Cyndi Lauper, who’ll be at HOB on Wed., talks ‘Kinky Boots,’ gay rights

Cyndi2Even before this year’s Tonys, the legendary Cyndi Lauper was already considered a champion: A champion of the Grammys. A champion of the pop charts. A champion of gay rights.

But as a teary-eyed Lauper accepted her Tony statuette for composing the music for the smash Kinky Boots (it also was named best musical of the year, and four other Tonys), the coming-of-age sensation about a drag queen and a shoemaker as unlikely business partners, she was recognized for something she had never been before: The girl who just wanted to have fun, with her apple-red hair and heavy Queens accent, is now a champion of Broadway.

Between gigs on her She’s So Unusual Tour, which opens at the House of Blues in Dallas on Wednesday, Lauper gave our Chris Azzopardi a ring recently to chat about her emotional night at the awards ceremony, freaking out rock stars with her “wildly nutty” persona and the reason she’s always stood up for her gay fans. Read the full interview below.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Gay night in America: The Tony Awards

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Billy Porter in Kinky Boots

Sunday was the gayest night of the year — no, not the Ryan Seacrest-Tom Cruise-John Travolta pool party, but the Tony Awards. Doubt me? Here’s the proof:

• Out actor Neil Patrick Harris was the host (for the fourth time). He performed, as we have come to expect, several musical numbers, including one about stage actors moving to TV with fellow gay sitcom star Andrew Rannells (as well as Smash‘s Meg Hilty and Laura Benanti).

• The list of presenters and performers seemed to be culled from a mix of Grindr profiles and diva wish lists. It started with Zachary Quinto, and also included onstage appearances by Rannells, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, David Hyde Pierce, Alan Cumming, Jane Lynch, Sigourney Weaver, Cyndi Lauper, Patti LuPone and Bernadette Peters. (My favorite subtext event? That LuPone presented the second-to-last award for revival of a musical and her longtime rival Peters presented the last award, best musical).

• The winners were just as gay. The major nominees all have some gay content on cross-dressing, from the man-dressed-as-a-woman villain in Matilda to the big winners of the evening, the musical Kinky Boots (about drag queens, including wins for out actor Billy Porter, pictured, choreographer Jerry Mitchell and producer Hal Luftig, which won a leading six awards) and the play The Nance (about a gay burlesque performer, with three). Best play author Christopher Durang, winning his first Tony, thanked his partner of 25 years. Featured actor in a musical winner Gabriel Ebert thanked “Scott,” which sounds pretty gay to me, though who knows? And controversial AIDS Larry Kramer won the Isabella Stevenson Humanitarian Award. (More on the winners after the jump.)

• The musical performances and acceptance speeches? Queer, queer, queer. We got to see numbers from Kinky Boots, Bring It On! (which has a trans character), Cinderella (written by gay scribe Douglas Carter Beane with campy attitude), Pippin (with lots of hot men in tights), Matilda‘s Bertie Carvel and Jane Lynch as Miss Hannigan in Annie. The “in memoriam” tribute was set to Cyndi Lauper’s “True Colors,” which of course is the name of her gay outreach program. Even the straight folks thanks lots of gay folks: Featured actor in a play winner Courtney B. Vance gave a shout-out to his director, George C. Wolfe, and featured actress in a play repeat winner Judith Light and actor in play winner Tracy Letts both named their shows’ gay playwrights. (Nearly all of the play winners, in fact, were written by gay men. Go figure.)

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

REVIEW: ‘Priscilla’ — queens on the verge of a nervous breakdown

Priscilla

The queens of ‘Priscilla’

It is a small perturbation that the two longest-running Broadway musicals about drag queens — La Cage aux Folles and Priscilla Queen of the Desert, now playing at Fair Park Music Hall — involved plots where gay men have ill-advised sex with women and produce sons, only hoping not to embarrass their offspring. My guess is, this is done intentionally, to remind mainstream hetero audiences that gay or straight, we are all basically the same (as if showing our emotions weren’t already enough).

Still, you can practically hear the jaws drop inside the auditorium during many of the numbers of Priscilla, which makes La Cage look like a church social by comparison. Its outrageousness is less offensive and shocking than merely unbridled: It’s out-and-proud about its camp factor, and you’d better adjust or stay away.

Adjust. Do, do adjust, because Priscilla is a hoot, as glamorously trashy and enjoyable as the best drag show you’ve ever seen. Some people didn’t stay through Act 2; that was their loss.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Queer Music News: George Michael video stills, Mould’s new album, Lauper’s LGBT outreach

In marking the 30th anniversary of Wham’s first release “Wham Rap,” George Michael announced a new single to be released this Friday. That’s last week’s news, actually. But starting yesterday, he’s been posting stills from his upcoming video for “White Light.” The above image was released today on his website (and far better than the darker one from yesterday). From GeorgeMichael.com.

