Blonde ambitious

The Sounds lead singer Maja Ivarsson (sort of) swears off women and focuses on music greatness

thesounds3_bandphoto-4

SOUNDS OFF | Singer Maja Ivarsson doesn’t mind Blondie comparisons, but the guys — not so much.

RICH LOPEZ  | Staff Writer
lopez@dallasvoice.com

Let’s get one thing out of the way: Maja (pronounced like Maya) Ivarsson has mentioned time and again that she will “never date another girl.” This isn’t breaking news, but the media is overly fascinated with The Sounds singer’s bisexuality, though she never uses the term. Ivarsson is passionate about love but without mincing words, her one and only same-sex relationship was downright hard.

“There was a lot of bad stuff, just like in any relationship,” Ivarsson says. “I think for a lot of lesbian couples, you end up turning into friends. And there were issues of cheating, but it was a great relationship. We didn’t have sex. I don’t blame her. It sucks.”

Ivarsson wasn’t interested in women before, but the chemistry was there and she admits to having some bi-curiosity. But now, she swears to never be with a woman again… though she’ll never say never.

“I love boys, too,” she snickers. “But who knows? I’m getting old! I’m 32 and I want to have a baby.”

All this comes from one of the more dynamic singers on the scene, who wants The Sounds to be the biggest band in the world. Following up their fourth album release this year, the band is on its North American leg of the tour supporting Something To Die For; it comes to the Granada Theater on Thursday. Ivarsson doesn’t need to reconcile the conflict of fame and family. She’s figuring it out as the band rolls along.

“We definitely deserve to be a bigger band but I’m also very proud and very humbled,” she says. “We are quite happy with what we’ve accomplished, but our main goal is to get as big as possible.”

It’s been a slow ride, but promising. While well received, their 2002 debut album Living in America suffered an identity crisis. Radio stations didn’t what to do with this post-punk pop dance music conglomeration.

“I think since Day One, we were ahead of our time, mixing these electronic elements and rock,” she says. “But the industry wondered what we were. Later, The Killers and MGMT broke out. We know for sure they were influenced by us and that’s a compliment.”

Appearances on the Warped Tour increased exposure, and celebrities like Foo Fighters’ Dave Grohl hyped them up. Even Geico picked up one of their songs, “Hurt You,” for a commercial. They are straddling the line right now between blowing up and indie cred.

But Ivarsson might be the one responsible for the success of the band. As the single blond female  in front of a group of men, it’s apparent where the focus is. Think Courtney Love and Hole, Gwen Stefani and No Doubt, and ultimately, Deborah Harry and Blondie. The last being a popular comparison.

“The guys don’t like that so much, but I don’t mind,” she laughs. “I think Debbie Harry is one of the cooler chicks out there. I was 13 when I discovered Blondie and I just thought this is the way it should be: looking fab and kicking ass. I never liked the strung out or slutty singers.”

Otherwise, Ivarsson does her own thing. She won’t read reviews unless someone shares a more glowing one with her. But don’t confuse that for ego. It’s all part of a plan.

“During our first record, there were some good things written about me, but also some mean things, and I’m a very emotional person,” she says. “Some people only have bad shit to say and I just stopped reading reviews. The more I read about myself from other people, I think it censors me. I may think I shouldn’t do whatever, but I wanna be as authentic as possible.”

There’s no doubt of that onstage. As the frontwoman, Ivarsson is legend and should go down as one of the greats. The Sounds pump up their live show into frenzy and almost strive to mesh the audience in with the band. For her, it’s another day at work.

“I don’t know what else I could do,” she says. “I don’t know any other way to do it. Being onstage is where I belong and I love getting the audience involved and on stage. We’re here to have a fucking dance party!”

Which is the next option if worldwide domination isn’t theirs yet.

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

—  Kevin Thomas

Judge to rule this week in Nikki Araguz case

Nikki Araguz

Transgender widow vows appeal if she loses case

JUAN A. LOZANO  |  Associated Press

WHARTON, Texas — The transgender widow of a Texas firefighter will likely learn next week whether his family’s request to nullify their marriage and strip her of any death benefits will be granted, a judge said Friday.

State District Judge Randy Clapp made the announcement after hearing arguments in a lawsuit filed by the family of firefighter Thomas Araguz III, who was killed while battling a blaze last year. The suit argues that his widow shouldn’t get any benefits because she was born a man and Texas doesn’t recognize same-sex marriage.

The widow, Nikki Araguz, said she had done everything medically and legally possible to show that she is female and was legally married under Texas law. She believes that she’s entitled to widow’s benefits.

“I believe the judge is going to rule in my favor,” Araguz said after the court hearing.

The lawsuit seeks control over death benefits and assets totaling more than $600,000, which the firefighter’s family wants to go to his two sons from a previous marriage. Voiding the marriage would prevent Nikki Araguz from receiving any insurance or death benefits or property the couple had together.

Thomas Araguz died while fighting a fire at an egg farm near Wharton, about 60 miles southwest of Houston, in July 2010. He was 30.

His mother, Simona Longoria, filed a lawsuit asking that her son’s marriage be voided. She and her family have said he learned of his wife’s gender history just prior to his death, and after he found out, he moved out of their home and planned to end the marriage.

But Nikki Araguz, 35, has insisted that her husband was aware she was born a man and that he fully supported her through the surgical process to become a woman. She underwent surgery two months after they were married in 2008.

Longoria’s attorney, Chad Ellis, argued that Texas law — specifically a 1999 appeals court ruling that stated chromosomes, not genitals, determine gender — supports his client’s efforts to void the marriage.

The ruling upheld a lower court’s decision that threw out a wrongful death lawsuit filed by a San Antonio woman, Christie Lee Cavazos Littleton, after her husband’s death. The court said that although Littleton had undergone a sex-change operation, she was actually a man, based on her original birth certificate, and therefore her marriage and wrongful death claim were invalid.

Ellis presented medical and school records that he said showed Nikki Araguz was born without female reproductive organs and that she presented herself as a male while growing up and going to school. He also said her birth certificate at the time of her marriage indicated she was a man.

“By law, two males cannot be married in this state,” Ellis told the judge.

Nikki Araguz, who was born in California, did not change her birth certificate to reflect she had become a female until after her husband’s death, said Edward Burwell, one of the attorneys for Thomas Araguz’s ex-wife, Heather Delgado, the mother of his two children.

But one of Nikki Araguz’s attorneys, Darrell Steidley, said that when his client got her marriage license, she presented the necessary legal documents to show she was a female. He also noted changes made in 2009 to the Texas Family Code that allowed people to present numerous alternatives to a birth certificate as the proof of identity needed to get a marriage license. That was an example, he argued, of the state trying to move away from the 1999 appeals court ruling.

The changes in 2009 allowed transgendered people to use proof of their sex change to get a marriage license. The Texas Legislature is currently considering a bill that would prohibit county and district clerks from using a court order recognizing a sex change as documentation to get married.

After the hearing, the firefighter’s family and attorneys for his ex-wife criticized plans by Nikki Araguz to star in a reality television dating show and implied she was only interested in money and fame that the case would bring her.

“That is absurd,” Nikki Araguz said in response. “I’m after my civil equality and the rights that I deserve as the wife of a fallen firefighter.”

If the judge rules against the firefighter’s family in their motion for a summary judgment, the case would then proceed to trial. Araguz said if the judge rules against her, she would appeal, all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary.

—  John Wright

It’s The Gay Walk Of Fame vs. The Gay Freedom Trail

Sure, San Francisco might be planning the Rainbow Honor Walk — a Walk Of Fame-style memorial where LGBT heroes like Allen Ginsberg, Bayard Rustin, Sylvester James, James Baldwin, Frida Kahlo, and Yukio Mishima will be honored with outdoor plaques — but Scotland's East Lothian is putting together a gay "history trail," which we're imagining is sort of like Boston's Freedom Trail, but with fewer Gaps.


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Queerty

—  David Taffet

John Travolta likes well-hung Middle Eastern types. Join the club

It’s one of the best-kept, worst-kept secrets in Hollywood that John Travolta is gay (Scientology allegedly promises to “cure” you of your homosexuality) — a fact that, despite evidence (remember the candid lip-lock photographed on him kissing his late son’s male, umm, “nanny”?) that has been respectfully ignored most of the time by the mainstream press.

This is nothing new. I was at the Samar party last week, jawing with some straight male media friends, and all of them were shocked by my “secret” list of commonly accepted gay celebs … including Travolta. People believe what they wanna believe. It’s how Lindsey Graham is still in a leadership position with the GOP.

