Ford Country

It might be a little intimidating to perform at an open-mike event right after a drag king named "Daddy Dick," but the stage-frightened can take heart. "People might feel a bit more comfortable coming up and being introduced by a big fat dyke," says Nancy Ford, lesbian comedienne extraordinaire and host of "The New Dyke Show."

Ford's been hosting the event on and off since the early '90s at different venues around town (for the record, there isn't an "Old Dyke Show"). This particular reincarnation takes place on the deck at 1415 California, overlooking downtown Houston.

Ford calls her early interest in humor an "I Love Lucy sort of thing." After leaving rural Ohio, where she was raised, Ford did mostly straight comedy at straight clubs. But she finally tired of limiting her act to "gay innuendo," so she started doing gay shows for gay audiences.

Cut to 20 years later, and the comedienne's an associate publisher and writer at The Texas Triangle by day, and a "showbiz whore" by night, doing shows for audiences both gay and straight. And innuendo, though still an effective comedic tool, really isn't necessary. From its name alone, it's obvious that anything goes at "The Dyke Show," with its theme song about piercing your nipples and sucking on someone's tongue.

"The show really steers itself," says Ford, who typically opens the night with a short comedy set. "It usually ends up in this big giant jam session." Musicians such as Dana Rogers and Mary Allen show up regularly. Another institution is guest bartender Vicci Lindsey: "There isn't a lesbian in Houston who hasn't been served a drink by Vicci and told their sob story to her," says Ford.

Whether your shtick is complaining, cross-dressing or just being nontraditional, you're welcome at Ford's party. "It's a really good forum for people who want to express themselves without doing karaoke." Here's guessing that that's not a minority population.

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Julia Ramey