Script for QMH, December 5, 2005
Jayne County - Transgender Rock & Roll (1995)
This is Queer Voices on KPFT and this segment is called Queer Music Heritage. I'm JD Doyle and welcome to a special bonus edition of the show. Last week I featured interviews with three very talented transgender artists, Veronica Klaus, Jessica Xavier and Georgie Jessup. And tonight's show is sort of a part 2 of that, only that there will be no interviews as I want to pack in as much music by transgender artists as I can. I'm opening the show with the only artist I thought appropriate, Jayne County. If you don't know who Jayne County is, well, one of my guests last week, Jessica Xavier, described Jayne as the "fairy godmother of all transwomen songwriters." I think that just scratches the surface. From the early 70s, first as Wayne and then as Jayne, she was fiercely out, loud and proud, and an inspiration to a generation of punk and rock artists.
And there will be lots of rock on tonight's show, along with the music by trans artists from a wide variety of genres, from pop to cabaret to rap to dance to gospel, making some side trips along the way into areas I can't quite define. But for right now, I'm sticking to rock, with an artist who has performed with Jayne County. Her name is Lisa Jackson, and in 2002 she came out with an excellent 4-song EP, and followed up the next year with a CD called "I'm OK." But this next song isn't on an album yet, as I got it from her page on the site myspace.com, where there's quite a community of GLBT artists. Here's Lisa Jackson and Girl Friday, with "Is She A Girl?"
Jackson & Girl Friday - Is She a Girl? (2005)
Following Lisa Jackson was the band All the Pretty Horses, led by Steven Grandell, who these days goes by the name Venus. They've had four releases and last year a documentary DVD was released about them, called "Venus of Mars." As you probably already have noticed, in order to give exposure to as many artists as possible, I unfortunately won't be able to play the entire songs, but hey, that should whet your appetites to track down their recordings.
At the website of this next act it bills itself as "San Francisco's Hottest Tranny Rock Band." And they call themselves Pepperspray. Well, that may be subjective as they may be competing with another act called Lipstick Conspiracy. Both released their debut CDs in the last year and both were 5-song CD EPs, and both acts show lots of promise. Here are Pepperspray and Lipstick Conspiracy.
- Balls (2005)
From Pepperspray you heard a bit of the song "Balls" and Lipstick Conspiracy gave us "Just a Girl."
And here's a track from another San Francisco trans rock act with the intriguing name Glamazon.
Glamazon - Holy War (1996)
That was "Holy War," by Glamazon, lead by Christine Beatty.
From Toronto is an artist named Dana Baitz. She's a respected musician and has played on two albums by Ember Swift, among others. She's also released two full-length album on her own and I think they are very good. From her new album called "Pretty Little Shape Shifter" is a version of the Kinks' song "Lola," only told this time from Lola's point of view.
Baitz - Lola (2005)
Again, that was "Lola" by Dana Baitz.
And my internet listeners heard a second song by her, as I couldn't resist slipping in a song from her 1998 album called "Flower." The song was called "She Said." Regular listeners of Queer Music Heritage know by now that I've become very prone to having two versions of my show, one for airing on Queer Voices, and another that I upload to my website, that is not constrained by the limits of an hour show, or the challenges of selecting songs that won't offend the FCC.
Most of the music you'll hear on this show will be from the last 10 or 15 years, with a majority of it from only the last five years. Why is that? Well, because it's only been the last few years that more and more transgender artists have become visible. They've come out not only letting themselves be known, but in many cases almost screaming it, with some even making their transgender identity part of their names. You'll hear some of those acts a little later.
Now, while Jayne County may have been a loud and almost lone voice of the 80s and 90s, there was transgender flavored music before her. And this would not be a Queer Music Heritage show without my digging into that part of the history of our music culture. From the 30s through the 60s one of the most prolific female impersonators was Rae Bourbon, releasing several dozen 78 rpm and LP recordings of his sort of spoken word piano bar comedy. In the 30s he worked, dressed as a woman, with Mae West in two of her plays. And he had a recording in 1956 that is right on topic for this show. The album was called "Let Me Tell You About My Operation," and here's the title track.
