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'Drag Race' Star Sahara Davenport Releases New Single 'Go Off!'

By Pollo Del Mar

Sahara Davenport found herself in high drama very early on RuPaul’s Drag Race. Before the first episode of the popular LOGO reality series’ second season was even over, the New York resident was in the bottom two, lip-syncing for her life against old college pal Shangela.

Of course, Sahara sent the drag newcomer home early -- very good TV -- but none of that’s what she wants to discuss now. After all, no matter how recently global audiences have watched, it was over two years ago for her. Never one to rest on her Drag Race laurels, she’s much more interested in what’s happening in her career today: her new single “Go Off” just hit iTunes!

In this interview, Sahara shares about her experiences since Drag Race, why music feels like a natural progression in her career and what her idea of “success” looks like. She also gives some insight into whether wedding bells are in the future for her and equally-famous boyfriend…er, girlfriend…Drag Race Season 3 star Manila Luzon!

Are more people contacting you now that Drag Race is broadcasting worldwide?

Definitely! I was getting messages from Mexico, saying, “We love you!” Now the Australians are picking it up. (Laughing.) It’s like, “We just finished watching your program. We love you here in Brazil!” It’s funny how the web helps us with that.

Nicole Paige Brooks told me fans come up expecting her to respond to events on TV like they’ve just happened. Even when it first aired, it was still nearly a year old!

Exactly! (Laughing.) I’d already laughed, cried and worked through it. You’d think the viewing public would be a little more keen – I don’t want to say “less naïve” – about how things work. It’s a process. Even with things that happened on Season 3… It was so long ago, I can’t even rehash feelings. I want to be polite. I want to give people some kind of answer, but a lot of times, you just don’t really care, Pollo. (We’re both laughing.) I want to say, “What you saw is what I felt back then, but right now, I just don’t really give a fuck!”

Audiences are very invested Drag Race!

They really are! I’m not really a fan of reality TV, but I follow Broadway actors and actresses. I know their careers. I also know Audra McDonald wasn’t the character, you know? That’s what confused me at first. People seem to really think we’re these one-dimensional drag queens. It’s very flattering to know they do invest so much, that they’re caring so much, even after so long.

What’s the most unexpected thing to come from Drag Race?

The acceptance from my family. Coming from such a religious background, to have everyone open up and be excited for me before even I was really excited for me. I’d been in the entertainment industry since I was a little boy. I’d worked as a male model, a commercial dancer, all that stuff. I’ve had spurts of success in my career as an entertainer, but this was my first big adventure as “Sahara.” I didn’t think my parents or family would understand, so to see them open their hearts and welcome it with open arms… I was blown away. For me, it was a job, but they were enjoying it and telling me to enjoy it. That surprised me. Also, New York City . . . They were really rooting for me, so it was great to have that support.

Tell me about “Go Off,” the follow-up to your debut single “Pump with Me”?

The message of the song is actually something I learned being on RuPaul’s Drag Race:  Don’t play it small, play it big every chance you get! It’s a little more aggressive, so I can do the high-kicks and splits, all the things I’m known for. I enjoy performing it. I can’t wait to see what comes of it. “Pump with Me” was pretty, and the music was a little more pleasant, but this one is dub-step. I’m yelling. I’m screaming. I’m not singing pretty melodies.

So many Drag Race girls are releasing new music!

I don’t know how many are creating music. With the way the industry is going – with Autotune and stuff – anybody can step up to a microphone and have something produced. I’ve done musical theatre, tons of musicals, and grew up doing music in the church. I’ve been a fan of music way before Drag Race. Honestly, I don’t know about the surge of girls from the show doing music, but we come from the Institute of RuPaul. We’ve been on TV. We’ve toured the world. Now this seems like the next thing to do: Let’s try music. RuPaul is an amazing role model. She’s done what she’s done, and we’re all trying to follow in her footsteps.

How did you get into a kai kai relationship with another drag queen?

When I met Karl, we were both boys. Even though I told him that night, he waited a little longer to tell me. At first, I’m not going to lie, it was a little off-putting. Then my friends were like, “Why would you reject him? You really like him.” After a month of knowing, I hadn’t seen it. Then when I did, I think I laughed the whole night. Well, I laughed and I drank. (Laughs) Really, I did. Then it just became so much fun creating together. We were lovers and best friends. We have a lot in common, yet we’re so different. I don’t know how it works. I don’t question it, I just go with it.

Despite being discriminated against because of drag, I’m just as bad. I don’t want a boyfriend I’m competing against!

That’s another part of it. When I met Karl, he was more of a “club kid.” I was doing “female impersonation.” It was two different girls. Then, as his scene started to die here in New York, he started coming to the pageants with me. He started to see how we do things and, over time, changed his face, his paint. He became the Manila you see today. That was eventual and gradual. Had he been next to me in the mirror in those dressing rooms, I may not have looked at him the same. He kind of morphed into the Manila he is today. I think that may have helped the way I saw things.

Living in New York, you can now legally marry. Have you considered it?

As soon as the bill passed, our Twitters were blowing up. “Congratulations on the wedding!” Like I keep saying, you have to have a proposal before you have a wedding, and I just haven’t gotten a ring yet! We’ll see what happens. I’m waiting for him to ask, and he’s probably waiting for the same thing. That’s where you run into the kai kai problem! (Both laughing.) Who’s ringing who? We’ve been this way for five years! We’d discussed it. We’ve talked about our wedding, but it’s been this way for so long, I might be scared to even go there. I’ve always dreamed of having a family and everything, but now I’m an adult and . . . It’s just here.

I’ve always wondered, “What kind of person actually ‘plans’ to have kids?” I just thought a girl gets knocked up…

(Sahara is laughing hysterically.) And before you know it, the trailer’s full!

Oh, you do know me!

You’re so silly! No, I know exactly what you’re saying. Even growing up with my background, I never thought of getting married. I thought of having a family, but now at my age, it’s here! My friends are adopting kids. Everyone’s getting married. I’m going to ceremonies left and right. I’m looking around going, “Have I arrived? Is it that time now?”

Do you have a long-term idea of where drag could take you?

For me, the transition from my male career into my drag career was planned. It was all because of my body type. I was only being called to do female or chorus boy parts. That can only be fulfilling for so long, so I figured why not create my own work, as a woman? I could use my art, my dance training and such and propel Sahara forward. The long-term goal is just success, and to continue working. Every day, when I do a new project, I’m learning where I really, really want to go. Now I’m leading up to the world of production, and want to produce more, and am enjoying the world of music. I’m just leaving my options open, making sure I take care of myself and am happy artistically.

Sometimes, for me, it can all feel so repetitious!

Yes, but sometimes when I’m not comfortable, I get excited. It’s kind of weird, kind of sadistic. I like some of the routine of what we do, but I also like being pushed. I like being challenged and learning new things. After being on the show, the world of opportunity has been opened. I’m privileged just to get to experience all that!



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Oxford Street takes on Dry July

It's an Aussie fundraiser for charity, which calls upon anyone to give up drinking for the entire month of July and give the proceeds, and of course any donations friends and family would want to make to the cause!

And with Sydney's gay scene on Oxford Street, built around the odd tavern, pub and nightclub - two of the cities more prominent members are going hell for leather in the challenge.

Chip Glenn, one of Australia's most prominent DJ's and Gael Donaldson - one of Oxford Street's most famous faces on the door of events and clubs, as well as part of the fabulous team at Antony Nader's Raw Hairdressers - are taking on the challenge with gusto.

We wanted to know what drove them to give up a huge part of their working life, let alone social experience. The booze.

Gael is not new to Dry July however… we asked her what drove her to participate in the fundraiser "I ask myself that very question every year when all my mates are out socialising and having a few wines and I am home bitching about not being able to drink..;-)" she said, but there is a deeper personal reason behind this for her.

