Concert Notice: Joan as Police Woman to play Club Dada in April

The last time I wrote about Joan as Police Woman, she opened for Rufus Wainwright back in November 2009. I can’t say she impressed me much, but whatevs. I will say that I’ve gone to listen to some of her recordings and am quickly getting on board. Just in time too because the indie music lady comes to Dallas on her own playing at the thankfully reborn Club Dada in Deep Ellum. And come to find out, she plays for our team — we think.

Trish Bendix over at AfterEllen wrote up this piece last month where Joan Wasser (yes, the same Joan) apparently told Bendix she’s bi:

It might not surprise you, then, that Joan is queer. “Surprise” only because you might know she famously dated Jeff Buckley before he tragically drowned in 1997, a fact that likely haunts her in every discussion of her musical career. But there is no trace of her discussing her sexuality, which she once told me a few years ago was not-so-straight.

After she’d written me (via MySpace, remember that?) to let me know she was bisexual (after I’d inquired, mind you — gaydar in action), she gave me her publicist’s contact information so that I could set up an interview. I was denied, unfortunately, which is (also unfortunately) part of the job when it comes to being from the gay press. But upon hearing some music from Joan’s new album, I knew I had to try again. And this time, she had a new publicist, who, like Joan, wasn’t going to position her as something she’s not.

We’re used to that game of nebulous orientation. It’s just something we like to point out. Really, I’m just hoping she brings along her entourage from “The Magic” video to the show. Right??

Spune presents Joan as Police Woman at Club Dada, 2720 Elm St. April 29 at 10 p.m. $10. Click here for tickets.

—  Rich Lopez

A gay in the LIFE

Photographer Tim Hailand’s intimate access to gay musician Jake Shears and Rufus Wainwright makes for racy coffee table decor

Out photographer Tim Hailand gets way behind the velvet rope — heck, he crosses through the bedroom door — with his One Day in the Life of… photography books. His first, 2010’s One Day in the Life of Daniel Radcliffe, tracked the extremely gay-friendly actor from morning (waking up in bed!) till nighttime, but he gets even racier with two books that came out this week, both featuring queer musicians: One Day in the Life of Rufus Wainwright and One Day in the Life of Jake Shears (Hailand Books, $35).

These are coffee table books you might not want sitting out when mom’s bridge club comes over. Both tomes feature Hailand’s intimate black-and-white images of his subjects (Shears is especially open to getting naked in front of the camera) as they prepare for evening concerts, which are documented in full color. Each book’s photos are accompanied by text from the subjects, with Elton John providing an intro and Kylie Minogue an afterword to the Shears book.

Hailand has snapped for dozens of international magazines, chronicling a bevy of queer icons, from U.K. pop gods the Pet Shop Boys and cult artists Gilbert & George to transgender actress Candis Cayne and singer/performer Justin Bond. A portion of the books’ proceeds will go to charities determined by Shears (the Elton John AIDS Foundation) and Wainwright (the Kate McGarrigle Fund).

Hailand talked about his unfettered access, the challenges of shooting 2,000 photos over 14 hours and who’s next in his dream-list of subject.

— Lawrence Ferber
Visit OneDayintheLife.org for more information or to place an order.

Dallas Voice: Can you elaborate on the genesis behind this project and your choice in subjects? Hailand: I’m very much inspired by great performers — those who seem to be able to do what I can’t do. After shooting Jake Shears for V Man five years ago, I decided to expand upon this “one-day-long” portrait concept and use it for my own work. Dan Radcliffe is a friend, and the book arose out of our friendship. As a person, Dan is incredibly charismatic and super smart — wise beyond his years. He’s also very curious, as most smart people tend to be. Rufus and Jake have been friends of mine for quite some time, and I’ve been photographing them over the years both onstage and off. I love their work — Scissor Sisters’ Night Work and Rufus’ All Days are Nights: Songs for Lulu were my favorite records of 2010 — and they just seemed the next natural choices as book subjects.

