Rocking out for democracy

Barbara Payton to headline HRC event Aug. 20

By D'Anne Witkowski

WARREN - Detroit artist Barbara Payton will be rocking out for democracy on Aug. 20 at the Ukrainian Cultural Center in Warren. Payton, performer Trixie Deluxxe, author and lecturer Marianne Williamson, and Adrian Boney of the Human Rights Campaign will all appear at "Always a Bridesmaid... Never a Bride!" an HRC event to get people registered to vote and also get them politically aware and active in the November election.

"Michelle Newton (chairperson for HRC) approached me about becoming involved in an event for women that would inspire, educate and hopefully solidify our community," said Payton. "It's open to everyone, but we were trying to have an event that is affordable, that is elegant, and that is going to be something that will empower women."

Payton believes involvement in this election is urgent. "I feel that this election could in fact be the most important of our time. We need to send a loud and clear message to our government and the world that we want an elected official in office that will support our rights and not try and take them away," she said.

Payton is especially concerned about the number of young people who don't vote, especially after she learned of the low voter turnout in 2000. When asked how to get young people involved, Payton responded, "Ask them if they enjoy the wealth of information at their fingertips on the Internet, or their freedom of speech or their choice to listen to whatever type of music they love. Most importantly, would they rather go to war to defend all of our precious rights that so many noble men and women have fought and died for, or to go to war under false pretenses?"

She believes that young people stay away from the polls because of a disappointment in the system. "Oh, I'm sorry," she said, "what system? Did we even elect our last president?"

Sarcasm aside, Payton believes that rock and roll musicians and other artists are in a valuable position to reach young voters. "Popular culture and populist politics go hand in hand," she said. "This next generation is very aware politically, at least that has been my experience in talking with them. Therefore as an artist who knows what an impact we have on the youth, I feel it is our responsibility to set a positive example and vote for a change. One of my favorite artists, Bonnie Raitt, said it best: 'democracy only works if we work it.'"

For 2004, Payton is putting her support behind John Kerry, but he didn't win her over right away. "Up until Kerry's acceptance speech at the Democratic Convention I was doubtful of his ability to lead this country to more peaceful and prosperous times," she said. "Now after having heard him speak and gathering more information I am confident that he is not only able to do so but committed."

Teresa Heinz Kerry scores points with Payton, too. "I look forward to [Heinz Kerry] as our first lady. Opinionated, outspoken, open minded and very well educated, not to mention hot," said Payton. "Forgive me, but once a lesbian always a lesbian."

Payton hasn't always been a political activist. Seeing "Fahrenheit 9/11" changed all that. She said she respects Michael Moore "for having the guts to expose what many have covered up for years. I have heard many people refer to him as an extremist, and perhaps that is so. However I would rather have that type of an extremist influencing and speaking out on behalf of our country than that of George Bush and his dictatorship....ah, I mean leadership," she said. "As far as my becoming an activist goes, my political desire did not take root until my mid 30's. I guess I am making up for lost time and much of that is because of one of our guest speakers at this event - Marianne Williamson."

Williamson, an internationally acclaimed author and lecturer, is no stranger to political involvement. According to her web site, she founded Project Angel Food in 1989, "a meals-on-wheels program for homebound people with AIDS in the Los Angeles area. Today, Project Angel Food serves over 1,000 people daily." In addition, "Williamson also co-founded the Global Renaissance Alliance, a worldwide network of peace activists. The mission of the GRA is to harness the power of non-violence as a social force for good."

"I truly love this woman," said Payton of Williamson. "She is everything I described Teresa Heinz Kerry as being and more. Marianne is reason enough to come to this event because she has a gift that helps guide you to a greater sense of self and true empowerment, which is what all women deserve."

Adrian Boney from HRC Washington will be speaking at the event on federal legislative issues and how people in the community can become involved.

Though the politics are important, those in attendance can expect to be enlightened and entertained.

Detroit favorite Trixie Deluxxe is sure to lighten up the evening. "What can I say about Trixie other than she is one of the most talented, hysterical and well dressed entertainers I have ever witnessed! Just stay out of the line of fire honey," said Payton.

Proceeds from the event will benefit HRC and the Coalition for a Fair Michigan. Rock The Vote's street team will be on hand to register voters.

Enter your old Bridesmaid dresses in the event's "Tackiest" Bridesmaid Dress Contest to win 2 Round-trip airline tickets to any location within the continental United States.

For those thinking about attending, Payton has this advice, "They should attend because it's an affordable and informative evening out to help unite women. Besides, the music is going to be awesome and with Trixie there you never know what to expect, except that you'll be entertained."

Always a Bridesmaid... Never a Bride! will take place Friday Aug. 20 at the Ukrainian Cultural Center (26601 Ryan Rd., Warren 48091). Cocktails and open bar begins at 7 p.m. with dinner at 8 p.m. Tickets are $35 in advance, $50 after Aug. 18 and are available at A Women's Prerogative and Just 4 Us in Ferndale and Chosen Books in Royal Oak. For more information call 248-280-6974.

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