Lady Go-Go

Guitar chick Jane Wiedlin and the rest of the Go-Go’s are back — although they claim they were never really gone

SHE’S GOT THE BEAT | Go-Go’s guitarist Jane Wiedlin stays away from gender labels, but still fights for gay rights.

RICH LOPEZ  | Staff Writer
lopez@dallasvoice.com

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THE GO-GO’S
With Girl in a Coma. House of Blues, 2200 N. Lamar St. Aug. 26 at 9 p.m. $40–$75.
HouseOfBlues.com.

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Nothing makes you feel older than an album from your youth celebrating a milestone anniversary. Nothing! Those defining tunes as you came of age may be timeless, but it’s a reminder that you aren’t.

As the seminal ‘80s band the Go-Go’s celebrates three decades since Beauty and the Beat, time seems to have hardly touched guitarist Jane Wiedlin. With her little girl voice and sassy wit, Wiedlin has kept the same spunk she had when the iconic girl group burst onto the scene.

“In some ways it feels like three years ago and other ways, like 300 years ago,” she says.

Wiedlin wants to make one thing clear: The concert she and her bandmates will give this weekend is not part of a reunion tour — there’s nothing to reunite. Rather, the Go-Go’s just aren’t “a very active band” who have taken “a big chunk of time off.”

Whether or not she’s kidding, the tour has injected the band with a vigor that they’ll put on display Friday at the House of Blues. Dallas thought they might get a nostalgic taste of the band when they were set to perform last year. But Wiedlin unintentionally derailed that.

“It was the day after my birthday and a few of us decided to take a midnight hike up to the top of this hill,” she explains. “We wanted to have this epic light saber battle. But as we walked home, I literally fell right off a cliff. I heard my knees explode; I was rolling through poison oak! I went and found the cliff and I had fallen about 15 feet.”

Such an anecdote reveals several things about Wiedlin: She’s an admitted Star Wars geek, and she’s the adventurous type. She has a limp now, but otherwise, she’s back in the game. The time off gave her some time for introspection — about touring in the early days, the fun the ladies had on the road and the experience of putting those shows together. Even with the ups-and-downs of the band, she thought everyone was having the best time possible — why not again?

“You know, I get sucked into the minutiae of being onstage, but it’s extraordinary,” she says with little gasps. “Our intention is to make this tour the most fun we’ve had in decades, which will make it fun for other people.”

Which seems like a given with such musical faves like “We Got the Beat,” “Vacation” and “Head Over Heels.”  But is new music in sight for the band that never really broke up? Wiedlin and the gang aren’t ruling it out.

“It looks possible to record together, even though we don’t have to have a major label,” she says. “That used to be such a big deal to make music, but now with the web, it’s very DIY. Like getting back to those  ‘70s punk rock days. Charlotte [Caffey] and Kathy [Valentine] just wrote a new song for the band.”

Wiedlin gives the impression that she can’t sit still, whether she’s a star in the comic book Lady Robotica, partaking in her admission that she’s a BDSM perv or acting in indie films, Wiedlin’s voice suggests she may never stop working — whatever the work may be.

“I’m working all the time. I just wrote and directed my first sci-fi movie, The Pyrex Glitch,” she says. “That’s on the film fest circuit. Hopefully people will find it as funny as I do. But we’re all really busy. Belinda [Carlisle] has her jewelry and textile company and Gina [Schock] is been writing songs for Miley Cyrus. Everybody is still so active even though we’re old.”

Wiedlin has discussed her bisexuality, although she prefers to stay away from labels. In an interview with AfterEllen.com, she told the site she’s had sex with both sexes, but that “bisexuality is such a loaded term.” But she loves her gays and as Prop 8 played out in California, she experienced both the joy of gaining equality and the disappointment of marriage privileges being taken away.

“For a few months in the summer of 2008, we got equal rights,” she says. “I wanted to be part of that celebration! But then Prop 8 happened and I’ve been fighting it ever since. I became an ordained minister to marry same-sex couples. I’ll go anywhere to do that so people can be together as they should be. Oh, and as a disclaimer, I’m completely non-religious.”

Her focus is now on the tour and even with her bum knees, she laughs off any obstacle that would keep her from enjoying giving a good show. And while the audience will hear Go-Go’s hits and perhaps even Carlisle’s, don’t be so sure on hearing Wiedlin’s one-hit wonder song “Rush Hour.” The pop confection made a top 10 splash back in 1988. In fact, she’s almost betting on it.

