Mark Weigle Tribute Section
Articles & Reviews
Above, White Crane
Below, The Gay & Lesbian Review
The two articles above also appear on Mark's site, but I present them here as well, as they are so well done.
Below, from Heatstroke (San Diego, April 2002)
Above, from Hero Magazine, probably 2000
Below, Houston Voice, July 2000
Above, New York Blade, April 2000
Below, from New York Times, May 2003
Above, Q Texas, January 2001
Below, source unknown, November 2003
Above, Outsmart (Houston), April 2002
Below, Out, June 2003
the following review seems to capture it all....:)
"Mark Weigle's deep, flannel-warm voice is the stuff of bunkhouse fantasies, but his story-telling lyrics are so much more than seductive. They reach to the very core of what it means to be a man loving a man. If you like your hard-on with a heart on its sleeve, this is the cowboy for you." (Armistead Maupin)
Above, Advocate, June 2003
Below, Advocate, March 2002
Below, from SF Chronicle, June 2005
In the genre-hopping tunes on his recent 26-song release "Soul Sex," Bay Area singer-songwriter Mark Weigle tells stories about gay life -- and boy, are some of them dirrr-ty.
Weigle is an activist in entertainer's clothing who plainly delights in upending expectations about gay sexuality and feels as comfortable critiquing gays as non-gays for buying into consumerist conformity.
"I'm not willing to fight to be like everyone else -- like them," he says, referring to conventional gay men. "I'm willing to fight to be who I am. "
"Soul Sex" is divided into two discs. "Wrestling the Angel" is mostly acoustic and covers topics such as racism, religious bigotry, gay martyr worship and the perils of safe sex. Weigle will perform songs from it at a release party June 25 at Noe Valley Ministry in San Francisco. (The show will also celebrate Weigle's 38th birthday, which is June 26, the date of this year's Gay Pride Day.)
The second CD, "Versatile," details gay sexuality in ways that might curl the toes of the harrumph-inclined. Weigle's butch characters lord it over Abercrombie boys, gleefully employ sex toys and hook up with truckers and married men. But for Weigle, singing about sex is both a means to an end and an end in itself.
"Sex sells," he says with a shrug, "and it helps balance the intensity of 'Wrestling the Angel.' "
Weigle's eyes are a startling blue; his face is angular, his frame slight. When not traveling on what he jokingly calls the "Anywhere They'll Have Me" tour, he splits his time between a home in Sonoma and the San Francisco flat of Daniel Felitti, his partner of eight years. In conversation he is thoughtful and direct about the line a gay artist walks when criticizing his community for sometimes blunting its sexual side to curry acceptance in the American mainstream.
"The No. 1 reason I did 'Versatile' was to make my stance against assimilationist bull -- ," he says. "The whole reason (some straights) hate us is because of our sexuality. So trying to gain acceptance by cutting off our sexuality is really not acceptance."
Weigle can be viciously funny when discussing television shows such as "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy," the existence of which many in the gay community see as a sign of societal acceptance. On one episode, the five gay lifestyle coaches prepare a heterosexual man to propose marriage to his girlfriend. "Oh, yeah," Weigle snorts, "hate us a little less -- even though we're filthy ... pervert faggots -- because we're good Americans who support straight people in their sexuality."
Weigle's gay heroes include the radical writers Boyd McDonald and John Rechy, and he counts San Francisco writer Armistead Maupin as a mentor. All have employed wit, talent and intelligence to limn the queer experience. Since releasing the first of five CDs in 1998, Weigle has attracted a wide range of fans, many of whom have told him that his songs have positively changed their lives, he says. Yet he says he feels the need to challenge even die-hard gay fans, especially those involved in a subculture of drugs and sex.
"My primary artistic hurdle with this batch of songs was, 'How do I write this stuff in a way that's not going to turn people off?' " he says. "I want to reach the regular gay guys who bought all my other CDs, (but) who also buy into all this destructive stuff. I have to sing the truth of what I see."
Weigle's right to challenge both gay and straight America is hard-won. He grew up the youngest of six in a rural western Minnesota town. When he was 13, his oldest brother, Billy, who was 29, was killed by a drunken driver. When Weigle was 17, his father, Robert, attempted suicide, his first of many tries. (He killed himself eight years ago.)
Weigle remembers himself as a small, introverted child who "just lived in fear of getting the s -- kicked out of me," he says. In fifth grade, he witnessed a mass beating of a boy rumored to have asked another boy to masturbate with him. "I remember the sound of the kids' fists hitting the guy's face, and I just turned and ran," he says.
