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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Veronica Klaus CD: Something Cool

And that’s the title of the new CD by Veronica Klaus, her first in seven years, and to me any CD by her is something cool and very special.

I first met Veronica in April of 1999 in NYC, at the GLAMA Awards, where my host Patrick Arena finagled that we be seated at the same table with her. She was a Presenter that year and was nominated in the Female Artist category. [Another future friend, Sonia, received that award]. And it was for Veronica’s debut CD that she earned the nomination. It was called “All I Want,” and that recording made me a devoted fan.

 Patrick and Andy won a GLAMA for their CD "Night Cap"

That CD gave us her signature song, the biographically-inspired “Black Diamond Days,” as it also displayed many of her own gems, along with her exquisite taste in material: “Ruler of My Heart” (Irma Thomas), “Remember Walking in the Sand” (Shangri-Las), “Bye Bye Blackbird,” and many more. It is an album that if I were to lose it, I would replace it immediately.

In 2005 she gave us “Live at the Lodge,” with more material to wrap your yen for sultry songs around: “Fever,” “Dark End of the Street,” “Way Over Yonder,” and a delicious duet with Mark Weigle on “Angel from Montgomery.” On that one she was returning the favor, as they shared another song, “Jo and Libby,” on Mark’s 2003 CD “Different and the Same.”

Not a lot of people have this next CD, from 2007, as it was only available directly from her. One of her very popular shows in San Francisco was “Family Jewels: The Making of Veronica Klaus,” which was her story in song and dialogue. I wish I could have seen that show, but grateful for a copy of the demo CD from it.

I finally got to see her sing live, in San Francisco, in June of 2010, where I visited for Pride, and she was holding court at Enrico’s.

Update: 6/9/12. So, the new CD is here, and I'm very pleased. I think you will be also.

Find Veronica Klaus:
Veronica Klaus . Net

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Tab Hunter: Okay singer, DAMN good looking

This is sort of a gallery showing of Tab Hunter album and 45 covers. But for details, the bio from Amazon covers nicely his career:
Born July 11, 1931 in New York City, Arthur Geilen was raised in California by his mother. While working as a stable boy, he was discovered by James Dean's agent, who snatched him up and christened him Tab Hunter. He made his first movie in 1950 and was soon starring in such films as "Damn Yankees," "Battle Cry," and "The Girl He Left Behind," eventually appearing in over 40 movies. Tab had little singing experience, but with a little coaching he became one of the first "teen idols" of rock music. He scored a #1 hit in 1957 with his very first single, "Young Love," on Dot Records. Hunter recorded for Warner Brothers, drifting towards both traditional pop and smooth country.  Hunter continued working in films and on TV throughout the 60's and 70's, and his career took an upswing in the 1980's when he starred in such campy films as John Waters’ “Polyester,” “Grease 2,” and the horse-opera spoof “Lust in the Dust.”

You can find hundreds of images of Tab Hunter with a google image search, many (gasp) with his shirt off, but I’m focusing here only on his album and 45 rpm covers. (No, I don't own all of these, just the CD and "R.F.D." LP.) Damn, he was nice to look at.

A pretty good CD compilation was released in 2005, with a booklet full of choice pix.

Monday, February 20, 2012

New Kiya Heartwood CD: “Bold Swimmer”

Kiya Heartwood has a solo CD now, called “Bold Swimmer,” and I love it. Now, I’m more used to hearing (and seeing) her as part of the duo Wishing Chair, who has been one of my favorite acts for years. I have interviewed them many times, and when I was co-producer of the show Audiofile, for ten years, I figured out what acts we featured the most, and there were several with five-time ties: Tret Fure, Kinsey Sicks, Sonia, Mark Weigle, and Wishing Chair. So they were in very rare company.

Here’s a press blurb I wrote about them a year or so ago:

With the band Wishing Chair I have a long tradition now, going back to their “Singing With the Red Wolves” CD in 1996, of loving and admiring their music. Their singing and instrumentation is always superb, and the lyrics bring a social consciousness addressing areas that educate and entertain, including subjects you would not always expect; a good thing.

Being the historian nut that I am, I dug into my files and put together a Kiya Heartwood Discography, and collage of the recordings. Many don’t know she was in a band in the late 80’s called “Stealin Horses.” And, hey, Neil Young played harmonica on their first album, not too shabby. Also, Kiya had another solo release between the time of Stealin Horses, and getting together with Miriam Davidson to form Wishing Chair. You could not go wrong by tracking down any of her albums in any incarnation.

Below, nabbed this photo of (left to right) Miriam and Kiya at the last Houston Women’s Music Festival in October, and got to hear Kiya sing “Change (Is Gonna Come),” a few months before it appeared on the new CD.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Most Homoerotic 45 rpm Picture Sleeve of the 70’s

When I was a kid, it was in the years when the 45 rpm record was king, and they often got extra promotion by having a “picture sleeve.” Records with those sleeves can be quite collectible, in the cases of Elvis, the Beatles, and on and on. But I’m nominating this German pic sleeve as the most homoerotic of the 1970’s, and perhaps other decades. 

The year 1970 was early for such a gay supportive song, but Johnny Delgada, pseudonym of Johnny Bode, had a long career of provocative recordings, going back to the 1930’s. 

Click on Songs to Listen

A listener of my show in Germany years ago sent me these loose translations of these two songs.

We Two, We Are Not Like the Others

We two, we are not like the others
We have drunk a right to a little happiness
We must wander alone
While others dally
Going through life
With loving glance

We have the same feelings
We love the other happiness and pain
Indeed we must, there is nothing so warm
You alone know what I’m feeling
And long for me with tenderness.

Everything in the world is incomplete, from the beginning
Two halves first produce a whole.
Accompanying the other side life makes sense,
They are the rocks in the storm of desires.

Man needs man, and woman needs woman, can be,
Who of you, will throw then the first stone
We cannot change ourselves, how we only once sing.

Indeed, we must take nothing as lukewarm
You alone know what I’m feeling
And long for me with tenderness.

 Achilles’ Grief

A shield cut to pieces and sword smashed to bits
In the land from which no one comes back
You went and left me alone
Screaming by your bier

I kiss the lips that inflamed me so
And the eyes that lovingly looked back
We will see each other again at the soul’s death
There before them shadows at the eternal way.
We, in spite of the destiny that was so intended for us
The holy love goes hidden for us.

Darkened woods evening-soft
Play at cooling rashness 
At the call, under the lime-tree
On the smashed bottle

The last drops’ worth run 
And certain clods of soil are thirsty 
In the west, loses itself in whirling smoke
The sun, evening fire
And cold remains the ground ripped from the earth
And that burns the money and that tears the shirt
And that grabs at nothing 
That once was so dear to me

I kiss the lips that inflamed me so
And the eyes that lovingly looked back
We will see each other again at the soul’s death
There before them shadows at the eternal way.
We, in spite of the destiny that was so intended for us
The holy love goes hidden for us.

Here’s a translation of the German text in the small boxes of the back of the sleeve.

Oh, and my second choice for "Most Homoerotic 45 rpm Picture Sleeve of the 70's" goes to Sonny Costa, for his 1970 release "Er," the flip side of "Homo Joe."

And I've done a whole show on German language GLBT Songs, Find it Here

James Baldwin LP

James Baldwin, was one of our literary heroes, not just for his writing dealing with racism and black issues, but for also his early work addressing male homosexuality. The album I am showcasing in this blog entry, recorded in 1967, includes Baldwin reading from two of his novels addressing homosexuality, “Giovanni’s Room,” (1956), and “Another Country,” (1962). These selections can be heard on the following page of my website.



Friday, February 17, 2012

Christopher Isherwood Reads...

One of our beloved writers was Christopher Isherwood (1904 – 1986), and his many books and writings have spawned several well-known movies. “Goodbye to Berlin” became “Cabaret,” “A Single Man” became a movie in 2009, and there have been movies about him: “Chris & Don: A Love Story” (2008), and “Christopher and His Kind,” a BBC television film in 2010. The film “Chris & Don” celebrates his 33-year relationship with Don Bachardy, in which Isherwood was 30 years older.

There were several audio recordings released of him reading his work, but probably the most assessable to most would be an album from 1976, called “Christopher Isherwood Reads…” which includes selections from “Goodbye to Berlin (Sally Bowles),” “A Single Man,” and “A Visit to Anselm Oakes.” These selections can be heard on the following page of my website.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Francis Renault: The Parisian Fashion Plate, with a $5000 Wardrobe

Francis Renault was one of the most celebrated female impersonators of the 1920’s and 1930’s, and stood at the top of his profession, along Julian Eltinge and Karyl Norman. And his career lasted the longest, with him performing until just a few years before his death in 1955. One of his famous impressions was that of Lillian Russell, and he had a lovely soprano singing voice.

According to an inflation calculator, Francis Renault’s $5000 wardrobe would be worth $65,000 today, and that would be a huge amount for an entertainer just a few years into his female impersonation career. The $5000 wardrobe figure came from a 1919 ad for one of his performances. Another ad, from 1932, boasted a $50,000 wardrobe ($821,000 in 2012), and remember, 1932 was during the depression. That was one of the bragging points of Renault on stage…his fabulous wardrobe, and it took him through multiple appearances at Carnegie Hall, and he was said to have performed in 42 countries.

I’ve known about Francis Renault for many years, but just this week learned of his earlier history. Now, I don’t usually collect sheet music featuring female impersonators, though I find them interesting. But I found one with a female impersonator new to me, from 1913, named Auriema, so I bought it, for a reasonable price, and then started researching. I had forgotten that “Francis Renault” was not his given name. He was born Antonio Auriemma (or Auriema, citations vary) in Naples, Italy, in 1893 (sometimes listed at 1895), and he was raised in Providence, R.I. 

More internet digging uncovered that he gained fame even as a boy, for his soprano voice, and he was a favorite of Mrs. William McKinley. I found two newspaper clippings from 1909 mentioning him. He next went to female impersonation, apparently doing well quickly, appearing in notable vaudeville venues, and even having his photo included on sheet music in 1913 on an Irving Berlin song. In those years many female (and male) impersonators were featured on sheet music, and I do not know if it was just as an endorsement for sales purposes, or if they also performed the songs in their acts. They were usually shown in insets on the covers.

 The ones above, dating from 1924-26, all used the same photo.

In late 1914 Auriemma became Francis Renault, and note that he was often listed, given the style of the day, as “Mr.” Francis Renault. His long and colorful career included being arrested in Dallas, and nearly arrested in Atlanta, for wearing women’s clothing out on the street. By the way this was something his early friend Julian Eltinge would never have done. Eltinge was quite preoccupied with keeping a butch image. The clipping below tells of his Atlanta adventures, still going by Auriema. (It's easier to read on my website).

I have a Lot of photos and clippings to visit on my website.
which by the way is part of a huge Drag & Female Impersonation wing