“You know, that song has been a thorn in my side,” she chuckles. “It is so hard to play live because it has like millions of synths in it. I’ve never been able to crack it to make it sound good, but I’d love to hear Belinda sing it.”

We’d go for that.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 26, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

The wonderful thing about Tig is….

She wasn’t actually the last comic standing, but dry-witted lesbian standup Tig Notaro has scored legions of fans

TIG NOTARO
With Mark Agee. The Kessler, 1230 W. Davis St. Aug. 30. 7:30 p.m. $15. TheKessler.org

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With a sense of humor so dry, you want to offer her a glass of water, out comedian Tig Notaro knows exactly what to say and how to say it to get a laugh. On her new and aptly named debut comedy disc Good One (Secretly Canadian), she touches on a variety of topics, ranging from Chastity Bono and Taylor Dayne to artificial insemination and babies taking showers. We spoke with Notaro just prior to the release this month of her album.

— Gregg Shapiro

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Dallas Voice: What was the best part of your Last Comic Standing experience?  Notaro: I wasn’t on for very long, maybe two or three episodes. To me it was kind of a ridiculous thing. There were so many comedians who took it very seriously. I guess it’s a good opportunity for people to burst onto the scene out of nowhere. For me, I was kind of glad I didn’t get into the final round — I enjoyed that I just made it to the semi-final round. When you get to that level, you’re just on for three minutes, just doing a set. It’s kind of like doing a late-night talk-show set. That was the best thing. And I made some good friends out of it. I’m doing this Podcast now with David Huntsberger, who I met on Last Comic Standing. In general, it’s kind of a blur to me. It happened so quickly in such a short amount of time that it wasn’t this monumental thing that happened. I kind of forget that I was on it.

Who are your comedy inspirations? Before I got into standup, I was really into Richard Pryor and Joan Rivers and Paula Poundstone and Steve Martin, people like that. It changed when I got into standup. I really started to be inspired by my peers that I was coming up with — Maria Bamford, Zach Galifianakis and Sarah Silverman. That’s who started influencing and inspiring me after I got started. Your tastes get so refined. Not that I don’t think the others were great still, but I would rather listen to my friends these days.
How does it feel to be the first comedian to release a comedy album on uber-hipster indie label Secretly Canadian? I’m thrilled. I feel so honored and lucky. I’d been offered deals with different comedy labels, but it just didn’t appeal to me. I know I’m not the biggest comedian ever [though] if people are into comedy, they probably know who I am. When Secretly Canadian offered me a deal, my manager said, “We’ll look at [the deal] and I’ll talk to the label.” I said, “You can talk all you want, but I know in my gut that I’m signing.” They’ve been so supportive and helpful. They’ve carried out every part of what they’ve promised. It’s just cool. It feels good.

How did you decide what material to include on something as significant as your debut album Good One? I wanted to mix in some things that I had written in the past year that was a little newer. But then I also wanted to put some less popular, older bits of mine on there. I was [recently] in Philadelphia and for my whole show, this woman kept saying “No moleste,” which I guess is my signature bit. She kept turning to her husband saying, “When is she going to do it? I can’t wait until she does ‘No moleste.’” I was like, “Lady! Shut your trap!” I feel like I had to put certain bits on there and for my own good I wanted to put in some newer stuff. There’s also some improvisational things that were more in the moment. That’s how all my shows are — new stuff, old stuff, right on the spot.

So “No moleste” is your “Free Bird.” I guess so. But I feel like my Taylor Dayne story that I wrote in the past year is creeping up on that popularity.

Do you know if Taylor Dayne is aware of being the subject of a comedy routine? Has she contacted you? Yeah, her agent contacted my manager a month or two ago. Her agent told my manager that Taylor wanted me to know that she heard through the grapevine that I was telling this story about her and that she’s a fan of mine and that she’d like to work with me one day [laughs]. I don’t know what on earth we would do together, but I know I don’t need a comedy partner. And I also know I can’t sing. But, yeah, it’s the weirdest and funniest thing that has ever come my way. The Taylor Dayne story just won’t stop giving.

The deluxe edition includes the “Have Tig at Your Party” DVD, described as the “human equivalent to the ‘burning log’ DVD.” What was the inspiration for the concept? Touring so much, I missed so many parties and get-togethers. This friend of mine, years ago, was having a party. And I was sitting in my hotel room thinking, what if I videotaped myself in my hotel room and I just mailed that to her and she could just play it at her party. I didn’t do it, but it inspired the idea of me making that DVD. And every time I mentioned it to people, they would laugh and say, “You have to do that!” So I did and hopefully people will enjoy it. It’s me standing there and I say very little every now and then.

