Oct 2010 Script

Velvet Mafia - Mona Lisa (1998)

This is JD Doyle and welcome to OutRadio, and that band was the Velvet Mafia and their song "Mona Lisa Was a Drag Queen" came from their 1998 album "We Know Where You Live." This is going to be a little different first hour of OutRadio this month. Generally I devote this show to fairly new music, and slip in older material once in a while, but for Part 1 I'm going to do a tribute to the late Dean Johnson, and catch you up with as much of his history as I can. And I get to include a short interview with him, from 1998.

So let's get the bio part out of the way so we can get to the music. Dean Johnson died in 2007, of what was determined to be a prescription drug overdose, at age 45. But he'd been a fixture and icon on the New York City underground scene for twenty years. In the late 80s he founded the weekly parties called Rock & Roll Fag Bar, and later founded HomoCorps, a monthly gay music showcase at CBGBs. Dean stood out in any crowd. He was 6'6" even without the heels. His music output was mainly with two bands, Dean & the Weenies and The Velvet Mafia and we'll cover both. I started this segment with perhaps the most known song of The Velvet Mafia, "Mona Lisa." But, to be honest, much of their material could not be played on the radio at all. I'm going to go back first to the earliest songs I have by him. His Dean & the Weenies songs are quite rare. Here are both sides of their 12" single from 1987, "Fuck You" and "Chicken."

Dean & the Weenies - Fuck You / Chicken (1987)
Dean & the Weenies - Conventions (1988)

And from 1988 that last one was called "Conventions." By the way, the song "Fuck You" also made it to the soundtrack of the 1988 movie "Mondo New York." Dean formed the band Dean & the Weenies in 1985 and it got great exposure right away, opening for the band 3 Teens Kill 4 and Bronski Beat.

Next is a track I got from youtube, from a live concert in Dallas in 1989, where Dean & the Weenies sing one I don't believe they recorded called "One of the Girls."

Dean & the Weenies - One of the Girls (1989)
Dean & the Weenies - Death by A-Go-Go (1992) (from D&TW myspace page)

And the second track, from 1992, was "Death by A-Go-Go." By 1996 Dean Johnson had gotten connected with a small New York City label called Trip Records, and I want to pause and comment on that label. I wish they had been more successful because their queer hearts were in the right place. Their plan was to issue quarterly audiozines called "Sibilance" intended to give exposure to more off beat artists.

And the two volumes that actually got issued were indeed offbeat, with artists like Christian Johnson, David Mahr, Wayne Numan, and many others, including Boffo Santana-Jones, who produced the first Velvet Mafia album. And Volume 1 had the following delightful spoken word piece that is available nowhere else. It's called "Girdle" and is by Dean Johnson.

Dean Johnson - Girdle (1996)

I love that. In 1998 the new Dean Johnson band was called Velvet Mafia and the album released was "We Know Where You Live," which included our opening song "Mona Lisa," and these two, the song "Velvet Mafia," and one I used to love hearing on Jimmy Carper's After Hours show back then. Radio shows airing after midnight have a bit more leeway. It's the very metaphorical song "Deli Boy."

Velvet Mafia - Velvet Mafia (1998)
Velvet Mafia - Deli Boy (1998)

The story of "Deli Boy" and his salami. I told you there would be an interview with Dean Johnson, and I am pleased to include it, as it's never been aired anywhere. It's from 1998 and was done by my Audiofile co-producer Chris Wilson. I did not become a producer for that show until 2001 but being the natural historian I inherited all the taped interviews from the prior years. Audiofile is heard monthly on the radio newsmagazine This Way Out, and it's a short segment, and only about 30 seconds of an interview can actually be included. That leaves the full interview for us to enjoy. From 1998 Chris Wilson talks with Dean Johnson.

Dean Johnson Interview by Chris Wilson (1998)

I'm so glad that Chris Wilson captured that. I did meet Dean Johnson, briefly when I attended the GLAMA awards in New York City in 1999, just long enough to get a photo of him, but I'm thankful for that. It wasn't until 2004 that Velvet Mafia released its second and it turned out, last album. It was called "Cheap But Not Free," and it was packed full of more music you would not have been able to hear on the radio, like its opening track "The Girl From Planet Muff."

Velvet Mafia - The Girl From Planet Muff (2004)
Velvet Mafia - Coco Chanel (2004)

After "The Girl From Planet Muff" was "Coco Chanel" and coming up are more adult subjects, "The Big Johnson" and "Testosterone."