"A few years ago a dear friend Chanel Logo (also known as Bust-Op) lost his battle with stomach cancer. It was an incredibly sad and tough time for Bussy and his loved ones. The staff at the Hospice where he spent his last few precious weeks were angels. They showed compassion, dignity, honesty and humour and helped make his passing an amazing journey. So my main reason for participating is to give something back ..and it's Chanel's Birthday on July 12th. he would have been 39 this year."

With something that involves that level of dedication - Dry July could have additional benefits too. Gale went on to say "It's also a great excuse for a break, a detox for my poor little body and if I lost a few kilos along the way..that'd be good too!"

"I'm determined to see it through this year with no Golden Tickets being redeemed (I wasn't so strong last year ;-) I'll admit it's a struggle, almost every social event involves alcohol, (working in a club at night doesn't help temptation either!) you don't realise how much you rely on a few drinks to have a good time until you can't have them! BUT it's well worth it! I'm looking forward to raising a bit of money and feeling proud of myself."

However Chips road to Dry July was a little more hesitant.

"Initially in my head, there were absolutely no plans to join up to goes booze-less for any reason what so ever. I had friends who said they were taking up the Dry July cause for cancer, and I admired there good graces but it wasn't for me . Even one of my besties, Scottie Lupton who set up the whole DJs United Team wasn't getting a yay from me. It's too friggin' hard in the Dj world NOT to drink!"

But that was not meant to be - Chip took Gael out for her final night "So, anyway, I went out with another fine friend, Gael Donaldson, of Raw Hairdressing on Thursday the 30th June, to drink (very moderately) for her last night before she took up Dry July the next day. We sourced many a wine white, vodka & quite a few shots throughout this gay city that night, and drank with obvious intent. I was doing Gael a favour getting her a little tipsy so she could make it through Dry July with fond memories of a crisp chardonnay or two."

"Anyway, waking up the next morning, I had one filthy mother of a hangover and in that blur of the 1st July 2011, feeling as rancid as humanly possibly - all I could think was I needed Dry July more than it needed me. I signed up to DJs UNITED Dry July Team, pressed enter on my keyboard and then slapped my self in the head for being so impetuous…"

"And here we are, in the middle of July ... Dry - Bloody - As …"

"The first weekend was the absolute worst. A couple of us Dry July-ers all seem compelled to torture ourselves, waltzed into a heaving hot spot on the Sunday, and together worked each other up into the filthiest (and soberest) moods (hahahaha)... desperately thirsty for delicious vodka. It was funny but sooooo hard to do . It seems like everything revolved around a bevyy or six."

"But anyhow I, we, survived and been going along strong, & feel completely amazing. Who would have thought I could have so much energy and get the washing done by 10am? Extra cash in the pocket, no cocky cage feelings after a weekend blinder. Just clear head space and a great feeling that I'm doing something positive for others ... and so far collectively we have raised a fair whack of dosh."

So were there any other reasons for you to do Dry July Chip?

"Yes, for sure - this is for my dad, who passed from cancer a few years back .. because you loved me so much…"

Gael's beneficiary is The Prince of Wales Hospital, you can donate to a great cause by clicking the link.

Chip on the other hand is part of a larger team called "DJ's United" consisting of Chip along with Scottie Lupton, Murray Hood, Jodie Wilkins, Aminah Schmidt, Troy Cox, Suzanne Auerswald, MAtt Effect and Kelly Lynch who are banding together to raise money for the cause.

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Jessie and The Toy Boys Join Britney on the Road

When I first met Jessie Malakouti, she was a young singer excited by the success of debut single “Push It” and anxious for the release of EP Show Me Your Tan Lines. A week later, the fresh-faced blonde was introduced to the world as the opening act for the summer’s most anticipated concert tour!

Now Jessie and The Toy Boys are on the road, opening for Britney Spears and Nicki Minaj on the Femme Fatale Tour. For the singer and her mannequins – yes, her back-up act is a group of mannequins, which she says keeps her bandmates from talking back! – it brings the kind of exposure she could never have dreamed of just four months ago, when our paths first crossed at a San Francisco gay club.

In this interview, Jessie talks about what it’s like on tour with Britney and Nicki and touches on a 2009 incident where Perez Hilton accused Britney of ripping off Jess’ song “Trash Me.” In addition, Malakouti gives insight into her upcoming, full-length album and why her gay fans are so important.

The last time we talked was before you went on tour with Britney.

Did I know then about the tour?

I don’t think so?

No, if I didn’t mention it, then I probably didn’t know.

Literally days after we talked, it came out.

Then I probably didn’t know yet

What was your response when you found out you’d be opening for Britney?

I started crying! (Laughs.) I started crying tears of joy. It was like, I got the call… Maybe I knew, but I couldn’t say anything yet? I got the call a week before it came out, but I wasn’t allowed to say anything. I got the call, and I started crying, and then I went back into the recording studio with make-up smeared all over my face. Everyone was like, “Why are you crying?” I was like, “I can’t tell you.” It was like, “OK, why’s she crying? Weird!” Then it came out, and everyone was like, “Oh, I totally understand why you were crying now!” It was total tears of joy. I look up to Britney, so it was amazing.

What’s it been like on the road with Britney Spears and Nicki Minaj?

It’s been awesome! It’s been like a giant sorority, a traveling sorority. It’s been so fun, and everyone is so sweet. Nicki is amazing. It’s like a really happy vibe, and everyone she has around her is so nice too. It’s been awesome! And the food is really yummy too! We have, like, Southern cooking and catering and sweet tea.

You may not be able to talk about this, but in the past, you’ve had an issue…

No, never with Britney! With songwriters, yeah, but never with Britney.

The contention was that Britney’s “If You Seek Amy” was based musically on your song “Trash Me.” Has that ever come up with Britney?

No! The thing is, I’ve always loved Britney. I’ve never said I anything about Britney, because I’ve always loved her so much. It was…

(At this point, an excited female fan barges into the dressing room, asking for a photo with Jessie.)

I’ll be out in a minute to take photos, I promise.

So, you were saying?

I have always loved Britney. It was an issue between some songwriters and myself, not her. It had nothing to do with her, it was between songwriters, but we’ve resolved it, and it’s fine.  It doesn’t even come up.

How do you think touring with Britney is impacting your career?

It’s the biggest thing to happen to me. The thing about Jessie & The Toy Boys that’s been so amazing is when I get Tweets from people saying, “I’d never heard of you before tonight, and I love you!” The level of exposure I’m getting out of this, you can’t find a better situation. It’s definitely my audience. It’s a great way to make new fannequins. I’m just stoked to be part of it.

I’d think it’s also breathed new life into the single “Push It.” The song was already been a Top 10 hit at clubs, but now it’s being reintroduced to tons of new people.

It’s almost a whole new field of people are discovering it for the first time. Obviously, you’ve heard it before, and I’ve been playing it for months now. For a while, it was like, “Oh, I’m starting to get sick of this song.” Now I don’t feel that way, because it’s a rejuvenation into the whole thing. For some people, the first time they’re hearing it is on this tour. I get Tweets every night that are like, “I love ‘Push It’! Where can I get ‘Push It’?” It’s definitely helping me create new awareness of the single. Again, I couldn’t find a better situation to do that.

While you’re touring, I know you’re still planning to release a full-length album.

It’s going to be in October! I got an official word.

You told me two months ago, you’ve written hundreds of songs for this. Have you narrowed it down?

I’ve narrowed it down. I even have the title of the album! I’m calling it This Is How Rumors Start. It’s very – you know I just put out an EP called Show Me Your Tan Lines, which is very summery and light and fun. The album is a little dark. It’s a little dark and fucked up! I went through a major heartbreak, and there’s a lot of that on the album. It’s really funny, but it’s like darker lyrics with really happy melodies. It’s an interesting combination.