You are going to be on tour for the next several months. What are you looking forward to about being on the road? When I’m doing my college tour, I’m bringing my old friend Tom Sharp as my opener. He’s such a funny guy. We came up in comedy together. He used to write for Zach Galifianakis. With the regular tour dates, I’m hitting a lot of major cities and I have so many friends in those cities. I’m going to be doing venues that I’ve never done, even though I’ve been to those cities before. I’m anxious to see some old friends, hit some new venues. I think it’s going to be a good time.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 26, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

Vial brings a taste of Hawaii to town

Vial brings a taste of Hawaii to town

Deborah Vial
Deborah Vial

Former Dallasite Deborah Vial is going to do her best to introduce local peeps to her discovery of Hawaiian music — especially that of vocalist Amy Hanaialii Gilliom. She plans to add it to the quirky Texas/Hawaii connection she’s found ever since she moving to the Aloha state.

“I can’t go to a dinner party without running into former Dallas peeps,” she says. “It’s a weird connection — particularly gay men. And all of us gay folks over here love Amy.”

After Aug. 20, maybe a few here will too.

— Rich Lopez

House of Blues Cambridge Room, 2200 N. Lamar St. Aug. 20 at 8 p.m. $25. HouseOfBlues.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 13, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas

True blues

Cyndi Lauper still gives a damn about gays and the tint of her newest music venture

RICH LOPEZ  | Staff Writer  lopez@dallasvoice.com

Cyndi Lauper
GOT RHYTHM | Lauper’s tour focuses on her new sound, yet she’ll still deliver her pop classics backed up by her blues band.

CYNDI LAUPER with David Rhodes.
House of Blues, 2200 N. Lamar St. Aug. 11 at 8 p.m.  $30–$55.
HouseOfBlues.com.

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Dallas’ summer music calendar has been hopping for LGBT audiences, from Lady Gaga and Melissa Etheridge to Adam Lambert on the horizon. Cyndi Lauper brings her tour here Wednesday. But while the others stick close to their musical genres, Lauper changes her game as often as her hair color. And this year, she’s got the blues.

Genre leaping can sometimes be the biggest misstep of a musician’s career (Garth was never the same after the Chris Gaines debacle), but Lauper has been doing it for years: Pop to dance to acoustic to standards, all without missing a beat. So she never considered her move into blues was a risk.

“I wanted to do Memphis Blues when I was still at Sony back in 2004,” she says. “As Muddy Waters quoted, ‘If blues gave birth to a child, that child would be rock and roll.’ The blues is the basis for all genres of popular music.”

Which is what Lauper’s back catalog consists of. This move shouldn’t be much of a surprise. Before her landmark debut album, she was working the scene with cover bands, doing a lot of Janis Joplin, Rolling Stones and Faces — bands heavily influenced by blues. With a little extracurricular research, Lauper discovered legends like Muddy Waters, Robert Johnson, Big Maybelle and Ma Rainey.

“I was hooked,” she says.

Now she’s come full circle working with noted musicians on Blues such as veteran giants B.B. King, Allen Toussaint and legend-in-the-making Jonny Lang. For Lauper, this is the album she’s always wanted to do. She’s even confident that her gay fans will follow along even though blues may not be the most popular for LGBT listeners.

“It was a dream to work with each of them; like my own blues museum in one studio,” she says. “My fans seem to love all kinds of music and at different times in my career I have wanted to record certain genres of music that have been meaningful to me, or helped shape me as an artist and they have always come along for the ride. For that, I am grateful.”

That isn’t hard to see. Lauper has been a staunch advocate for LGBT equality and visibility. Her True Colors Tour celebrated queer and queer-friendly music and her recently launched Give a Damn has rallied celebrity support by the likes of Wanda Sykes and Oscar-winner Anna Paquin, who used the campaign to come out as bisexual. She also teamed up with Gaga for a MAC Viva Glam campaign that takes on HIV/AIDS prevention awareness for women.

“I want to continue the work of the True Colors Fund and our Give A Damn campaign to get straight people to stand up for the gay community so that all of us have civil rights and America can be the country it’s supposed to be where we are all treated the same,” she says.

