In this issue:
Theatre - Elmer Gantry at the Florentine Or Religion, Business as Usual
Top Ten Questions & Answers from the music group, The Freemasons
GET UP & GET OFF: Club Divo & Diva inspire Gays
and the Bookworm Sez: Reviews
The Top Ten Q&A: The Freemasons
By: Joshua Miller
White Party Palm Springs is just around the corner and I’ve got some GREAT news for you! UK’s most successful (Grammy Nominated) Remixers, The Freemasons are spinning April 10th @ The Main Event Saturday Night! The Freemasons consists of producers Russell Small and James Wiltshire and have remixed songs for the biggest names in music! “The Freemasons have such a broad, worldwide following and this is something I have always wanted to have happen.” says White Party Founder/Producer Jeffrey Sanker, “I’m thrilled that finally the “stars were all in alignment” and it worked out with everyone’s schedule. It will be a night to remember!” For up to date information on White Party Palm Springs visit www.jeffreysanker.com
You’re finally spinning in the U.S! What took you so long? We didn’t want to do it by halves... we wanted everything set up right and to find the right people and parties to play for… The US is not the easiest country to get into these days so we also wanted all the immigration paperwork set up perfectly so we’d never have any problems coming across the pond and we’re really glad we did it this was as now we’re flying... Also the US DJ‘s play for a lot longer than in Europe so we had to go on some self-made Extensive DJ training courses . Russell’s wrist was going limp after 2.5 hours, but now he can keep it up for about 3 weeks
Your upcoming White Party Palm Springs will be your first Southern California appearance. What can they expect when they hear you spin live? Its always going to be uplifting, vocals are very important to us not just from a DJ perspective, but personally and we’ve been lucky enough to work on some awesome songs and we buck against the trend of monophonic dance music and play a lot of music. For parties like this we always prepare something special for the crowd, something unique and this will be no exception - Hopefully we’ll have something new from us to drop. Our first trip to that part of California, perfect!!
How do you both manage juggling DJ gigs world-wide and growing demand for your remix work? Do you multi-task while on the road? We do multitask, technology means that almost anything can be made portable, and it’s quiet exciting getting inspired at a gig then knocking ideas up on laptops the day after. We also have started splitting the work quite a bit for European gigs. I (James) do the studio end of things whilst Russell gigs at the weekends. In 2008 we were losing Friday and Monday from the studio and Tuesday was quite frankly questionable at times, but now both ends of the work gets covered... We both always try and play together if possible in the US though - It’s just a fantastic new experience for us.
How did you guys meet? Through a mutual friend, Jason who was the other half of Russell’s precious dance act, “Phats + Small” When I moved to Brighton from London (via Sydney) Russ and I started working on dance stuff almost immediately whilst Jason went off and did his own thing.
You have mixed countless of remixes for high profile names like Whitney Houston, Kylie Minogue and Beyonce. What track was the most fun to remix? Why? The most fun was probably Whitney Houston’s “Million Dollar Bill” we have a very good friend called Scott who reckons he is the UK’s biggest Whitney fan, so the whole atmosphere within our group of chums was excellent during those few weeks of work. Historically I think “Ring the Alarm” by Beyonce was the best to work on - we had the ideas in there very early on and knew they would work, so everyday was not at all stressful, just fun getting the vision finished.
Rumor has is that Techincs will soon discontinue the 1200s. Any thoughts on that? It’s a shame as NOTHING sounds like Vinyl but they have to do it for practical reasons... when they are now only selling a fraction of the units they used to, we just can’t expect them to keep the production line open for sentimental reasons... Also the vinyl cutting lathes are an endangered species and in the UK the pressing plants are nearly all gone - you can’t have a record deck with no fresh vinyl to feed it.
You spin all over the world for both gay and straight crowds. Have you noticed any difference between the two crowds? Do you tailor your sets differently when spinning for gay boys as opposed to more mainstream crowds? We can get away with so much more at a gay club in terms of musicality and vocals that we recently realized we are always really excited when playing gay venues, and normally apprehensive when playing straight venues. The one-note underground styles of dance music that come around every few years are here again in Europe and we’re never sure how any straight venues are positioned until we get there - we are booked at some of these places because we sell records and can draw a crowd even though we might have to radically alter sets to suit the crowd and hardly play any of our own stuff.
In Gay clubs we are quite simply in our element as the records we make or remix are known and really appreciated and it’s a joy to play the things you have worked so hard to get right in the studio to an Audience waving their arms around, also we can play our own stuff back to back in gay clubs and it just feels right. I have never seen a fight in any gay club - I wish the same could be said about the straight boys.
Have you noticed any difference between U.S. vs European or Australian crowds? Apart from the accent? he he... to be honest, not massively whilst playing. You guys and the Aussies have much better tans and better teeth.
