Here's a brief clip from an appearance Madonna makes on Ellen DeGeneres' show today to discuss anti-gay bullying and suicides.
Says Madonna to Ellen, when asked how she speaks to her own children about bullying:
"We talk a lot about the importance of not judging people who are different. Not judging people who don't fit into our expected view of what's cool and what isn't. The concept that we are torturing teenagers because they are gay. It's kind of like I said earlier. It's unfathomable. It's like lynching black people or Hitler exterminating Jews. Sorry if I'm going on a rampage right now but this is America. The land of the free and the home of the brave."
Madonna says she can relate to bullied kids:
"I can totally relate to the idea of feeling isolated and alienated. I was incredibly lonely as a child, as a teenager. I have to say I never felt like I fit in in school. I wasn't a jock. I wasn't an intellectual. There was no group that I felt a part of. I just felt like a weirdo…It wasn't until my ballet teacher who was also gay took me under his wing and introduced me to a community of artists of other unique individuals who told me it was good and okay to be different and brought me to my first gay disco and ironically made me feel I was part of the world and it was okay to be different."
Male dancer Samir breaks the chains of Cirque du Soleil to blossom as ‘the guy’ with Bellydance Superstars
RICH LOPEZ | Staff Writer firstname.lastname@example.org
GRACE LAND | Samir adds a different flair to bellydancing as Bellydance Superstars’ first and only male dancer.
Palladium Ballroom, 1135 S. Lamar St. Oct. 8 at 8 p.m. $20–$39.
Going by a single name is a ballsy move that usually works more in favor of women: Madonna and Cher. Pink. Charo.
Then throw in Bono. There’s always one guy willing to go against the grain.
Samir is no singer; he’s a dancer. But the solo moniker isn’t the only thing about him that defies convention. He also seeks to prove that a dance traditionally performed by women has room for at least one guy. Samir is part of the harem of Bellydance Superstars, which is in Dallas this week. Just don’t box him into the male label — or even gay. He sees himself in a more primal fashion.
“I don’t identify as a male dancer or female dancer,” he says. “I’m more like a creature and I never had people criticize that. That’s what’s unique about it because audiences are confused and I think they like that.”
Samir is the first male dancer onstage for the Bellydance Superstars show, but it’s also one of the first times in his professional life that he’s felt like his art is blossoming. He first burst onto the public scene as part of Cirque du Soleil in Las Vegas. That experience looked great on his resume, but Samir wasn’t thrilled come curtain time each night.
“To get to Cirque, I felt something was different,” he says. “It was totally new for me but I was also never a backup dancer. For three years, I basically went out every night to just do these beautiful poses.”
For Samir, Cirque was a grueling process that left little for the Tajikistan-born dancer to be inspired by. He could recognize the art and technique that went with the show, but he says it was not a place for people who create.
“I found myself killing my talent and my time,” he says. “It was just a regular job doing the same thing every night. It was good exposure, being in Vegas at the Bellagio, but Cirque is only for dancers who are retired. They can enjoy their life there until they go to heaven.”
Samir discovered early that this wasn’t where he was supposed to be. Regardless of his excitement, the marriage was doomed from the moment he signed the contract.
“They told me all the good things, but changed it once I started,” he says. “The rehearsal part was all love and sex but the honeymoon ended right after I signed with them.
He applauds Bellydance Superstars producer and creative director Miles Copeland for stepping away from the norm to see the dance as an art. The show gives him the creative outlet he has been searching for.
“[Copeland] doesn’t want to keep you locked away,” he says. “Here you can show your stuff and if he likes it enough, it will be in the show. He respects your talent and that make me want to give more. I feel great here.”
Unlike Cirque, this show offers Samir a family of like-minded individuals — not a mishmash of athletes and artists. For him, everybody here talks the same language and has become one family. Plus, the touring has allowed him to see more of the world. The different places, people and even different dressing rooms each night are a longshot from his former routine.
Samir’s desire for creation is in his blood. Both his parents were involved in the arts: his mother a famous folk dancer, his father a musician. Samir has been dancing since he was 2 and had already tasted fame when he traveled the country with his parents. He fits in naturally to the whirlwind of touring and bringing bellydancing to the masses — even if his audiences are aficionados more than curious onlookers.
“The show is all about bellydancing and Indian and Oriental tradition dance. Only people who are into it and understand it usually come to see the show. But I hope some new people will see how beautiful it is,” he says.
Samir is coy about a few things. He won’t reveal his age but says he’s young enough to finish the tour. However, once the tour wraps up (for now) in February 2011, he teases about his next career move.
“It’s going to be a big surprise,” he says with a likely smile. “Contact me in a year.”
Just like a bellydancer to coyly leave one veil hanging.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 8, 2010.
Pop star Adam Lambert reveals some helpful advice for dealing with fame from two superstars who know first-hand — Lady Gaga and Madonna — and that he’s frustrated with gay-specific questions. Advocate.com: Daily News
Where’s the party? Um, we know
When there is a tour called MadonnaRama and the pop icon doesn’t even have to show up, well, that’s some kind of fame. DJ and remixer Ed Bailey brings the premiere theme tour to Dallas with Madge music going all night long. But will he take requests? Because we’d also love a slow dance to “Rain.”