But first, here's a mental image I bet you didn't expect. As I was working on this show I contacted a couple folks, trying to find out if there were Dean & the Weenies recordings I might not know about. Well, one of those folks let Dean's sister Beth know about the show I planned, and that started the two of us emailing on facebook. She said he performed from the day he was born, and her favorite memories are from when they were growing up. Here's what she wrote me:

"We had a trailer in Maine we vacationed at when my parents were young and poor. We spent most of our time at the beach...but on rainy days, Dean would work us on our act like we were Cher in Vegas......Dean was always thinking of the next show we could put on...:) His fun encouragement is one of the things I miss most in his absence...I miss having a gay big brother. When we were kids Dean used to pretend to be Gladys Knight, and my best friend Tammy and I were the Pips. When I think of him now I imagine him on the midnight train to Georgia."

Very nice. I'm so glad Beth Johnson shared that with me. And back to the music. As promised, here are "The Big Johnson" and "Testosterone."

Velvet Mafia - The Big Johnson (2004)
Velvet Mafia - Testosterone (2004)

This is JD Doyle and that wraps up the first hour of OutRadio for October. Thanks for putting up with my passion for giving exposure to underexposed artists and music. Come back for more new music in Part 2. The closing song is the last track from the "Cheap But Not Free" album, and even its title warns you of its wit. Here's Velvet Mafia and "This Stud's For You."

Velvet Mafia - This Stud's For You (2004)

Chris Salvatore - Broke Another Heart (2010)
Chris Salvatore - It's You (The La La Song)(2010)

This is JD Doyle and welcome to OutRadio, and that artist is Chris Salvatore, who sang for you "Broke Another Heart" and "It's You (The La La Song)." A while back I was watching one of those guilty pleasure movies on Logo, one called "Eating Out, All You Can Eat." It was pleasant enough but I thought one of the stars was really cute, so while I was watching the film I googled him, and hey, he sings. Those songs were from his new EP called "Dirty Love." Again, his name is Chris Salvatore.

Next up in kind of the same musical vein is an artist called Chadwick, and the song "Better Man."

Chadwick - Better Man (2010)
Chadwick - I Want You To Want Me (2010)
Brendan Velasquez - Diggin' On You (2010)
Brendan Velasquez - Lonely Sheets (2010)

And that was an extended set of dancey music. By Chadwick was "Better Man" and "I Want You To Want Me" and by Brendan Velasquez was "Diggin' On You," which by the way has a very cute video, and also by him, "Lonely Sheets," all music from this year.

I'm going to change the beat a little and let someone else sort of help me with the introduction of the next band. Last year I interviewed Radford Bishop of the punk band Tough Tough Skin, and I asked him the following:

In the transgender artist music scene, who should I know about that I might not?

Radford Bishop: You know about the Shondes?

JD: Is that how you pronounce their name? Are they trans?

RB: Yeah, some of the members are trans. And they are absolutely hands down, one of my favorite bands in the country, period. They are amazingly intelligent, amazingly talented musicians, and they have a lot to say.

Well, that conversation was a year ago. I did track down the Shondes and play from their debut album on my September 2009 show. By the way, I've seen them described as three-quarters transgender, three-quarters Jewish, and 100-percent-political. I've now got their second album, which is brand new, and I got the vinyl release. I got it home to find inside, in addition to the record, a download card, with a code so I could also get it in digital form. Pretty cool. So, from the new album, called "Dear One," are the tracks "My Dear One" and "The Coming Night."

Shondes - My Dear One (2010)
Shondes - The Coming Night (2010)
Justin Tranter - Blend In (2002)

Yes, he knows he doesn't blend in. And he's sure not trying to. That was Justin Tranter, with the song "Blend In" from his debut album "Scratched." And I met him around 2002 when it came out and got to see him perform a few times. He's amazingly talented. And after his second release he changed his act a bit, and rebirthed himself as leader of the band Semi Precious Weapons, which is doing very well. I would say opening for Lady GaGa is doing well. So from the new CD are the tracks "Magnetic Baby" and "Semi Precious Weapons."

Semi-Precious Weapons - Magnetic Baby (2010)
Semi Precious Weapons - Semi Precious Weapons (2010)
Travis John Alford Band - Lucky Pierre (1996)

This segment is just getting more and more rock. After Semi Precious Weapons you heard "Lucky Pierre," the title track of the only CD released by the Travis John Alford Band. Alford was working on his album in 1995 and was getting more and more sick from AIDS. He recorded the last track in October and died in December, at age 26. Friends of his in other bands, like Kid Congo, L7, and the Geraldine Fibbers, held a benefit to raise the funds to finish the production and release the album posthumously, and it came out the next year, 1996. His music has been described as ranging from pop to rock to rude punk, but in this song, he knows he's dying. It's called "Weep Below the Waist."

Travis John Alford Band - Weep Below the Waist (1996)
Christian Johnson - King Baby (1996)
Toska Wilde - Hard as Nail Varnish (2010)

I followed the Travis John Alford Band with another track from 1996, "King Baby," the title track of an album by Christian Johnson. And I followed both of them with Toska Wilde, and his brand new song "Hard as Nail Polish," which is a tribute to Quentin Crisp. He's been around the Glam scene in London since the 70s, but this is his first solo release.

