Month: September 2006

2nd to none

By Gilbert Garcia – Pop Music Critic Follow-up avoids sophomore slump, proves Scissor Sisters’ debut was no fluke SHARPENED UP: Singer Jake Shears, front center, leads Scissor Sisters to an evolved, more innovative sound on new disc. Scissor Sisters “Ta-Dah” Universal/Motown From the moment their 2004 debut record lit up dance floors and concert stages, expectations suddenly got very high for queer New York super-group Scissor Sisters. Where a first-time release requires only a decent set of songs and a go-for-broke exuberance, sophomore albums are different beasts altogether. For a follow-up to be successful, a band must prove they’re both innovative and that they’ve evolved. On their second release, “Ta-Dah,” unabashedly gay singer Jake Shears and crew perform admirably on both counts not only producing a solid and fun album, but sounding quite slicker in 2006. “Ta-Dah” wastes no time getting to the good stuff, starting off with the group’s first single, “I Don’t Feel Like Dancing.” Like the group’s previous hits, the track borrows liberally from ’70s-era pop of artists like Elton John, to whom the group owes a lot of credit. Indeed, it should be no surprise that Sir Elton himself provided backing keys for two tracks on the album, and he takes a co-writing credit as well. Whereas the first album was divided equally between bouncy pop and trashy disco, “Ta-Dah” tends to be more heavily...

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Clay confesses to Paxil

By Gilbert Garcia – Pop Music Critic When does an inspiring celebrity interview become a rude inquisition? If you’re Clay Aiken, it’s just about the time you’re asked about your sexual orientation. Last week, during a “Good Morning America” interview with Diane Sawyer, Aiken bristled at Sawyer’s questions about his sexuality, saying the issue was “a waste of my time.” He also added that the pesky and ubiquitous question was “really rude.” Aiken previously denied being gay in a 2003 Rolling Stone interview. But this time around, he sidestepped a full denial insisting that his personal life was out of bounds and wondering aloud why anyone would be interested in the sex life of a popular singer. When it came to other personal issues, however, the suave North Carolinian wasn’t nearly as circumspect. Discussing his recent struggle with panic attacks, Aiken confessed to taking the antidepressant Paxil, and added that he was not currently in therapy. Presumably, a discussion of his sexuality would have been less inspirational than knowing what medication he’s on. Last week also marked the release of Aiken’s third album, “A Thousand Different Ways.” The record largely consists of covers of some of the singer’s favorite love songs, including the Harry Nilsson hit “Without You,” the Hall and Oates favorite “Every Time You Go Away” and Foreigner’s “I Want to Know What Love Is.” Earlier this...

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Still going strong

By Greg Shapiro – Contributing Writer Tenacious multi-talent Cyndi Lauper keeps improving with age She could have coasted on the signature Betty Boop-style delivery of “Girls Just Want to Have Fun.” But Cyndi Lauper’s independent streak proves she’s a big girl with a big voice. And a bigger career than people give her credit for. This year, Lauper made some interesting additions to her resume: a Broadway debut in “Threepenny Opera,” directing a TV commercial and stealing the show at the Closing Ceremonies of Gay Games VII in Chicago. But she’s just getting started, and the 53-year-old diva isn’t slowing down anytime soon. Last year, Lauper released “The Body Acoustic,” which flexed her skills at cover songs. And because she’s been so busy on the Great White Way and sticking her toes into new cultural waters, the “Body Acoustic” tour went on sabbatical. Leg 2 swings into the Lakewood Theater on Friday. She recently gave us the lowdown on her seemingly tireless career. You’re finally a Broadway baby. How does that feel? I got one down. It was a different kind of experience. Most of the production was non-traditional. Scott Elliott, the director of “Threepenny,” didn’t choose typical Broadway people. It was Alan Cumming in the lead; Nellie McKay was Polly; and I was Jenny. He had a lot of people famous for other things. But Alan is famous...

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Crystal clarity

By J.S. Hall – Contributing Writer With dry wit and caustic flair, a writer confronts his many addictions “Tweaked: A Crystal Meth Memoir,” by Patrick Moore. (Kensington Books, 2006), 224 pp., $15. Paper. Since crystal meth abuse began running rampant in the gay community, it stands to reason that memoirs written by ex-crystal addicts would mushroom as well. Books like Ron Nyswaner’s “Blue Days, Black Nights” have graphically illustrated the drug’s seductive pull and destructive grip. In the case of writer Patrick Moore (“Beyond Shame”), however, “crystal completed, with amazing efficiency, a trajectory that had begun with alcohol, moved through psychedelics and escalated into a whirlwind of pills and cocaine.” However, calling “Tweaked” “a crystal meth memoir” is something of a misnomer, partly because of the sheer variety of pharmaceuticals involved. And partly because Moore spends most of the memoir sober, albeit constantly struggling with “The Voice that speaks to me incessantly, whining and needling.” And to make matters worse, he’s decided to serve as a counselor-facilitator at the House, a clinic of sorts for meth addicts. “There are moments when I suddenly realize that I’m a nice boy from Iowa who is entirely comfortable sitting in a room of freaks,” Moore writes. The House is presided over by Judy, an astonishingly blunt lesbian who stoically endures her charges’ outbursts, then responds blisteringly in kind. The majority of “Tweaked”...

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A letter to Tyron

By Leslie Robinson – General Gayety A final farewell to a reluctant activist, reclusive gay hero who never got the recognition he deserved Dear Tyron, I know you’re dead and won’t read this. But it’s because you just died that I need to write this letter. It’s the cheapest form of therapy I know. Not that I need grief therapy, as I didn’t know you personally. To me you were a figure in newspaper photos, standing next to you will excuse the expression your partner in crime, John Geddes Lawrence. I remember you as smiling, ordinary and uncomfortable in the spotlight. I remember you as a hero. Fate is stranger than a Dali painting, and you couldn’t have had an inkling that September evening in Houston when the cops burst in on you and John in John’s apartment that you were on your way to the U.S. Supreme Court. I assume at that moment you were simply grappling with fear, followed by anger. Your thoughts that night in 1998 are probably still unprintable in 2006. And how about that twist to your arrest, the fact that the police showed up because they were responding to a false report of a man with a gun! I’ve read that the false report came from a neighbor of John’s, and that he was a jealous lover of yours. Either way, this was...

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