by MK Scott -
SGN Contributing Writer
It has been quite a year as I brought about 2-dozen interviews (mostly exclusives) to the Seattle Gay News. What tied many of these interviews together - from Oscar winners to reality stars to music legends - were my questions related to the current political climate - from Activism to the Muslim Travel Ban to Healthcare to Sexual Harassment (ironically, all related to President Trump) - and those questions got each interview subject talking with such passion. Here are highlights from 14 of my exclusive interviews based on subject.
Dustin Lance Black: Well, so all - I, I think we have been - I think that we're doing it in the right way, right now. And that is, that the - what I was so afraid of four years ago - even as we were making great progress, is that we've become incredibly self-centered, myopic, really focused just on our own issues. And we had absolutely lost sight of our connection to other social justice movements. We were not working locked arm in arm. And as a student of Harvey Milk, who built the coalition of yesses, in order to start winning freedom and winning political power, that coalition of yesses wasn't just LGBT people. It was seniors, it was racial minorities, it was union workers. That's what built - well, I couldn't see it. You'd hear at the marches 'Gay, straight, black, white, same struggle, same fight,' but it was mostly Gay people with a few straight people, or mostly African American people with a couple white people. And I kept asking myself, why aren't we showing up for other people's rallies? And, you know, just ask Nero - divide and conquer - and we've become - not out of animus, but out of self-interest - we've become divided. And that was dangerous. And now we're seeing that indeed we've lost ground because we were divided. And what I'm seeing now, when I've gone to these marches, when I've been to some of these rallies, is that it is now truly Gay and straight and black and white, same struggle, same fight - and that's critical. So was it just a Gay rally? No. Should it be? No. We should be showing up for our brothers and sisters in other social justice movements as we wanted them to show up for ours when our rights come under attack. (2/24/17)
Slam Gauwloos: Ah, I don't know. I mean, of course, it's wrong. I mean, I think it's wrong to deny anybody in any kind of country, you know, to enter any kind of country. But you know, I am an optimist, you know. Things will get better, you know. We always, you know, gay people, minorities, you know, at the end we always prevail, you know. And I just - if we just keep fighting and keep talking up and keep talking about this too, you know, I think things will change, you know. We always prevail as gay people and as minorities in the end, you know. It might take a little bit longer, but I think we will, you know. And look how many, you know, so many evil things are going on, but look at the same time, you know, how many people it has brought together too, you know. When is the last time there's all these protests against one man, you know? It's been a while ago. So I always try to look at the good side of the whole thing. Yeah. But it will change. I know it will change, like everything always does. But even in, you know, they give me a hard time in airport, because, you know, my name, I have a Middle Eastern tattoo, Arabic tattoo on my arm. It's a Salim. And my real name is Salim Hamid Gauwloos, and I have an American passport and European passport, but they - they've always given me a hard time in the airports because of my name. It is nothing new. (3/31/17)
Ted Allen: Right now, the Republicans are attempting to overturn Obamacare with something that would knock 24 million people off their health insurance with un-affordable, less coverage, particularly important on all those people and obviously within that 24 million people, there are people with HIV/AIDS who are going to lose their health insurance period. 'Tough Luck,' and this is this supposed to be better? Also, I saw an interesting tweet from the comedian Michael Ian Black, who said that, the point of Obamacare was to put millions of people back on health insurance, the point of the Republican response is to provide tax breaks to thousands of wealthy people, so our goals, President Obama's goal, was to provide insurance for millions of people. Republicans are taking a lead from millions of peoples to get a tax break to very privilege wealthy people and I don't know, frankly, how Paul Ryan looks at himself in the mirror in the morning, when he is behind that. You going to be that person in history? OK, I think with fight, I think with protest, I think the second protest, it is good to talk to somebody I could actually discuss this with. I mean, you know in NY that's not an uncommon position. We are strong in our opposition to this administration and I think ultimately we are going to win again, but right now we are in a very challenging time. (4/21/17)
Evan Wolfson: Look, anything can happen. So I don't think we should ever be complacent, or just give up or stop working. But even though the election was a catastrophe, and our country is very much on the wrong path, I actually think there are other communities and other values and other things we care about that are more in danger. And if we would do the work of standing in solidarity with the others and keep moving forward we will also thereby secure our own gains. I'm not really worried that they're going to be taking away the freedom to marry. That's a very hard thing to do. I don't think it's what most want to do, even former opponents, even continuing opponents, have other things that they mostly are focused on. So let's remember that in order to win the freedom to marry in the Supreme Court we first, over years and years, decades of hard work and persuasion, won in the court of public opinion. When we stood in front of the Supreme Court in 2015 we had grown public support from 27% when I did the world's first trial back in Hawaii to 63% support. And that didn't go away on election day. More than a million gay people have gotten legally married in the United States. And for each one of those million that represents millions of family members and friends and others who love them and are supportive. That didn't go away on election day. And we won after many losses, ultimately about a hundred court rulings, not just the final one. And that didn't go away on election day. So I think we have created facts on the ground and built public opinion and know how to fight and have brought allies and supporters into our work and we have to just keep moving forward. The Gallup Poll last week reported that in the two years since we've won the freedom to marry there has been no horror, no shock, no terrible things that have happened that have caused the public to pull away. In fact the Gallup Poll reported last week we're at an all-time record high. Public support continues to grow, including, by the way, there are more majority support now amongst Republicans, we're at 47%. So we have to be vigilant, we have to do the work, but losing the freedom to marry is not the thing I think we have to be most focused on. (6/23/17)
Joey Arias: Yeah. So I don't give a fuck what President Trump does, or if he acknowledges it, well, then fuck off, see you later, alligator. That's why no one is going to support you and no one gives a shit about you. He's a traitor; he's a fool. You know, I met him years ago and he was just a terrible man when I met him. (6/23/17)
Terri Nunn: Well, I wish I could tell you. Honestly, oh, gosh, like I think the whole, pretty much, you know, the country that didn't vote for him is still in shock. I don't know how it happened. I just can't say President Trump without laughing. And I, my personal feeling, I wish I could advise other people, but I don't know how to do that, my personal feeling is that I want him to go away and do his job. I don't ever want to hear him again. I've heard him enough. I've heard him speak enough for the rest of the four years he's going to be in office. I don't want to hear him anymore; it's annoying, it's awful, it's mean, it's belittling; I don't like this guy. I'm hoping that whoever, that 42% or whomever voted for him saw in him that there's something that they saw that will actually do something good. (Chuckle) I don't know, but it might be, you know? Somebody said to me, because I came out on my Facebook page about Trump and I got hammered by, you know, the people who voted for him. One guy said to me this that did resonate with me. And he voted for Trump. He said: you know, it is true that some people who are not very socially adept are very good at their jobs. And I'm like, yeah, that is true, because he's definitely not social adept. I think the one good thing that's come out of this is people have joined together so much more than I've ever seen with the President in my lifetime because of the contention that he's brought into this country with the stuff that he said that I think that, that people coming together is a good thing. And that is my only advice that I would think in doing that, you know, stick together, stand together, say what you feel, say what's important to you, and we will get through this. And somehow, I have a great faith in the universe, somehow the world will be better because of this. I can't see it now, but it's coming, it's going to happen. And maybe that is one of the ways it will happen, people coming together, and standing together, for what they believe in. (6/23/17)
Storm Large: I feel that things have been - information has been turned into entertainment. And the news cycle has to be histrionic and intense in order to maintain viewership. And it isn't always necessarily propaganda, but it is, you know, I mean, there is definitely huge swaths of people trying to, you know, keep a certain demographic, giving them red meat, so to say, so to speak. But things have become like bumper sticker symbol. And it seems that no one has, that people are not encouraged to have, any kind of complexity and thought. They're encouraged to pick a side and pick up a rock, and a stick and torches, and taunt and go after the side that is not theirs. And there's no nuance, there's no conversation, there's no discourse. And I'm saying 'there is no,' of course, there is, but not in the streets, and not what we are seeing. I mean, for example, they're saying like ANTIFA is a terrorist element, but it's anti-fascist. That means all of my grandparents were terrorists, but they were fighting Nazis. So things are turned into misnomers and lies; and things become catch phrases until they become part of your mitochondria, until they become part of this every day speech; that it doesn't, that the words don't even make sense anymore, but they are words tattooed inside your tongue. And for whatever reason it makes everybody feel safe. So, at the end of the day, every human being wants to belong. Wants to know where they are in the world. Wants to be loved, wants to be accepted, wants to matter. Every life wants to matter. And - but at the same time there are forces that profit from fear, and profit from manipulating that desire and make it seem like that is being threatened. And so like Ari [Shapiro] said in his show, these things go in cycles, and people become, and it's not exclusive to America, it's exclusive to humans. It's exclusive to fucking humans. And I think that maybe some primate war-type shit, like this, but we are really good at getting freaked out and hurting a lot of people. And I think that's where we are in history at this tipping point right now. We're on the edge of some scary shit. And scary shit is already happening. It won't burst and pop off a nuclear disaster, or you know, any kind of massive catastrophe like that. But it's a tough time to be a human. (11/24/17)
