CUED UP: Scandelle

from Next Magazine (NYC) 3/24/06)

Forget him not…

New York has a way of forgetting about you. Fast. You have to work hard to make it in Manhattan—ceaselessly, tirelessly (Sinatra’s “city that never sleeps” lyric wasn’t a cute aside—it was a warning to would-be dreamers to tread with conviction). It could take years to establish yourself here and years more to attain success—but even then you’re not in the clear. This is New York—a place where a decade’s-worth of work can be erased in less than 12 months.

Just ask Scandelle. “A lot of people don’t know that I’ve been on the scene since 1988—wigless, singing live, carrying on and all of that,” he says. Even a bald black diva in mascara related to the late pop great Otis Blackwell isn’t safe from Gotham’s absent-mindedness. “But after being out there for almost 11 years every night either performing or doing some kind of madness, I took a sabbatical that ended up lasting seven years. When I decided to come back in 2003, I found things had changed quite a bit. I had to do things really differently; New York was a different kind of town.”

So Scandelle hit back with a different type of music: rock ’n’ roll.
“I went to D.C. and found myself a white boy rocker who didn’t know shit from Scandelle, know what I mean?” he laughs. “But he was like, ‘Okay bitch, you can sing—let’s do it!’ And we went in the studio and cracked out three songs—‘Afterlife,’ ‘Speak Easy’ and ‘You’ll Be Back.’”

Those three songs would eventually start circulating on the promo tip in New York in 2003. Little by little, New York started to recall the sassy performer who danced on its bartops and sang in its nightclubs in an era when Lady Bunny still performed locally and Limelight was still an institution. Scandelle’s newest single, the empowering Matt Moss-produced house cut “Just Getting Started,” is bound to get the city’s synapses firing even more with its energetic beats and self-affirming message.

Originally created for RuPaul’s 2003 disc Red Hot (“I didn’t know that until after the fact, thankyouvermuch!” Scandelle states), “Just Getting Started” takes Scandelle’s sound from the cabaret back to the clubs and beyond. With the likes of Out Magazine praising him in print and Sir Elton John lauding his work on (not an impostor; Scandelle asserts the e-mailed compliment has been verified by the powers-that-be responsible for running the popular six-degrees-to-whoever web site), Scandelle isn’t just reminding his old audience that he’s still around—he’s giving New York something it’s going to remember for a very long time.


Scandelle at an Outmusic Open Mic, in June 2006


JD & Scandelle   Jeff (Scandelle's partner), JD, Scandelle