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Frank Billingsley: Mothers, Marriage, and Meteorology

Frank Billingsley

Mothers, Marriage, and Meteorology

A closer look at KPRC Chief Meteorologist Frank Billingsley and his new book Swabbed and Found.

(HOUSTON) — Frank Billingsley is no stranger to the City of Houston. In fact, he’s been in the living rooms of Houstonians for years as KPRC Channel 2’s chief meteorologist—a position he assumed over twenty years ago in 1995. Despite how well we may feel we know him—Frank has never held back from sharing details of his personal life—there are still many things that the public doesn’t know about him.

Many of those details are outlined in Frank’s new book, Swabbed and Found, which chronicles his life not just as a meteorologist, but as a gay man and a child of adoption. The latter recently led Frank upon an incredible, sordid, and sometimes complicated journey to discover better who he is and where he comes from.

I sat down with Frank in the weeks following Hurricane Harvey to discuss the book, his life before this journey, coming out, and, of course, the weather.

Billingsley states that while his sister—who is also adopted—for years yearned to find out more about her birth parents, the need to know about his own had never overwhelmed him. In fact, it wasn’t until his colleague and dear friend, Dominique Sachse, presented him with an email link about biological genealogy testing that he even considered it a possibility. After all, his home state was a closed-records state that didn’t allow for adoption records to be released if requested to remain closed by the birth parents. At least not without “a lot of trouble and a lot of money,” as Frank put it himself in our interview.

“That was the first time that I had realized that it [genealogical science] had become sophisticated enough and that the database had become as big as it is … It’s like a fingerprint. It’s so unique that it can link you to another person.”

Yet, it was that link that led Mr. Billingsley down a road to discovering his birth mother—who he has since met and with whom he has established a relationship. As Frank puts it, “not everybody wants that information,” when it comes to finding the people that put them up for adoption. However, that knowledge led him to a more enlightened state of being—closure even. To hear Frank make a compelling argument on the idea of closure and finality, “Closure is closure. And closure is very often sad. You close life with a funeral. You close relationships with a glass of wine. You close jobs with hugs and tears. But closure is a part of life.”

SF_FNLcvr-683x1024 Frank Billingsley: Mothers, Marriage, and MeteorologyClosure, however, did prove harder for some than others. Billingsley’s aforementioned sister did discover her family, only to find that her birth mother had passed of cancer and that her father wasn’t open to a relationship with her. She did, however, find that she had half-siblings, with whom she has maintained contact.

When the conversation circled around to Frank being gay—Frank and his husband Kevin, with whom he has a stepson, married on December 12th, 2012—I asked Frank about coming out to his parents in a decade not as accepting as the 2010s. Frank admits that it wasn’t easy, but that it wasn’t as difficult as the coming out stories that are often told. He states that his adopted father admitted he didn’t understand homosexuality, but knew how smart Frank was. He continued to tell his son that if someone as smart as Frank thought that it was okay, there couldn’t be anything wrong with being gay. “

However, when it came down to meeting his biological mother, Billingsley admits that there was a moment where it felt as though he had to come back out of the closet. He states that his mother, like his adopted parents, is a devout Christian, and that maybe she does not understand homosexuality.

Being someone in the media, Frank is never without news in his face. A supporter of the strides that the Obama Administration made for LGBTQ people, I asked Frank what he thought of the current administration, and whether or not he worried that rights would be stripped away from LGBTQ people. He seemed hopeful, stating, “I don’t think that the legislation would be there to support that. And if it does, I don’t think the people who vote for the legislature will support that. I don’t think we want to see our country go back.” He continued, “When we’re dealing with human beings, and their rights to be human beings, taking a deep breath and pondering whether the decisions concerning their rights are futile. If you look at the trans military ban—you have generals who are saying, ‘No, no!’ It’s bad enough we’re banning Muslims … and now this?”

As far as Hurricane Harvey is concerned, Billingsley was concerned for what he proudly refers to as “my city,” a phrase Houstonians everywhere are familiar with and that binds us together. He states he wasn’t surprised by how the city came together, nor was he surprised by the impact of the storm—which he himself predicted to bring as much as 50” of rain to certain areas surrounding the city.

Billingsley’s book (being released by Houston’s Bright Sky Press) is a page-turner. It’s one that Houstonians will read with ease because each word can be heard in Billingsley’s voice. That won’t stop it from gathering attention outside Houston, however. For there’s much more appeal in a story the story than just Frank’s fame. In fact, it would be fair to say that anyone who has ever had uncertainties about who they are will have a difficult time putting the book down. However, in this debut chronicle of his life, his main message rings loud and clear:

Regardless of color, orientation, race, nationality, religion, age, size—people are people. We’re all related by that fact. And as such, people all deserve the same rights and respects.

