The history of gay pop music can’t be written without Jimmy Somerville, whose piercing falsetto gave ‘80s band Bronski Beat’s first album its visceral punch and aching vulnerability. His later project, The Communards, saw even more success with a cheeky cover of “Don’t Leave Me This Way”, continuing Jimmy’s association with disco; he has since put his stamp on a number of bona fide classics from the era.
As an out solo artist, Jimmy has released consistently life-affirming, dancefloor-ready, politically aware music. Most uniquely, his sexuality has been a part of his musical DNA for 30 years.
After a break in recording of several years, he’s back with Homage, a disco album so authentic it could be pressed on a white label and dumped in a used record store and no one would ever guess the mystery artist worked his magic in 2014 rather than 1978.
Speaking with Jimmy recently, I got him to talk about The Village People, Donna Summer, his vocal cords and more.
Ricky Rebelis described as a sort of Adam Lambert/Lady Gaga hybrid, but in spite of his young age, he's been in the industry longer than both of them. I first encountered Ricky when he was in the boy band No Authority (pictured in underwear), a group signed to Madonna's Maverick (RIP!) and mentored by Michael Jackson.
I would've done anything for NA (and gave them crazy amounts of coverage) if only because their manager had once been in an episode of The Golden Girls, but I also really liked the boys themselves.
Ricky was a stand-out in the teen pop scene, a true showman, so it was not surprising to me 10 years later when he re-emerged as a solo artist with a major dance hit (“Geisha Dance”) and a thoughtfully crafted, musically sound point of view.
Now,Ricky is releasing The Blue Album, filled with adventurous dance music that isn't a guilty pleasure but an unqualified pleasure. He is a visual artist who does not overly rely on his admittedly fun razzle and on-stage dazzle, but one whose music you could enjoy with your eyes closed.
I was happy to chat with Ricky all these years after we crossed paths at the teen magazine I ran; I've always wanted to do follow-up interviews with the kids I worked with, so getting to debrief one who's gone on to bigger and better things was a real pleasure...
During my recent Vegas trip, I interviewed some of the hot go-go boys of Adonis Vegas and Adonis L.A., the biggest male-for-male strip clubs in their respective cities. I asked the guys how they got into the biz, what it was like the first time they lap-danced a dude (most of them are straight), embarrassing moments, weird requests, how their girlfriends view this job, plus some goof-off questions.
They're pretty adorable in their replies.
See Vegas above. Below, see L.A. as well as one-on-ones with sexy-as-hell managers/musclemen Xavier (aka Xavier Muscle) and Matt de Iturriaga...
Alarmingly beautiful Ohioan Diane McBain (b. May 18, 1941), whose early life had been filled with financial hardship, quickly became identified as a star-in-the-making while under contract to Warner Brothers in the late '50s. Cast as a flighty heiress on the whimsical and briefly but intensely popular TV series Surfside 6 (1960—1962), she got a taste of what it might be like if all those breathless predictions swirling around her (“Another Marilyn Monroe!”) actually came true—special treatment, glamorous work with cute boys, the opportunity to launch a proper film career.
Her biggest break came when she landed the title role in the steamy Claudelle Inglish (1961), in which she plays a good girl who refuses to marry a well-off man [Claude Akins (May 25, 1926—January 27, 1994)] for security because she's in love with a handsome young beau [Chad Everett (June 11, 1937—July 24, 2012)]...and who then purposefully sabotages her own future.
Michael Musto says:
“Rebelling against all sorts of societal strictures and demands, 'Claudelle' acts up and becomes the town slut, raising eyebrows with every calculated skirt lift. In the wonderfully trashy role, McBain is fiery, seething, bitter and gloriously fun—a fave of my longtime movie club.”
Yes, it's as good as it sounds.
But in spite of her natural effervescence on screen and a penchant for getting herself into gossip columns without even trying, McBain didn't attain lasting household-name status. Instead, hers is the story of a starry-eyed kid whose past experience with struggling to make ends meet prepared her for a long stretch as a hard-working actress with many memorable encounters but with no guarantee from where her next job might come.
Now 73 (and as lovely as ever), McBain has released Famous Enough: A Hollywood Memoir (BearManor, $29.95), a compulsively readable autobiography in which she does all the things any good memoirist should: She relies on and credits a great co-author (Michael Michaud, whose Sal Mineo: A Biography is one of the best bios I've ever read); she views everything that ever happened to her through a clear-eyed, analytical lens; she imparts wisdom where she can and doesn't pretend to where she can not; and she calls 'em like she sees 'em when it comes to describing the people who've crossed her and/or crossed her path.
I was pleased to interview this resilient, relatable woman—she's so much more than her work. (But even if she were only her work, I mean...Claudelle Inglish!)
Boy Culture: What motivated you to write a book at this point in your life?
Diane McBain: People have suggested I write my memoirs for a very long time. For years, I couldn't think of why I would write my story because my career wasn't the kind of career I wanted, and why belabor the point? Finally, I settled on the theme—actually, I was inspired by the idea—that my life had more to do with a spiritual journey than a material one, so that became my concentration. That was all I needed to get started.
With Acrobaddict (Central Recovery Press, $17.95), Joe Putignano has written the kind of memoir you can't put down, but the kind of memoir that you hope no one else will ever have to write. Now an accomplished Cirque du Soleil performer and model and a hard-working student, he spent a decade as a heroin addict, enduring all of the things that go along with that sorry state—familial rejection, expulsion from school, forced and unsuccessful rehab, inevitable relapse. His life was a mess, and was in danger of ending badly—and early.
Reading about his struggle is ultimately uplifting—he celebrated seven years of sobriety on March 25—and provides valuable insight into how to pull yourself up from the depths, even when you're sure there is no way out.
Check out my interview with this sweet and uniquely connected (he cares about others, believe me, he cares) individual after the jump...
Above, an exclusive gallery of 5 never-before-published Venfield 8 images.
Venfield 8 is the moniker of a mystery shooter who loves to take the piss out of consumerist sacred cows, as well out of the conventional gay male aesthetic.
Well, with his sorry/not sorry, glam/not glam approach, maybe he would actually put a little more piss into the latter.
Whereas most of the men we're presented with (guilty as charged here) are twinks or shiny musclemen with nary a hair on their god-like bodies, Venfield 8 seeks out hairy beasts, men who haven't had their abs ultra-etched by a surgeon, men you can practically smell through the computer screen.
David LaFlamme by Venfield 8
He's got a sense of humor, too, teasing his rapidly expanding audience with hints that he may be someone famous, all the while sprinklinghis Tumblr (Work Unfriendly)with unique, offbeat imagery, building a catalogue of work that is becoming more illustrative of who he is than any personal information ever could be.
I've been negligent in not interviewing him sooner—I've blogged about him for a couple of years already—because we've become friends. I've met him and stayed with him at his home, and have benefited from his advice and support; it's hard to interview your buddies.
But when your buddies are brilliant artists, you have to step up to the plate...