This is JD Doyle and welcome to my show for September. And, yes, while this is Queer Music Heritage, I decided to color outside the lines this month with a show devoted to spoken word recordings. They will of course all be by GLBT performers, and will be in a variety of genres. Well, except for hip hop. I decided that was a different animal, and I did a pretty thorough show on that in 2007. But I've never done a show of just spoken word. Some of the pieces will have a bit of music incorporated, as on those first two, and some will be strict readings. They will cover a number of decades, although most will be from, say, the last 15 years, when the art form, especially when presented as slam poetry, became more widely accepted.
When I decided to do this show, and to begin compiling a list of who to include, the very first person I thought of was Alix Olson. I think her work is a delight, and it's been released on CD, DVD and in print. I chose to open the show a track from the first album of hers I heard, her 2001 CD "Built Like That," and it was called "Checking My Pulse." I followed her with someone new to me, Xicano Sol, a gay Latino poet, who has several releases available on Kindle, and he fortunately also can be heard on Youtube. I chose by him a piece from 2009 called "He Swallowed."
I'm going next to a CD from 2004 that impressed me quite a bit. It's by an Atlanta group calling themselves Adodi Muse, A Gay Negro Ensemble, and here's the title track from their album "Ain't Got Sense Enuf to Be 'Shamed."
Muse - Ain't Got Sense Enuf to Be 'Shamed (2004)
Very nice. That was "March for Me" by Minneapolis spoken word artist Tish Jones, accompanied by gospel singer Robert Robinson. I love this next piece, by Julia Serano, from her audio chapbook from 2002 called "Either/Or." It's called "Vice Versa."
Serano - Vice Versa (2002)
That was a transgender set, and spoken word is very popular with trans artists. I found many, many examples. In the middle of that set I guess I have to say Meryn Cadell wasn't yet transgender. Early in his career he had a top 40 Canadian hit with "The Sweater," from the 1992 album "Angel Food for Thought." He transitioned in 2003. And Dana Baitz is another Canadian, and I picked her track "Freak of Nature" because I love that it incorporated the voice of pioneering trans activist Silvia Rivera. It came from Dana's 2005 CD "Pretty Little Shape-Shifter."
Here's a piece I thought quite sweet. It's called "Esperanza Dreams" and is by Juliana Luecking from her 1994 CD "Big Broad."
Luecking - Esperanza Dreams (1994)
In the middle was Scott Turner Schofield and the delightful piece "Debutante Balls," from 2001. And from a year earlier Tom Robinson shared with us his piece called "Gay Parenting." He's by far mostly known as a queer rocker, and indeed gave us the anthem "Glad to Be Gay," but on this album, called "Smelling Dogs," it was all poems, letters and rants.
From the field of essays and books comes one of our most successful writers, David Sedaris. In his 1997 audiobook "Naked" he gets his sister, Amy Sedaris, to help him out on "I Like Guys."
Sedaris - I Like Guys (1997)
That was the very first openly gay artist I ever heard, Tom Wilson Weinberg, only at that time he just went by Tom Wilson, and the spoken word piece called "1:00 a.m." was from his LP "Gay Name Game."
W.H. Auden is generally considered to have been one of the greatest writers of the 20th century, and also generally considered to have been gay. One of his well-known works, "Funeral Blues," from 1937, showed up in the 1994 film "Four Weddings and a Funeral," and was read there, and here, by actor John Hannah.
John Hannah reading W.H. Auden - Funeral Blues (1994)
And here's a piece I like quite a bit. It's by a group called Diverse Harmony, and they have the distinction of being the very first GSA youth choir. They started in Seattle in 2002 and two years later put out this demo composite piece called "Our World."
Diverse Harmony - Our World (2004)
I think that was so well done. Again, this is JD Doyle and I thank you for listening to Queer Music Heritage and my salute to Spoken Word artists. This is just Part 1 and you'll find two more hours on my site, queermusicheritage.com. In those hours, as they are internet only, I didn't have to be careful of the language in what I play, so it will be much more "real world."