DEETS: The Brick, 2525 Wycliff Ave., Suite 124. 9 p.m. $20. BrickDallas.com.
Even if this report about Madonna being desperate for Lady Gaga to open for her next tour was entirely made up, I completely believe the aging pop act would give anything to attract one-tenth of the buzz as her successor, and would actually entertain this idea.
To celebrate Madonna’s birthday, JR.’s Bar & Grill is going all out with MadonnaRama. Playing all her hits all night long, this is for the true Madonna fans, which probably equals most gay men. Along with hits like “Ray of Light” and “Vogue,” on the speakers, the place will give away CDs, t-shirts and DVDs. However, if you get Swept Away, well, then, we’re sorry.
DEETS: JR.’s Bar & Grill, 3923 Cedar Springs Road. 9 p.m. PartyAtTheBlock.com
Madonna turns 52 today. We’d be remiss not to acknowledge the Queen of Pop’s birthday. I wonder if it’s even an official gay holiday somewhere. We came up with this playlist of Madonna tunes to take some to celebrate. And of course, have a little fun with lists.
11. Chris started us off with a lesser hit from American Life, but perhaps the best song of the bunch from that album. “Love Profusion” was released as a single but best known as the theme for Estee Lauder Beyond Paradise fragrance.
10. Erik immediately named “Superpop” as his fave Madonna song that wasn’t a bigger hit. All the better. This was an unreleased song intended as a track on Confessions on a Dance Floor but nixed as an exclusive download for fan club members only. This says her cocky lyrics might have rubbed fans the wrong way.
9. David picked “Like a Virgin” as his favorite because he says “it describes him.” And then we laughed. At him.
8. New employee Mandy is one of two women in the office full time, so she couldn’t have been more appropriate picking “What It Feels Like For a Girl.” That is, if she means she feels like driving her car recklessly into people like the video — or in her case, a Vespa.
As longtime readers know, there are a handful of short stories from my archives that I repost annually. Today is Madonna’s 52nd birthday and this story makes its fifth appearance in memory of a departed friend.
Ricky Loved Madonna
Today is August 16th. It’s Madonna’s 48th birthday. That’s not something of which I’d ordinarily make note……...
Twenty years ago today, August 16th 1986, I was a few months into a new job with AMC Theatres, a job that I would hold for seven years after having spent a few years after college drifting around bartending, waitering, and DJ-ing. After burning through three terrible DJ gigs in about a year, I took the management position with AMC almost in desperation, happy to finally have a regular paycheck. I bought my first brand new car. I had several dozen underlings. I had a business card. I felt like a grown-up, almost.
Twenty years ago today, it was a Saturday. As the assistant manager, I had to be at the theatre at 10am, even though I had closed the midnight shows the night before, not getting home until almost 4am. I stumbled through the still-unfamiliar opening procedures. My mind was on Ricky. I took the cash drawers out to the concession stand and the box office and turned on the air conditioners and lights in all the auditoriums. The first movie, a Disney cartoon, started at 11:30am and we had hundreds of people in front of the box office before I even rolled up the mall gates.
Twenty years ago today, the night before was a Friday. It was the opening night of the remake of The Fly, starring Jeff Goldblum. My six-plex was jamming. The Flysold out at every show, driving the overflow audiences into Top Gun and Aliens, which were still doing decent business on their own. All six auditoriums sold out by 8pm and I rushed to get that show’s money counted before the first of the auditoriums began to let out and we had to start the process all over again. I pushed into the counting room inside the manager’s office and dumped several thousand in ‘s onto the countertop. The intercom buzzed.
“Mr. J., there’s a man here to see you.”
In the lobby was my friend Todd. “Joe, I’m on my way to see Ricky. Can you come? He’s worse.”
I looked out into the mall where hundreds of teenagers milled around in front of closed storefronts. The Interstate Mall was on its last legs. All that was left was the theatre, a pinball arcade, an adult novelty shop, and the driver’s license bureau, which was closed at that hour. The teenagers roamed the broad unswept avenue of the mall in swirling, shrieking packs, anxious for the late show to begin.
I shook my head. “Todd, I’m the only one here. I have the late show and then the midnights. The last movie doesn’t let out until almost 3am. I have to lock up.” Todd nodded and made a movement like he was going to hug me, then realized that a dozen of my employees were watching. Awkwardly, he stuck out his hand, as if that’s what he’d intended all along. I shook it and he left. I had never shaken Todd’s hand before.
Twenty years ago today, one week earlier, Ricky went into the hospital. He’d had a seizure on the bathroom floor of his sister’s condo. Todd and I went to the hospital the next day and found him lying unconscious in his bed, unattended, in a pool of feces. Todd staggered into the hallway and tried to control his retching while I looked for a nurse. At the nurses’ station, the stout Jamaican woman behind the counter nodded curtly but didn’t get out of her chair when I asked that Ricky receive some attention. I went back to find Todd sitting out in the lounge, smoking.
