Arts & Entertainment
The Queen is Back
Gays love to love Donna Summer - even if, as she says, they're a tad-bit brutal.
By Clay Cane
Originally printed 8/21/08 (Issue 1634 - Between The Lines News)
Nearly two decades since Donna Summer's last studio album, the "Lady of the Night" has officially returned. Her latest CD, "Crayons" (released in May), colors all genres of music: R&B, soul, club and the classic Summer sound that's branded as the soundtrack of our lives. It's been a long wait, but the diva explodes on tracks like "Stamp Your Feet," and reclaims her throne with "The Queen is Back." In a one-on-one chat, "Hot Stuff" Summer discusses why she loves to love her gay fans - and offers advice on how to battle a Barbra Streisand drag queen.
You were one of the first artists to have an intense and noticeable gay following. At what point in your career did you realize you had this legion of gay fans?
From the beginning, my whole scene broke out in the gay clubs. I don't know if I would have a career if it hadn't been, in some ways, for the way 'Love to Love You Baby' started off and everybody jumped on it. It was really in the gay clubs the song took off - they really embraced that new sound. I have to give credit where credit is due.
Is there anything challenging about having such an aggressive gay following?
I think gay people in general - gay men especially - are very right and left-brained: They use all the parts of their brain, which I don't think the average guy does. I think they're able to look at something, whether it's your clothing or whatever, and see it from both sides and have a very accurate opinion. That opinion sometimes can be brutal! (Laughs) At the same time, it's an asset.
You're always credited as the "Queen of Disco," but you have a powerhouse voice that's still evident on "Crayons." Do you ever feel underrated as a vocalist?
You know, I don't think about what other people think about me - not to sound arrogant; I don't mean it to sound that way. I don't know, I don't really think about it that much. (Laughs)
How did "The Queen is Back" come about?
I had that title for quite some time - it kept coming to me. I asked E. Kidd, who I was writing with, if he thought that would be too pretentious or people would take it the wrong way, like they thought I was arrogant or something. He said, 'No, it's fun; do it.' We sat down and started writing what my career has been to other people and to me. We loved the results!
Is it true people thought you were a drag queen when you first started out?
(Laughs) Oh yeah! It's very funny, but it's true. Somebody was doing a drag act of me, only we didn't know they were doing that drag act. They were promoting themselves in the newspapers as me, and I wasn't living in the United States yet, so I didn't know. They were using my music in their act; people would come see them and think that I was actually that person. I think that's kind of how the rumor got started. We tracked it down and put an end to it.
As a Christian, how do you reconcile your religious beliefs with your acceptance of the gay community?
I don't think I have to reconcile them. I just accept people for who they are. The Bible says you got to love everybody; it doesn't make any exceptions, so I don't make any exceptions.
What are your thoughts on gay marriage?
I don't really have an opinion on it, to tell you the truth. I think people have to do what they feel they have to do. Not being gay myself, I don't have the same frame of reference - do you know what I'm saying? I don't know what it is to feel like you can never be married or any of that, because I am married, I have kids and I have all those things. It's uncharted ground for me personally; I can't even make a comment on it.
How would you react to having a gay child?
I would love my child, there's no question about it. Love is everything. You have to accept what's real, and you have to be in truth. So you love people for who they are and for their good qualities. That's the bottom line - and that's how I was raised, by the way.
If one of your oldies like "Love to Love You Baby" comes on the radio, do you turn it off or turn it up?
I don't necessarily turn it off; it's a part of my life. It's something I'm not running from. If it's on, it's on - I just listen. I don't necessarily blast it! (Laughs)
Finally, if a Barbra Streisand drag queen battled a Donna Summer drag queen, what advice would you give the Donna drag queen?
Go for the nose!
8 p.m. Aug. 27
The Colosseum at Caesars Windsor