Clay Cane

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Monifah on ‘Clay Cane Live’ Tonight

Tonight on Clay Cane Live on WWRL 1600 AM via Equality Pride Radio, R&B diva Monifah will be our guest.  She talks her new single “Invincible,”  love beyond labels, Kelly-Price-Nicci-Gilbert-editing-drama and plays a diva vs. diva game.  

Plus, executive director of Urbanworld, Gabrielle Glore, will call in to discuss the 17th annual film festival, which opens in New York City tomorrow.  The festival includes films from Paula Patton, Jennifer Hudson and — my favorite — Jenifer Lewis.  

Be sure to listen at 8pm EST tonight on the radio dial in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut or the worldwide live stream at  http://tunein.com/radio/WWRL-1600-s23848/.  WWRL also can be heard on TuneIn and WWRL smartphone apps.

Review: 12 Years a Slave

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Check out my review of 12 Years a Slave at BET.com.  The movie is in theaters October 18 and believe the hype — Steve McQueen created a masterpiece.  I said it all in the review but be sure to see this film.  I don’t care who you are, the film is as important as Roots and Schindler’s List — McQueen held zero back.  

Happy Birthday, Sylvester

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Sylvester would’ve been 66 years-old today.  The disco icon was disrupting gender norms before it was a popular or edgy — in Sylvester’s time, a man in drag was considered sick.  But Sylvester knew he was blessed with a talent for performance art, and most importantly, a phenomenal voice.  English journalist Stephen Brogan said, “He only happened once. He was a radical and a visionary in terms of queerness, music and race.”

Originally from the Watts area of Los Angeles, California he was known for songs like 1986’s “Someone Like You,” 1978’s "Dance (Disco Heat)" and the epic "You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)."  As unconventional as Sylvester was, he still had huge hits and in many ways was accepted by the “mainstream.”  It just goes to show you how far being your authentic self will take you — even an over six foot, black man in drag who sang in his falsetto 40 years ago.  

Sylvester passed away in 1988 at 41, but on this day — let’s not forget the legend.

Check out my favorite Sylvester performance below.  

quietkindofstrong:

Happy Birthday Freddie!

My Vintage Interview with Beyoncé

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In December of 2006, I interviewed Beyoncé Knowles for Dreamgirls.  This was a different time — no social media, blogs were indie and gossip sites were barely relevant so being one of the few online outlets (Men’s Fitness and Blackplanet.com) to gain access to the Dreamgirls junket was an honor.  

I remember how beautiful Bey was in-person, which is rare a celebrity resembles their photographed self.  She looked exactly like the woman you saw in her music videos.  She was nice, looked me directly in the eye and yet very controlled.  Although social media hadn’t taken off, Bey certainly endured a few attacks by the press.  Any look, syllable or hand gesture from her was interpreted as a gossipy headline — and still is. 

At the time, Bey had done little to no LGBT press.  So when I asked about the alleged homophobic comments she made on Britney and Madge kissing at the VMAs in 2003 (she said her comments were taken out of context) in relation to the massive gay following of Dreamgirls — Bey clearly denied any insinuation that she wasn’t supportive of the LGBT community.  I started the question with, “The film has a huge gay following… ” and she immediately smiled.  But I remember being terrified to ask the question, it’s an odd space for the interviewer, you want to ask a tough question (at the time, asking anything LGBT was risky — thank God times have changed) but you don’t want to offend the person you’re interviewing.  That said, I didn’t ask about her personal life — the LGBT community was a huge part of Dreamgirls history and many wanted to know if she was or wasn’t outwardly supportive.  Of course she is/was and later that month she covered Instinct Magazine.  Bey is now considered a “gay icon” and is a champion for inclusivity.  

In honor of Bey’s b-day, check out the vintage interview … yeah, I know 2006 is a stretch to call vintage! 