Peaches Christ: Well, he's unquestionably a sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot! (9/22/17)
Heklina: Oh, gosh! Well, he is the only person currently that I would like to feed rat poison to; and I would not mistake it for the skinny and sweet! (9/22/17)
Lady Bunny: I met Lady Chablis when I was 13, sneaking into a gay bar in Chattanooga, Tennessee and was a fan of her act long before she hit it big with Midnight in the Garden of Evil. She was one of a kind and had such magnetism and wit that there truly was no one like her. I toured with her and we became great friends. She called me 'Country Cunt' because I'm from down South. She also liked to say that 'Bunny, you remind me of a - what is it? ... a Saltine? ... no, a Ritz? ... no, a Triscuit? ... no - oh that's it! A cracker!' We were close enough to joke about anything and no one had a mouth like her. I did attend her funeral in Savannah in full mourning drag complete with a veil to show my respect to one of drag's greats. Interestingly enough, Chablis came from a time when she 'did drag' with wigs and lots of make-up, but Chablis was trans and had lived as a woman named Brenda on and off stage for decades. We came from a time when different segments of the community stuck together. Now, with Facebook offering 56 different gender variations you can pick from, I worry that we are putting each other into boxes and infighting rather than bonding to fight the very real enemies within the new administration. I do not dismiss anyone's individual concerns, since all of our concerns are different. But does an anti-LGBT administration seeking to roll back hard-won LGBT rights deserve more focus than whether you identify as gender queer, gender fluid or non-binary today? To me, it does. (5/5/17)
Trudie Styler: Yes, well, it is a current story, isn't it? Because of not allowing people to be who they are is prevalent and becoming more so in this administration, dialing back the reforms that have curtailed - and it's very worrisome. So I hope that Freak Show in some way can draw attention to not just bullying, but with a message to young people that are attractive to say that we have one life and life shouldn't be - we're all born free - we should be able to be the people that we are, and that should be reflective at all times. And this is set in a high school and I think a lot of the simple rotten sets in the formative years as teenagers. (10/20/17)
Tippi Hedrin: [Regarding working for Alfred Hitchcock:] Bad enough so that I walked out and slammed the door. And that, you know, this is nothing new. It has happened, it began when Adam and Eve were put on this planet. And it has been a situation where women have had to either make a - you know, I find it incredible that parents don't teach their children, not only their girls as to how to handle situations like this before they even get started, and young boys to say this is not acceptable for you to do to any woman. And they should understand that as well. I mean it isn't just the girls who need to be educated, it is our young men as well. Had my parents not given me the education that they did I don't know how I would've handled all of this. I know I wouldn't have accepted it, but I don't, you know, it made it very easy for me because you just don't ever let it get to a point where it's a problem. (11/24/17)
BEHIND MEMORABLE FILM MOMENTS
Slam Gauwloos: The kiss [in Madonna's Truth or Dare] was amazing. You know, but it was - it's amazing, you know, it was such an innocent kiss, too, you know. We already had a little crush on each other during the tour, so then they decided to play Truth or Dare one night, and you know, there with us, you know, it's like - and it was just innocent, you know, just a compassionate, innocent kiss. I think, I guess one of the first male kisses, passionate, too, not fake, on the big screen, too, you know, and even 'til today, you know, I get emails from people just saying how it made them feel normal, you know. And this is in 1990, you know. Nobody was out of the closet, you know. It wasn't cool to be gay. Now it's like everybody is gay now, you know, it's cool now to be anything. But it feels really nice, especially not knowing that it was going to have such an impact on so many people's lives, you know. It was just an innocent kiss. That's where it started. So I think it even makes it more beautiful that it turned into this big thing. I'm really proud of that, but I can't - at that moment, you know, social media wasn't available, none of the outlets were available, so we never really knew what people were thinking, you know. The tour was finished, so we were like, okay, this is it. This is done, you know. She's going to go on another tour, and nobody's ever going to remember us. So it's nice to know that they still do. It really makes me feel nice. (3/31/17)
