Barry Manilow gives gay fans the blues at NYC concert

Will he make it right at Palace stopover?

By Jason Michael

OK, is there anyone out there reading this who does not think Barry Manilow is gay? If so, raise your hand. Go on, raise your hand.

There, now you've just proved yourself foolish on two counts!

Barry Manilow, as Joan Rivers might say, is gay as a picnic basket and queer as a three-dollar bill. That's a given, so the question becomes - is the homo actually homophobic? Remarks made during his recent concert at Madison Square Garden would certainly lead you to think so.

Just before he started to sing a duet with Brian d'Arcy James, the star of the upcoming Broadway musical he co-wrote, "Harmony," Manilow told the audience, "Of course, we're not going to sing it to each other - that would be creepy."

Creepy for two men to sing to each other? No, Mr. Copacabana, it's creepy for you to say that it would be, and many of the fans at Madison Square Garden thought so. Roving reporter Rex Wockner reported on the incident, and actually procured an apology from Manilow, whose farewell tour, "One Night Live! One Last Time!" is coming to the Palace of Auburn Hills on Saturday.

Manilow, who has never publicly addressed the question of his sexuality and whose publicist gave Wockner a terse "no comment" when asked whether the performer was gay, has certainly been less than gay friendly in the press in recent years.

In 2002, Manilow told a New York newspaper, "The Journal News," that stories he used to perform in gay bathhouses are extremely exaggerated.

"That's such a bit of misinformation," he said. "There was one bathhouse, it was called the Continental Bathhouse and I worked there for two weekends and Bette worked there for about a month of weekends and that was it. I accompanied her for two weekends there and then we went on to a lot of nightclubs around New York, Chicago and L.A. and she exploded like a year later. So it really wasn't gay bathhouses, I don't know where that came from."

Hmmm, let's review. Early on in your career you accompanied Bette Midler on two consecutive weekends at the Continental Bathhouse, which was, in fact, a gay bathhouse, and you don't know how it is that people have come to say you started out playing in a gay bathhouse. Will wonders never cease? Well, considering the fact that "Copacabana" has been remixed (for the upteenth time) for a 2005 release, I guess the clear answer to that question is no!

But I digress, and I won't pretend I haven't hummed the ditty once or twice in my lifetime. For those of you who will admit to knowing all the words, you might be interested to know that Manilow has just released his 43rd album, "Scores - Songs from Copacabana and Harmony" on Concord Records.

"Copa," in case you didn't know, has been transformed from mere song to television movie and, finally, stage musical. It enjoyed a 14-month run on London's West End and a successful UK tour. Meanwhile, "Harmony," hopes to make its Broadway debut next year.

And Manilow, well, the man is probably the most popular male adult contemporary artist of all time. With 60 million record sales, a Grammy, a Tony and an Emmy, could he honestly think anybody would care if he came out?

The answer, of course, is no. Just don't tell me Lola was a lesbian. That would break my heart!

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