Beyoncé Knowles: Ultimate Dreamgirl

By Clay Cane

It was the first Saturday of a globally-warmed December afternoon as I lounged at a ritzy hotel in the Midtown area of New York City.  I patiently anticipated an interview with R&B sensation and star of the eagerly awaited film Dreamgirls, Beyoncé Knowles.  
Rumors buzzed Beyoncé would not show for the interview, but before I knew it Miss Jay-Z herself walked through the door with a light smile, a little thinner than I expected and surprisingly, no handlers.  This was a bit of a shock considering reports of Beyoncé interviews taking place amongst an entourage of security, ready to pounce at any possibility of an unfriendly question – thankfully, I cancelled my PETA membership a few months ago!  Joking!

Dreamgirls, originally a Broadway musical in 1981, follows the Cinderella story of three girls from the slums of Detroit who become superstars.  Competition and greed, fueled by the group’s mastermind Curtis Taylor (Jamie Foxx), led the three women into complete chaos.  While the story is four decades old there are many aspects of “The Dreams” that exists in today’s music industry.  In my first question, I asked Knowles how the story of the less talented girl snatching the spotlight is still relevant today.  “There’s still the artists who don’t have any say so, or don’t choose to speak up about their producers, or their songs, or their videos, or what they wear — they’re products. There are the amazing singers that never get the recognition that they deserve. That’s the unfortunate thing about life and I don’t know if that will ever go away. I do think that the product usually catches up with you, and if you’re only beautiful without the talent, people eventually see that… you don’t have longevity, and they move to the next beautiful and untalented person. In the end, it works itself out because people who might not have the big success, they have a longer career, and they can always perform and sell out venues.”  Knowles adds, “Dreamgirls is still relevant and one of the things that was so important about this movie was it exposed that.” 

Exposure is something the film is not lacking with a heavy promotional tour, however, promotion is nothing without drama and Dreamgirls has experienced its hefty share the past few months. The central force is the supposed battle between Beyoncé Knowles and Jennifer Hudson, who has received endless acclaim for her role as Effie White, made famous by the iconic Jennifer Holliday in 1981.  However, Knowles appeared unbothered by the chatter and proud of Hudson’s powerhouse performance.  “Well, when I first told people I was doing the movie, they’re like, ‘Yeah, yeah, okay — who’s playing Effie and is she singing that song right?’ I was like, wow, the pressure she has. She’s never done an album; she’s never done a movie, and everyone — even before she was attached to it — that’s the scene that 10-year-olds who have no idea how they know the song, still know the song. That’s the scene that is Dreamgirls, that’s what made it famous. She has that pressure.  She pulled it off, she’s incredible and I couldn’t imagine it — she’s gifted and I’m so proud of her.”

Even though Beyoncé is only eight days older than Hudson, she explains how she feels like a big sister to the former
American Idol contestant.  “When I first met her, I knew that she would think I wouldn’t be nervous, and I was terrified. So, I said, ‘Hello, I’m Beyoncé. I’m scared. Are you?’ She’s like ‘Yeah!’, so we were scared together.  I feel like a big sister because I had my first number one single was when I was 15 years-old — that was 10 years ago.  I’ve seen a lot of people become stars and no longer a star, and she has something. She has the right spirit, which is important.” 

One of the biggest stars of them all, the legendary Diana Ross, spoke against Dreamgirls, as she did with the Broadway musical in 1981, allegedly saying she is exhausted with people making money off her story.  The Diana Ross similarities are undeniable but Knowles explains, “As far as it being like Diana Ross, I think the look, and the costumes, and some of the posture of her performances — seeing her [Deena Jones] perform is very much like Diana Ross — where she’s from, some of the things are the same, but when you break down the character, she’s so weak, and I don’t think Diana Ross is that way.  A lot of the things that happen with her and Effie — that never happened to Diana Ross. It was very clear to me that I was not playing Diana Ross. I was told not to speak like her, or to do anything like her.” 