Did either of the guys dictate rules as far as what you could and couldn’t shoot? Clearly Jake was pretty uninhibited — we see a lot of his butt. The books are portraits of each subject, of their personalities. No real rules were set up, but I’m always sensitive to and respectful of any subject’s sense of self and what I perceive to be their boundaries.

Did you always plan to shoot on the day of a concert or did you consider another occasion? We wanted to choose a day that has a creative crescendo, that captures the height of their creativity. That’s why the book moves into color at that “high creative” point of the day. They’re all performers, so we wanted to capture what they do best.

What was the biggest challenge as far as shooting Rufus’ day? Shooting one person for 14 hours is demanding in itself — staying both focused and flexible at the same time, going with the flow, and capturing what I perceive to be the rhythm of that particular person’s day. It’s both an exhilarating and exhausting process, as it requires much psychic energy, but I’m very pleased with the end results.

ALL  ACCESS PASS | Queer photographer Tim Hailand, center, with subjects Jake Shears, left, and Rufus Wainwright.

How many shots did you take of each subject? Did any photos that you loved not make it into the books? Probably somewhere around 2,000. In editing the book, I chose images that best told the story of that subject, of that day. I think my favorite images made it into each book, although there are a few that probably stand on their own.

Does being queer yourself somehow affect your choices in subjects or what you draw out of them? It’s funny you should ask, as I recently met with a heterosexual wrestling coach who’s a big advocate of LGBT acceptance, and in looking at my photos, I asked him if one could detect the “queer gaze” of the photographer. He didn’t think so. I think I photograph those that I’m attracted to, sometimes sexually, sometimes in terms of inspiration. I’m interested in those who occupy the space in between — those who are a bit of an outsider to mainstream culture, but are ultimately the true creators.

Who else is on your wish list for future One Day subjects? The next confirmed subject is theater director Robert Wilson. I’ll be documenting his new opera, The Life and Death of Marina Abramovic, in July, which will also feature Marina Abramovic, Antony Hegarty [of Antony and The Johnsons] and Willem Dafoe. I’m very excited about that project! Kylie Minogue lent her words to Jake Shears’ book, and I’d like to make a book with her, so I’m working on that possibility now. I’d also like to do a book with Lady Gaga, Marc Jacobs, David Bowie and heavyweight boxing champion Wladimir Klitschko. I already shot a day with Welsh rugby legend Gareth Thomas [who came out in 2009].

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition Feb. 25, 2011.

—  John Wright

Queer Music News: Singer Rufus Wainwright is now a daddy; James Franco is no Cher

• I had no idea singer Rufus Wainwright was in want of a family. And now he has one — in that modern family kinda way. This was posted on his website this past Saturday. And this doesn’t makes us feel icky like another celeb and his new baby.

Feb 18, 2011

For Immediate Release:

Darling daughter Viva Katherine Wainwright Cohen was born on February 2, 2011 in Los Angeles, California to proud parents Lorca Cohen, Rufus Wainwright and Deputy Dad Jorn Weisbrodt. The little angel is evidently healthy, presumably happy and certainly very very beautiful.

Daddy #1 would like to offer everyone a digital cigar and welcome the little lady in with a French phrase from his favorite folk song, A La Claire Fontaine : “Il y a longtemps que je t’aime, jamais je ne t’oublierai.”

CORRECTION: In many of the articles announcing the birth of Viva Katherine Wainwright Cohen, Lorca Cohen is characterized as “the surrogate.” Of course, she is no such thing. She did not carry the child for someone else. Lorca Cohen is the mother of the baby and Rufus Wainwright is the father.

Towleroad posted this track of James Franco’s version of Cher’s “You Haven’t Seen the Last of Me” from Burlesque, which was to be an apparent gag drag performance for this weekend’s Oscars. Now, it isn’t — and that’s a good thing.