And if there may be no better mouthpiece in Houston for that message to come from than Frank himself—a smart, successful, well-round, and well-respected gay man and pillar of the LGBTQ community.

Meet Mel Rose: Artist and Newly-Minted Talk Show Host

Mel Rose Mel Rose on Air TV talk show the round up

Known around Montrose just by the name ‘Mel Rose’, the singer and artist has a lot of things she’d like to discuss; and she’s about to get the chance to do just that in her new talk show from About Magazine, The Round-Up with Mel Rose.

(HOUSTON) –You’ve probably seen her around Montrose and the surrounding areas, out-and-about at local events with her longtime partner and musician, Morena Roas. But Roas — who hosts Monday night’s The Floor is Yours at Guava Lamp on Waugh, runs the MollyNation brand, and encourages artists to support other artists as she does herself — isn’t the only talented half of this coupling. Just like Roas, Mel Rose is a vocalist and musician who spends her time speaking with and supporting the LGBTQ community of artists and fans. Meeting her and getting into a conversation with her is like lightning in a bottle — powerful, energetic, passionate, and bright. Her ideas are fluid, they’re insightful, and they come to her with ease. Mel Rose is a woman who thinks.

But just as much time as she spends thinking, Mel Rose is listening. Her opinions are important, but she takes note of how important it is to hear from someone else’s perspective. And it’s that sort of introspective and curious mind that led her right to the cameras for her brand new talk show premiering this August, The Round-Up with Mel Rose. 

37923945_914094942134759_4454366619119910912_o Meet Mel Rose: Artist and Newly-Minted Talk Show HostBut this isn’t just any old talk show in vain of The View or Chelsea. Mel Rose’s show isn’t about battling it out over politics or current issues, bringing in fancy celebrity guests, or even promoting products to viewers at home. Her show is about something much deeper — people, their perspectives on existential topics (women in the music industry, relationships, depression), and taking an introspective look at how our own actions affect the people and the world around us.

The talk show — from production companies Mel Rose on Air and About Media (a subsidiary of About Magazine) — is executive produced by Mel Rose herself, with co-executive producer Anthony Ramirez, editor-in-chief of About Magazine and the author of the new book, “Less Than Butterflies”. It will be the first show for both About and Mel Rose on Air — both of which are producing other, separate content, such as Mel Rose’s Mel Rose on Air radio show and Ramirez’s The Anthony Project sitcom coming next spring — and the duo and their team have been hard at work to make the show come to fruition. We sat down with Mel Rose to chat about the forthcoming show and what brought her to this place and point.


About Magazine: Tell us what inspired you to create this show.

Mel Rose: What inspired me to create this show was the ability to give people an inside look into themselves. It was something I felt I needed in my journey growing into myself. Looking at social media and talk shows, it seemed that everyone was talking about the problems in the world, but no one seemed to be looking for the solutions; and for me, we are the solution.

What about your show is going to be different from other shows like it?

I feel like my show is different because it will give people the opportunity to be involved in subjects that can potentially change the way they see life itself. Being a part of that movement will help this country — and this world — be more proactive in changing the way we view real life circumstances and how we handle and react to them.

What kind of topics do you want to discuss?

The major topics that I want to bring to my panel are topics that we seldom talk about. They’re going to seem like topics that people talk about all the time — depression, love, women — but if you look at the way they’re being discussed in other shows, they’re only being talked about on a surface. I want to open them up a little further and step away from circumstantial topics and discuss a more humanistic approach to these topics. I want us to delve into ourselves and ask, “What can I change about me to make this better? How are my decisions affecting the people around me?”

“The best advice I could give my younger self would be that no one is perfect and to be perfectly fine with that while also using your strengths to be great.”

What’s your background in entertainment?

My background is in music. I’m a singer/songwriter. But I also love to write poetry. It’s like therapy for me. I’m currently working on my original music and my branding as an artist, with a new single coming soon.

19059977_765301433680778_673124295057270857_n Meet Mel Rose: Artist and Newly-Minted Talk Show HostOh, that’s amazing! Can you tell us about the single?

The single coming out this year is called “Feel the Music.” It’s a house/dance pop song. It’s a song that is out of my comfort zone, but the song itself has great meaning to me. It was actually the one that gave me the ability to understand music and lyrics and how they come together. “Feel the Music” gave me an understanding of myself as a writer because of the simplicity of it.

