.

What got me about this production was that, while there was a good number of people there to see it, Michael’s Outpost wasn’t quite as full as I’ve seen it for its many other wonderful shows. From Eye-Cons to Cabernet at the Cabaret, Michael’s is usually good about packing out its seats for performances. Maybe it’s just the luck of having a Monday night show, or maybe the night was just slower than usual. Either way, everyone in the neighborhood that loves the theatre (and I do believe that accounts for a large demographic of LGBTQIA people) should make the time to head to Michael’s Outpost to catch this incredible cast put on one helluva show. With a new Broadway-centric theme each week, Regina and her chorus of talented entertainers put on a fun, audience-interactive show that brings the Broadway stage right into Michael’s Outpost every Monday night. And no matter when you make it out there to see it, The Broad’s Way is certain to never disappoint.


Michael’s Outpost is located at 1419 Richmond Ave. and is open 7 days a week with shows (some drag and some live piano) every night.