Dancing Queen

By Laura Latzko, September 2016 Web Exclusive.

In a historic Dancing with the Bars milestone, Mark Howard and Tim Bishop walked away champions of both the dance competition and the fundraising competition.

As part of the one n ten fundraiser, Aug. 7 at Tempe Center for the Arts, 14 contestants raised more than $36,000.

Howard, the partner/co-owner of FEZ and Bliss/ReBAR, brought in $12,040 through pool parties, individual donations, a drag brunch, specialty drinks and raffles.

In the dance competition, 2016 Miss Phoenix Pride Naomi St. James and Freddie Maese (representing BS West) took second place, and Brandie Reiner and Kyle Farr (representing Harley's Italian Bistro/Toasted) placed third.

During the contest, Howard and Bishop, a professional dancer for Fred Astaire Dance Studios, did a lifeguard-themed number to Pitbull’s “Fireball” and “Does Your Mother Know” from Mamma Mia.

This marked Bishop's second consecutive win; he also took first place with Travis Shumake in 2015.

This wasn’t Howard’s first time taking center stage, either. What most don’t realize is that he has musical theater, performing with Up with People and performing in a show at SeaWorld on his resume, too.

Echo caught up with Howard to find out more about his DWTB experience and his double victory.


Echo: What made you decide to do Dancing with the Bars 2016?

Howard: I have loved this event for a very long time, [since] back to when Gary Guerin [of SWAY Events] started it. I always wanted to participate in it, but the timing wasn’t ever right … This year came around, and it was suggested to me that perhaps I might want to think about doing it, and I said, “You know what, I have wanted to do this a very long time, and I absolutely want to do it.” It is a personal challenge for me, from a physical standpoint, but it’s also a cause that I believe in greatly.

Echo: How did you choose your songs and style of dance?

Howard: “Does Your Mother Know” is really about having a younger guy have the hots for an older, more mature person. We thought that would play well with Tim and I, and it just moved into, “Let’s make this number sexy.” So, “Fireball” fit that perfectly because it is about heating it up. The little comedic play in between with the oxygen tank was a play on the fact that I was oldest competitor in the competition.

Echo: Had you ever done ballroom before this?

Howard: Back in my high school and college years, I had taken some ballroom classes. My mom and dad even put me in a ballroom class, probably when I was in middle school. It was back in a time when there were cotillions. … my personality fits more to swing and cha-cha.

Echo: What was it like to both lead and follow in the dance?

Howard: I’m usually the one that is dipping, so to be dipped is kind of nice … I’ve always been the lead, in any dance I’ve done in the past … It’s kind of nice to be on the other side of that coin sometimes.

Echo: Your number put a smile on a lot of people’s faces, especially coming after very heartfelt numbers from Eddie Broadway and Daniel Cordova.

Howard: Both Eddie and Daniel had very touching performances and moving stories. I was actually backstage getting a little welled up and kept thinking, “Oh my god, I’ve got to get ready for my performance. I’ve got to start thinking about getting into character here.” Anyone who knows me knows that [my] performance is probably exactly me. I would love to be able to pull off and do something as serious as Eddie and Daniel did, but me, I’m the Lucille Ball. I just like to have a lot of fun. I like to smile. I like to make people smile, and if it’s at my expense, I don’t mind that either.

Echo: In your video, you said that this was very hard for you. What was the most challenging part of it?

Howard: It’s physically difficult. It’s exhausting. It’s tiring. If you are not a dancer, you are using muscles you haven’t used in a while. It’s also mentally challenging, just from a memory perspective, to remember the steps, remember the moves and try to remember that you also need to perform, smile, look at the audience and play up the character … I’m a bit of a Type A personality. I like perfection and I want to do things exactly how they should be done. Tim gave me a very challenging routine, and there were moments that I said, “I cannot do this,” and he would just kind of go, “That’s fine. We’re going to do it anyway. Let’s do it again.” He just kept pushing me, which is awesome because that’s really what a Type A person wants.

Echo: What was it like working with Tim – another Type A personality?