Tell me about the kind of support you get from the gay community?

The gay community is my biggest supporters.  That’s why it was so important for me to come and do this. Everybody else is taking a day off from this tour, because we’re all so exhausted, but flew here specifically for Pride. This is really important to me. The gay community has always supported me, from day one. The first magazine I was ever in was Attitude, which is a gay magazine. My gay fans mean the world to me! They’ve always been the biggest supporters, so they just mean so much to me.

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Nicole Paige Brooks Calls 'Drag Race' a "Drag Queen Prison"

Nicole. Nicole. Nicole Paige Brooks! With three names and just two episodes to do it, the sometimes brassy Southern Belle made an impact on fans of RuPaul’s Drag Race, Season 2.

Brooks is, of course, a dichotomy of her own description. Since being eliminated early on the popular LOGO reality show's second season, the occasionally bawdy performer has returned home to her greatest love -- young son, Lukas. While continuing to entertain the masses night-in and night-out, Brooks is also working hard to use the celebrity drag affords her to make a difference in her Atlanta, Georgia, USA, hometown.

In this interview, Brooks shares with GuideToGay celebrity correspondent Pollo Del Mar her views on success, "censoring" herself on Drag Race and the most unexpected outcome of the show -- a partially mended family relationship. She also talks about why she is so open with her little boy about her drag career -- and how being away from her child made the time she spent on TV feel like "drag queen prison."

Have you received a new wave of popularity with Season 2 broadcasting around the world? It just concluded in Australia.

I’m getting more Facebooks, emails and Twitters from non-English-speaking countries. I love it! It’s strange to think they’re watching on the other side of the planet. It’s hard to get my head around my mother in Tennessee watching, much less people in Australia. It doesn’t register. If you sit and think about it, I’d probably get weirded out. My goal was never to be “famous.” My goal was to be “successful.” I am very successful; Nicole is very successful. Being on the show was one more place she took me I never thought I’d end up.

To you, what does being “successful” mean?

I get to spend my days with my son. I love that! I eat, drink and am very merry. I pay all my bills. I have a good time. I don’t need everybody to recognize my name. I just need to be able to pay all my bills and enjoy what I do. Luckily, I love what I do.

Did you give thought to how fame might impact your relationship with your son?

To be honest, one of my main reasons for going on the show was to show Lukas – my son --  something besides a bar. He’s gone through Pride with me, but I wanted him to see behind-the-scenes part. I just didn’t want him to think, “Daddy works in a bar.” I wanted it to be a little bigger than that, to have a little more respect for what I do. I didn’t want him to just think I’m some “bar-fly.” Then they had me on the show, pole-dancing, so I was mortified!

(I burst out laughing.)

I guess that didn’t really work out for me. I was the first one to walk in the room, and as soon as I did, I became very aware that everything I did was going to be out there for my child’s peers to ridicule and go over for the rest of his life. I don’t want to say I “censored” myself, but I’d say Nicole is a little more X-rated than I was on the show. It was a chance to show there are professional queens and we’re not all biscuit-slingin’ heathens who fight about a lip-liner missing. You become very aware when there are ten cameras pointed at you that what you’re about to do will have repercussions forever. At least I did for my son. I’m actually very pleased about the outcome. I learned from making YouTube videos the power of editing, and on the show, they have that power. So you have to edit yourself.

You sign a contract which turns your likeness over to the show, and they can do with that what they want.

Yes you do – and yes, they do. My likeness was on the side of buildings and train stations in New York. What they did with my likeness, I was fine with, but some of these girls get really hateful mail because they were edited a certain way. It’s a television show. They’re going to play the drama. They’re not going to play everybody getting along, rainbows and babies and shit. They want the gay version of Bad Girls Club.

You’re very open with your son about drag.

I didn’t want to have any shame about what I do. If you hide things, I don’t see a reason for it. It insinuates I’m not proud of my life, and I’m very proud of my life. There are things I don’t show my child because he shouldn’t see them – they’re age-inappropriate – but beyond that, he knows what I do. The way I present it to him, it’s a normal job to me. There are trash men, and there are drag queens. Someone’s got to do it, you know?

What’s the most unexpected outcome of Drag Race?

My brother, who I have not been close with, manages a restaurant in Virginia. When the show started, two regulars came in and talked about the show. They were telling my brother a Nicole Paige Brooks from Atlanta was on the show, and they were really excited. My brother said, “Uhm, that’s my little brother…” He called, and since then, we’ve caught back up. He’s very – I don’t want to say “starstruck” – but it’s created interest in my life that wasn’t there before. As I said before, I wanted to present myself in a more professional sense. Previous to the show, my brother thought I was just playing dress-up.

How often do you travel for work?

I don’t really seek to travel. My father was in the military. I lived in Germany. I’ve traveled. I’ve seen the whole United States twice. If people contact me, I’ll go, but I’m not really looking to go anywhere. I like being here, with my family. That’s how I was on the show. I’d never really been away from Lukas. I was literally waking up every hour, on the hour, having panic attacks. As soon as I thought I might be up for elimination, I got really excited. I said, “If I’m eliminated, how soon will I have my phone back?” If I’d have been locked up, I’d have fought a lot harder, but when I found out I’d get my phone that day… There’s no other feeling. I think it’s kind of like prison – drag queen prison! You’re in the hotel, and all you see are other drag queens or people wrangling drag queens. That was the biggest challenge, being kept away from my child, so I don’t look to travel.

I feel we’ve made a decision to do drag and, in many ways, now we belong to our public. Do you agree?

Yes, and I’ve started to enjoy it. I get to do a lot of things with charity. I work with Youth Pride, an organization which works with gay, lesbian, bi, trans youth from 13-23 or 24. I started a pageant for them. I’ve recently join Project Live Love – to find out more. They’re a very hands-on organization which goes out quarterly and do volunteer work like feeding the homeless or cleaning up a homeless tent center. The first cover story I ever did was called “The Power of a Wig.” I used to say they’d let me set the bar on fire, they’d put it out and hand me another cocktail. That’s the bad part. They allow you to get away with a lot of things. Sometimes that leads down bad baths, but you can also create a lot of attention for positive things. I’m proud to do that for Youth Pride, and I’m hoping to do the same for Project Live Love.

As drag queens, we get opportunities we would never have as everyday gay men. People listen to us.

I know. I talk about one of the first times I met one of my best friends. I went to a mutual friend’s house, and he was literally walking out the door because he had a “Date.” I said, “What do you mean a ‘date’?” He was 16 maybe at the time. He was going to escort or whatever. I said, “No!” I pulled him back inside, sat him down and had a come-to-Jesus meeting about him and his body and selling it. I told him he can’t be doing that. The whole time, he was gagging because Miss Nicole Paige Brooks, whose pictures were in the fag magazines he’d been reading, was telling him he had value. It suddenly seemed important. It would have meant something coming from Bryan or Nicole, but it had more impact coming from Nicole. That people look at us as role models just makes me gag!

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Chaz Bono Discusses Trans Issues, Documentary "Becoming Chaz"

By Pollo Del Mar

“I feel like I’m letting you down,” admits Chaz Bono halfway through our interview.

Admittedly, as celebrity interviews go, this conversation with the only child of music industry legends Sonny & Cher has not been my easiest. While our discussion of his much-publicized sex reassignment surgery – chronicled in both the memoir Transition: How I Became a Man and Oprah Winfrey Network documentary Becoming Chaz – has been “fine,” any sign of a real connection has been noticeably absent.

“I’m not a terribly emotional person,” he confesses, “As you’re probably getting.”