Rae Bourbon - Let Me Tell You About My Operation (1956)
With that 1956 album Rae changed the spelling of his name on his albums from R-a-y to R-a-e, and the back cover of that album even showed newspaper articles about his operation. One headline read "Female Impersonator Needn't Fake Again-Says Surgery Made Him a Her." Well, it was all hype, and Bourbon milked it for all there was. But all in all the career of Rae Bourbon was a sad one. At age 78, in 1971, he died of a heart attack in the State Hospital at Big Springs, Texas. He had been serving a life jail term as an accomplice in a 1968 murder, stemming from a dispute over pet dogs.
I could do a whole show on Rae Bourbon, but next I want to jump a few years and across the ocean to tell you about perhaps the most famous transsexual entertainer in France. She's still alive and is now 74 and retired, but she was a very popular figure for several decades. Her name is Coccinelle, which means Ladybird, and besides performing in many famous revues, she had several recordings, which are now quite rare. Here's a little of her version, in French, of the song "Love Me Or Leave Me."
Coccinelle - Love Me Or Leave Me (Prends Moi ou Laisse Moi) (1959)
That was Coccinelle, from 1959.
Okay, one more history song, and this artist is probably only known to transgender history buffs. In the early 70s an artist named Canary Conn transistioned and in 1974 published her autobiography, which led to numerous appearance on shows like Merv Griffin and Tom Synder. She was indeed a role model for that time. Her former name was Danny O'Connor and her book told of her growing up an average middle class life, and showing promise as a singer. In 1968 Danny competed with ten thousand youths in a nationwide talent contest and won the top prize, Best Teenage Male Vocalist in America, and a contract with Capitol Records. One 45 rpm record was released and I've got it to share with you. While the title had some irony, it went nowhere. Here's "If I Am Not Free"
Danny O'Connor (Canary Conn) - If I Am Not Free (1969)
From 1969 Danny O'Connor, who just a couple years later became Canary Conn, and that act and her book gained her more attention than a singing career ever would.
I promised you music in a variety of genres, so we're moving on to pop, cabaret and a little jazz. Some of you may have heard of Bambi Lake. She's been a San Francisco fixture for a couple decades, and in 1996 published a book called "The Unsinkable Bambi Lake: A Fairy Tale Containing the Dish on Cockettes, Punks and Angels." Well, the Cockettes were an avant guard and very queer performance troop in the 70s. Before he went disco Sylvester was a member. Anyway, Bambi is still performing and just released a CD called "My Glamourous Life as a Broadway Hostess." From it I'm playing part of "What Wouldn't I Do For That Man," and it will go into a song by an artist from Montreal.
Lake - What Wouldn't I Do For That Man (2005)
Following Bambi Lake was Grae Phillips, and Grae is spelled g-r-a-e. Grae is Canadian and released a very nice sort of jazzy album in 2001 called "Speak Low," and you heard some of "In The Middle of a Kiss."
On to the UK for one of that country's most famous transsexuals. Her name is Adele Anderson, and in addition to solo career as a singer and actress for the last 20 years she's been a member of one of Britain's most popular cabaret acts, the trio Fascinating Aida. In 1998 Adele released a solo CD called "Why Try to Change Me Now?" and from it here's "My Voice."
Adele Anderson - My Voice (1998)
Getting more to the bluesy side, in 2004 an artist named Vicki D'Salle released the CD "My Heart's In New Orleans." She plays a mean piano and several of the songs are instrumentals, but this one is the classic deliberately suggestive "If It Don't Fit, Don't Force It."
Vicki D'Salle - If It Don't Fit, Don't Force It (2004)
Next, a song from a musical from 2003 called "The Sissy Show," subtitled "The Transgender Musical Revue." From the brief liner notes it tells me that Katherine Harvey and Christine Howey created the music, and according to a review, the show provides "a humorous and bittersweet exploration of the personal and social joys and sorrows of people whose bodies and lives do not quite match their internal sense of their gender." That description works for me. Here's the opening track, "Come On In."
The Sissy Show - Come On In (2003)
Also from The Sissy Show was the track "Me & My Centerfold"
You may think you recognize this next song, but it quickly changes from the familiar Streisand recording to a very nice rendition of "Second-Hand Rose." The artist is New York performance diva Tina Benez.