“Joe, I can’t be here. I’m freaking out. Do you know we walked right in there without a mask on?”
“I think the mask is more for him than us….so if…”
“I have to go.”
We stopped at the Burger King a few blocks away and washed our hands. Even though we hadn’t touched Ricky or anything but the door of his hospital room, we scrubbed the front and backs of our hands like we’d seen surgeons do on television.
Twenty years ago today, two weeks earlier, Todd and I had dropped in at Ricky’s sister’s condo. Ricky had been forced to move in with her. He’d lost his job at the giant hotel near Disney where he’d been training to be a pastry chef. For a long time he’d managed to keep his illness a secret, wearing long shirts even in the hot kitchen so that nobody saw the lesions that were growing inexorably from his wrists to his elbows. A lesion appeared on the back of his hand and that one he covered with make-up, but when a lesion appeared right on the tip of his nose, the head chef and head of human resources had called him in on his day off to fire him. Surely he understood, they told him, that they couldn’t have him handling food.
When Ricky’s sister opened the door of her condo, she made a face. “He’s not feeling well.” She’d already made it clear to Todd on his previous visit that she did not like her brother’s “friends”. Todd said quickly, “Oh, well, we just wanted to drop off a present for him.” I had Madonna’s latest release, True Blue, on CD in a sparkly bag. We knew that he’d gotten the vinyl album earlier in the summer, but since he was such a big fan we knew he’d like to have the CD version too.
His sister led us into the bedroom where we found Ricky watching television. He was cranky and inattentive to us, but momentarily brightened when we gave him the CD. He examined the cover. “It’s the same as the album, just smaller.” He didn’t have a player, hardly anyone did yet, so he laid the longbox reverently on his nightstand, propping it against the lamp. His sister hovered in the doorway smoking, anxious for our departure, and we soon obliged her.
Twenty years ago today, three months earlier, I met Ricky for the first time at a party thrown by Todd. I’d heard from Todd that Ricky was “sick”, but he seemed fine to me. We stood outside on the patio and watched guys jumping into the pool.
Ricky said, “So what do you do, Joe?”
I said, “Well, I just started working for AMC Theatres.”
Ricky screamed a little bit. “Which ONE?”
I stepped back. “Interstate Six, why?”
“Because I am in there ALL the time. I saw At Close Range about five times just to hear Madonna’s song in it!”
“She wasn’t in the movie, was she?”
“No, but I’m just a freak for her.” He paused, then added dramatically, “Wehavethe same birthday!”
“Oh….really.” I began to look around for Todd.
Ricky began to get very animated and his words tumbled out. “Yes!. Same day, same year. I was born exactly at midnight and my mother always said I could have August 15th or August 16th for my birthday. It was my choice and for the longest time I had it on August 15th cuz that’s Julia Child’s birthday and she’s a chef and I’m a chef and she was like, my idol when I was little. Such a fag, right? Anyway, when Madonna came out and I found out her birthday, I was all…that’s IT. I’m August 16th from now on!”
Ricky continued professing his undying love for Madonna until I was finally able to make a graceful escape. Later, Todd told me that Ricky had dressed as Madonna for the previous Halloween and belonged to her mail-order fan club and we laughed a little bit at his adorably nutty fandom.
Twenty years ago today, August 16th 1986, was a Saturday. The theatre had brisk business for the morning show, selling out the Disney movie. After all the houses were rolling, I pulled the money from the box office and sat alone in the office to count it. I turned on the radio so I could hear Casey Kasem counting down the Top 40.
Todd called. “Well, the hospital just told me Ricky died around midnight last night.”
“Oh, no. Did you get in to see him…before…..?”
“No, his sister and mother were there, so I just left without going in.”
“Right.” That’s how it usually went back then.
Todd hung up and I sat there finishing up my money counting. I didn’t know how to feel. I really couldn’t call Ricky a friend. I had to count and recount the money several times. I kept losing my place. Then I heard Casey Kasem say, “Hitting number one today is Madonna’s Papa Don’t Preach.“
I called Todd back. “So, did they give you a time of death for Ricky?”
“Right, but is that today or yesterday?”
“Well, today is his birthday and it’s Madonna’s birthday and I just heard that she’s number one today…and…..it would be, you know, sorta nice if it was today.”
“What the fuck is nice about dying on your BIRTHDAY?”
We never talked about it again. I never did find out what day was listed for Ricky’s death. As the years went on and Madonna’s fame increased, the press began to note her birthday. And ever since that started, I think of Ricky on August 16th. I never knew Ricky’s last name. He wasn’t a close friend. But he has stuck with me over these two decades.
I know that writing these stories about dead people is rather maudlin. Melodramatic. In a way, a story about a stranger’s death is always going to feel melodramatic, I suppose. I’ve written stories like this a half dozen times over the two years of this blog’s existence, and I’ve got many more, more sad stories still untold. I think I get feeling scared that if I don’t get the story out there, I’ll forget it. Forget how it happened. Forget the person.
Twenty years ago today, Ricky, aged 28, died on his birthday. I will always hope that it was his August 16th birthday. Ricky loved Madonna.