While growing up, Weigle soaked in the music of his older siblings, who listened to the 1970s singer-songwriters Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, Gordon Lightfoot, Jackson Browne, the Eagles and Dan Fogelberg. Those pop tunes were balanced by the classical ones prized by his mother, Cleone, a summa cum laude music major at the University of Wisconsin who urged Weigle to take classical piano lessons from age 5 to 18 and entered him in a music theory competition.
"An 11-year-old kid should not be playing Bartok," Weigle says with a laugh. "It'll just kill music forever."
The day after graduating high school in 1985, Weigle moved in with his brother Scott in Helena, Mont., with the intention of studying to become a park ranger. One night, he took a bus to Great Falls to catch a Bon Jovi concert, missed the return coach and hung out at an all-night cafe. Two older men separately propositioned him; he politely declined each.
"Then, this younger guy walked by," Weigle says. I thought, 'I wish he would ask me.' Three minutes later, he turned around and did."
It was the first such experience for Weigle, who was then 18, and he enjoyed it. But at that time, conflicting information about a killer virus abounded.
"I was terrified I'd caught AIDS," he says. "I was living with my brother, and I was in a panic that I'd infect him and his girlfriend by, like, eating the same apple." He had no sex for the next three years. That fall, Weigle moved to Rochester, Mont., and played in a heavy-metal band. "I had long hair down to my ass," he says. Eventually, he told his bandmates he was gay and was surprised when they wanted him to stay. But he decided to move to Minneapolis, where he plunged into gay life, volunteering at an AIDS group and a gay newspaper and facilitating a gay youth group. He released his first cassette of music in 1990, when he was 23.
That summer, San Francisco gay activist Cleve Jones created a group to train young gay leaders who might replace those weakened or killed by AIDS. Weigle came west to participate, and met his first serious lover, a bartender at a Western-themed gay club. A few months later, Weigle moved to San Francisco permanently and worked as a teen-shelter crisis counselor. In 1993, he discovered that he was HIV-positive.
"It was a huge, huge surprise," he says. "I had always been a very, very strict safe-sex guy."
The diagnosis shaded all areas of his life, as did the loss of friends to AIDS, which give some of his lyrics a heightened intensity. "That's what artists are supposed to deal with," he says.
In the mid-1990s, Weigle, still in the Bay Area, wrote songs for country singers in Nashville. During one of his quarterly visits there, he was approached by scouts who wanted to groom him for stardom -- if he'd go back into the closet.
"I was like, 'Yeah, but the truth is, I'm gay,' " he says with a laugh. "Being successful to me is being happy and satisfied. If you have to sell your soul to achieve that quote-unquote success, then that's not success at all." (He casually names a host of country artists, some with extremely high profiles, who he says are gay.)
Fed up with writing for others, he began writing and performing full time seven years ago with the release of his first CD, "The Truth Is ..." That was followed by four more, each recorded at Harwood Productions, in Hercules, a company run by Kevin Harris, who collaborates with Weigle and plays guitar on some of the tracks.
Weigle's work has attracted the positive notice of everyone from reviewers to gay adult film producer Joe Gage, another of Weigle's heroes. Gage's next film, "110 in Tucson," is due in July and will feature 15 of Weigle's songs. Next year, the Gay Men's Chorus of Los Angeles will perform an evening of Weigle's music during Gay Pride month, and he will then accompany the chorus on tour in Latin America. Weigle continues to write -- he has completed 10 new songs. If some of his lyrics are controversial, and if he can sound heated when critiquing a community he plainly loves, it is all underscored by the gratitude Weigle says he feels about his life.
"Thank God I'm queer," he says. "I say that a lot on a daily basis."
finally, circa 2007, if you emailed Mark you got this auto-reply:
a sincere *Thank-you* to those who have bought CDs, turned your friends
on to the CDs, come
stopped my music career due to lack of support. I dedicated my muse
and my career to the gay
paid to record and produce all the CDs on my Visa, and have run every
aspect of a record
it all has been an extremely painful decision, particularly with another
CD written and
will perform by invitation only- terms can be found on markweigle.com
Tour page and they are
Please delete this address from your contacts for mailings.
Again, heartfelt thanks to the folks who have been supportive and sweet.
Ive started a landscaping biz, and Im teaching English to day laborers on the streetcorner.
quote Justin Bond from ShortBus: