It’s been five years since writer/producer/director Del Shores returned to Waco to perform his standup show “Sordid Confessions” and a lot of new sordid has passed under the bridge for the Baylor University graduate since then.
Like his divorce from actor Jason Dottly after eight years of marriage and finding himself single, in his 50s and sorta famous. “When you’re a minor gay celebrity, it’s hard to be anonymous,” he said.
Like discovering a dating scene made wondrously strange by social media and technology making introductions on apps like Tinder, Grindr, OkCupid and Scruff. Like shooting the latest edition of his “Sordid Lives” series, the film “A Very Sordid Wedding,” which takes his characters 16 years into the future for a marriage in his hometown, Winters, Texas. “It asks the question, ‘What happens in rural Texas when marriage equality marches in?” he explained.
All that sordidness — and, likely, a lot more — gets wrapped up in Shores’ standup act “SINgularly SORDID,” which he’ll perform at 9 p.m. Saturday at Connect Nightclub.
There’s also celebrity dish about Leslie Jordan and Dolly Parton; more P.S.F.U. responses to haters’ letters: and personal stories like “five dates with Del” Shores. For those who remember his last Waco show, “this one pushes a little bit,” he said.
The Waco and Baylor that Shores came back to in 2011 was admittedly different from what he knew as a Baylor student majoring in journalism and Spanish in the 1970s. He hadn’t come out then — that wouldn’t happen until he was in Los Angeles, married and with two daughters — but chafing and a little rebellious, the son of a Southern Baptist pastor.
Shores was on the staff of the Baylor student paper The Lariat when it clashed with then-president Abner McCall when he announced that any Baylor students who had posed for Playboy magazine’s “Girls of the Southwest Conference” issue wouldn’t be allowed to graduate. Lariat editors criticized his stand and were fired; Shores avoided punishment in part, he thinks, because his father was a pastor.
He went on to find success as a writer and playwright, beginning with his 1987 comedy “Daddy’s Dyin’ (Who’s Got The Will).” His 1996 “Sordid Lives” play went on to become a movie, then a 12-episode television series and Shores’ televison credits include writing for “Dharma & Greg,” “Touched By An Angel” and “Queer As Folk.”
Shores’ experience growing up Baptist and gay turned into his prize-winning play “Southern Baptist Sissies,” which had a 2013 film adaptation. He’s been busy since then, mixing writing, directing and his standup comedy.
The latter will bring him to perform in Orlando, Florida, the site of the mass murder of 49 people in a gay nightclub on June 12. His “Sordid Lives” is running at a theater this month and he appreciates the chance to bring some laughter to a city and community still in mourning. Still, he admits such incidents of violence targeting gays is concerning.
“It’s not just Orlando, but every event I go to, my daughters 23 and 26 worry about me,” he said. “It makes me sad.”
His memory of his last Waco performance, however, is far from sad. Shores packed the downtown Waco nightclub Trix with more than a few familiar faces in the crowd.
“It was really wonderful — a great night,” he recalled. “There were so many people there from college and from church. I felt a lot of love that night.”