Indeed. That aside, Bono and I are determined to find a middle ground and make things work. In addition to discussing the gay/lesbian community’s lack of understanding of trans issues, we also talk openly about how his girlfriend came to embrace his transition, the greater prevalence of gender identity issues within the lesbian community and his iconic mother’s growing acceptance of his new identity..

What kind of feedback have you been getting from the trans community and the gay/lesbian community?

I’ve gotten pretty positive responses. I haven’t gotten a ton of responses  from the gay/lesbian community personally, other than people I know in the community personally. I’ve gotten a lot of great responses from the trans community, mostly through Facebook and Twitter.

I read one sign of success for a trans individual is to break from the gay/lesbian community and “blend into” the straight world. How would you respond to that?

God…That’s like walking into a mine field for me. I don’t really want to respond to that. I feel like any way I could respond is going to piss somebody off.

Even within the LGBT world, we don’t have a significant understanding of the trans portion of our community.

No, I would definitely agree with you there. I think there needs to be more understanding from the gay/lesbian community on this subject. I think it’ll happen more and more. The gay/lesbian community is just barely starting to understand a little bit about transgender people. You’re just starting to see larger organizations or community centers have programs for the trans community.

And acceptance within the gay/lesbian community is greater than outside...

I don’t know that I’d agree with you there, at least not in my experience. My personal experience is I’ve gotten as much acceptance from straight friends who have nothing to do with the community as I have from gay and lesbian friends. I don’t think it’s necessarily a given that gay people – maybe just a hair! – understand trans issues better than straight people. I think it’s still the idea of blending these two issues which are really different. I think there are a lot of gay people who don’t understand the difference between sexual orientation and gender identity.

When I interviewed Lucas Silveira of The Cliks, he mentioned the gender identity issue comes up much more often in the lesbian community than it seems to in the gay male community.

Yeah, it does, and I don’t really have an answer as to why it does, but it’s definitely the case. Every trans man who is my friend thought he was a lesbian at one point, he went through that experience. It’s certainly not the case with trans women, though there is some of that. I think we’re going to see more of that, but traditionally that’s really not been the case.

When you decided to let camera crews follow you through this experience, documenting it on film, what were your initial thoughts? Why do that?

My initial thought was that when I transitioned, I wasn’t going to be able to do it privately. I wanted to be able to have some control over the way my story was told, so I decided to write a book. Then the idea of doing a documentary came up, so I thought that would be a good opportunity to reach people in a different way. It also seemed like a good idea because it’s very visual what happened. I thought that medium would be a good way to show it. I think probably the main thing that fueled me wanting to do this is that, while I was struggling with this issue, I tried to watch as many documentaries on the subject and read as many books written by trans people as I could.

Was it frightening to pour your feelings into first a book, then put it all on film?

I’ve been in the public eye as far back as I can remember. I’m used to this. I know how the response will be, pretty much. I have a fairly good idea. I know some people are never going to get you but most people do. You can’t please everybody, especially in the LGBT community.

One of the key elements of Becoming Chaz is the struggle your mom has with the decision. How has your relationship evolved since the cameras stopped rolling?

I’d say she’s probably gotten more comfortable with this since then. She’s gotten better at using the right pronounces, using my name. I think she’s gotten better about reaching a greater comfort level for me.

Though Cher is iconic within the gay community, she had a hard time accepting her daughter as a lesbian. Now this adds a whole new layer to a mother’s struggle. I thought it very brave of you both to let the world see this.

Well, yeah, I really appreciated her involvement in the project. It’s an important part of the story for sure.

One of the most touching parts of the film is when your mom goes on late night TV and finally acknowledges what is happening. Tell me more about that, since it’s the kind of acceptance I think we all struggle for at times, whether we’re gay, trans or even straight!

You know, it’s hard. I’m not a terribly emotional person, as you’re probably getting. Your questions are very emotional -- so I feel like I’m letting you down – but it was nice. I really appreciated it. I appreciated that I felt some movement in the issue. That she used “he” a few times made me feel good.

You’re not letting me down. The reverse feels true, actually. As an interviewer, I’m looking for a connection, so I feel like I’m failing at my job. To me, this seems like a pretty emotional topic, but I can change gears.

Yeah, but I’m a pretty pragmatic guy.  I’m probably even a little moreso now in some ways. For me, all of this was about a) really being able to tell my story. In the past, I’ve had incidences where when you don’t talk about a story of interest, you’re letting tabloid people tell your story for you, which is just horrible. They tell it wrong, and it doesn’t feel good. And b) I really wanted to help people. As I said, for me, the thing that helped me the most when I was really struggling over an eight-year period, was any material I could get from transgender people. It was documentaries and people’s memoirs which really bolstered me and helped me get moving along my own journey. I wanted to give back in that way. I know there are people out there who feel exactly the same way I did, knowing they’re transgendered, knowing the only thing that’s going to really make them feel happy, comfortable and complete is to transition but being terrified of what kind of rejection they will face if they do it.

For such a life-long struggle, it always amazes me when we see people who finally make the decision to transition later than we would think.

I know a lot of people who transitioned at 40, oddly enough. I think there’s some significance with that number. Hopefully my generation will be the last of that, where people will get it much earlier and transition either in their teens or 20s. Definitely for an older generation, there are people who get to that age and go, “Shit! I’ve got to start living my life for myself.” That’s really what my process was like. People wait until their older for all kinds of different reasons. They wait for  kids to get older. They wait for parents to die – all sorts of things – before they can allow themselves to be happy in their lives. It’s really a sad, horrible thing. Hopefully it will change.

Your girlfriend goes from being a lesbian woman to being a – heterosexual woman?

She would tell you she’s bisexual. She would have told you that before and after. That made it a little easier for us.

I love hearing stories of people whose partners are supportive of their transition, but the decision clearly impacts that individual. If it’s a heterosexual couple, and the man transitions, where does that leave the woman?

Absolutely! Or vice-versa? It’s tough. I think it’s difficult under any circumstances. I was pretty lucky to be with someone like Jen. It made it easier on us.  For us, it was never about the physical change. She was comfortable with all that. I think – no, actually I know because she’s said – she finds me more attractive now physically. It was the emotional changes we had to learn how to deal with. I’m just emotionally different now than I was before. That was a hard thing. We had to almost learn all over again how to communicate with each other. It changed it so much.

You’re a Grand Marshal in the San Francisco Pride Parade. What are your feelings about our city?

San Francisco, to me, feels like a world unto itself really. I lived there for just over a year. It’s a beautiful city, and it’s probably the only city I can think of where I feel like a “conservative.” It’s so liberal!

You don’t get much more liberal than a drag queen, but even I’m like, “Hey, put on some clothes! I’m eating over here!”

(Laughing.) Yeah, but it’s a great city. It’s interesting and sparks thought and debate, which I love.

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Iconic Angie Bowie Discusses LGBT Generation Gap, Lady Gaga

By Pollo Del Mar

“You can’t ‘remember’ if you’re young. How could you?” asks Angie Bowie. “You weren’t there. You hear the stories, but it’s like, ‘Yeah, right.’ It’s like a history lesson.”

From her home in the United States’ quiet southwest -- a far cry from the wild, jet-set life of her 20s -- the gravelly-voiced sexagenarian has unexpectedly steered our conversation far deeper than just the sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll most expect from a woman who spent her formative years in a “marriage of convenience” to legendary David Bowie. She is suddenly philosophizing about the state of the youth-driven global LGBT community.

“For those of us who lived those times,” Angie says, referencing the swinging ‘70s spent wed to one of the music industry’s most groundbreaking rock stars and the social advances she has seen and fought for since, “We try to pass that experience on or tell people if they want to know, but it has to be a two-way street. They have to want to know.”