—  Rich Lopez

SHOW VS. SHOW • Mother & child reunion

On the same weekend, Dallas gets Liza Minnelli at the DSO and Debbie Gravitte in a Judy Garland  tribute

Call it serendipity, but when Liza Minnelli stops by the Dallas Symphony Orchestra the same weekend as Irving Arts Center’s tribute to Judy Garland, we have to shed a tear. In a very special installment of Show vs. Show, we couldn’t resist pitting “mother” against daughter.

Minnelli is an icon in so many ways. Whether she’s a movie legend based on her Oscar-winning star turn as Sally Bowles in 1972’s Cabaret or as a drag queen go-to with that signature short hair and adorable warbly voice, Minnelli is literally the stuff of legends — hardly the case with many of today’s stars.

But she’s also Liza. As in the woman who keeps marrying the non-marrying kind (translation: gay) or the lady who always seems a bit on the nutty end of the ice cream bar, We wonder, “What is up with her?” And we love her just for that.

An Evening With Judy Garland showcases Debbie Gravitte singing signature Garland tunes on the anniversary of Judy’s famous Carnegie Hall show. Don’t expect a Rufus Wainwright type recreation: Gravitte and music director Michael Berkowitz inject their own personalties into the show (see sidebar).

Will Liza’s legendary status trump the weekend, or will Gravitte knock this show out of the park? Choices, choices…

………………….

LizaLiza

…. is a true diva with an Oscar, Tony and an Emmy to her name.

…. married some friends of Dorothy.

…. embarrassingly performed Beyonce’s “Single Ladies” on the Sex and the City 2 soundtrack — which we hope she doesn’t do at this show.

…. was on Larry King recently, expressing sympathy and empathy for Lindsay Lohan’s drug use and alcoholism.

…. had her solo Broadway show, Liza’s At the Palace…!, replacing the musical Legally Blonde.

…. had a small comeback in 1989 by going in a  different musical direction with her album Results, produced by the Pet Shop Boys.

…. hocked her velvet jumpsuits on Home Shopping Network.

…. has embraced her gay icon status, even performing at Pride in Paris last  year.

…. performs with Dallas Symphony Orchestra at the Meyerson Symphony Center, 2301 Flora St. Oct 8 and 9 at 8 p.m. $45–$122. DallasSymphony.com.

……………………………..

Judy (aka Debbie)Judy (aka Debbie)

…. got a miniature Oscar for her role as Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz — ouch. (Gravitte has her own Tony, though, for Jerome Robbins’ Broadway).

…. Was Dorothy. And she married some friends of Dorothy. Apparently a genetic trait.

…. embarrassingly messed up some of the words in her famous Carnegie Hall appearance. Still, “Single Ladies” trumps that.

…. was the Lindsay Lohan of her day. Minus the paparazzi.

…. had her Carnegie show recreated detail for detail by gay singer Rufus Wainwright.

…. had several comebacks including Oscar-nominated performances in A Star is Born and Judgment at Nuremberg

…. had a better idea with that red velvet gown from Meet Me in St. Louis.

…. embraced gay men as husbands but responded to a reporter about her iconic status, “I couldn’t care less. I sing to people.”  Umm, we guess that’s cool.

…. isn’t portrayed by Debbie Gravitte as much as she is celebrated, which Gravitte discusses further below.

— Rich Lopez

……………………………..

Recreating a legend

Michael BerkowitzDebbie Gravitte just found out that her show where she performs Judy Garland songs is the same weekend Liza Minnelli comes to Dallas. The scheduling conflict for friends of Dorothy could have massive repercussions, but it is an easy (and obvious fix).

“There is a perfect way to work it out,” Gravitte says. “See her on Friday and see me on Saturday.”

