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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Boot Camp, or Leather Bar: The Musical

While surfing Youtube I ran across an old favorite video and wanted to share it, as I think no one should have missed this one. The caption calls it “Leather Bar: The Musical,” which I like better than its real name, “Boot Camp.” It’s a delightful juxtaposition of ballroom style dancing in a leather bar, and is from 1996. Its stars,  Matthew Solari and John Cantwell dance and sing to “Not While We’re Dancing, Dear.” That starts around the two-minute mark.

Some googling found that Matthew Solari more recently was Executive Producer of the gay romantic comedy “eCupid,” from 2011, and sang one of the songs in it. John Cantwell has been more visible, appearing in “Legally Blonde” and a number of other films and TV shows.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

And I Am Telling You...Three Times

One of my you hear me? ABSOLUTE favorite Broadway songs is "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going," as done in showstopping form by Jennifer Holliday, in "Dreamgirls." The song accomplished the unusual recent feat of coming from a Broadway show and crossing over to be a hit by itself. And it has done bunches of good for those who master it. Jennifer Holliday got a Tony award for her role in the show and a Grammy for the recording of the song. Years later Jennifer Hudson stole the movie version, garnering an Oscar for her, and when I saw it in the movie theatre the audience applauded after that song.

So, I was delighted to see Jennifer Holliday perform it as a duet on the American Idol finale show, with soon-to-be runner-up Jessica Sanchez. Yes, Sanchez was fine, but my eyes and ears were glued to Holliday. It was by far the highlight of the whole AI season for me.

But this blog is taking a different twist...and features the song as done by male performers, three of them. Yes, there have been more than 3 guys doing the song, but I'm showcasing the three that stand out for me. And I'll start with the earliest of the three. Billy Porter has had an excellent career, being in a number of Broadway shows, films and has appeared on a number of recordings. And he's amazing. Period. I was so, So pleased when he included a version of "the song" on his 2005 CD "Billy Porter: At the Corner of Broadway + Soul."

I first noticed Von Smith when he competed in Season 8 of American Idol, in 2009. He got as far as the Top 36, and it appeared Von was just too over-the-top for Simon. Which I can see, but I loved it. Von's Youtube videos already had gotten the attention of Rosie O'Donnell, then on "The View," and she got him on that show, in early 2007." This video of "And I'm Not Telling You" was captured in 2007.

And the last artist of this entry debuted on the UK version of "X-Factor," singing Joe Cocker's "With a Little Help from My Friends." It was a stunning performance and Simon said it was the best first audition he had ever seen. He's Danyl Johnson, and later in the competition he wowed on the "Dreamgirls" song, and I still cannot believe he only finished fourth in the season results.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Songs Inspired by Harvey Milk

Two years ago I did a special QMH show which had the short name of "Harvey Milk Music," but it was really music about and inspired by him. And I think I was the first to gather together this music. An observation is that for songs about Harvey Milk, they really did not start showing up for a number of years after his death. But for ones about Dan White, they were immediate, especially after the trial. I've got about a half a dozen just from 1979. My comment is that as in the genre of protest songs, anger was a powerful motivator to songwriters. You can find my QMH show at the following link.

But I want to call attention to one song in particular, as shown in the graphic above. The song was inspired by Harvey Milk's "Give 'Em Hope" speech, and he used that message again and again in many speeches. I was honored to premier it on this show, and here’s how that happened.

One of my artist friends who I much respect is Tim Cain. He's an award winning artist, and he was the founder of Chicago's first queer boy rock band, called Boys' Entrance. When I started working on this show in March of 2010 it occurred to me that, well, he's written so many political songs, he might have one about Harvey Milk. So I wrote and asked him that. He said he didn't but he would write me one, and it happened, and I was thrilled. He wrote it with Brett Alan Basil of the band Pink Sheep. This was the first time a song had been written expressly for QMH. It can be heard below, and is also available on iTunes.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Kat Devlin

One of the artists that really made me sit up and pay attention this year is Kat Devlin. Her first full CD, “The Voyage Out,” came out in 2010. But I didn’t hear about her until an Aussie journalist friend of mine, Sue Barrett, wrote me. She said I HAVE to hear the song “Dear Emmi,” from Kat’s late 2011 EP “Rem Cycle.” That was all it took. See what you think? Click to watch the video.

I also recommend her bandcamp site, as she's uploading about
a new song every month, that will comprise her next album.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Alicia Bridges

It’s hard to believe it was 34 years ago this Spring that (out lesbian) Alicia Bridges was a resounding hit in the discos. Her smash “I Love the Nightlife (Disco Round)” reached #5 on the Billboard charts, and was an international hit, selling one million copies and garnering her a Grammy nomination. And I knew every word, and especially (on the dance) floor gave the proper body accents to “You can love them all and when you're through, maybe that'll make, Ugh! a man out of you.”

and the song made it to at least two movie soundtracks

Friday, May 11, 2012

Cheyenne Jackson: Drive

Whoa! Until a few minutes ago I didn't know I'd be anxiously waiting for the new CD by Cheyenne Jackson. But then I heard the first single, "Drive." Check it out on his site...

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Straight Comic, Gay Album (1972)

The year 1972 was early for an all gay-themed comedy album, and perhaps more surprising, it was, to my mind, quite "gay friendly." Sandy Baron had already had success on Broadway, countless TV shows, and in concert, and had released several comedy albums. But this one was different. In an interview in The Advocate (1976) it was stated that the LP was an "attempt to break down down some of the stereotypes and mystique about homosexuality through a myriad of confrontations between the gay and straight worlds." And I think the result has no viciousness and instead is quite good-natured. My favorite track is about same-sex marriage (yes, in 1972) and is called "Do You Take This Man...?" But you can hear all of the tracks on my site.

A 45 rpm record was even released from the album.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Camp Records Label

Over the years one of the most popular sections of my site has been the one on the Camp Records label. I title it “The Most Outrageous (and Queerest) Record Label of the 60s,” and it certainly was. Almost nothing is known about the mysterious 60's record label. The Hollywood company released an album and ten 45 rpm records of gay parody songs, most done with effeminate voices. I believe they were issued in the early 60's, as they all appeared in an ad in the gay magazine Vagabond, dated 1965. The artists singing most of the songs were uncredited, or with names obviously made up, like Byrd E. Bath and B. Bubba.

Below, four of the ten 45s

  A second album released on the label was called "Mad About the Boy." It was filled with mostly well-known Broadway and cabaret songs that were originally sung by women. This album kept the pronouns intact, making them very gay. They were done in lounge style, without a campy other words, done "straight."