Mya: Working with the ladies on 'Lady Marmalade' was the ultimate experience, you know. Everyone was already an established artist, everyone is different as individuals, and performance artists, and the things that were brought to the table were different. So you have four females coming together and there's all kinds of rumors about fighting, (which I witnessed none of), the energy was amazing. I love her so. Everyone was so sweet. And then we actually performed together live as well as received awards together. That was an amazing accomplishment. And meeting Patti LaBelle, who was one of the originators of the song with Rockwilder was also the ultimate experience, my goodness. So it was great. It was so great to be a part of, and it always is a party with those shows. (6/30/17)
Joey Arias: And I remember telling David (Bowie), I said: I don't think we're going to wear clothes that people would identify with a certain era in time, but something that's beyond. And he's like; this I like a lot. And then we got these Muglar dresses....I mean the ['Saturday Night Live'] viewers really were shocked, but it really made a statement. And that's why David wore that Chinese Airline's steward's dress also. Just because he was so beyond and fresh, and this is before drag was accepted and before, you know, aliens were, you know, spying on earth, it was everything that David believed in, and everything that we believed in. It was great. It was a great working process together. (6/23/17)
Tippi Hedrin: [On appearing in The Birds] I knew going into this movie that we would be using live birds. And I am not, I'm not a scaredy-cat. And it's also a movie, so there are preparations that are made to keep the actors safe. However, I must say, when you have birds thrown at you there's not much that anybody else can do but me. And I don't know, I just, I handled it very well, I wasn't afraid. And it all worked. (11/24/17)
Mya: The message is to embrace each other. We are all individuals. You know, I don't care what religion, background, genre of music, sexual preference, your age, your sex, your size, whatever you are, or wherever you come from, live it as an individual and own it, be at peace with it, do not run from it. Because the more you run from the truth the more miserable you'll be. We're not all supposed to be the same. We're not all supposed to look the same. But we are all supposed to be respectful of each other, whether we agree with the choices that we make for our own personal lives, or as a community. And I think having conversations and the political front, you know, war. Yes, it's about respecting an individual for their personal decisions, having conversations so that we understand each other, and focusing on the similarities, and the human need, which is love. And love comes in all forms. And to understand each other, or not, but at least respect and accept the fact that we are all individuals is the platform and the starting point of functionality in a world full of craziness, in a world full of judgment and hate. No one is perfect. Everyone's defining man. So define it for yourself, proceed and live life to the fullest, and do what makes you happy and vibrate high. And don't be ashamed of it, living the truth of your life. That's what's ultimately going to give you the most fulfilling life. And that's what I believe in. And that applies to all people in their personal decisions, and keeping it friendly, keeping it love, and keeping it positive, regardless of whether you agree or not with someone else's life. Really, mind your business. (6/30/17)
Latrice Royale: I always want our younger generation to feel a sense of HOPE. It's important that we as a community create a stronger bond with one another. We have to continue to fight for our rights and freedom. As long as we're on this Earth, we will have people who don't agree with our lifestyle. But the key is to keep Living, Fighting, and Believing that one day, a new way of thinking will become the new trend. And that 'Trend' will be Love and Acceptance! (1/6/17)
SETTING THE RECORD 'STRAIGHT'
At Sakura-con this past April, I attended a press conference featuring voice actor, Vic Mignogna. Before the press conference I Googled him, I saw several posts from the Anime community calling Mignogna 'homophobic.' Being aware of this, I had a golden opportunity as a member of the LGBT press to approach Vic and ask him to sent the record 'straight,' that is to clarify that situation and this was his response:
Vic Mignogna: There is not one ounce of a shred of a molecule of any truth or substantiation to any of those things. There is - I can't even ... I can't tell you what a joke that is to me! Well, let me just tell you that those kind of comments come from lonely kids desperate for some attention. They're looking to say something shocking or something CD about somebody that a lot of people know in the industry. I tell you what that comes from. I'm a Christian. Yes, I am an unapologetic Christian. I'm not ashamed of my faith. That's who I am. Here's the problem. A lot of people think that Christians hate gay people. That is not true. But a lot of people think that there are some morons out there, who call themselves Christians, who are anti-gay. Right? So these poor kids who post this garbage on line, this is their thinking. Vic is a Christian. Christians hate gays. So Vic hates gays. Vic's homophobic because he's a Christian. Not so. Not one ounce of truth to that. But that is the unfortunate leap they take. And their faulty reasoning? Because I'm a believer in Jesus, I must be homophobic. I am not. Not even close. I'm sorry they think that and I really wish they'd stop. (4/28/17)
My burning question is usually my last question and I do this to take my subjects by surprise and I personally really want to know the answer to this question.
