Love her way

Despite her Scottish accent, Oona Love is an all-American girl

RICH LOPEZ  | lopez@dallasvoice.com

Oona2-copy
FOLKING AROUND | Oona Love may dress like Stevie Nicks, but she finds inspiration in lesbian icon Mary Gauthier.

OONA LOVE
Sue Ellen’s
3014 Throckmorton St. Dec. 17. 9:30 p.m.
No cover. Caven.com.

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Oona Love thinks she’s boring. The most interesting thing about her, if she says so herself (and she does), is her Chihuahua mix, which joins Love and her girlfriend on the road while she’s performing and booking gigs across the country.

But Love herself has a Chihuahua’s tenacity. Prior to her Saturday gig at Sue Ellen’s, the Scottish singer by way of Nashville has booked shows at Lakewood Bar & Grill and after arriving in town, she lined up two more appearances.

So how does a “boring” Scot thrive in an indie music career filled with lesbians and guitars?

“My message is trying to promote peace, love, understanding and action,” she says. “My generation gets lost in talking about stuff but not doing anything. So all

I’m doing is just really trying to get my music out there. I logged 38,000 miles for the last year, trying to get people to hear that message.”

Love arrived in America 20 years ago to attend college, but she also knew that if anything in music was going to happen for her, it would be here. This is where her heroes are from.

“I’d always been into American singer-songwriters,” she says. “I’m kind of embarrassed to say it, but I really like John Denver!”

For Love, old-school folk inspired her music, offering the optimistic messages she shoots for. With a folk revival in recent years, she doesn’t find much in common with newer bands, though.

“I sometimes write about love and shit, but I always try to write more with a message like those singers,” she says.

Lesbian icons aren’t lost on her, either. She’s a big fan of Sinead O’Connor, but also gushes over folk icon Mary Gauthier and highly recommends her new album. Just don’t get her started on one self-proclaimed bisexual artist.

“I don’t get Ani DiFranco anymore,” she says. “She’s married with a kid now but, oh, I dunno.”

Love melds traditional undertones with a strong Americana perspective tying both cultures. In her album, Out of the Ashes, producer Doug Driesel and Love provide a fairly cohesive set of songs with heart and nice texture. Despite being more American than Scottish, the Celtic instrumentation isn’t lost. And she says the gays like it — and she means the boys.

“I do have a good gay male following,” she says. “Maybe it’s because I look like a drag queen. I’m a redhead with giant boobs, so that kinda helps. But it’s fantastic to play lesbian bars because it feels like you’re coming home. I’m a bit freer before a gay audience.”

Love doesn’t play the boxed-in-because-I’m-lesbian card. She refreshingly embraces the fact that she is going to appeal more to LGBT audiences, but also won’t hold back if performing in non-gay bars. She’s learning to play the game of booking various clubs, what to perform and how to reach out to her audience. But she’s still going to sing love songs to her girlfriend.

“I have no restriction. I don’t feel I need to walk into some hick bar and be overtly out, but I still sing to a woman,” she says. “I don’t raise issues about straight or gay, but if they like my music. But I try to set a good example by living an out lifestyle.”

Which doesn’t sound boring at all.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 17, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas

On the heels of Brandon Hilton comes another Dallas glam popster — Chris Sapphire

Chris Sapphire

After posting Brandon Hilton’s newest video last month, I got an e-mail from “Emmy™ Nominated Film, Television and Music Producer J. Michael Brown,” informing me about another local pop singer. According to Brown’s e-mail, Chris Sapphire is a Dallas-based artist and radio/TV personality who just released a new video.

But first, I have to say that Sapphire is also part of the MZLive Internet radio team. Seems a lot like Rational Radio with an apparently higher profile. I checked out the site after reading Sapphire’s bio and checked out the latest webisode. I was kinda stunned when the show opened with Sapphire happily drinking Four Loco. Bad timing for days.

Anyway, Sapphire’s debut video, “Shake Your Ass,” has its catchy moments. Nothing complex, but I could get into the groove a bit. And I dig his Tina Turner momma.