Bowie feels today’s LGBT youth, many of whom have a limited understanding of the struggles their community has faced over the last several decades, aren’t even aware of what they don’t know. “I can’t preach to people,” she says, “It’s not my job to ‘school’ anyone.”

One moment, Angie is excitedly describing herself as an “authority” on drag shows. The next, the woman whose storied career includes turns as actress, model, cover girl, musician and author has thrown herself headlong into analyzing LGBT young people and the gay community’s current perspective on human rights.

“I’m sorry,” she jokes drily. “You didn’t expect this, did you?”

What sent Bowie’s brain into overdrive, it seems, is being asked whether she feels “connected” to the gay community. As an outspoken bisexual, Angie feels “very connected” to the LGBT community. “But,” she says somewhat sadly, “They don’t feel connected to me, so what I feel is neither here nor there.”

Though in conversation Bowie dismissively says she’s “fine” with an apparent lack of affection from her own people, it’s clear from pushing the subject, she’s not. Finally, she admits as much.

“I would love to feel very connected [to the LGBT community]. It would be a dream for me,” says the celebrity, born in Cyprus but schooled across Europe, “I feel I’ve spent much of my life sticking up for and talking about those of us who have alternate sexualities and all the things which go along with it.”

That much is certainly true. Long before her sex-laced, best-selling 1992 tell-all Backstage Passes: Life on the Wildside with David Bowie, which not only suggests Angie was largely responsible for her then-husband’s drag-tastic ‘70s glam-rock reinvention but also hints at his possible dalliance with Rolling Stones superstar Mick Jagger, Angie was upfront about her own affairs with both men and women.

She was out about her sexuality during a time when the repercussions of being gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or curious were considerably different than they are now, Bowie says. Young people today have limited perspective on what it was like during those times of her life, depicted in fictionalized fashion in the Oscar-winning 1998 film Velvet Goldmine, taking for granted the work of generations before.

“I noticed it in England, with Boy George [in the ‘80s],” Bowie says, “People of his generation, which is only one generation behind mine, wanted to act like by the time they came out publicly they’d already suffered so much, but now it’s fine.”

While that attitude certainly irked her, as did the fading relevance to young people of the struggles her generation faced, Bowie has learned it’s a balancing act. As she’s grown older, she has become more “realistic” about how her contributions to society are seen. She works to remain enthusiastic and optimistic for those who remember and support her efforts.

“At no point can you give in to that cynicism of realizing how fickle people’s interest is and that the passage of generations can eclipse anything you’ve done in a moment,” she says.

Meanwhile, the former Mrs. Bowie points out, it only takes “two or three scholars and students in the entertainment industry” to re-teach thoughts, ideas and history young people are unaware they have “forgotten” – because they never knew it in the first place. For this generation, she says the biggest teacher appears to be Lady Gaga.

“For younger generation to embrace that thought, which is not new but a repeat of what went before -- because everything, like fashion, is cyclical -- then they have to think [Gaga] is wonderful and innovative and divine,” Bowie says of the prolific superstar, “And she is, because she’s reminding them of lessons they have forgotten.”

According to Bowie, those who deride Gaga for recycling looks, sounds and images of the past – including many taken directly from her famous ex – are simply “jealous.” “Those people just want to say, ‘Oh, I did that first!,” Bowie says, “And that’s bullshit!

“Gaga has taken their lesson and is showing she learned it well,” Angie says, “She learned it well enough to repeat if for a new generation. Now she belongs to that generation, and they’re learning the lessons all over again. It’s the way of the world.”

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Singer Dev Flies Solo After 'G6'

By Pollo Del Mar

“Poppin’ bottles in the ice like a blizzard…" When The Far*East Movement took flight last winter with debut single “Like a G6," the hip-hop act took Dev and The Cataracts along for the ride. A sample of Dev’s modest hit “Booty Bounce” gave the song it's instantly-recognizable hook, propelling it to the top of charts around the globe!

With a colossal international smash under their collective belts, Dev (backed by The Cataracts, the production team which discovered her singing on MySpace) is looking to establish herself as a solo artist. First single “Bass Down Low” is already a worldwide success -- and she's currently featured on the New Boyz's U.S. Top 40 hit “Backseat" as well!

Now as Dev eyes a summer release of her full-length debut, she's touring the world! Throughout summer, she makes appearances across the United States, Canada, the Netherlands, Lebanon, United Kingdom, Spain and Sweden. Many of these dates include performances for LGBT fans!

In fact, from a performance at The Dinah, the world's largest lesbian party in California, USA, to club dates elsewhere, Dev's working to win gay fans. Here she explains to GuideToGay celebrity correspondent Pollo Del Mar why being a hip-hop star can’t keep her from “embracing” LGBT fans and – thank goodness – what “slizzard” means!

As an artist with such close ties to the hip-hop community, why did you want to perform at The Dinah Shore Weekend – an event that’s all lesbian?

Oh, because I love lesbians – and I love gays. I think that’s a beautiful thing. I’m going to embrace them. Hopefully they’ll embrace me. We can celebrate love and life and music together.

That’s a beautiful response. It always surprises me…

But wait. (She sounds agitated.) What does hip-hop music have to do with liking lesbians? I can make hip-hop music and still like lesbians, can’t I?

Of course! But can I give my perspective as a gay man?


The hip-hop community has not typically embraced us. It’s refreshing that you do.

Thank you – and I do, very much. And I respect you guys, a lot. I respect you very much. It’s us embracing each other, honestly. It goes both ways.  I’m embracing them, and, hopefully, they will embrace me, and we can just have a good time. I never really thought that, because I made a certain kind of music, I wouldn’t embrace anybody. It’ll be good. Thank you for bringing up that point. It’s kind of cool.

As a performer who was featured on an immensely popular hit, it feels like your success came quite suddenly – almost out of nowhere. Is that true from your perspective?

No, not really. When “G6” started getting attention, it definitely wasn’t zero-to-100. It was maybe zero-to-60?! I still have a lot of work to do, but me and The Cataracts have been grinding for maybe three years. I got with them in ’08, and we’ve been making music ever since. We went to [Los Angeles] in ’09. We started doing maybe three club shows a week, doing videos, showing my face forever, kind of grinding wherever possible in L.A. We went through the festivals, like SXSW, grinding it out for a while. It’s nice to see our hard work paying off now. Even though it looks like it was zero-to-100, it really wasn’t like that.

What’s it like to go from being a featured artist on a #1 single to releasing your own debut single?

Well, the idea was always that I would do my own thing. When I started this, I never thought I would have my name tied to any group beside The Cataracts, but I can’t complain. “G6” did a lot of great things for me. It kind of put me on this pedestal, a lot of opportunities to tour and do my own thing, to put out my own album. It also gave people kind of an idea of who I am without putting me in some unrealistic place. I can’t really complain about that, you know? Some people do know that’s me. Some don’t. I like it like that.

You’ve said your upcoming album might surprise people?

Yeah, there are a lot of different textures, tempos and subjects that are touched upon in this album. Some, I’m just singing over a couple of piano chords. Other stuff, I’m rapping over older, hip-hop-influenced beats. Some is really dancey and girly, you know? You can definitely tell me and The Cataracts grew up being influenced by a lot of different artists. You get this in this album. I think people will be surprised. Hopefully they will! I think it’s a little bit refreshing. I think people have this idea of me, because I did the “G6” hook or “Bass Down Low” or “Booty Bounce” that it’s going to all have the same flavor. I’m excited for them to see, though, that I do have a soul.

How involved are you in writing your own music?

Everything I do is pretty collaborative with The Cataracts. They found me, and they taught me everything I pretty much know about making music. It’s all collaborative, but I do my own stuff. I like writing, if that’s what you’re wondering.  (Laughs.)