Benez - Second Hand Rose (1999)
I shifted from
"Second Hand Rose" to a song more her normal style, "Don't
Mess With Mary." That came from a CD EP from 1994 billed as the
Official CD of Stonewall 25. The song was written by Tom Wilson Weinberg,
and as I know Tom I asked him about that song. He said, "As I
More in the dance mode, here's a really fun song, and I can't think of any other dance songs about sex-change. The song is by German-born entertainer Romy Haag. In the 70s she had a well-publicized affair with David Bowie, and she transitioned in the 80s, which is what she must have been thinking about in her 1978 song "Superparadise."
Romy Haag - Superparadise (1978)
And coming up is no doubt the most famous transsexual from Israel. But first I've got to tell probably most of you what Eurovision is. If you love American Idol, well that show is very much a johnny-come-lately. Eurovision is Europe's version of song competitons between various countries, and it's been going on for 50 years. It's done by popular vote, and past winners have included ABBA and Celine Dion. But in 1998 Israel's transsexual representative won and made history. She goes by the name Dana International, and this song by her is named, gee, "Dana International."
Dana International - Dana International (1998)
Again, that was a bit of Dana International's Eurovision winning song from 1998. And some more Eurovision trivia. Dana hasn't been the only entry to cause controversy in that event's history. In 2002 the winners from Slovenia were a trio of singing drag queens dressed like airline attendants, but that's for a future show.
And this is
a good time to invite you to check out my website. If you visit it
while you're listening you can see the playlist and follow along,
while looking at photos of the artists and recordings. I've always
considered our music history as a visual as well as an audial experience.
As usual, my research into music by transgender artists yielded much
more than could fit into an hour show.
Hedwig - Wig in a Box (1999)
John Cameron Mitchell
That was "Wig in a Box" from the original cast recording of "Hedwig and the Angry Inch," from 1999, perhaps the best transgender rock musical, and it went on to become a movie in 2001.
These next three songs are only for my internet show, and that's based on language concerns. You'll especially see why with the third song, but the first two will give us still another genre represented by trans artists. At the Outmusic Awards last year a San Francisco artist walked away with the Outstanding Producer award for a rap album called "Let's Fuck, Then Talk About My Problems." He's a female to male transgender singer going by the name Kastrophe, spelled with a K. And he's just released an new album that I think is even better, called "Fault, Lies and Faultlines." Here's a bit of a song from each album.
- Your Girlfriend (2004)
By rap artist Katastrophe that was "Your Girlfriend" and "Oh, No." And now that third song I mentioned that will never be played on broadcast radio. From the soundtrack to the 1999 movie "Better Than Chocolate," Peter Outerbridge brings us "I'm Not A Fucking Drag Queen."
Peter Outerbridge - I'm Not A Fucking Drag Queen (1999)
Okay, I know I told you this show was just for transgender artists, and I could probably do a whole other show with songs About transgender folks...that subject has been a staple of mostly comedy songs for decades. But I want to slip in a set that are not comedy or transphobic. The first three ask the question, boy or girl? The first group is a Boston band called the Peecocks, with gay frontman Jim Moran. They recorded in 1990 a cover version of the 1964 Barbarians gem "Are You a Boy, Or Are You a Girl?" Following that is the band Imperial Drag from their self-titled 1996 album and their song "Boy or Girl." And I'm closing the boy-girl set with lesbian singer Angela Motter's very cool song "IsItABoyIsItAGirl?"
- Are You A Boy, Or Are You A Girl (1990)
Angela Motter's song is from her 1998 album "Pleasure or Pain." And now here's a straight act called Deckard, doing a song in first person called "Christine," from their 2000 album "Stereodreamscene."
Deckard - Christine (2000)
These days there seems to be lots of transgender bands. I asked Jessica Xavier why she thought this seemed to be a trend as opposed to solo artists, and she said something I had not thought of. She said there was safety in numbers. And this I think refers not only to the physical safety of being a visible trans performer, but also along with a band comes the encouragement to just go do it.