Tell us about your process for when you remix a song. How do you approach it musically to give it your distinctive Freemasons sound? It actually changes every single time as we always try to work whatever we do around the vocal and song. For example, all our Beyonce mixes are drastically different from a music perspective, but being the same people working on them, they do have a flavor - I guess different dishes in the same restaurant would be a good analogy. We are also always taking some inspiration from the more underground end of music, be it the drums or production techniques, but most of all, we always try to make sure that chord progressions and basic sound of the mix compliment the original song - that’s what takes the time, but is also the most rewarding part.
What’s next for Freemasons? We’re just about to start working on our own new album - we got carried away working with other people last year so it’s a long overdue start. We are hoping to link up with some great singers, including the amazing Wynter Gordon from NYC who we met last year and really connected with. Studio has just been updated and we’re all set. We’re really excited this year, 2010 rocks already!
For more on The Freemasons visit: http://www.freemasonsmusic.net/ White Party Palm Springs Tickets Available at www.jeffreysanker.com
Elmer Gantry at the Florentine Or Religion, Business as Usual
THEATRE Review by Paul Masterson
In Florentine Opera tradition, two familiar and one new work are performed each season. Last year, the Florentine staged Handel’s Semele, the first baroque opera ever performed in the company’s 75-year history.
This year, Florentine Opera went to the other end of the musical time line and produced Elmer Gantry, a new American opera by Robert Aldridge and Herschel Garfein.. It was the work’s Midwest premiere after its successful opening at the Nashville Opera in 2007.
Based Sinclair Lewis’ novel, the plot tells the tale of a womanizing Bible college jock in small town Missouri, Elmer Gantry (Keith Phares, in his Florentine debut). Elmer exploits his popularity and takes up evangelism as a tool of seduction and business opportunity. Along the way, Elmer finds Sharon Falconer (Patricia Risley, in her Florentine debut), an itinerant tent evangelist (based on the famous Aimee Semple McPherson). He abandons Lulu (Heather Buck), his secret affair, to pursue Sharon, the better business bet. Elmer manages Sharon’s revivals and campaign to build a tabernacle church. He plays on her loneliness and she accepts his marriage proposal.
Elmer’s business acumen employs the use of new fangled technology – in this case, the simple light bulb - to impress the masses as part of the tabernacle’s grand opening show. But that becomes his undoing when the electrical circuitry is overloaded and a conflagration immolates Sharon and the congregation. Elmer escapes. He’s momentarily haunted by Sharon’s memory, but then moves on to pursue business as usual with the “New Thought” religious movement.
Sound familiar? Lewis’ novel’s scandalous social statement nearly a century ago is muted in light of today’s daily parade of fallen preachers and family-value politicians. But, the opera certainly serves up a reminder that old time religion flim-flam scams haven’t changed at all. It was as much a part of the American experience then as it is now.
The American take on religion is perfect subject matter for an opera. But, there may be more of a message for the LGBT community as well. It’s now the new target in the strategy of selling God to the masses.
The opera is set early in the 20th century. Kris Stone’s scenery design used massive photo images to create effects and moods. A big sky recalls rural America and an image of huge roses becomes wallpaper for a city hotel room as well as a symbol of Sharon’s developing love for Elmer. A massive marquee-like cross sets the tabernacle scene.
Costumes were 1910-ish standard fare. Sharon first appears as the tent evangelist in an angelic white dress with wing-like sleeves. Later, swept into Elmer’s mega-church commercialism, she wears an extravagant golden cope, the white still underneath. Her purity remains but she has been corrupted.
There’s a hint of Copland in the music’s grandeur. There were beautiful duets between Elmer and Sharon. Each of the leads sang strong arias but Patricia Risley especially impressed with her sincerity and dramatic power. Scott Steward’s chorus members delivered tight gospel choral work and though that broadened the musical dimension, their uneven hand clapping to some of the hymns compromised both rhythm and their energy.
Still, it’s a new work. Milwaukee opera lovers may not have been entirely comfortable with its unfamiliarity and difficult melodic lines. Although the most of audience eventually stood at the closing ovation, there were skeptics.
Elmer Gantry is a unique, rare, socially critical and contemporary American opera. For that reason, the audience was noticeably younger and diverse - an optimistic sign that a new American repertory may, in fact, attract a new demographic to fill the house.
The Florentine Opera has made a major stride in daring to present something fresh, compelling and political. The message was certainly there.
GET UP & GET OFF: Club Divo & Diva inspire Gays to Get Movin’
By Tim Blankenship
Still trying to lose those extra pounds you gained over the holidays? Two new dance artists are encouraging fans to shake ‘em by shaking it. We spoke with diva Kimberly Davis and divo Ron Perkov – about their new dance tracks and the importance of moving what your mama gave you in the new year.
“I Get Off” has taken off on dance floors. Do you really get off every time you hear your man’s voice?
I’m lucky to have a smart, wonderful, level headed guy in my life that keeps me happy, grounded and protected. So yes, I do.
The album version is slow and seductive. How are you tailoring it for the dancefloor?
I leave that to talented remixers like Tony Moran, Warren Rigg, and Twisted Dee. I’m always in awe of how they turn a sultry song into a hands-in-the-air circuit track.
Do you have a favorite mix?
Not really. They are all amazing interpretations of the original and special in their own right.
Why is it important for guys to keep movin’ in 2010?
The world is changing constantly. We all have to continue reinventing ourselves to keep up with the times. The ones that think things will go back to the way they were are the ones that will suffer.
What do you have planned for the year?
I just started recording a new sexy chill-out album. Wait ‘til you hear the chill version of the dance track I made with Tony Moran, “Miss You“. It’s drips sex.
“Get Up” is explosive. Are you always so energetic?
I make myself tired with all the energy I have. But as an artist, I have to be. Who wants to watch a diva standing in one spot on stage?
What do you say to guys who want to sit down and watch life from the sidelines?
Those are the men I feel sorry for. Life’s too precious to let pass by. I sure believe life is about getting it done.
Do you have a favorite dance mix?
I lean towards the Oxford Hustlers Arena Anthem Remix because it reminds me of old school club music where the music drops out, the vocals pump and then the music gradually comes back in until it explodes. The crowd goes wild everytime!
Why is it important for everyone to keep movin’ in 2010?
I’ve learned that even if you stand still, the earth keeps moving so you better catch up and make your presence known.
What do you have planned for the year?
I’m in the studio working on new dance tracks that will keep the boys moving through spring, summer, winter and fall!
Ron Perkov’s “I Get Off” and Kimberly Davis’ “Get Up” are available on i-Tunes.
“Divas Las Vegas” by Rob Rosen
c.2009, Cleis Press
$14.95 / $18.95 Canada
You would have never believed it if you hadn’t seen it for yourself.
Mere steps into the terminal at McCarran Airport in Las Vegas, there were, indeed, slot machines: rows and rows of them in all their light-flashing, cha-chinging, whooping glory. Just off the plane, you were overjoyed. You were excited. You couldn’t dig quarters out of your pocket fast enough.
And, of course, that was just the beginning because there’s lots to do in Sin City; even more, if you’re looking for a lost antique. But in the book “Divas Las Vegas” by Rob Rosen, an old relic could mean trouble anew.
When Bill Miller (known to his friends as “Em”) lost his job through the sale of his beloved bookstore, he was sad… for about ten minutes. His share of the sale amounted to $30,000, which was just the balm Em’s newly-unemployed soul needed. The other soothing thing was that it was Las Vegas night on Antiques Roadshow, and Em loooved Antiques Roadshow.
But what he saw astonished him.
Years ago, Em’s mother inherited a vase that had been a sore point in her childhood. As a kid, she was never allowed to go near it and she always hated the thing. Once it was hers, she sold it at a garage sale for two dollars, then regretted her rashness soon after.
The vase was featured on the show.
It was appraised at $25,000.
Instantly, Em knew that he had to find that vase. Accompanied by his BFF, Justin (who had scads of money and didn’t need a job), and a suitcase filled with two fabulously-sequined chorus-girl costumes, Em flew to Vegas to make his mother happy.
But while Las Vegas is filled with beautiful boys and kitschy shows, it’s also filled with danger and intrigue. First, the newest owner of the vase turned up dead, then two strangers were murdered in the hotel in which Em and Justin were staying. Adorable men flashed in and out of the picture like faulty Vegas light bulbs, and old flames flared up. But when one of their new boy-toys got in trouble and vanished, Em and Justin realized that it wasn’t about the vase any more.
Take two men with a flair for fashion. Add a beautiful bisexual woman, a handful of Middle Eastern hotties, and a chain-smoking cabbie. Mix in several murders and a hopelessly horrid vase, put them in Sin City and shake gently. Open, and serve on a beach because “Divas Las Vegas” is the perfect escape read.
Author Rob Rosen created a campy, rompish, slightly naughty semi-mystery novel that is hilariously fun, fun, fun. I loved Em so much (and maybe Justin a little more) that I couldn’t wait to see what they’d come up with next. This story is so enjoyable, in fact, that you’ll almost wish you’d been there.
If you’re looking for something light as a headdress feather but as addicting as a one-armed bandit, “Divas Las Vegas” is for you. To miss this good-time novel would be a Sin.