Bernie Taupin tonight at Wisby-Smith Fine Art

More than a songwriter, Bernie Taupin paints

To be a star in the rock universe without really ever being a rock star is a feat unto itself. It is a position Bernie Taupin knows well. Famous more for his collabs with Sir Elton John as well as other high-profile musicians, Taupin is easily one of music’s most legendary lyricists: “Candle in the Wind,” “Rocket Man,” “Levon” are giants in the rock ‘n’ roll vernacular.

But Taupin’s creativity doesn’t end with hit after lyrical hit. With Dallas on his itinerary, Taupin comes here as a different kind of artist.

“What I’ve got going keeps me pretty busy,” he says in his slightly gruff British accent. “I’m just cracking 60 and I’m pretty satisfied with things.”

To his stellar track record in contemporary music, Taupin adds the title painter. His abstracts have received critical acclaim on par with his songs, and Dallas’ Wisby Smith Fine Art gallery will feature Beyond Words, a collection of Taupin’s visual art.

—  Rich Lopez

SEEN & heard

The abstract art of Elton John lyricist Bernie Taupin correlates with his music more than he lets on

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ROCK IT, MAN | Already a legendary songwriter, Taupin (pictured with Elvis Costello, right) brings his abstract art, background, to Dallas.

RICH LOPEZ  | Staff Writer
lopez@dallasvoice.com

To be a star in the rock universe without really ever being a rock star is a feat unto itself. It is a position Bernie Taupin knows well. Famous more for his collabs with Sir Elton John as well as other high-profile musicians, Taupin is easily one of music’s most legendary lyricists: “Candle in the Wind,” “Rocket Man,” “Levon” are giants in the rock ‘n’ roll vernacular.

But Taupin’s creativity doesn’t end with hit after lyrical hit. With Dallas on his itinerary, Taupin comes here as a different kind of artist.

“What I’ve got going keeps me pretty busy,” he says in his slightly gruff British accent. “I’m just cracking 60 and I’m pretty satisfied with things.”

To his stellar track record in contemporary music, Taupin adds the title painter. His abstracts have received critical acclaim on par with his songs, and Dallas’ Wisby Smith Fine Art gallery will feature Beyond Words, a collection of Taupin’s visual art.

At times, Taupin sounds fickle about his own work. Although he likens the creative processes of songwriting to painting, he prefers now to discuss just his art … even though one might not exist without the other.

“Painting is just a natural extension in creation from writing songs,” he says. “My songs don’t influence my paintings, but it is another step.”

Like his abstracts, Taupin does say that his work process has its origins in the songs he wrote — mostly those in which he and Elton John might have been trying to say something in lyrics without saying something. John is much more out now than he was 40 years ago. In his rock heyday, John almost married a woman and then came out as bi. There has always been speculation that many of John’s songs had hidden or double meanings. Taupin rather likes that — even now.

“I like people to use their imagination,” he says. “Things like that just happen. You can’t over-think things. It’s just what comes out. There are a lot of similarities between songwriting and painting and a lot of the same things are going on. They’re both quite lyrical. It’s par for the course that we might cloak some lyrics but it’s just more interesting and people can come up with their own interpretation.”

Taupin says he has always doodled or drawn, but it wasn’t until the early ‘90s that the spark to truly create on canvas flared. At a ranch in Southern California, he found his Walden Pond. With all the travel that comes with being a music icon, he could finally settle in and let his inspiration flourish.

“The locale here is very inspiring and pretty spectacular, which all just lends itself to any sense of imagination,” he boasts. “How can you not be inspired by these surroundings? The facilities here give me much more opportunity to create. The space is great and it all really came together at the right time.”

Despite a seemingly endless supply of creative energy, even Taupin admits to having dry spells. As he explains, it’s a common thing for any artist, although it’s not the same for his music and his art. When it comes to writing a song, he’s far more driven by the business of it.

“As far as writing, I work when I need to work. When I’m preparing an album, which may be every couple of years,” he says. “I’m not writing all the time. My painting is far more consistent and I’ve been working a lot recently because I’ve been motivated by the series of shows coming up. But I’m also not painting all the time either.”

When he shows in Dallas, Taupin expects viewers to take away their own thoughts on his work. There is no wrong answer to the questions his art raises. But is it fair — when he asks audiences to eschew labels or titles — that he names his work?

“I’d much rather have a title. Untitleds are rather dull,” he says. “My titles at least give a viewer a starting point to come up with their own conclusion. The one thing I don’t like doing is explaining a song or my work. Like some of my songs, paintings need to be thought about. It’s not up to me put ideas in their heads, but to interest the viewer and ask them to use their mind.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 9, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Gay porn actor DJ Veritas jailed on murder charge

TAMARA LUSH  |  Associated Press Writer

NEW PORT RICHEY, Florida — Jason Andrews was a bisexual Chicago DJ with a British accent, whose chiseled jaw and good looks landed him roles in countless gay porn videos. Amanda Logue was a married, bleach-blond Georgia woman who once owned a lingerie shop, dabbled in prostitution and starred in several X-rated videos herself.

Together, they stabbed and bludgeoned a 41-year-old tattoo shop owner to death with a sledgehammer — and hatched some of their plans in typo- and expletive-laden text messages, Florida detectives said.

“I’m so glad you’re really commited to this take. Keep eyes for a knife, etc for me!” Andrews typed on his BlackBerry hours before the slaying, according to a transcript of the messages included in court records.

Logue replied in a nearly incomprehensible text that she was excited — and she wanted to have sex after they killed him.

Nearly two months after Dennis “Scooter” Abrahamsen was found dead in his Tampa-area home, Logue and Andrews were indicted by a grand jury on first-degree murder charges. Logue is being held without bail at a Florida jail — her attorney didn’t return calls for comment — and Andrews was arrested Thursday, July 15 in Tennessee.

Andrews was arrested by U.S. Marshals and the Chattanooga Police Department after working for several weeks as a manager at the Chattanooga Billiard Club, an upscale pool hall and cigar lounge.

“I would say he was very surprised. He was very clean cut, broad shoulders, dressed in a suit, not in a suit and tie, but more ‘Miami Vice,’ more of a GQ appearance,” said Paul Salayko, a spokesman for the U.S. Marshals Service.

He is jailed in Tennessee until he can be extradited to Florida. Authorities did not yet know if he had a lawyer.

Police in Florida say the pair killed Abrahamsen in the early morning of May 15 and swiped $6,000 cash, his credit cards and a video camera. Abrahamsen had hired Logue — whose porn name is “Sunny Dae” — to work at a sex party at his house, and police said that’s when Logue and Andrews set him up. They traded dozens of text messages about their homicidal plan, police said.

According to an affidavit, Logue would later deny that she had anything to do with the killing and claim Andrews was the one who bludgeoned Abrahamsen.

“Logue told (the detective) that Andrews grabbed the back of her hair then twisted her arm behind her back. Andrews forced her to view Abrahamsen’s crushed skull and told her that’s what would happen to her if she told anyone.”

Logue and Andrews met on the set of a porn video late last year and fell in love — even though Logue was married to a man in Georgia, authorities and friends said. Her husband did not return phone calls from The Associated Press.

Andrews’ Chicago friends find it difficult to believe he was involved in the killing. The 27-year-old Andrews was known in that city as DJ Veritas, and his Facebook and MySpace pages feature several video clips of him playing techno music in large clubs.

“He was a really straight up dude,” said Michael Sarkowicz, a Chicago club photographer.

The 28-year-old Logue seemed like a decent person, said Kristen Cameron, a Florida-based model who met her last year. According to several profiles on modeling websites, Logue did bikini and fetish modeling.

“She was professional, prompt and seemed all around normal, well so I thought,” Cameron wrote in an e-mail to the AP. “She was nice to me and was a great model! I felt a connection to her since we both have southern backgrounds.”

But Cameron’s opinion changed this spring when she saw how Logue acted around Andrews, her new boyfriend.

“Amanda wasn’t the Amanda I knew,” Cameron wrote. “She wouldn’t talk, all she did was text with Jason.”

Andrews, Cameron said, was obnoxious and brash. He often bragged about his military service, of which Cameron was skeptical.

In April and May, according to their Twitter accounts, Logue and Andrews spent several weeks in Florida, shooting porn videos, lolling on the beach and professing their love for each other. Photos on Logue’s Facebook show the pair grinning and hugging.

On May 14, Andrews posted a link to a pornographic photo of Logue and wrote on his Twitter account: “therealsunnydae and I are killing time waiting for a party to find us!”

The next day, detectives said, Abrahamsen hired Logue to have sex on camera during a party at his house. During the party, Logue texted her boyfriend several times, witnesses told investigators.

Text messages retrieved from Andrews’ BlackBerry show the couple discussed vinyl gloves, when other guests would leave Abrahamsen’s home and what was inside a safe.

According to an affidavit, everyone at the party left Abrahamsen’s home around 5 a.m. May 15 — except for Logue. Andrews waited outside in his car, still texting her.

“Just get him on his face either bash or tell me to get in and. Where to go.” Andrews wrote.

“K I’m horny! I’m getting him to play music,” Logue typed.

“Wicked. Ill just be waiting. Really. Take. Your. Time,” Andrews replied.

Abrahamsen was found dead in his house by a family member some 18 hours later, face down on a massage table with blood splattered on the walls and ceiling fan. Authorities have not officially disclosed a motive for the killling.

At 4:29 p.m. on May 16 — less than a day after the murder — Logue wrote on her Twitter account, using Andrews’ Twitter name “Hearveritas:” “Taking it easy with hearveritas! Laying around eating popcorn and watching movies!”

At 5:20 p.m., Andrews tweeted: “therealsunnydae and I wanna go watch a movie tonight, any suggestion?”

As detectives pieced together the slaying, Logue and Andrews were arrested May 18 in a neighboring county after trying to use Abrahamsen’s credit card at Home Depot.

But officials didn’t have enough evidence to link the pair to the killing, and released them. On May 19, she went home to her husband and child in Georgia.

On May 21, Andrews wrote on his Twitter account in Hebrew: “Amanda please let me know when you are ok, really. My heart can’t take the weight of the fear that I would never see you again.”

It’s unclear whether Logue ever saw Andrews’ plea, or whether she replied to him. On May 26, she was arrested in Georgia and taken to a Florida jail, where she awaits trial.

—  John Wright