Gravitte teams up with former Minnelli music director Michael Berkowitz, pictured, for An Evening With Judy Garland at the Irving Arts Center Saturday. The solo show commemorates Garland’s iconic Carnegie Hall concert exactly 50 years ago. But Gravitte assures that she is not doing a Judy impersonation.

“This is a tribute, a celebration of this one incredible night of her life,” she says. “I don’t look anything like her and maybe I sound like her a tiny bit, but it’s not like we are recreating Judy. We want to channel that joyful part of her instead of recalling the tragic.”

With a full orchestra behind her, Gravitte would even venture to say this is more of a concert than a show; Berkowitz agrees. His closeness to Garland’s material is far beyond just his work with Minnelli.

“I was always a fan. I was a friend of Bill LaVorgna, Liza’s drummer before me. Bill and I knew each other for 40 years. I first heard his playing on the Garland Carnegie Hall recording. That alone was worth it to me.”

As for the dueling shows, Berkowitz thinks anyone who gets out to either comes out ahead.

“I didn’t know Liza May was in town this weekend as well,” he says. “It’s going to be a double header of great music and entertainment.”

Gravitte knows the gays are gonna hold her to task, but she’s not daunted. In fact, she even challenges her audience a bit.

“I welcome everyone to come dressed in their best Judy,” she says. “We are gonna do a sing along and I want people to sing every fucking line!”

— Rich Lopez

Irving Arts Center, 3333 N. MacArthur
Blvd., Irving. Oct 9 at 8 p.m. $19–$54.
IrvingArtsCenter.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 8, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens

Lady Caca

Ribald as ever, on-again/off-again bisexual comedian (and lately ‘DWTS’ contestant) Margaret Cho takes on a new passion: Her music

LAWRENCE FERBER  | Contributing Writer lawrencewferber@hotmail.com

Margaret Cho
DIARY OF A CHO-GIRL | Margaret Cho is having some year with a new album ‘Cho Dependent,’ her North American tour and her enlistment on the new season of ‘Dancing with the Stars.’

CHO DEPENDENT
Verizon Theatre, 1001
Performance Place, Grand Prairie
Sept. 11 at 8 p.m. $39–$55.
Ticketmaster.com

After belly-dancing across the country with her burlesque variety show The Sensuous Woman, Margaret Cho is ready to get back to her first love: standup comedy. Having just kicked off a national tour and a new album, Cho Dependent, this time she’s doing it with a slight modification: An electric guitar slung around her shoulder and some songs to sing.

The album marks her first foray into music: 14 tracks of what she calls “songs that are jokes yet have musical value to them.” Indeed, renowned indie heavyweights like Ben Lee, Tegan & Sara, Jon Brion (Aimee Mann, Rufus Wainwright), Ani DiFranco, Fiona Apple, Grant Lee Philips, Andrew Bird, Garrison Starr, Patty Griffin and others joined her as collaborators. And as for the guitar? At age 40, inspired by the sight of Madonna working an ax, Cho learned to play.

Always a risk-taker, Cho signed on last week to be on Dancing with the Stars (the season begins Sept. 21 on ABC), where she’ll share the floor with Sarah Palin’s daughter, teen mom Bristol. That will no doubt be a source of great standup material on Cho’s next tour.

Until then, we’ll just enjoy having Cho discuss provocatively titled songs like “Lesbian Escalation” and “Eat Shit and Die,” her open relationship with husband Al Ridenour and the unrequited love she later discovered was a murderer.

Dallas Voice: How did you come up with the Cho Dependent project? Cho: I wanted to make a record, but a comedy album that had really great music, so I enlisted some of the greatest musicians out there to help me. Some I met through the process of making the record and others I’ve known forever. It gave me a chance to hang out with people I love like Ani DiFranco. I’m really proud of the record.

Let’s talk about your collaborators. Which twin is hotter: Tegan or Sara? They’re both beautiful. They’re great musicians and so fun to be with. I love them both. What’s interesting is I think they look really different from each other and have such different personalities.

Did you tell your collaborators that you wanted particular songs to have a specific sound or vibe? Like, “I want this to sound like Pet Shop Boys?” There’s a song called “Eat Shit and Die.” I hired the same engineer who works with Aimee Mann, then her entire band, and then I went to where she recorded her albums in Santa Monica and said, “I’m going to be Aimee Mann all day.” I have her band, her collaborators. I was Aimee Mann all fuckin’ day. It was the best feeling.

Do you think fans be surprised to hear you actually sing? You’re pulling a bit of a Sandra Bernhard here. I love Sandra Bernhard. To me it’s really a comedy album because it’s super jokey — something that could be played on Jersey Shore. I never would want to transition completely into a singer. I always want to stay a standup comic. I’m like Lady Caca.

Did you ask Lady Gaga to be on this? No. I never got around to her. I’m a big fan so I’m going to go for her for the next project. She’s amazing, and a very gifted musician, which people don’t really talk about. She’s not just a cultural icon. She’s a talented musician. I’m inspired by her.

Why is Justin Bieber not on here? Well, he should be. Maybe next time. Him and the Jonas Brothers and Miley Cyrus.

What’s the story behind the hidden 14th track, “Lesbian Escalation?” That’s a very common happenstance for most lesbians and also a trend with younger gay men, too: They act like lesbians and move in together real fast. Bringing U-Hauls to their dates, they move in fast, and almost immediately stop having sex and it becomes something else. I’m trying to encourage women not to do that. Take it slowly. I’ve been in a lot of relationships with women where it just escalates and then we can’t have sex and it gets boring. Keep the mystery alive.

When was the last time you had a girl-girl thing? Not long ago. There’s always something going on.

Is Al liberal about you having same-sex “side dishes?” Yeah, that’s totally fine. I can do whatever I want. Men and women, it doesn’t matter. We have like an old gay man’s Palm Springs relationship. Whatever the other person does is fine. It’s don’t ask don’t tell. We just don’t talk about it.

But it’s fine.

What about having sister wives? Yeah, I think that would be great. With that braid. That horrible Nicky braid? That would be really great.

Although it’s a comedy album, do any songs have their roots in a serious issue? “I’m Sorry” does. That’s a country song with Andrew Bird, and it’s inspired by something horrible. I was in love with this guy who worked on All-American Girl and he didn’t like me back. When I turned 40 I was still in love with him and I Googled him, and on Wikipedia it said: “American screenwriter, producer, worked on All-American Girl, and in 2007 was convicted of the murder of his wife. Bludgeoned her to death and stuffed her body in the attic for a month until it had partially mummified.” And I was so horrified. It could have been me. But it couldn’t have been me. I had so many complicated emotions about it and really didn’t know how to deal with it and thought I should try and write a song about domestic violence and the crazy shit people do.

So I wrote that song and in a sense it’s a very traditional “murder ballad” — it’s a country music staple, that kind of song. It helped me to make sense of how I was feeling and sometimes dark humor is the only way to approach horrible things like murder.

I understand that Bitch recorded a duet with your parents, but I can’t find that track on the album. That track will be on the next one. It’s really hard to schedule my parents into the studio. They’re real prima donnas. It takes a lot. Bitch did a great job, we wrote a great song with my family, but that will be recorded for the next album.

So you already have a sequel in mind? I don’t know what it will be called but I have quite a few songs I recorded that have to wait. More with Ben Lee, Garrison Starr and Jay Brannan, who is an amazing singer-songwriter. Those will be on the next volume.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 10, 2010

—  Kevin Thomas

Rufus Wainwright at Bass Hall Saturday night

There isn’t too much to say about Rufus Wainwright’s performance Saturday in Fort Worth and that’s actually a good thing. He performed a simple show playing only with a guitar or his piano. He scaled back mostly to preview and even rehearse material for his a new album. In that simplicity, he was crazy good.

—  Rich Lopez