And there are a lot of trans rockers doing just that. Up next is a mix of two of them. In 1999 a group with the catchy name of the Transisters released their self-titled CD, and this year a local Houston group called Gurlfriendz came out with their debut 5-track release, called "To The End."
- Lotsa Glamour (1999)
That was the Transisters doing "Lotsa Glamour" and the Gurlfriendz with "All of Me"
Two rock acts that are more well known are Temptress and Vibralux. They each have albums with clever titles. The one by Tempress is called "Wizard of Odd." Vibralux named theirs "Transmission."
- Be a Girl (2000)
Temptress gave us "Be a Girl" and that was "Barbie Doll" by Vibralux. I have to admit that with some of these acts, like the Transisters, Temptress and Vibralux I wasn't sure if the glam trans image is who they are or just part of the act. So, about a year ago I contacted Mercury Mad of Vibralux about the band member's orientations, and got this nice reply: "Glad you asked. One is straight and not curious, and plays drums. The rest of us are bi, and I am a transvestite. I am in love with false eyelashes." As for Temptress, I've heard an interview on the radio show Gendertalk with its lead singer, Chuck Garabedian, where he discussed his crossdressing a little. So there you have it. At least that's the scoop on Vibralux and Temptress.
With the next two acts, both from San Francisco, we cover two more genres. In 2001 Storm Florez released the album "Standing Between the Day and the Night," and it's very intense acoustic folk. Storm calls herself genderqueer and I understand uses the male pronoun these days. He's performed in a number of showcases of trans performers, so it sure sounds like he qualifys for this show.
Storm Florez - Twisted (2001)
Again, that was Storm Florez, with a bit of the song "Twisted."
In a more pop vein is the group Bitesize. Over the course of their career their fans were able to see lead singer and writer Tom Serano evolve into Julia Serano, but they should of seen it coming, as many of the band's songs deal with transgender topics, like this one, from their 1999 album "The Best of Bitesize." It's called "Switch Hitter."
Bitesize - Switch Hitter (1999)
Stay tuned for one more genre of music that you may not have expected to hear on this show, gospel. That's right, in 2003 The Transcendence Gospel Choir released the first album by an all transgender choral group, and the next year it was deemed good enough to win the Outmusic Award for Outstanding Recording by a Chorus or Choir. And they are good. From the album "Whosoever Believes" my favorite track is "Safe in the Arms of Jesus."
Transcendence Gospel Choir - Safe in the Arms of Jesus (2003)
In 2002 I was delighted with the debut release of this next artist, and she's followed it up with two more. From Arizona comes Namoli Brennet and I think she's among the most talented of all transgender artists. I'm sharing with you a composite of the title track of her first album "Boy In A Dress," with the song "We Belong" from the follow up album "Welcome To The Afterglow." Namoli Brennet.
Brennet - Boy In A Dress (2002)
That was Namoli Brennet.
Before I get to the last song, I want to play an unreleased demo recording that one of my internet friends sent me this year. The artist is not transgender but I think you'll agree the attitude of the song is delightful. Here's Didi Stewart and "My First Kiss"
Didi Stewart - My First Kiss (2004)
So there you have it, a quick visit to the best of transgender music. Now of course tonight's show did not include the work of the artists to whom I devoted last week's show, Veronica Klaus, Jessica Xavier and her band Femme Messiah, and Georgie Jessup.
Now, I've got one more song to play, but before I get to it I want to thank you all for listening. And, as always if you have questions or comments about any of the music I've featured, please write me. My website, of course is at www.queermusicheritage.com. This is JD Doyle for Queer Voices on KPFT in Houston.
Well, I opened the show with the only artist I thought appropriate, and I want to pay her the honor of also closing the show with her. One of Jayne County's classic songs is "Man Enough to Be a Woman." She's recorded it several times, and I'm giving you two versions. I'm going from her acoustic recording of it from 2003 and then blending that into her 1978 original. "Man Enough To Be A Woman" by Jayne County.
Jayne County - Man Enough To Be A Woman (2003/1978)
Enough To Be A Woman
I wanna know, I wanna know, I wanna know, I wanna know.
on my window,
I wanna know, I wanna know, I wanna know, I wanna know.
wanna know (x14).