Anyway, the most salacious of rumors about Travolta have been published on Gawker, and the language used is surprising. Well, not to me, but most hausfraus out there will probably be astonished to find that the man who gained fame in musicals and had his last hit as a cross-dressing woman (in a musical!) likes to go to bathhouses and apparently has a penchant for Middle Easterns (guilty as charged, I admit it).

Some of the allegations made include that Travolta abused himself in a steam room and came onto the author; that he has both given and received oral sex from other men in public; and that he uses his celebrity to attract his type (which usually means well-endowed men of color).

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

WATCH: Dallas singer Brandon Hilton releases ‘Glamour Zombie’

We’re waiting to see if Brandon Hilton can become the new Jeffree Star. Taking fashion and gender bending looks to similar levels, Hilton is working to push his Internet presence into a fame monster.It worked for Star who was recently signed to Akon’s label which is major.

In his newest single, “Glamour Zombie,” Hilton sings against a lot of blue glow stick light thingies. It’s a little dark, but you can see the white blonde hair and know it’s Hilton all the way.

—  Rich Lopez

Steven Daigle hospitalized, arrested

Things could be going better for North Texas’ Steven Daigle. After he was booted from Big Brother in 2008, he told me that he tried to live by his grandmother’s advice while he was in the house: Never do anything you wouldn’t want to read about on the front page of the New York Times.

So much for that.

Daigle parlayed his quasi-fame into a quasi-career, going from reality TV footnote to hardcore gay porn actor — perhaps the only one ever to use his full, legal name as his porn name.

Now, he’s got another dubious moniker: Jail bird. JRL Charts, which touts itself as the “official” gay adult film industry publication, reports that Daigle and his boyfriend, fellow porn actor Trent Locke, were involved in a fight Monday that sent both to the hospital an landed Daigle in jail on $20,000 bond.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Lady Gaga’s ‘Nothing On (But the Radio)’ leaked

About a week ago, Lady Gaga’s “Nothing On (But the Radio)” was leaked (likely by her label) as a hint of her upcoming album titled Born This Way, the title she announced at this year’s MTV Video Awards.  The album is set for a 2011 release.

There is no actual proof “Nothing On” is from her next album. Some online rumors say it’s merely a demo track and others call it a song that didn’t make the cut on her Fame albums. Whatever it is, it’s got buzz. The song sounds restrained and dare I say, simple, but nonetheless catchy. It’s just that anything less powerful than “Bad Romance” as a starter single just comes across as … meh.

You be the judge.

—  Rich Lopez

Fame no immunization from other ‘f word’

BieberPop star Justin Bieber was reportedly involved in a minor weekend altercation, wherein a kid taunted the “Baby” singer with a terms that’s far less sweet:

Sources say that Bieber became frustrated when the kid cornered him and wouldn’t stop shooting and when Bieber told him, “That’s enough” … the kid responded, “What are you gonna do about it, faggot?”

We’re told a shocked Bieber replied, “Excuse me?” Sources say the other kid responded, “You’re a faggot” and then put his hand out toward Bieber and Bieber pushed it away as he left.

Justin Bieber — Homophobic Bullying Victim [TMZ]

Bieber is said to have used the popular “I know you are but what am I? Oh yea, that’s right: Rich. Filthy, stinking, Miley Cyrus level rich. Bwa ha ha ha!!!!!!” line of defense.




Good As You

—  John Wright

G&L Hall of Fame Honors 15

SCOTT FREE X390 (PUB) | ADVOCATE.COMThe Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame has announced its 2010 inductees.
Advocate.com: Daily News

—  John Wright

Concert Notice: Lady Gaga openers Semi Precious Weapons come back on their own

Most people probably hadn’t heard of Semi Precious Weapons until Lady Gaga’s Monster Ball Tour. They opened for her gaining big-time exposure. But their live act didn’t translate so well in the huge venue of American Airlines Center when they were here this past July. Their indie glam rock isn’t the stuff of sports venues, but definitely for the likes of The Loft.

SPW is keeping up its Gaga momentum with some tour dates of their own. They hit Dallas (again) later this month and then come back with Gaga next March. Perhaps by then, they’ll accept their growing fame and kick out a bigger show. They work much better in closer quarters. “Sexually fluid” frontman Justin Tranter is a must-see in high heels — especially up close.

The Loft, 1135 S. Lamar St., Sept. 23 at 8:30 p.m. All ages. $15–$17. TheLoftDallas.com.

—  Rich Lopez