—  Rich Lopez

Twisted, sister: Dee Snider tackles Broadway

If Pat Boone can try heavy metal, I suppose nothing can surprise us. And honestly, the idea that Dee Snider, the hawk-nosed, bleached-perm frontman for annoying ’80s rockers Twisted Sister, has always had an eye for the flamboyant — why shouldn’t he give a rock twist to that most diva-like of genres, the Broadway show tune? So, I was only mildly stunned when I saw he will be releasing an album in May, Dee Does Broadway, featuring covers from the likes of Kander & Ebb and Sondheim.

But two things did catch me off guard. First was that he was able to snag some of the premiere gay icons of the day to perform alongside him, including Patti LuPone, Cyndi Lauper, Bebe Neuwirth and Clay Aiken. The second is that, ummm, he’s pretty good! Untraditional, but good! You can take a listen here. What do you think?

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Starvoice • 02.04.11

By Jack Fertig

CELEBRITY BIRTHDAYtn-500_img_1303

Judith Light turns 62 on Wednesday. We couldn’t get enough of her as Claire Meade in Ugly Betty, but really, how can we not cherish Light’s extensive work as a gay rights and AIDS activist? The L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center named their library after her. Last spring, she joined Cyndi Lauper’s Give a Damn campaign joining the likes of Elton, Whoopi and Anna Paquin.

………………………….

THIS WEEK

Sun and Mars are in a long dance together through Aquarius. Dissonance from Venus and Pluto, both in Capricorn, can turn that into a war dance. It’s too easy to build up resentments over nothing. Strive for clarity and self-awareness. If you feel wronged, own your part of it and move on.

………………………….

AQUARIUS Jan 20-Feb 18
Some bee in your bonnet has you agitated and touchy. What’s at the bottom of this? Who are you really angry at? Yourself? Talk with someone who knows your BS better than to fall for it.

PISCES Feb 19-Mar 19
One of your friends is out to double-cross you. Keep your radar up. Standing with one foot in the future and one in the past blinds you to the present. Focus on what matters at the moment.
ARIES  Mar 20-Apr 19
Consider social demands before agreeing to any. Focus on challenges at work. Reexamine your goals and your strategies. Are they realistic? Even the best plans need an occasional tweak.

TAURUS Apr 20-May 20
You prefer safer paths, but are now easily goaded to big gambles. Some risk-taking is good and necessary; exercise foresight, good sense and moderation. If it looks good, go for it.

GEMINI May 21-Jun 20
New sexual adventures take you to places you’d never dreamed of. Be careful. Bragging about your new erotic adventures is also fine, but be careful about “the time and place for everything.”

CANCER Jun 21-Jul 22
You and your partner need some spice in your love life. Take turns granting each other’s desires. You’ll be surprised. Be careful where to discuss. If it gets out that could also be a surprise.

LEO Jul 23-Aug 22
Your efforts on teamwork are admirable, but remember that teamwork is not necessarily what you say it is. Work at taking orders and suggestions, then show how you can carry those out.

VIRGO Aug 23-Sep 22
Sports injuries and accidents are out to get you. Whatever you do to relax, stay focused on developing technique and keep your eyes open to usual risks. But you’ll look sexy in a cast.

LIBRA Sep 23-Oct 22
Fun and games at home start more fights than they prevent. The best application for rough competitive energy could be wrestling to see who gets on top.

SCORPIO Oct 23-Nov 21
Family fights break out too easily. Discussing those problems with a friend is more helpful than putting it in the face of your folks. Work helps relieve tension gets you some perspective.

SAGITTARIUS Nov 22-Dec 20
In your heart, you know compulsive spending is counterproductive. Sit down and analyze your finances. Learning a new game or creative outlet is helpful, if it doesn’t get expensive.

CAPRICORN Dec 21-Jan 19
Trying a new look either gets expensive or challenges your resourcefulness. Go for something radical and dramatic, even if it’s just for those special occasions.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition February 4, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

SHOW vs. SHOW: Girl Talk and Girl in a Coma

Chick on chick action is fine, but when these indie bands face off, everybody wins

RICH LOPEZ  |  Staff Writer
lopez@dallasvoice.com

Who doesn’t like a good girlfight? No, not those videos where pregnant women street punch each other in a Burger King parking lot. In this installment of Show Vs. Show, we take it to a different level. Girl Talk turns music on its ear with astonishing mashups while San Antonio’s Girl in a Coma fuses indie rock with some Latin flair. Both come to town this weekend, but they’re duking it out here first.