Some artists are quite content with allowing others to shape their sound.

No, no, no. The Cataracts know me. I lived with them for a year-and-a-half. They know me better than anyone. Before I even considered doing music as a profession, and was just making music for fun with them, they knew who I was. It’s great that I get to make music with my best friends who know what foods I eat, can finish my sentences and know the people I date. It’s great that I have that. When we go into the studio, we just tell stories or joke around, and songs come out of that. It’s great! It’s definitely very authentic or really. They know I wouldn’t ever sing anything that didn’t really happen or didn’t have some connection to. Everything me and The Cataracts do is very true to who we are. When it’s studio time for just me, they know I also have the say in my direction.  What’s cool is I’ll sometimes go to them with an idea for a song and say, “I think we should do a song about this” or “I have this much written.” Sometimes they will come to me and see if I am down.  That’s just how it has always been, and that’s how it was on the album.

Something has been plaguing me for about five months. What the hell is “Slizzard”?!

(Laughs.) Have you ever drank Robitussin [cough medication] before, when you’re not prescribed it?

Uhm, no.

Oh. Well, if you ever did, you’d probably feel “slizzard.” Or mass amounts of champagne does the same thing.

I think I’ll pass on that one.

Yeah, you don’t want it anyway. Not drinking is way cooler. I’m [gave up] drinking for Lent, and my days are a lot longer. I can remember things. It’s an amazing thing.

Have you heard the “Like a G6” spoof “Likin’ Big Dicks” by Calpernia Adams and Jonny McGovern, The Gay Pimp?

Ha! No, but that’s amazing!  (Giggles.) There are a lot of good ones, but that’s amazing. That’s so funny! I’d probably like it.

Your album was originally scheduled for April?

Late, late summer is when it’s probably going to come out. It was set to come out in April, but  I want to make some little adjustments and finishing touches before we release it.

People are now starting to recognize you. What is that like?

It’s changing my Dev life, you know, because I’m working hard at my music. I’m finding out who I am as a woman and as an artist. It’s doing a lot of great things for me. I’m able to travel a lot more, play for more people and make people happy, which in turn, makes me happy. It’s a really cool experience. I didn’t start doing this until I was about 19. Up until 19, I lived life as a completely different human being. This change has been absolutely insane, but it has been really cool. I’m really enjoying it. Hopefully this journey will be a good one.

I can’t imagine. During the summer, you’re making music with your friends. By Christmas, you have the #1 song around the world?!

Yeah it’s gnarly! I like to keep busy, and I like to do this, so I do it as much as I can, all day, every day. When I sit back and think about it, though, it really has been a gnarly experience getting to work with Travis Barker and 50 Cent and Timbaland, all these amazing people I grew up listening too. It’s been absolutely insane, but I work really hard, so it’s gratifying if anything. I  really love it though. I, literally, do shows every single day, and every single show is great! It’s been fun. So I know I’m in a good place right now.

Thank you for taking time to talk today, Dev.

Thank you!

Again, when I asked those first questions about why you would want to perform for gays and lesbians, I was really afraid it started us on the wrong foot.

No worries! Nobody ever really asks me cool questions like that. I’m really glad you touched base on that; it was really cool. I respect you a lot.

Often my requests for interviews with hip-hop performers are ignored, because that community isn’t interested in reaching out to LGBT fans, even though hip-hop music has a huge following

It’s funny, because that’s so true. It’s real! The way I was raised, the different genres, the different people… I was raised so I don’t even think about that. It kind of did catch me off-guard when you asked me that, but it’s how people are. It’s real life. It’s how people really are, but hopefully I’ll be able to change that for some people, because I do enjoy both and respect both. Hopefully I’ll be able to change some little hip-hop heads or some of the gay and lesbian community who don’t want to let things in. Hopefully we can just embrace each other!

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TV's 'Wonder Woman' Lynda Carter Releases New CD

By Pollo Del Mar

Few entertainers are more iconic to the LGBT community than Lynda Carter. As TV’s heroic Wonder Woman, Carter fought for the rights of all in her star-spangled satin tights – but she found the most enduring adoration among gays.

Now more than three decades later, Carter has settled comfortably into her status as a beloved symbol of justice and, in her own words, “the secret self who needs to be expressed.” And she clearly embraces the community which continues to support her, whether that is in her theatrical, television and film career or, most recently, return to music.

Carter is traveling the world in support of her third album Crazy Little Things, a pop music collection reimagined in the star’s own, jazz-inflected style. The still-stunning one-time Miss World checks in with GuideToGay celebrity correspondent Pollo Del Mar about feeling bullied growing up, and, obviously, weighs in on the planned Wonder Woman TV remake.

You recently returned to your home state to be Grand Marshall of their Pride Parade. What’s that like for you?

For me, it’s just going home and while I’m there doing this gay Pride Parade and also celebrating my record, going on to talk about it. I really don’t find anything unusual about it other than it’s Arizona (USA). (Laughs.) Arizona’s a little conservative… For me, going to do Pride, they asked me to do it, and I said great. It wasn’t, “Oh, should I do a Gay Pride Parade?” For me, it was a no-brainer.

I read a recent interview where you spoke out against bullying – a very hot subject right now within the LGBT community. Which came first – your dislike of bullying or a realization that people perceived you as standing up for those without voices for years, even without you knowing it?

I think when you get new information about things, if you don’t grow from it, you’re moving backwards. You’re not standing still. I certainly understand more now than I did about the gay and lesbian community. That being said, I’m just really sick and tired of the demonization of anything “other.” When the far right talks about “the right to life”… Hey, I’m “right to life” too! I want children to be healthy and live. I’m not promoting abortion, but I believe in the right to choose what to do. Instead, I’m painted with brush that I’m a murderer. There’s nobody who’s out there with banners and signs saying, “Come get your abortions!” or “Hey, Abortions!”

(Both are laughing.)

Or, if you’re against the war, you’re “Anti-American.” I’m sorry, I just don’t want our boys to die, you idiots! I’d rather spend money on our schools than their schools. You know, I was kind of awkward when I was a young girl. I experienced the ‘mean girl’ thing – being drawn into a little clique, really feeling like you belong, then they turn their back on you and never talk to you again. Growing up, we were fine, but we had some financial issues. We lived in a nice part of town, but the poorer sections of the nice part of town.  It was a little house. I worked my way through high school, singing. When I see bullying, I hated it when my kids fought or if they picked on each other. I couldn’t stand it! It was stomach-churning for me.

Coming to terms with your sexuality is at best, for anyone, really difficult. I think that time of life for boys and girls, people all of a sudden don’t like you because you’ve grown breasts or they treat you differently or whatever. It’s a tough time anyway. I think it’s even more difficult, based on the questions I’ve asked many, many, many people over many years. It’s hard if you’re not attracted to what all your friends are attracted to. That’s tough stuff. I feel strongly about it.

Compassion is obvious in all your responses, even to questions about the upcoming Wonder Woman TV remake. You seem genuinely concerned how actress Adrienne Palicki will be compared to your legacy.

It’s tough. Once she gets over the hump – once people see it, because they haven’t even seen it – there may be more surprises than anyone realizes. David E. Kelley is really talented, and he’s the writer/producer. I’m glad it’s being done again – and being done by a really talented writer/producer. It’s time to move, go, and give her a break!

You’ve said you’re just glad the Wonder Woman story is being told again.

Yes! It’s a great story. It’s about being OK with just being who you are. All of us have this “secret self” that we want to show the world. I think that’s probably what resonates with the gay and lesbian population. It’s that part that’s terrifying to admit. There are pieces and parts of people, and they’re certainly not just about sexuality. It’s really not the defining part of a human being. It’s such a part of our society, but in a relationship, there’s got to be a lot more than just sexuality for you to love and be loved, to raise a healthy family and be a healthy person in mind and body – spirit as well. We’re complex creatures, and this is not a one-note samba. Life isn’t. So I get a little sick of all the focus being just on the person’s sexuality.