That’s amazing. Who do you hope to reach with this single? Well … not even just the single, but with the show as well! Do you have a specific demographic? 

What I hope to reach with my show is the ability to give people the understanding of how huge their part in this world is and how much control they actually have in it. I’m also currently writing a book entitled, “I Am the Author of My Life,” and a lot of the book plays a big part into the concept I’ve conceived for this show. We have the pen and we are the authors of everything that goes on in our lives. Usually we’re either writing it or we have given the world the pen to write it for us. We have the choice. My demographic is truly just anyone that is human and needs to take a deeper look into themselves.

 

If you could tell your younger self anything or give her any advice, what would it be?

The best advice I could give my younger self would be that no one is perfect and to be perfectly fine with that while also using your strengths to be great. Don’t worry about what everyone else is doing. Because, at the end of it all, worrying is going to away from what you have to offer the world around you. Get to know yourself, be your own best friend, and don’t take anyone’s issues personally. It is not your issue to conquer. Be of value to others and judge no one. Your higher power is the only thing that can give you the power to be the best you, and that just being Mel Rose will be your greatest legacy.

That’s really beautiful, and I think more people need to think that way. So, in line with what you just said, what do you think the world needs most right now and how do you plan to help give it with your show and your music?

I think that what the world needs right now and has always needed, is love. Love is the only thing we all as human beings seek, everything we do, we do for love. My plan is to show love to every group of people. The common denominator for living is love. My music and the show will reflect that; my writing will reflect that; my journey will reflect that. The only reason why I preach about love is because I receive it and you can only give love when you are willing to receive it. Love is love.


The Round-Up Mel Rose premieres in late August. You can follow Mel Rose here:

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About TV: Round-Up & Anthony Project

About Media The T

The Round-Up and The Anthony Project, two of the forthcoming television shows About Media (a production company subsidiary of About Magazine), are entering production.

(HOUSTON) – As reported back in February, About Magazine opened its own publishing house and production company in late 2017 (respectively titled About Editions and About Media). The production company would offer all its content through free streaming services. At the time, three television shows were slated for late 2018 and early 2019. A full, 13-episode series order was given to the first season of About editor-in-chief Anthony Ramirez’s sitcom, The Anthony Project, with pilot scripts orders placed to Lifelong Learning (based on the collection of short stories by Zeke Jarvis published by About Editions in March) and How to Break My Neck (based on the collection of poetry by Jessica L. Walsh also published by Editions). In the time since, About Media has greenlit a fourth program, a pre-recorded, round-table talk show entitled The Round-Up with Mel Rose hosted by local Houston artist Mel Rose.

TAPWriters About TV: Round-Up & Anthony Project
Kimberly Dyan, Al Farb, Rebekah Knight, Megan Prevost, Brie Grayson, Shaun Gray, Lea Alonso, Wendy Taylor, Christian Peck, and Veronica Strutts.

As of July, The Anthony Project officially began pre-production. Ramirez will serve as executive producer, head writer, director, and star of the show and has brought on a large scale team of writers to round out the show’s first season of scripts. Among his team former 93Q morning show producer Al Farb joins the staff as supervising producer, local Houston musician Wendy Taylor joins as Ramirez’s co-executive producer, and returning writer Kimberly Dyan makes her comeback as coordinating producer. The remainder of their writing staff includes 2018 Pride SuperStar contestant Shaun Gray, actor and vocalist Christian Peck, Houston drag queen Veronica Strutts, returning TAP writer/producer Rebekah Knight, Houston-native and LA-transplant Brie Grayson, About Magazine staffer Megan Prevost and Florida International University alum, Lea Alonso. The sitcom, which revolves around a fictionalized version of Ramirez and his cartoonish coworkers, is set at a fictional version of About Magazine where Ramirez works as a sex writer, jumping back-and-forth in time between the protagonist dealing with the death of his grandmother and recovering after being a victim of rape.

AANDMR About TV: Round-Up & Anthony Project
Anthony Ramirez, Mel Rose

As for The Round Up, this is only one of the two productions artist Mel Rose is undertaking. While the second will be a broadcast radio show (Mel Rose On Air), Round-Up will travel a different avenue into film. Having been picked up for a 13-episode first season with Mel Rose and Ramirez serving as co-executive producers, the series will engage in show-long topics that are discussed with a panel about topics like depression, suicide, relationships, women in the entertainment industry, the price of freedom, and many more. Mel Rose describes her show as different from other talk shows like it because it “makes the audience ask how their actions affect the people around them.”