The mashup can be a wonderful thing, especially when mastered by Greg Gillis, aka Girl Talk. By taking the heart of one song and the soul of another, he creates astonishing new works. In his latest album, All Day, Cyndi Lauper, the Isley Brothers, Radiohead and Basement Jaxx are some of the few that get his mashup treatment — and the results are magic.

Girl in a Coma might come off as the little band that could, and they are doing it. With surprising career moves and a tenacious touring schedule, the Texas trio knows how to keep everyone’s attention. Last year’s release, Adventures in Coverland, was a surprising album made of covers — risky for a third album from a band without a huge hit under their name. But the album works so well, who cared? With nods to their Hispanic heritage and punk roots, GIAC took on Bowie, Velvet Underground and Selena and created alt-rock gems.

So which girl is gonna rock out the knockout? We have our guesses. What’s yours?

CLICK ON CHART TO ENLARGE


—  John Wright

Gary Floyd lands 3 OutMusic Award nominations

For 20 years, the OutMusic Awards have recognized openly gay musicians who not only make great music, but music that speaks to the gay community. And one of the frontrunners this year is Dallas’ Gary Floyd.

Floyd has been a staple in the Metroplex for more years than he’d like to admit, performing cabaret, musical theater and a host of other styles. But it’s for his languid, inspirational songs, represented on his 2010 album The Gospel of Zen, that he’s most recognized — locally, of course, and now nationally.

“Behold” is in contention for best contemporary spiritual song. (Last year’s winner in this category was Tony Award winner Levi Kreis.) Better still, the CD itself is nominated for best album — and we mean best overall, against such heavy-hitters as Hunter Valentine, Ray Boltz, Rachael Sage and the Heartland Men’s Chorus. Not bad for a six-song, independently-released disc.

In addition, Floyd’s composition “Love of My Life” is up for the prestigious Martin Bello Love Song Award, which comes with a cash prize. (“It’s not on the album, nor even recorded commercially [by me], though Marvin Matthews did a cover,” Floyd says.)

The nominations came out of the blue. Floyd was counseled to submit the album for consideration by his booking agent, but didn’t expect it would actually nab two major noms.

The awards, voted on by the LGBT Recording Academy, mean a lot to Floyd, as does the chance to attend the gala ceremony in New York on Dec. 1 — it will be hosted by Carol Channing, with Cyndi Lauper, Melissa Etheridge and Chely Wright set to attend.

— Arnold Wayne Jones

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 12, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens

Music Bytes: Erasure re-records ‘Respect’ for charity; Ricky Martin talks to Larry King

Ricky Martin appeared on Larry King Live on Tuesday and knocked it out of the park with his eloquent responses to King’s questions about coming out and what’s to follow. In this clip, he discusses his desire to get married in his country along with raising his two sons with his partner. Longer clips can also be found on YouTube.

He’s also the cover story for the December/January issue of People en Espanol. The story pretty much covers the same territory Larry King did, but fairly well done. Of course, you have to be able to read in Spanish. For more, check that out here.

On Erasure’s website, the band posted the news they will re-record “A Little Respect” with the youth chorus from the Hetrick-Martin Institute which houses the Harvey Milk High School. Proceeds from the download will go toward the institute and the True Colors Fund founded by Cyndi Lauper. Erasure performed on the True Colors tour back in 2007.

According to the site, “in the wake of the tragic gay bullying incidents and related suicides across the country, Andy Bell was motivated to take action. As one of popular music’s first openly-gay celebrities Bell felt compelled to get involved. ‘I am honored and moved beyond words to serve as an Ambassador to the The Hetrick-Martin Institute. Every opportunity we have to spread tolerance and compassion must be seized and I will take special pride in doing so on HMI’s behalf.’”

The single is slated for a mid-December release. In the meantime, here’s the original which we all probably know so well.

—  Rich Lopez

New Give a DAMN campaign targets gay youth suicide

Editor’s Note: Considering the awful news out of Indiana this morning, the following post seems particularly relevant.

Although the music and comedy tour has all but disappeared, Cyndi Lauper’s True Colors Fund has been especially active lately, with the Give a DAMN campaign — which got off to a prominent start when True Blood actress Anna Paquin came out as bisexual in one of its videos — spreading the word about gay rights. And this week, the campaign turns its attention to teen suicide.

It’s a topic with a strong Dallas connection, as Danielle Girdano, the Dallas woman cycling into town as part of her Ride the Arc project, chose teen suicide as her cause. Girdano will be riding into town Saturday at 5 p.m., ending her great bicycling trek along Cedar Springs Road.

The new video features Modern Family‘s Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Lily Tomlin and Judith Light among those point out the higher risk of suicide among LGBT youth.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones