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Monday, July 29, 2013

Rev JM Gates - "Manish Women"

Something different for anti-gay recording, or at least one condemning acting like the opposite sex. Rev Gates was probably the most successful ministers in the South. He was definitely of the fire-and-brimstone call-and-response type, and was unique in that many of his sermons were recorded, about 200 of them, done between 1926 and 1941. The label Document Records has reissued nine CDs of his work. But this one track, "Manish Women," is the one of interest to me, as it storms against women of that,, style, who "try to walk and talk like a man," and doesn't leave out "some men trying to walk and talk like a woman." Released on Okeh Records, #8779, in 1930.

Above clipping from October 15, 1897

Sunday, July 28, 2013

The Battle of the Bette Davis Impersonators

Okay, sometimes I amuse myself in unusual ways, and for example, a number of years ago for one of my QMH shows...on a show called Gender Benders, I put together a sort of medley of comedy clips from several female impersonators, all doing impressions of Bette Davis. Of course many drag performers "do" Bette Davis, but I picked some of the best. This week I decided to add one more drag artist, and make this medley into a video slide show, and it turned into a 14-minute one. It features, in order, Arthur Blake, TC Jones, Charles Pierce, Ty Bennett and Jimmy James. Jimmy is the only "modern" one and has been performing for many years. I saw him in 2011, and he's flawless. I encourage you to seek out the many "Bette Davis" videos of Jimmy James on YouTube.

You can decide the winner, and they are heard in order:
Arthur Blake, from "Curtain Time," 1957
TC Jones, from "Himself," 1959
Charles Pierce, from "Live at Bimbos," 1971
Ty Bennett, from "Queen for a Day," circa 1961
Jimmy James, from "The One & Many Voices of Jimmy James," 1999

Rod Stewart's "The Killing of Georgie"

Rod Stewart's "The Killing Georgie" reached #30 on the Billboard Charts in July of 1977, the third of four singles to make the Top 40 from the huge selling LP from the previous year, "A Night On The Town." Of course, "Tonight's the Night" was the big hit, stuck to the #1 spot for seven weeks, and I loved that album. The song "Killing of Georgie" was quite unusual fare lyrically for a chart record, dwelling on the gay bashing, and murder of Georgie. This was pretty somber stuff for mainstream radio then, and now. And, no it was not the first Top 40 hit to deal with LGBT topics...for example, "Lola" by the Kinks reached #9 in 1970, but still, this was a top artist broaching the subject, and rather sympathetically.

In a 1995 interview Steward explained, "That was a true story about a gay friend of The Faces. He was especially close to me and Mac. But he was knifed or shot, I can't remember which. That was a song I wrote totally on me own over the chord of open E." As to why he wrote it, "It's probably because I was surrounded by gay people at that stage. I had a gay PR man, a gay manager. Everyone around me was gay. I don't know whether that prompted me into it or not. I think it was a brave step, but it wasn't a risk. You can't write a song like that unless you've experienced it. But it was a subject that no one had approached before. And I think it still stands up today."

Monday, July 15, 2013

"Why the F@#k Aren't We Famous" by The Kinsey Sicks

The Kinsey Sicks ask the musical question, and I totally agree with them. I've been a huge fan since their first CD in 1997 ("Dragapella") and cheer every time a new one is released, and I have 8 now. Their live shows are hysterical, and they give great head

line making interviews. It's a mystery to me, so check them out, at or even better, their YouTube channel, at

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The First Openly Gay Country Singer....Was Patrick Haggerty, in 1973

Today I want to salute one of much under-appreciated gay music pioneers, Patrick Haggerty. From my research I believe he was the very first, as leader of his band Lavender Country, to release a recording of country songs with openly gay lyrics, and this was in 1973. On my Queer Music Heritage show for March of 2005, first of a three-parter, I did an in-depth look at this history, and am pleased I got to capture the stories of a few of our early artists.

You can go to the link and hear the entire show, or for convenience, I have a transcribed version of my interview with Patrick below. These were Very political songs, and sometimes quite explicit, as you can see by one of the titles, way to explicit for radio, but I don't think airplay was a goal.

JD: How did the band Lavender Country get started?

Patrick Haggerty: I formed Lavender Country. I was a pretty rabid gay liberationist in the early 70s when Stonewall hit and I was quite involved in the Seattle movement at the time and I was singing a little bit then, at coffee houses and writing some songs, and I located the musicians for Lavender Country and we rehearsed, made the album and kept it an independent community project and managed to sell a thousand copies of the original 33 1/3 vinyl record.

JD: Who else was in the band?

PH: A man named Michael Carr, who is still a prominent active Jewish homosexual activist, and he lives in Philadelphia now with his long-time partner. A woman named Eve Morris who was an out lesbian at the time. Eve was from Milwaukee and I believe she's in Florida these days. She spent many years in Seattle and she is the female vocalist and the fiddle player. And there was a guy named Bob Hammerstromm who was not gay, but a lovely, lovely human being, a very good guitarist and I ran into him, and he was our lead guitar player. So that's how it all came together. Three of us were gay and Bob Hammerstromm was not gay.

JD: And how did the album actually get produced?

PH: We produced it ourselves, here in Seattle, we raised the money through community efforts to produce it, and an organization called Gay Community Social Services, which is a private 501-C-3 non-profit organization grew up at about that same time that Lavender Country was being produced…

JD: From the back of the album it sounds like it was one of that organization's projects, but really from what you're saying it was closer knit than that.

PH: At the time it was, yes, there was a closer hook-up than it just being one of the projects. I believe Lavender Country may have been the first, if not, one of the first Gay Community Social Services projects, but there have been many over the years.

JD: And how many copies of the album were there?

PH: A thousand.

JD: And how long did the band, as it was, last?

PH: Ah, more than two but probably less than three years, something like that. We ran up and down the coast doing gay prides here and there, in Washington and Oregon and California, and there were some gay symposiums that were a big deal at the time, you know, educational symposiums. We played a lot at those and at various gay community events. But of course gay country music was an absurd proposition at the time for particularly if you thought you were going to make a living at it.

JD: So, were you aware of any other openly gay acts performing at that time?

PH: I was, but not in Seattle. "Lavender Jane Loves Women," Alix Dobkin…she…"Lavender Jane Loves Women" came out just months after "Lavender Country." "Lavender Country" was produced first but Lavender Jane Loves Women" was probably not even a year behind.

JD: Tell me about the song "Back in the Closet Again."

PH: Not only was I doing the gay movement at the time but I was doing the left-oriented movement in general. I was working in a coffee house that was a war-resistors coffee house, for Viet Nam vets and Viet Nam soldiers, and that kind of thing. And I was hooked up with other radical organizations that weren't gay, and in those early days a lot of them had a lot of trouble embracing the gay movement, and many of them were opposed to the gay movement. And there was a big, big to do about whether homosexuals could be revolutionaries, and the struggles around that got pretty intense, frankly.

JD: So this was really the other revolutionary folks wanting the gays back in the closet.

Right. That's what it was about

JD: Well, one song I have to be careful when I play or introduce is "Cryin' These Cocksucking Tears"

PH: Ah yes, that's the one. Again, "Crying' These Cocksucking Tears" is not even a song that's about sex. The song title is of course very controversial, but that's what "Cryin' These Cocksucking Tears" is about. It's about the rigid sex roles that men were educated and trained to assume and how that role was oppressive to women and to us, and how it needed to go. It's a pretty overtly political song.


And, what's that you say, what about the other artists? I'm sure you thought of kd lang, whose first recording was in 1984, and she came out in 1992 (though quickly by necessity switched from Country). I'll also like to mention some other out-of-the-closet pioneers, such as Doug Stevens & the Outband, releasing three CDs in the 1990's, and Sid Spencer, Jeff Miller, Mark Weigle, Glen Meadmore, Jo Miller, the Cowgirl Sweethearts, and many others you can hear at my website.

The LP of course (with only 1000 copies pressed) is extremely rare, and even the reissue CD is not really available, but Patrick Haggerty has told me he has a few on hand to sell if anyone is interested, contact him at

Tom Goss Sings, and Talks About - "Bears"

I've been a big fan of the music, and videos, by Tom Goss for many years. This week he premiered a new video, and what better way to do it in an article in Huffington Post, so I congratulate him for that. The song/video "Bears" is a fun, and very wet romp celebrating the Bear Culture. I could not resist getting some quick comments from Tom about it.

And, the "Bears" video......

There will be more of my talk with Tom on my August OutRadio show. And, (shameless plug) I've been a supporter of the Bear Music Culture for quite a while, and did a special 6-hour show on it in 2007.