Howard: We are friends. We were friends before. Actually, Tim worked for FEZ and at another restaurant called Metropolis in Scottsdale. I’ve known him as not only a friend and employee but now as a dance teacher. There were definitely a few days where I would be like, “You know, I can’t do that right now,” “I’m not getting it” or “Could you just give me some more,” and he would just kind of look at me. Eventually all of those little moments led to laughter.

Echo: What were some of the most memorable moments during rehearsal?

Howard: In most instances, you are not practicing in a room by yourself. You are practicing in a ballroom where several lessons are going on around you … You are running into people, and you feel bad about it, and you are hearing other music that has nothing to do with your dance … It was a great environment to work in, but it didn’t prevent Tim and I from having these hysterical moments where we were just laughing our guts out. There are a lot of arms and legs that end up in places sometimes that you don’t want them to necessarily end up, and that can cause some chuckles.

Echo: What was it like taking on a different community role for this competition?

Howard: For me, it’s kind of nice because it introduces me to people that maybe I wouldn’t have seen otherwise. They may know me because they know I own FEZ or own Bliss Rebar, but they might not have come up and said something to me. Whereas after our performance, it was so great to have people come up and say, “Oh my god, it was great to see you in this. It really made me smile…” It’s created a different connection with those supporters and patrons.

Echo: What was your secret to fundraising?

Howard: You’ve got to really try to attack it from different angles, and I’m blessed and humbled that I had so many people who joined me in making it happen … You hit different communities; you hit different donor bases.

Watch the full performance that won Dancing with the Bars 2016 HERE.

Mark Howard and Tim Bishop performing to “Does Your Mother Know” and “Fireball.”

Keep readingShow less
WhistlePig + Alfa Romeo F1

SHOREHAM, VT (September 13, 2023) — WhistlePig Whiskey, the leaders in independent craft whiskey, and Alfa Romeo F1 Team Stake are waving the checkered flag on a legend-worthy release that’s taking whiskey to G-Force levels. The Limited Edition PiggyBack Legends Series: Alfa Romeo F1 Team Stake Barrel is a high Rye Whiskey selected by the Alfa Romeo F1 Team Stake drivers, with barrels trialed in their wind tunnel to ensure a thrilling taste in every sip.

The third iteration in WhistlePig’s Single Barrel PiggyBack Legends Series, the Alfa Romeo F1 Team Stake Barrel is bottled at 96.77 proof, a nod to Valtteri Bottas’ racing number, 77, and the precision of racing. Inspired by Zhou Guanyu, the first Chinese F1 driver, this Rye Whiskey is finished with lychee and oolong tea. Herbal and floral notes of the oolong tea complement the herbaceous notes of WhistlePig’s signature PiggyBack 100% Rye, rounded out with a juicy tropical fruit finish and a touch of spice.

Keep readingShow less
by Spectrum Medical Care Center

Nurse Practitioner Ari Kravitz

When I started medical transition at 20 years old, it was very difficult to get the care I needed for hormone replacement therapy because there are very few providers trained in starting hormones for trans people, even though it’s very similar to the hormones that we prescribe to women in menopause or cisgender men with low testosterone.

I hope more providers get trained in LGBTQ+ healthcare, so they can support patients along their individual gender journey, and provide the info needed to make informed decisions about their body. I’ve personally seen my trans patients find hope and experience a better quality of life through hormone replacement therapy.

Keep readingShow less

Descanso Resort swimming pool and lounge area

Descanso Resort, Palm Springs' premier destination for gay men, just received Tripadvisor's highest honor, a Travelers' Choice "Best of the Best" award for 2023. Based on guests' reviews and ratings, fewer than 1% of Tripadvisor's 8 million listings around the world receive the coveted "Best of the Best" designation. Descanso ranked 12th in the top 25 small inns and hotels category in the United States. Quite an accomplishment!

Open less than two years, Descanso Resort offers gay men a relaxing and luxurious boutique hotel experience just minutes away from Palm Springs' buzziest restaurants, nightclubs, and shopping. Descanso has quickly established itself as a top destination for sophisticated gay travelers, earning hundreds of 5-star guest reviews and consistently ranking in Trapadvisor's top positions alongside brother properties Santiago Resort and Twin Palms Resort.

Keep readingShow less