Closing this segment, I'm going back to 1977 and a landmark album from Olivia Records, released in response to the bigotry of Anita Bryant. They called it "Lesbian Concentrate" and in addition to the music, two lesbian poets got to preserve some now quite well-known pieces. Judy Grahn tells us about "A History of Lesbianism" and Pat Parker gives us one I just love called "For Straight Folks Who Don't Mind Gays But Wish They Weren't So Blatant."
Grahn - A History of Lesbianism (1977)
This JD Doyle and welcome back to Queer Music Heritage and my salute to spoken word recordings by GLBT artists, and that one, called "Nest" was framed in a very nice musical setting piece by a Scottish duo called Zorras, from the 2009 CD named "We Apologize for Any Inconvenience," but I bet they don't really mean it. Some of you may know that the first hour of each QMH show is aired as part of the Houston radio show Queer Voices, and as that is on a public broadcast station, it means I have to be mindful of the language of what I play. But not here on the internet, so let the games begin.
Now, that doesn't mean I went looking for the dirtiest stuff I could find, but that I can play tracks that use words like fucking. Ryan Cassata did that right away in his short 2001 track called "Trans Slam."
Cassata - Trans Slam (2011)
I really like that last one, and have played it several times in the past. It is called "Less Than or Equal to One" and is by Ryka Aoki. I found it on the wonderful various artists CD from 2009 called "Trans Genre: Trans Fusion." It had a follow up CD and both contain a number of spoken word tracks, like the one that preceded Ryka. That was Sassafrass Lowery, doing "This Was All a Lie." And immediately after Ryan Cassata you heard Madelyn Hatter. "The Lesbian Avenger" was from her 2005 release "No Morning After."
Akili - Concretely (2010)
Starting that set was Yolo Akili. He lives in Harlem and is a counselor, social justice worker, and of interest to this show, a performance artist. His piece from 2010 was called "Concretely." Next came Regie Cabico, with help from Taylor Mali, doing one called "Coming Out." Cabico is a much published poet and has also appeared on HBO's "Def Poetry Jam." And I found that last one, called "Home for Christmas" on the myspace site of a North Carolina performer just going by the name Roo.
Three fun pieces coming up. First is Ivan Coyote and "A Butch Roadmap," from 2010, to be followed by S. Bear Bergman telling about her "Boxer Briefs"
Coyote - A Butch Roadmap (2010)
I like that last act a lot. It started out as a duo about ten years ago with the brilliant name of Athens Boys Choir, and after a while evolved into a solo act, with Katz carrying the trans queer activist music and spoken word mantle ably by himself. There are four CDs to pick from and the selection I chose, "Queers in Kentucky" was not the most radical I could have picked, but I just liked the perspective in it. It's from the 2004 release, "Rhapsody in T."
Next is Evalyn Parry with an excellent piece called "Profit in the Margins."
Evalyn Parry - Profit in the Margins (2005)
This next artist went by the name Drew Blood, and he died of AIDS in 1998, but in 1990 a reading from his audiobook "This Careful Balance" was captured. Here are three short selections from it.
Drew Blood - Last Chance / You Don't See Me / He Knows Love (1990)
Rod McKuen is a songwriter, poet, and composer, who especially in the 1960's and 1970's sold millions of records and books. I playing a very short piece by him from 1968, from the then controversial album "In Search of Eros." It's the opening track, just called "Eros," and I think the words are quite interesting and revealing.
Rod McKuen - Eros (1968)
you notice the line, "it's been so long since I have had a women
or a special friend"? Hmm, well the next poet is definitely not
One of the most known, and most controversial poets was Allen Ginsberg, a hero of the Beat Generation in the 1950s. In addition to his large catalogue of work it's been said that a major contribution of his was how very open he was about being homosexual, an openness which inspired others later to also be as out as he was. He also challenged obscenity laws, and you will get an example of both in this piece, written in 1968, and recorded in 1976, called "Please, Master."
Allen Ginsberg - Please, Master (written 1968, recorded 1976) this track is found on the rare LP above
This is JD Doyle, and I'm closing Part 2 with another favorite artist, starting back to the days when he was half of the duo Good Asian Drivers. He's Kit Yan and he's solo now and released a chapbook this year called "As We Fell." From it I took "Return to Butch."