Mel Rose conceived the idea long ago and is currently rounding up guest panelists and professionals in the careers of many of these topics. She hopes that her show will take away the politics and anger that are dividing people on all sides and will instead give them an opportunity to look at the most humanistic aspects of the issues and wires that connect all people to each other. An interview with Mel Rose will be released tomorrow (8-1-18).

The Anthony Project is now scheduled to premiere in the spring of 2019, with The Round-Up scheduled to begin airing in early September. An early viewing party for the first episode of Mel Rose’s show will be held Friday, August 25th. How to Break My Neck (a story about a poet who has lost her words, but finds them again with a little magic) and Lifelong Learning (an anthology about a dystopian society in which rules mean everything) are being pushed back until summer 2019.

Sherry Vine Launches Queer Network, gaySVTVworld

We Want Our Drag TV
The Internet is getting a whole lot gayer!   International drag darling Sherry Vine and former Here-TV executive Josh Rosenzweig are combining their style, humor and sensibility into a one-stop, digital destination for all of the world’s LGBTQ entertainment needs.  gaySVTVworld premieres February 14 with original shows, specials, music videos, short films and more: all free at YouTube.com/MissSherryVine.

“The world needs gaySVTVworld because they are hungry for original programming from top queer talent,” says Vine, a comedian whose hilarious video parodies have made her a YouTube sensation.  “We got ‘em all: Haus Of Mimosa, Pickles, David Serrano, Chris Semers … and this is only the beginning.”

TBT-Pickles-logo-300x242 Sherry Vine Launches Queer Network, gaySVTVworldgaySVTVworld is created by and for LGBTQ audiences,” adds Josh Rosenzweig. A two-time Emmy Award nominee, Rosenzweig served as SVP of Here TV for ten years where he produced over two hundred hours of television including She’s Living For This, a show that starred Vine.  “Nobody is going to tell our stories like we will. While our visibility has increased enormously over the last decade with the launch of several LGBT television networks, it is essential that the community have an online space to call our own.  A destination where we can go to find like-minded artists and feel the power of the collective.”

While gaySVTVworld draws inspiration from a traditional television model, it also presents a modern digital age spin with all shows under-seven minutes long.  “We’re offering short content so people can view several episodes in the same amount of time as one traditional TV show,” explains Vine.  “Maybe you only have five free minutes on your way to work or during a lunch break.  That’s enough time to catch a hilarious episode of Fashion Puhleez on your smart phone!”

The network will kick off its first season with a slate of eight programs, releasing daily, beginning with Sunday’s Sherry and the Greek, an original talk series starring Vine and Chris Semers, discussing a variety of fun topics and performing skits, characters, and musical numbers.

On Monday, queer notables share their pop culture picks on EduGAYtion.   Then Tuesday, The Rachel Zoe Show meets Project Runway in Fashion Puhleez, with lead players in the beauty industry discussing fashion, club couture and styling.

House of Mimosa presents The Anita & Gina Marie Show, a comedic show that chronicles the daily antics of two women as they cause mayhem throughout Astoria, Queens (singing out – or rather, airing out – all their dirty laundry) gets viewers over hump day.   Then its Throwback Thursdays with Pickles, a look back at a public access show that offers a glimpse into the gay, downtown art and nightlife scene of New York in the nineties.

Celebrate the end of the workweek with The Flames of Hell’s Kitchen, a telanovela about the life of Sherry Vine, her manager Gloria, assistant Busted and sexy Latino boyfriend, Diego.  In the first season, Sherry wins big, loses everything, slips back into a life of drugs, and faces an intervention. The show stars David Serrano, Busted, Patty McKeever and Al McKeever.

Finally, on Saturday, it’s movie night as gaySVTVworld presents The SVTV Short Film Fest, an online festival dedicated to spotlighting the very best LGBTQ filmmakers from around the world.  Each week is a new short film along with interviews from the filmmakers and special bonus features.

In addition, What’s In Your Purse?, a hilarious two-minute segment featuring Vine cornering nightlife celebrities and forcing them to reveal the contents of their bags, will run throughout the week.

“We knew launching a network was an ambitious endeavor but there are so many things we didn’t think of,” admits Vine.  “Josh and I and our amazing team have literally been working every day on gaySVTVworld for almost a year now.”

“So much of that time has been spent on brainstorming ideas, reaching out to people we wanted to work with and deciding on a slate we felt confident about,” continues Rosenzweig.  “We have several shows that are in various stages of development. Our intention is to continue to keep rolling out new programs, music videos and comedy sketches.”

gaySVTVworld premieres February 14 at YouTube.com/MissSherryVine