Perhaps Dallas is becoming the home of gay glam pop. Like Hilton, Sapphire does the lip gloss gender-bending glam thing. What’s also similar is their approach to music stardom. Using aggressive social networking and web presence, the two are pushing that into a music career. Now we just have to wait and see where that takes them and subsequently, whether it makes Dallas the glam pop capital of the world.

Hey, we can dream. Watch the video now.

—  Rich Lopez

Godly & gay

Bishop Bean writes spiritual memoir

3 out of 5 stars
I WAS BORN THIS WAY,
by Archbishop Carl Bean (with David Ritz). Simon & Schuster (2010). $24. 264 pp.

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Carl Bean never really knew his father, and he barely knew his birth mother. Born and raised in a poor area of Baltimore, Bean was basically raised by a village of “warm and wonderful women,” who nurtured him even though he admits was a girly little boy, soft and feminine. Attracted to other boys at an early age, he knew he couldn’t hide his feelings from those around him, though nothing was ever said. Bean was loved, and that’s what he knew.

In his book I Was Born This Way, Bean recounted that embracing childhood, as well as his career and finding God’s love and acceptance.

The shining point of his life was his godmother’s mother, the woman Bean called Nana. She cared for him, took him to church, and made him happy, but when he was just 3 years old, Nana died and life changed drastically. He was taken in by his godparents, who loved him but didn’t seem to like him. Shortly after that, Bean was sexually assaulted by an uncle.

Though various abuses continued well into his teens, and though Bean had fully acknowledged his gayness, he maintains that he was cherished and accepted — especially by the unaware wives of his abusers.

Fortunately, he found solace in God and in song. Bean sang in good times and bad, for audiences of none or many. Because he knew that God is love, most of his favorites were gospel songs that Bean sang in the church choir. He was encouraged and tutored, and when he was old enough, he moved to New York City to pursue a gospel music career, quickly making a name for himself on the gospel circuit. He followed that with a disco career and a top-selling record.

But at different points in his life, Bean was homeless, which showed him what God truly wanted him to do. After his musical career ended, he started a church and opened his arms to the LGBTQ community. He began an AIDS outreach program through his ministry — he became unconditional love.

Though it sometimes drags, particularly in the middle section, I Was Born This Way is a wonderful biography about a religious man comfortable with his orientation, and it’s curiously soothing to read.

Bean is brutally honest in telling his story, which is both sweetly idyllic and frighteningly horrifying. Still, despite the nastiness he endured, he manages to convey a sense of calm and comfort, and a peaceful demeanor. That makes this, oddly, more like a hug than a book.

Readers looking for heavenly succor will find it in Bean’s reassuring teachings, while others will be merely treated to a unique memoir. If you’re up for something good, I Was Born This Way is worth laying eyes on.

— Terri Schilechenmeyer

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Disco ballsy

Party Animals by Robert Hofler. DaCapo Press (2010); $15.95. 308 pp.

White suits with shiny polyester shirts — remember those? The thumpa-thumpa of the beat and the hazy feeling of strobe light on mirror ball?

If you’re of a certain age, those are either good memories or echoes of “disco sucks.” Either way, Party Animals will tell you about one man who never wanted to stop the music: Allan Carr, who produced Grease and the Village People movie.

Carr, who was gay when it was taboo to talk about such things, became manager to the stars, a job that fully utilized his skills. (anyone who angered Carr himself received a blistering tirade). He could charm anybody, often sweet-talking sponsors into funding his lavish parties so he didn’t have to pay for food or drinks for his guests.

But Carr wanted to be a movie producer, so when he fell in love with the Broadway musical Grease, he knew he could reinvent it for the big screen. He got the rights, tweaked the show and his career took off…for awhile.

Carr’s sense of timing was ultimately poor and his visions bloated. Following the mega-success of Grease, projects flopped or never went anywhere; when Carr finally got his Oscar chance, the entire world witnessed the mess.

Filled with big names and little scandals Party Animals is exhaustively researched, over-the-top snarky, sarcastically funny, and teetering on the very edge of boring. If you’re a Baby Boomer or behind-the-scenes Hollywood die-hard, you’ll get much more out of this book than not. For the rest of us, these Party Animals fail to roar.

— T.S.

Two stars

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 29, 2010

—  Kevin Thomas