The younger generation may not even associate the Dreamgirls story with Diana Ross, but with Beyoncé’s history.  “I was more concerned that younger people, more so than Diana Ross, would think that it’s my story obviously because I started out in a group and then became a solo artist.  But when you really break down Deena and me, we’re so different.  It’s a different person, a different life, a different background.  Look at Deena, a girl from Detroit who lived with her mother and a schoolteacher. Loved her mother, didn’t have a father, living in the projects. She needed to get out of that and having Curtis to become her father figure, listening to him because really she needed a father. Back then, you couldn’t be too soulful to crossover, so she didn’t have a strong voice.”  Beyoncé continues, “I write my own songs, produce my own records and videos. I’m Curtis!  I was the lead singer because of my voice and my talent. When I lost on Star Search with Destiny’s Child, I still went back to a nice family and to school.  Deena Jones, when she lost, she went back to only her mother in the projects. So, I’m not going react the same way Deena does. I broke down every single aspect of Deena and even the scenes I’m not in, I knew what Deena was doing at that time, and for the first time in my life, I really studied and worked hard and because of it I don’t see myself on the screen.”

Beyoncé has always been the lead, which has gotten her into a bit of controversy over the years.  For example, in 2003 she allegedly made homophobic comments about the “Britney and Madonna kiss” at the MTV Video Music Awards.  While Beyoncé denied the comments, they have come back to life with Dreamgirls being coined “the gay Lord of the Rings.”  The musical has a legendary gay following and the director, Bill Condon, is an openly gay man.  When asked if she is not supportive of the gay community because of her comments about Brit and Madge sharing a smooch, she quickly replies, “That is the silliest thing I’ve ever heard. No, that is really ridiculous — couldn’t be the furthest from the truth.” 

In addition, Beyoncé and many of her R&B counterparts, have been criticized for being outwardly religious, but extremely sexual on stage.  On her stage persona and her religious beliefs:  ”To be honest, I don’t think about it. When I perform, I know that I’m having an out-of-body experience, and I know that what I give out comes back to me, and how I treat people, and the things I do, and the way I give back, comes back to me. It’s not a conflict.”  The songstress adds, “Sometimes I see things, I’ll read things, and rumors are going on and I’m like, ‘What? Why is this happening to me?’  I know I’m going to be okay because everything I do is from the right place.  I try to live by that, so I know I’m going to be fine.  I know it’s a lesson and it’s going be something great that comes out of all of that.”

Beyoncé Knowles, Jennifer Hudson, Jamie Foxx and Eddie Murphy create an ensemble cast in one of the biggest films of the year, white or black.  Dreamgirls earned five Golden Globe nominations, and Oscar nominations seem inevitable for Jennifer Hudson and Eddie Murphy.  When asked how she feels about a huge production starring an all African-American cast, she glows, “I think it’s great.  I wanted to be a part of something relevant and something classic, I think this is great for our history.  Hopefully, this will be hugely successful and will give more opportunities for productions like this. Hopefully, it will be something that keeps happening.”

 

30 Years Ago the Number One Song in the Country Was …

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Exactly thirty years ago today, "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)" by the Eurythmics scored their first and only number one hit on the Billboard Hot 100.  Some of them want to use you …

If you were a child of the ’80s, Annie Lennox's 
orange-colored hair and intense look in her eyes was a dream or a nightmare — as a youngster, I remember being slightly disturbed by the video.  But the synthesizer, haunting lyrics and Annie’s gospel-type vocals made the song a classic — and it still sounds modern 30 years later.

Annie Lennox and David A. Stewart wrote the song (I’m sure they are still getting paid dollars for penning this track — it’s in every commercial, movie and on the radio!), Lennox once said, “’Sweet Dreams’ is not really like a normal song. It’s a statement about humanity and the human condition and it’s just saying we’re all in this dilemma, we’re born and we exist and we have our motivation, which will take you here or it will take you there and everybody’s looking for something. That is a truth — it’s something that will last for ever.”  Really?  I always heard the song was about S&M.  Those Brits!  
On her androgynous look in the video, Annie explained, “It’s very easy to say ‘Ah, she must be gay.’  But I’m not gay and that was interesting to me because I’m wearing a man’s suit, it doesn’t mean I’m gay. I’m using this form of clothing to assert myself and to be as good as a man and to sort of neuter down the passivity of my own gender.”  Tell it like it is, Annie …  

Check out the video below!