Kit Yan - Return to Butch (2012)
Guante - Neutral: An Open Letter to Michele Bachman (2012)
This is JD Doyle starting Part 3 of my salute to spoken word with a justifiably angry piece by an artist going just by Guante, which he called "Neutral: An Open Letter to Michele Bachman." If you've been paying attention to my first two segments you know there's lots of anger in this genre. Here's a set of four pieces to further my point, starting with Corey E. Houlihan and "What If."
E. Houlihan - What If (2011)
For the second part of that set, an artist calling herself Jen/Ed brought us "One Breasted President" from her 2005 album "Exposed." And then there was a very short piece by Sarah D. called "Sarah Rides the Greyhound." That's from a very rare 1995 album named "Free To Fight," which was kind of a unique project. Its aim was to teach women self-defense and empowerment and in addition to the vinyl record of music and voice tracks, also included a 75-page booklet showing self-defense techniques, done in punk zine style. Closing the set was Andrea Gibson and "I Do," from her 2006 CD "When the Bough Breaks."
I've got a couple of pieces that involve one of our first gay playwrights, Robert Patrick. He was a pioneer of off-off Broadway and the gay theatre movement in the 1960's. His first play, "The Haunted Host," premiered at the Caffé Cino in New York City in 1964. Here he is talking about discovering that theatre.
Robert Patrick - Caffe Cino: 50 Years Ago Today (2011)
I mentioned that Robert Patrick's first play was "The Haunted Host," in 1964. His plays got a lot of productions and that one was done again in 1974, and that cast featured one of our gay treasures, Harvey Fierstein, in his first legitimate theatre role. When Fierstein released an album in 1995 called "This Is Not Going To Be Pretty," he paid a bit of homage to Robert Patrick by including a piece by him called "Pouf Positive." It's a long piece, about 13 minutes, but well worth my devoting that time to it in this show. And you'll quickly realize the subject was AIDS.
Fierstein - Pouf Positive (1995)
I followed Harvey Fierstein with two somber pieces. By Ian Stephens was the piece "The AIDS Guy," from his 1993 CD "Wining Dining Drilling." And then, kind of an experimental piece, called Them, which included spoken word, dance and instrumentation, by the artists Dennis Cooper (who was the narrator), Chris Cochrane, and Ishmael Houston-Jones, from 2011.
Okay, I think I need to change the mood a bit, so by Donald Currie, here's a slice of life from his 2002 audiobook "Sex & Mayhem."
Donald Currie - My First Lover / Picture It Now (2002)
Let me indulge myself on the next piece, as it's by a friend of mine, Ray Hill. He has generally been known as THE gay activist of Houston, for the last several decades. This selection is from the radio show Wilde-N-Stein, from November of 1992, and Ray is reminiscing about gay & lesbian life in Houston in the 1950's & 1960's.
Hill - Houston in the 1950's/60/s (1992)
That piece also comes from the archives of the radio show Wilde-N-Stein, and the reading, from a book by the poet Judy Grahn, was done in July 1985 by the show's co-producer Mike Mische, who died of AIDS in 1987. His ashes were scattered in the backyard of KPFT.
This is JD Doyle and I thank you for joining me in this three part show on Spoken Word, in its various forms. I'm closing with two very different short tracks. The first is not unintentionally humorous but sounds that way now. It's from 1967 from a movie soundtrack called "Teenage Rebellion." This particular track was narrated by Burt Topper and is called "The Gay Teenager."
Burt Topper - The Gay Teenager (1967)
And the final piece comes from a various artists CD called "Sibilance." Trip Records started the project and it was intended to be a quarterly queer audiozine. Alas, unfortunately only two volumes were issued, in 1997, but I'm delighted I have them, as one contains this fun piece by Dean Johnson. You may also know him as leader of the bands Velvet Mafia and Dean & the Weenies. Those were rock bands, but this track uncharacteristically is spoken word only. It's called "Girdle."
Dean Johnson - Girdle (1997)
Below, I didn't happen to use anything from the comp below, but I recommend it