And this hour went really fast for me, glad there's a Part 3 to play even more music. I've got two closing songs I just love. And for the first one on the album there's an 18 second intro to it that is seldom heard, as it leads into the wonderful title track. From 2005, here are both of them, Kevin Cahoon and Ghetto Cowboy and "Doll." And I can't resist adding one more track by him, a cover version of, of all things, Anne Murray's "Could I Have This Dance."

Kevin Cahoon & Ghetto Cowboy - Doll (2005)
Kevin Cahoon & Ghetto Cowboy - Could I Have This Dance (2005)

Kristie Stremel - Best Kiss (2010)
Kristie Stremel - Color of Stars (2010)

Out of Kansas City comes the band Kristie Stremel & the 159ers, and they start off the third segment of OutRadio this month, with two songs off her brand new album, called "Color of Stars," and I admit I've been kind of chomping at the bit for this album. You see, I got an early copy of a single from it, and just loved it, it started off my February OutRadio show, and I used the same song, "Best Kiss" to start off this segment. I had a lot of difficulty in picking a second song, because this is a very solid album, it's all good. But I went with the title track, "Color of Stars."

I got four brand new albums this week and I just can't wait to share all four. In addition to Kristie Stremel's album, Jeremy Gloff sent me his new one, called "21st Century Love Songs." I've been following his music for at least ten years and I think this is his best one yet, and he's quite a prolific artist. The songs I picked from this one are "Asocial Love Song" and "Square One."

Jeremy Gloff - Asocial Love Song (2010)
Jeremy Gloff - Square One (2010)

And the third new album I got this past week is music in a very different vein, released by Patrick Hutchison. Folks may know him more for being one of the co-writers of the musical "The Harvey Milk Show," which has been performed in many cities across the country since its creation in 1991. But he's released some work on his own, and his latest is called "Orange Shoe Silly?" Of course I've chosen the most out of the closet songs, "He Never Knew," "Last Night at the Upper Room," and "Take That Thing Outta There."

Patrick Hutchison - He Never Knew (2010)
Patrick Hutchison - Last Night at the Upper Room (2010)
Patrick Hutchison - Take That Thing Outta There (2010)

And the fourth new album, is brand new, official release in September. It's by Vincent Minor, and he named the CD after himself. I don't know what he would think of my description, but I might call the style cabaret noir. See what you think, with the two tracks, "Late Night Show" and "So Fucked Up."

Vincent Minor - Late Night Show (2010)
Vincent Minor - So Fucked Up (2010)

I've loved the work of Andy Monroe ever since he and Patrick Arena released their wonderful album called "Night Cap," in 1998. He's written a lot over the years but sadly has only released a couple albums. But here's the good part, he's sent me a number of his other songs and I've conned him into letting me play a couple of them. They are just too good to keep to myself. And the second song has a surprise, but it gets to it pretty quickly. I heard him perform this at a GLAMA awards function, I think in 1999 or 2000, and have been pestering him for years for a copy of it. He just recently ran across it, he had forgotten he had actually recorded it, so he sent it along. I thank Andy Monroe again for sharing these two, "The Summer Place," and "A Visit to New Jersey."

Andy Monroe - The Summer Place (late 90s)
Andy Monroe - A Visit to New Jersey (1999)

As long as I've gotten into a mellower mood, here are two by an artist new to me, Keith Hampton. He sent me his latest CDs, and from the 2006 CD "Chance & Change" is a song he's told me has been used in weddings, called "This One." And then from his newest release, "Tyranena," is "You Remind Me" and about that one, he's told me it's not really typical of his writing as was not his experience. It was inspired by a conversation he overheard in a bar. Keith Hampton and "This One" and "You Remind Me."

Keith Hampton - This One (2006)
Keith Hampton - You Remind Me (2010)

And here's a song I think is pretty cool, by Erin McKeown, from her latest release "Hundreds of Lions." The song is called "The Foxes."

Erin McKeown - The Foxes (2009)
Kinnie Starr - Rock the Boat (2006)

This is JD Doyle and I'm winding down the show, and I thank you for joining me on OutRadio for October. And that last artist was Kinnie Starr, from her self-titled album from 2006 and the song was "Rock the Boat." Kinnie is a very well-respected artist from Calgary and is very outspoken about her aboriginal heritage and her bisexuality.

Closing the show is, as it happens, another artist from Calgary, a new artist, and I'm pleased that I was one of the first to play her on my show, last spring, within a week of her debut CD being released. She's Toni Vere and that album is called "Just To Be," and I recommend you check it out. She's got a new single now that's a lot of fun, and a video to go with it. I hope she gets her wish, as the song is called "I'm Gonna Be on Ellen."

Toni Vere - I'm Gonna Be on Ellen (2010)