Whatever happened to the cow?

Deutsche Marks or Dollars, American Express Will Do Nicely — Thank You!

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The ‘80’s anthem for high-class strippers across the globe was a comeback hit and album for the legendary Tina Turner in 1984.  Those were the good ol’ days for strippers!  They don’t make pole dancing songs like they used to … from “Private Dancer” to “Bandz a Make Her Dance”?  Give the strippers the respect they are entitled to!  

Tina demanded the security code on the back of  your Amex and she even accepted those international German coins: “Deutsche marks or dollars, American Express will do nicely — thank you!” is one of the best pop lyrics ever.  

Check out Tina and her legs of steel belting out the song in 1990.

awesomepeoplehangingouttogether:

Pedro Almodovar, Zachary Quinto, Frank Ocean, Riccardo Tisci and Rooney Mara 

J. Cole Talks Colorism in Hip-Hop; Plus, Mayoral Candidate John Liu

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This week, I had the pleasure of interviewing mayoral candidate John Liu on Clay Cane Live on WWRL 1600 AM via Equality Pride Radio.  We talked affordable housing, stop-and-frisk and more.  Click here to listen to the full interview with J’Nara Corbin and Mark Corece in the studio.

Also, I sat down with J. Cole (see the picture above of us playing the video game Splinter Cell: Blacklist, which is in stores now).  We had a great talk about racial profiling, homophobia and colorism in hip-hop as it relates to men.  The interview has made its round on the blogs and I hope people read the full interview before ranting on the one headline, “Barack Obama would not be President if he were dark skin. You know what I mean? That’s just the truth. I might not be as successful as I am now if I was dark skin.”  J. Cole was not saying there aren’t dark-skinned men in hip-hop, he was acknowledging the subconscious and how the Black community still struggles with the ills of racism within our own community.  Click here for the interview over at BET.com.

I commend J. Cole for being able to have the conversation about colorism in hip-hop and even in Washington.  He has sparked a dialogue — the light-skinned versus dark-skinned issue is not limited to black women.  Black men are affected by this intraracial issue as well.  Sitting down with him for 20 minutes, J. Cole was genuine, passionate about hip-hop and obviously cared about racism, sexism and homophobia.  He was progressive without it being a marketing ploy.  #Refreshing

Mayoral Candidate John Liu on ‘Clay Cane Live’ Tonight

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Tonight on Clay Cane Live on WWRL 1600 AM via Equality Pride Radio, mayoral candidate John Liu will be our guest. Tweet your questions for Mr. Liu to @claycane and we will ask him your questions live on air.

In addition, performance artist Arturo Soria will call in to discuss his show You Don’t Know My Life Ni Mi Madre, which is playing at the Barrow Street Theater on August 26.  

Be sure to listen at 8pm EST on the radio dial in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut or the worldwide live stream at  http://tunein.com/radio/WWRL-1600-s23848/.  WWRL also can be heard on TuneIn and WWRL smartphone apps.

Laverne Cox on ‘Clay Cane Live’ Tonight at 8pm

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Tonight Clay Cane Live on WWRL 1600 AM moves to our 8pm time slot.  To kick off our new time, star of Orange Is the New Black and Metro Weekly cover girl, Laverne Cox, will be in the studio.  

Be sure to listen on the radio dial in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut or the worldwide live stream at  
http://tunein.com/radio/WWRL-1600-s23848/.  WWRL also can be heard on TuneIn and WWRL smartphone apps.  You can also Tweet your questions to @claycane or call in live!  

Lee Daniels on Mariah Criticism: “They Was Stupid!”

Check out my interview with Lee Daniels … 

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