Tell me about the new album, Crazy Little Things.

I’m really, really proud of it! The band I’m coming to San Francisco with, they’re all on the album. I took songs you would recognize – they aren’t standards, but they are in the sense it’s “Heatwave,” “Desperado,” “Locomotion,” “Crazy Little Thing Called Love.” They’re all songs you would recognize, but the way I do them is completely different than the way they’ve been done before. Working with top-notch people, the bar is so high. We’re all stretching for perfection. When you’ve got musicians like this, that’s when the freedom comes. You know what you’re doing, and the music just ebbs and flows. I can’t wait for you to hear it!

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Zoe Badwi Taking the World By Storm

By Pollo Del Mar

The swirling bass and soaring vocals of Zoe Badwi’s “Release Me” sweep listeners back to a time when dancefloors were populated with divas proud to be queens of the club scene. According to the Australian spitfire, that’s exactly what she had in mind when writing the 2008 hit.

“Release Me” topped Australian club charts, turning the one-time actress into an ARIA-nominated pop music sensation. Follow-up “Freefallin’” became her first Top 10 pop hit. Now Badwi is out to capture the hearts of fans around the world -- starting with the LGBT community.

Performing “Release Me” and current hit “Free Fallin’” in clubs across the U.S., Badwi recently headlined the White Party, one of North America’s biggest gay circuit parties. Just prior to the experience, she agreed to a little face-time with “The Queen of San Francisco Media” and's most glamorous Pollo Del Mar. The two met moments after Badwi's vocal warm-ups and tech rehearsal.

Zoe, you are absolutely amazing live! I had no idea…

Thank you! People think I’m a “mimer.” Never! Never, ever, ever. That’s a compliment, I’ve learned to take it. I used to be so offended. They say, ‘You sound exactly the way you do on the CD!’ Well, you’d want to hope so, wouldn’t you?

You have to admit, that’s uncommon in the music industry these days.

Yeah, but to each their own.

I was recently backstage at the Britney Spears “concert,” if you will…

(Zoe begins laughing.)

I had an amazing time, but it was quite obvious Britney wasn’t singing like you do!

Yeah, I didn’t stay very long at the her concert in Australia. It was like she couldn’t even bother being there, but she’s done well. More power to her!

You sing house music, but most of today’s “house” is nothing more than remixes of commercial pop songs.

Yes, exactly.

I grew up on artists who took pride in performing house music – people like Inaya Day…

I absolutely love Inaya Day!

Me too! It makes me think of Amuka, Ceevox, Kim English.  Those women chose to sing “house” music, which is what you’ve also chosen to do.

Yes, because that’s what moves me. I love old school beats where, even before the vocals begin, you’re moving. It’s like you can feel the funk, I guess. It’s in there, even though it’s slamming, it’s a little bit nasty. That’s what I like. Then when the vocals hit, it’s so much power. You can just feel the emotion drip out. How can you not get on the dance floor? That’s what I wanted. I wanted to be that. Hopefully I have.

Even in the best remixes today, it feels like the “build” is missing. Today a friend and I  were listening to “Release Me,” and I said, “Wait! She’s about to take you there!”

(Laughs.) I’m very lucky. I work with some amazing producers. TV Rock are Australian producers who are taking over the world as well. When I wrote “Release Me,” they sent me the bed of music, and I wrote the lyrics. It wasn’t exactly as it is now, but we said, “Let’s give them ‘a moment.’” That’s what we called it. It’s like, “This is your moment to shine!” It’s that “Raise your hands! Raise your hands! Whoooaaaaa!” at the end. It’s like, ahhh – release. That’s what it’s about, I think.

How is touring the United States different than performing at home in Australia?

I guess I’ve been performing in Australia for a long time now. I’m very lucky, because everybody knows my stuff there now. It’s like, “Oh, Zoe’s coming!” I performed [in the U.S.] last year for Allegria, and I was quite nervous. There were 7,500 people, and I did “Release Me.” I thought, “Are they going to know me?” Before I went on, they said, “The crowd’s not super receptive. If you want them to shout out things, they’re not going to.” But I went out, and they all sang it! I had a ball! Now to know people like “Release Me” and my new single “Free Fallin’,” hopefully -- fingers, toes and eyes crossed -- hopefully it all keeps going.

In Australia, you’re a Top 10 “pop” artist.

Yes, and I never meant to be pop. I think the pop world needed a little dance. They needed a little dirt, a little grit.

That’s David Guetta’s doing. When I met and hung out backstage with him several years ago after a show, he was an underground house DJ. Now he’s the hottest producer in pop music.

He opened the door, I think, for everybody. Now all the big ones – the Rihannas, the Britneys – they’re all doing house music, or forms of it. I’m like, “How am I going to compete with that?!” But I’ve got my spot. I’ve got my niche, and I can do it! I know I can, I really do. I love it! You’ll see when I perform, I absolutely love being onstage. I love people dance and have fun. I get carried away by it, where I don’t ever want to get off, so I put on a real show.

Despite being a big pop artist in Australia, in other pIaces, you’re primarily doing gay club events. What’s that experience like?

To be honest, playing for gay audiences is really the best. They’re there for the music. They really love it! A lot of straight clubs, they go just to be seen, to try to pick up a girl or the girls are there trying to snag a husband. That’s really what it’s about. I think in the gay community, it really is about the music. For a performer, that’s the most refreshing part! I just feel really lucky that the gay community likes me. Who would have thought? Thank you!

You seem surprised. Do you have other gay influences?

Well, I’ve got gay friends, obviously, but I didn’t write my music with any one audience or genre in mind. I just wrote what’s in my heart and what in my mind. I guess I’m kind of a fun, happy-go-lucky girl, but I guess everybody has dark days. I really always want to say there’s a way through it. You can get through it. Music helps me, and I want to do that for other people. As silly as that sounds, as cliché, it’s true! I mean, release it! Raise your hands! Get it out! Have a good time.

You’re headlining the White Party, one of the world's biggest circuit parties.

I know! (Zoe’s face lights up, and she begins to clap.) How exciting!

It’s the circuit party to end all circuit parties!

I hear it’s the party of the world, to be honest! That’s what people have been telling me. It’s like, “Get ready to rumble, because it’s on down there!” I’m bringing my mum, and she’s going to have a ball!

It’s going to be you and your mum…

And 70,000 other people?

Gay men -- dancing mostly naked, in fact.

Great! She’ll love it. My mum is going to be right up for it! She’s flying in especially from Australia. She’s like, “I’m not missing this one!” I can’t wait! I’m going to have a ball. This is going to be the one! I just played Brazil. It’s supposed to be a gay event, but it was all kind of straight -- The Spirit of London Party. It was 65,000 people. They don’t even speak English there, but they all knew all the words, all the backing vocals. I just got a video today of me singing there, and I welled up! I thought, “I’m so lucky.” Yeah, it’s just been amazing – but I hear the White Party will even top that!

Swedish singer Robyn is also performing at White Party.

Oh, don’t even get me started! “Every Heartbeat” – oh, what a beautiful song!

I just interviewed her as well. Incredible!

Oh, what did she say?! Did you tell her about me?! (Giggles.) I did the big Pride in Sydney, and Alexis Jordan and Wynter Gordon both did that as well, and I think we’ll all be at The White Party. I guess girls rule! I’m going to give it a whirl!

Well, you know the gay boys love their girls – their dance divas!

