Arrestingly good

JAPW
GET CUFFED | Joan as Police Woman will show off her confident, new edge at Dada this Friday.

 

With queer cred to spare, Joan as Police Woman cops to experimental pop on her new album

RICH LOPEZ  | Staff Writer
lopez@dallasvoice.com

Cazwell isn’t the only artist who can put beefcake in his videos. Joan as Police Woman can do it just as fiercely … and she doesn’t even mind if the gay boys aren’t looking at her. In fact, she’s glad for it.

“Good!” she laughs when asked about the stable of muscle daddies in her music video “The Magic.” “Why would you want to?”

It is hard to concentrate on the singer in front of you when she’s flanked by hot studs working out and washing cars — that is, if you’re into that sort of thing. Joan Wasser (her everyday name) had no input on this concept, but loved the absurdist art of it against her song.

Screen shot 2011-04-28 at 4.03.18 PM“The person that did it obviously is a total genius,” she says. “They gave me a bunch of treatments for it that were kinda fashion-y or too involved, but when I got to that one, it was a no-brainer. Videos are so ridiculous anyway and I don’t think of the visual, just the music. But when I read that treatment, I thought, ‘How wonderful.’”

Anyway, she digs the irony of it: Scantily clad men surrounding a female lead are the antithesis of hip-hop. And although she didn’t think it would be overtly gay and didn’t know the bodybuilders would be wearing “tiny scraps of fabric” (for real, girl?), she cannot gush enough over the final product.

The video hasn’t been seen too much in local gay bars, but she had a tearful moment when it played in, of all places, Pontiac, Mich. After a gig in the drabby city, Wasser and her band went to eat at a bistro called Liberty Bar.

“We very quickly realized we were in a gay bar,” she recalls. “They were playing Gaga and Pink videos, so we explained that we just played a show and I have this video. I got to watch these guys appreciating the video and clapping. It was the most beautiful moment! I almost started crying.”

Joan as Police Woman plays Friday at c­lub Dada, bringing her indie sensibilities to town, but not without some major queer cred behind her. Having worked with Antony Hegarty in 1999 and then with Rufus Wainwright on his 2003 tour, she came out of her shell as a solo artist. Shattered by her boyfriend Jeff Buckley’s death in 1997, she and a new band tried to release an album, but it was a scary time for her and the songs were kept to themselves.

Then she joined Antony and the Johnsons. With some budding confidence, she eventually dipped her foot in the waters of going solo. Then Rufus happened.

“He had asked me to join his band to tour with and also open as a solo artist,” she says. “I had to take the chance at some point and opening in front of his crowd — a crowd of music lovers would be amazing.”

Four albums later, her latest release The Deep Field finds Wasser at her most confident. The package of experimental indie pop is challenging yet accessible. She’s mellow without being boring and she can rock without trying to prove something. But mostly Field reflects a newfound fortitude and poise.

“This record was like a declaration of freedom for myself,” she explains. “I spent a lot of my life up confused, fearful. Once I made the choice to be happy, things fell into place.  I hate to make it sound oversimplified, but if you wish to feel good, happy, and free from worry, you can if you just decide.”

But for the record — and despite her hanging around muscled men and queer artists like Hegarty and Wainwright (oh and living with Scissor Sisters’ Del Marquis) — the one thing Wasser is not is a fag hag.

“Oh, I wouldn’t call myself that! I’m just comfortable around gay,” she laughs out loud. “I definitely cannot call myself straight, but I make no distinction. Those guys and I are all in the same game and get along. But I do appreciate anything homo. I heart gay.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition April 29, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Cyndi Lauper at House of Blues last night

Cyndi Lauper, House of Blues, Dallas

Cyndi Lauper proved last night with her healthy two-hour set that she is willing to work hard for the money. Giving the audience both her blues side and her hits, Lauper satisfied a nicely filled room at the House of Blues. At times, she was wooden and disconnected, but mostly she gave an energetic performance, trotting across the stage and dancing erratically as we’re so used to seeing her do and reminding us that she has some pretty killer chops.

Lauper mentioned that this tour was “all about the blues,” and practically played her entire new album Memphis Blues. Her devoted fans were into her latest foray into this genre and others patiently waited it out. But she delivered the blues with nice abandon. Her voice on the album sometimes mismatched the song, but live, she does recall smoky juke joints in the backwoods South. Minus the cheering of course. With a competent band behind her, her voice traveled all over the spectrum, from beautifully stretched vocal runs to some attempted scatting. Her bluesy highlight would have to have been the ballad “Down So Low.” A slow drawl of a song with, this was her shining moment of the evening.

—  Rich Lopez

Queer Clip: Predators

Noland (Laurence Fishburne, right) reveals to Royce (Adrien Brody) some of the secrets of living on an alien world – and amidst alien Predators.

You don’t to gory sci-fi movies expecting much gay content. Odd, really, considering that, as with comic books, gay boys make up a sizeable portion of the sci-fi market. So as I slogged through the hundred-or-so minutes of Predators, I didn’t really expect to learn that the killer creatures who hunt man for sport were secretly involved in caring same-sex relationships. (Even if I did, it would be so like Hollywood to make the villains gay.)

Then, about an hour in, I was startled awake — and not by an alien jumping from the shadows. Laurence Fishburne turns up as a nutso survivor, someone who evaded the predators on their game-preserve planet for 10 seasons.

“Is this where you live?” one of the newcomers asks.

“No, it’s my summer home,” he snaps back. “I winter in the South of France. The schools are better and the men are so fine.” Or words to that effect.

Wh-h-hat??! Did Laurence Fishburne just out his character in a macho massacre movie? It certainly seemed so.

Ultimately, that’s hardly enough to be me to recommend a movie of no redeeming qualities. But then, if you go to something called Predators, you probably get what you deserve.

And you do. Building on the original 1987 Arnold Schwarznegger film, the predators have stolen eight vicious earthlings (among them Adrien Brody and Topher Grace) as worthy prey for their bloodsport, and as the motley assemblage of politically correct and ethnically diverse folks get picked off, it becomes a game of “who will die next.”

There are no surprises. But there are decent special effects, albeit in service to a mindless suffer timekiller. “How was it?” someone asked me. “It’s a Predator movie,” I responded.

That’s all you need to know. That, and how fine the men are in the South of France. At least according to Laurence Fishburne.
2 stars

— Arnold Wayne Jones

—  Michael Stephens