Best Of :: Arts & Entertainment
The Dallas arts landscape is crowded with festivals each year, but the Oak Cliff Film Festival has emerged as a do-not-miss event. Founded by the partners behind The Texas Theatre, who are filmmakers themselves, this fest picks a theme each year, exploring a particular era of filmmaking, for example. (This year's fest looked at the No Wave cinema style of the 1970s and '80s.) Like a never-ending party, the OCFF rolls into locations scattered around Oak Cliff, and after a few screenings, audience members get friendly and chatty. For cineastes, it's a gas.filmoakcliff.com
Every Thursday night, the rooftop deck of two-floor Red Light Lounge comes alive with music from The Guild, a group of DJs who have played at Burning Man. The real show, however, is the crowd of regulars who show up in wild-ass wigs, feathers, leather, sequins, tutus, body paint and other outrageous disco costumery. How much time should you put into your couture for this club? They enforce a "no effort, no entry" door policy. Adorn yourself accordingly.
If you're going to give yourself a name like Velvet Elvis, you better be tacky in your execution. And if there's anything that Velvet Elvis does well, it's bad taste. It's everything that a hole-in-the-wall dive located in a strip mall should be: dark, grungy and full of bad art, with no beers on tap (bottles and cans only) and drinks that will knock you off your feet. Like any self-respecting dive, Velvet Elvis is the place to get away from other people, but if you want to hate yourself a little more, there's always karaoke.
Readers' Pick: Lee Harvey's
Here's the short-but-simple online biography of The Naked Lens: "I figured the world already had enough wedding photographers," he writes. "Most of my best friends are hookers, strippers or burners." The Naked Lens is photographer Mark Kaplan, a former naval air crewman and lifeguard who now works as a freelance shooter. Kaplan can be found photographing parties and events far off the beaten path, definitely not the dressy society wingdings the shiny sheets cover. His pix celebrate the tattooed, pierced, pink-haired and scantily clad. Burlesque shows are a favorite. Kaplan likes his subjects to have some skin in the game.Deep Ellum, 214-444-FOTO, nakedlens.org
In March, award-winning journalist Janet St. James announced she was leaving her job of 19 years at ABC affiliate WFAA and moving to public relations. The next month came worse news: St. James had been diagnosed with invasive breast cancer. The news of her diagnosis and subsequent double mastectomy came from St. James herself in videos posted on Facebook. "I am fierce and strong. But I have breast cancer," she said. She has continued posting updates through chemotherapy treatment (now over). After all those health stories for Channel 8, including exclusives on last year's Ebola patients at Presby, St. James may be doing her best work reporting on her own medical crisis and recovery. (Follow her on FB or on Twitter @janetstjames.)
Dallas Comedy House isn't where you go to see a big-name headliner, but that's what makes it good. Head to the recently relocated Deep Ellum institution if you want to catch Dallas' best up-and-coming stand-up comedians (who might one day become big names) trying out new material and honing their acts. You can take an improv class here, too, and it's the site of the annual Dallas Comedy Festival, which serves as a showcase for hot comics on the way up in the biz.