Yes, and I have a lot to give! Oh, it’s just so exciting! I know I say that a lot, but I really am! I just can’t wait. What am I going to wear?!

You’ve just released “Freefallin’,” already a Top 10 hit at home, in the U.S. Are you focusing only on singles?

No, I just finished the album! I keep listening back and changing a few things, bits and pieces, fine-tuning some things, but yes. I’ve got 12 songs I love. That’s what I wanted it to be, every track that I love. It’ll be out in Australia in July, so it will hopefully be out here not long after. It’s got lots of house tracks and fun party tracks, but there are also some surprises. There’s even a ballad and a few quirky songs. You’ll get to see a lot more of me!!


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Natasha Bedingfield Talks LGBT Fans, 'Strip Me Away'

By Pollo Del Mar

From the beginning, gays have loved Natasha Bedingfield. It seemed inevitable, says the 29-year-old singer best known to Aussies for her 2004 Top 5 hit “These Words,” since her first solo performance ever was at London’s legendary nightclub G.A.Y.

It’s been almost a decade since Bedingfield’s debut “Single,” about not needing a traditional relationship for validation, struck a cord with LGBT fans. Since, global hits like Top 30 Australian smash “Unwritten” and the 2007 track “I Wanna Have Your Babies” have only strengthened that connection. As a result, the chanteuse’s “favorite places to perform” are for gay and lesbian audiences.

Now Bedingfield is preparing for the international release of “Pocket Full of Sunshine” – “about being free, finding safety and being yourself,” she says. A Top 5 hit in North America three years ago, the song introduces the global audiences to the singer’s latest album, Strip Me Away. The album hits retail next week throughout Europe.

Sitting with celebrity correspondent Pollo Del Mar, Bedingfield discusses working with chart-topping rock act OneRepublic’s Ryan Tedder, the new album and pouring her heart into song. She also shares about not only LGBT fans, but rumors that she was a lesbian herself!

Strip Me Away is finally available in Europe and abroad. Your music seems to get released at different times around the world.

It’s a challenge when your music is worldwide. How do you spend enough time in each territory to introduce your music properly? I’ve always released my albums simultaneously, but they come out at different times in different countries. That’s how my label has chosen to do it. I think it works because then I can actually spend proper time in each country.

You collaborate with Ryan Tedder of chart-topping group OneRepublic. What was that like?

I met Ryan about four years ago, when I was in the studio working on my second album (2007’s N.B.). He was only known as a songwriter back then. His band OneRepublic was just about to release their first single. We really connected! I always thought I’d want to write with him. He actually wrote “Love Like This,” one of the songs I released off my last album. I always thought I’d like to sit with him and write a song together. We wrote two songs. We actually wrote “Strip Me” together. It’s all about your power as an individual, the power of your voice, and how you can’t let anyone squash that or restrict who you are. It’s really an empowering song. It relates to me and many people. It’s like we are who we are. It’s like when people get bullied for stuff. Well, others can do what they want, but they can’t take away our individuality and who each person is.

That kind of voice, especially as relates to “bullying,” must speak to your extensive gay and lesbian following.

Absolutely! Again, I think we have to be free, really, truly free, and not just talking about it, not squashing people, not bullying. You know, I sang at an event for Perez Hilton, and it was really interesting. He’s known for the way he writes about people. He’s known for his biting remarks, his humoristic accounts of people. It was interesting to talk to him and hear how he’s had a change of heart, how some of that has made him realize he doesn’t want to be a bully. It really touched my heart. We’re all growing all the time. We’re all becoming more enlightened, I think. Well, some people are becoming more enlightened. Some are becoming worse.

As gay individuals, we often internalize the behaviors which hurt us so much – then turn those back on others.

Yeah, it can be a defense mechanism from a lot of pain, can’t it? Totally. Again, I think it’s interesting how he went from being in a position to pay it forward to a position where he’s asking, “Well, what do I want to be for the next few years of my life? Do I want to be someone who’s helpful and have that kind of legacy?”

He’s changing! How have you evolved from your Unwritten to Strip Me Away?

I feel I know myself a lot more. I’m formed a wider world view, after meeting so many people and experiencing so much. I feel this album is more about us as humans and what we go through, stuff we share, the same desires and frustrations, hunger. Early in my career, I feel I was much more introspective, but now I’m much more comfortable with who I am, less apologizing for who I am. I think that’s what happens when you get into your late-20s. You get comfortable with who you are and stop apologizing for it. Musically, I think it’s a much better album than my other albums. I can see myself growing musically all the time. I’ve learned so much from performing live. I’ve really put a lot of that into this album.

Your lyrics tend to go beyond typical pop music fluff. Is it ever uncomfortable to pour your heart out in song?

It can be, when you start talking about it, but I’ve found the best songs are the ones which are really honest, putting your heart out there. That’s where I tend to be in my life and want my music. I was really quite shy growing up, so it is a choice, to be like, “Look, this is what I’m going through.” More often than not, when I really pour my heart out and say something really vulnerable, that’s the song everyone relates to.  My song “Wild Horses,” my song “Soulmate.” There’s a song on this album called “Recover,” which is about recovering from grief. It’s about recovering from the hard things, the devastation of things which happen, and it’s happened in my life but, in general, in the world. Yes, it’s my song, but it’s the world’s too – it’s something people can really connect to.

What is going on with your brother Daniel? We’re looking forward to new music from him too!

Totally! He’s writing at the moment, getting ready to release a whole bunch of new music too. He’s in England right now, working with some producers there, and they’re getting ready to bring a whole bunch of cool new stuff out!

You’re recently married. How has that changed you as an artist?

I’ve always been single. For quite a few years, I was single, and there were a lot of rumors actually, that I was a lesbian, because they didn’t see me with any guys. I’ve been very independent. I’ve always felt you don’t need another half to make you whole. He just stole my heart, you know? It was someone worth giving up my independence for and gave me a reason to come home. I work so hard. I’ve been on the road, promoting my music, getting it out there, traveling, but I didn’t know how to pace myself. I felt having found Matt was perfect timing. Now I have a reason to stop some times, to have fun, to feel love! I feel protected and loved. For a while, there was a point in my life when I didn’t even want to love someone. I wanted to feel self-sufficient. I didn’t want there to be anyone I would ‘need.’ Do you know what I mean?

I got dumped not that long ago. It makes perfect sense!

That’s what my song “Soulmate” from my last album was about. It was more of a question, actually. “Is there a soulmate?” I had all this talk about being independent, so it was like I was leery of it. It was kind of uncanny. It’s someone you can just sit in the same room with, without having to talk to. He’s just on-hand, without having to explain everything to.

As a celebrity, what is it like to have people speculate about your sexuality? Do lesbian rumors have a negative impact?

Hmm… I think you kind of just have to have fun with it, really. When you’re in entertainment, the way the world is now, you’re part of a big soap opera. (Laughs.) Your life is just…there. It’s kind of flattering, really, because you sort of belong to people. People feel a bit of ownership. Your life is part of the big story. I always took that stuff with a pinch of salt. If I’m seen talking with someone, suddenly I’m dating them. For example, Louis Hamilton, the famous Formula 1 racer. There’s a picture where I nearly fell down because the paparazzi’s camera shots were so blinding, I couldn’t see, so he grabbed my hand and helped me out of the car. So there’s a picture of him holding my hand, and we were “dating.” It’s the same with rumors about sexual orientation. Who really cares what the rumors are? Everything is just people’s observations, people being interested in you – and relating, I think.

It could always be worse. One day you could forget your panties and, as you’re getting out of the car, paparazzi could snap a photo of your vagina.  It’s happened to others!

I know, exactly! Just make sure you’re wearing the right kind of underpants or you’ve had a wax recently. These days, you have to be careful!

(Both are laughing.)



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