Besides having Tom (Daley) around, how do you stay so youthful?
Dustin Lance Black: Oh, you are sweet! Aren't you sweet?! I - okay, all right. Oh, you know what? Listen, anytime you wanna do an interview, I'm yours! Are you kidding me? I, uh - you know, honest to God, I don't know. I got my Mom's genes. [laughs] I'm the luckiest person in the world for having them - both her kind heart and her, like, wrinkle-proof skin. That's the real truth. You know, it's certainly not for lack of stress, I'll tell you that. [laughs] But, thank you, that's very kind. (2/24/17)
What is Ted Allen's favorite cuisine and why?
Ted Allen: Ahaa! Well, there are too many to narrow down. I will narrow down a little bit, and this one, I can cut it down to some of my favorites. On 'Queer Eye,' I had the best job. Food and wine. Thom had it with hard labor, but he is so creative. Carson shopped for clothes. Kyan was grooming and had limited time and I was limitless and all I did was cook and drink wine. I can explain to you the different styles of champagne. You know I love Mexican, French food. I will roast a chicken tonight in a Frenchy way with lemon, thyme, garlic. I love Thai food, Korean BBQ. I love Japanese food. I love Chinese food. I mean, that is to say, at some point, to say what I love about food, is the priority - is my favorite about it. I made a quiche for lunch today. I don't know how old you are, but every time I make a quiche, I can't help remembering and can't believe there is a book from the 1980's called Real Men Don't Eat Quiche. Hello, it is a frittata with a crust, delicious, what is not to like?! Someone got rich off that book. Let's hope they donated the proceeds to Dining Out for Life or LGBT causes. (4/21/17)
Your husband, of course, is Sting. Is there any of his songbook that you, do you, is personally your favorite?
Trudie Styler: Oh, is any one of his songs my personal favorite? I think 'Fields of Gold' is a very personal song, and it makes me weep every time I hear it; well, not every time, but when I can settle in and hear it, sometimes it's just such a beautiful work that I think speaks very deeply to me. Yeah. I mean there are many. (10/20/17)
Dakota Johnson is your granddaughter. And your daughter is Melanie Griffith. And you and Melanie both said that when Fifty Shades of Grey came out that you guys were never going to see it.
Tippi Hedrin: I still haven't seen it. I stay away from that. You know, I'm like, I'm like a horse with blinders on. (11/24/17)
In one word, can you describe NPR's Ari Shapiro?
Storm Large: Perfect. Ari Shapiro is perfect. And it's only one word, but the descriptors around perfect are so annoying because he is so fucking perfect. He's brilliant, kind, curious. His handwriting is insane. He wrote lyrics from, I forgot, some French song. And he said, I'll go get the lyrics for you. He comes back with a piece of paper. And I said, 'You are so gay; look at that font you picked.' And he said, 'That's my handwriting.' IT looked like a computer-generated curly, swirly perfect. So I believe Ari Shapiro is a perfect human. He should be in a time capsule and everyone should scrape skin cells off him and make more because he's so goddamn awesome. (11/24/17)
MK Scott is a Seattle-based arts blogger. Check out his blog at outview.online.
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