congratulations, new york! this is something to really be proud of this weekend.
Judy Garland - I Happen to Like New York - thepopsucker.blogspot.com by the Pop Sucker
let's start with the music. tell me a bit about between the spirit & the flesh. how did you come up with the concept for it?
it was basically through a conversation i had [with] a friend about what was going on in both our lives with regards to love, sex and spirituality...he said we were torn between the spirit and the flesh and i realized how true and all-encompassing that statement was. i knew it had to be the title of my next project and so all the songs i wrote for this album came out of that framework.
you sing on one of the tracks that it's a "sonic journey." and you touch on a lot of issues throughout the album: religion, sex, diversity, relationships. it's a record for the masses, but in many ways this feels like an incredibly personal album. was it a cathartic experience to make it?
i would say that not only can anyone relate to what i write and sing about as a gay man but the fact that i am singing from that specific vantage point makes it even more relatable than a simple love song that we’ve heard a million times. sometimes we need a new frame around a painting in order to see the painting in a different light. the specificity of our experience helps us relate universally.
i couldn't help but chuckle a little at the lyrical content of "over the internet." (been there!) meeting people for dating and/or hookups online is so common nowadays, especially for the gays. (hello, grindr?) although i've always found it to be a bit impersonal. was the song about one specific incident or more than one?
it was 100% about one particular experience. the internet can be impersonal for sure but once you get face-to-face with someone, whether you want to admit it or not, you are then having a real human-to-human experience. and that’s what happened with me. i let down my guard and i fell for someone. problem is the person i fell for kept me in the internet box and decided he didn’t have to tell me that he was in a committed relationship! but I know lots of people who have met online and have had good relationships. “over the internet” is not one of those stories though!
you've also got a new moniker, and a slicker look. i read that the "sir" came from the imperial court of NY who bestowed it upon you for your charity work. why did you decide to keep it as your stage name?
behind closed doors you can sometimes hear me complain that gay people do not know how to support their own. but when something happens, like i am given an honor by the community and i see the appreciation for my commitment to LGBT issues, then i want to embrace that and honor that so that i’m not only complaining about when it doesn’t happen but honoring when it does.
change is good and since my last album there’s been lots of it both personally and politically. we have a black president! so it all seemed like the right thing for me and felt real and organic because before that i was very proud of my Jewish name even after folks thought it was too jewish to be a pop star. the fact that it helps with search engines to distinguish me from my HBO doppelganger is an added perk. (editor's note: "ari gold" is the name of the character played by jeremy piven on the HBO show entourage.)
are you planning a tour in support of the new album? I saw a few dates posted on your site. (june must be a ridiculously busy month for you with all the Pride events going on.)
we are working on tour dates and they will continue to be posted on my website. i would love to do a really extensive tour cause my new show is a blast.
you've always been out in your career and a lot has changed since you released your first album. there seems to be more of an acceptance of gay entertainers and our community has made great strides in breaking down the walls of inequality. not to mention the biggest pop star in the world right now, lady gaga, is an outspoken, fervent supporter of gay rights. first, why was it important for you to come out at the beginning of your career? also, would you say that things have gotten better, worse, or stayed the same for out gay artists in the music industry?
i do think things have gotten better and i think visibility is really important. i’d like to think i had something to do with that added acceptance and visibility by being an openly gay recording artist for the last 11 years—which has meant that i’ve taken a lot of the punches for other artists to do what they do. but that’s OK. that’s my cross to bear, but also my gift, and i would not have had it any other way.
i love how committed gaga is toward the cause — it reminds me so much of myself and how i have been although, it does make me wonder why we are so much more receptive toward hearing it from essentially a straight woman then we are from one of our own. i just hope with her presence and with stars like adam lambert there will be more and more artists out there telling us what it means to be gay for them. 'cause there are as many gay stories as there are gay people.