She even expects to bring back the True Colors Tour despite big-ticket festivals and tours not doing so well this summer. But first, she’s giving her own music career some attention.

“It’s about the blues baby! This year I wanted to focus on Memphis Blues and bring it on the road,” she says. “To me, it’s uplifting and music is supposed to heal. The BP oil disaster in the Gulf, wars in the Middle East, the rise of HIV infections in women, global warming — the list is endless, so yeah I’m blue. The great thing is that it still uplifts and no matter how blue you get, there is always hope around the corner.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 6, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens

Suffering for a body of work

Fitness model and trainer Tony DaVinci comes out — as a bodybuilder. Don’t envy him

ARNOLD WAYNE JONES  | Life+Style Editor jones@dallasvoice.com

BEFORE AND AFTER | The difference between a fitness model and a bodybuilder is evident from DaVinci’s physique above, taken in March, and at right, taken in July. (Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)

EUROPA SUPER SHOW
Dallas Convention Center
650 N. Griffin St.
Aug. 13–14. $20–$100.
For schedule, visit EuropaSuperShow.com

While attending a bodybuilding show earlier this summer, Tony Giles realized it was time for him to come out of the closet.

Giles — known in the adult fitness model world as Tony DaVinci — isn’t gay, but he’s long denied what he really was: A freakishly over-muscled bodybuilder trapped in a disgustingly well-built man’s body.

Giles has spent literally half his life working out, and most of that time training his clients about how to get their bodies in shape. But “in shape” is one thing; a muscle-bound mass of twitching protein is another. But just two months ago, it’s what he decided to do. He’ll compete in the Europa Show at the Dallas Convention Center next weekend.

“I was at the Lone Star Classic on June 3 and I realized it’s something I’ve always wanted to do but suppressed because of what I knew it would take.

Bodybuilding is a different world from fitness modeling: It’s expensive, time-consuming, self-absorbing and addictive. It’s a lot of suffering. I’m hungry all the time and have to do lots of cardio.”

The training is much more intense than typical fitness-model hunkiness. It’s harder to lose body fat than to put on muscle, and bodybuilders must do both. And the time frame of has to be telescoped into about two months to maximize effort. It isn’t easy. Or cheap.

“I had to hire a coach to tell me what to do — you see yourself different. I had to hire a posing coach. I get a massage weekly,” Giles says.
And there’s the food: Lots of protein shakes, very rigid intakes of specific proteins (dense beefs early on to pack on muscle, leaner poultry as posing day nears). There’s even a lot of fat in the diet.

“I eat four tablespoons of peanut butter every day. I packed on meat to get to 195 — now I have to lean down to 187. And I will make that weight.” He’ll compete in two classes with crossover weight ranges: Novice middleweight and open light heavyweight.

And for what: A fleeting moment of glory.

“You spend eight to ten weeks to spend two minutes onstage to prove yourself standing next to ten other people,” Giles admits. “Bodybuilding is an illusion: If you’re a good-looking guy, bodybuilding likes that.”

Judges rate contestants on how aesthetically: For posing, muscularity and symmetry.

“I’ve learned a lot about my body, about training styles and broadened by experience and personal training. My clients have noticed a huge change in my physique in five to six weeks.”

Does he have any — ahem — chemical support for his regimen?

“A lot of people ask if I take steroids. If I say no, people will assume I am anyway, so I just leave it at that,” he says.

Even without steroids, though, bodybuilding ravages the body as much as it sculpts it. Seven days out from the competition, Giles will cut out carbs completely and drown himself with water — two gallons a day. Three days out, he reverses the process, carbo-loading. The 12 hours before he takes to the stage, no liquids at all. And as soon as it’s over, he’ll gorge on a burger and cheesecake.

“You have to make sure you have a balance. Mentally, it can mess you up. And the condition you have to be at is very unhealthy,” he says. “You can only be at 3 to 4 percent body fat for a day — 12 to 15 percent is average for a man.” He’ll be under 5 percent on game day.

Although the Europa Show is a qualifier for the national title competition in October, Giles isn’t sure he’ll continue on with bodybuilding once this cycle is over.

“And there’s no money in it until you go pro, though it could be beneficial to my training career,” he says.
So why do it?

“It’s ego,” he says. “I’m in it to win it. If I went to the gym and saw a guy that I thought, ‘He will beat me,’ I’d drop out.”

Yeah, like that’ll happen.
For training and nutrition consultation, call 469-835-5964.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 30, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas