The phrase "gay icon" gets tossed around a lot, but why is it that some figures amass more of a gay audience? Welcome to Gay Iconography, a feature where we present a proposed iconic figure or character and then ask you to weigh in with your thoughts.
It can seem like people often lump gay icons into three distinct categories. You've got the standards long embraced by the gay community (though considered by some to be relics of a bygone time) -- those are your Lizas, your Judys, your Barbras; you've got figures that worked in advocacy in activism with the gay community (Harvey Milk, Bayard Rustin, Edie Windsor); you've got your LGBT artists and performers.
Erasure singer Andy Bell may be a little bit of all three.
As an openly gay pop star, Bell has broken down barriers since the 1980s. Along with his bandmate Vince Clarke, Erasure would become a fixture in gay clubs for more than a quarter of a century. Bell has also spoke candidly about being HIV-positive since 2004.
Bring your week to a close with some classic Erasure songs, and share your thoughts on Andy Bell, AFTER THE JUMP …
Erasure's Andy Bell and Vince Blarke team up with stop-motion animatior Martin Meunier (Coraline, James and the Giant Peach) for their take on a Latin carol. The track is the first from their upcoming album Snow Globe.
(Apologies - posted this without the video earlier)
Via Joe comes this uplifting re-do of Erasure's "A Little Respect" from Andy Bell and LGBT youth at the Hetrick Martin Institute, along with some other cameos.
"Proceeds from the track will be donated to The Hetrick-Martin Institute, the home of the Harvey Milk High School, in New York, and the True Colors Fund. The Hetrick-Martin Institute, the nation's oldest and largest LGBTQ youth service organization, provides a safe and supportive environment to all young people -- regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity so that they can achieve their full potential. The HMI Redux features a youth chorus from the Hetrick-Martin Institute who also appear in the music video, directed by filmmaker Jason Stein."
Originally released as a single in 1988 from the Erasure album 'The Innocents', 'A Little Respect' reached #2 on the Billboard Dance Charts and became a signature tune for the synthpop duo Erasure, as well as becoming an anthem for the gay rights movement.
The new recording of 'A Little Respect' will now include a youth chorus from The Hetrick-Martin Institute and it will be released as a download by Mute Records. A new documentary-style video, conceived by filmmaker Jason Stein of Laundry Service Media, will accompany the new recording. Both the single and video - which is intended to include cameos from high-profile supportive friends in the gay-straight community - are scheduled for release in mid-December with proceeds from the download of the music single earmarked to benefit The Hetrick-Martin Institute and the True Colors Fund.
In the wake of the tragic gay bullying incidents and related suicides across the country, Andy Bell was motivated to take action. As one of popular music's first openly-gay celebrities Bell felt compelled to get involved. "I am honored and moved beyond words to serve as an Ambassador to the The Hetrick-Martin Institute. Every opportunity we have to spread tolerance and compassion must be seized and I will take special pride in doing so on HMI's behalf."
Proceeds from the single will benefit The Hetrick-Martin Institute, home of the Harvey Milk High School, and Cyndi Lauper's charity the True Colors Fund.
Modern Tonic — a daily newsletter that delivers gay-approved pop culture gems (before they've been co-opted by everyone else) — presents a weekly music update here on Towleroad. TODAY'S FEATURED NEW RELEASES:
Connoisseurs of modern pop diva-dom might want us to lead with Christina Aguilera, but we’d be lying if we said we weren’t more excited about the self-titled debut from Brooklyn indie quartet The Drums. Their 2009 Summertime EP made them stars in the U.K. and a buzz-band here. For a change, it’s easy to hear why. They’re as catchy as Belle & Sebastian with less twee, as aurally compelling as Joy Division without clinical depression and as whimsically melancholy as the Cure with less eyeliner. First single "Best Friend" exudes a Smiths-ian jangle in a tale of tragic loss. "Down By the Water" is like Motown slowed down for maximum Goth drone. And "It Will All End in Tears" (download for free here) is "Love Will Tear Us Apart" written by a cad instead of a masochist. "I don’t feel sorry when you cry," sings Jonathan Pierce, and neither do we. Not while his band-mates Jacob Graham (guitars), Adam Kessler (guitars) and Connor Hanwick (drums) rock away the darkness with such post-punk élan.
Whether "bionic" refers to her vocal prowess or the future-forward electro sheen of her release, Christina Aguilera’s Bionic has met with resistance. We’re not saying it’s like Dylan going electric, but fans of the supersonic balladeer seem confused by the dance grooves on Xtina’s fourth English-language studio album. But those naysayers will backpedal once she shimmies up to them at the club. With help from M.I.A. ("Elastic Love"), Le Tigre and Peaches ("My Girls") and her own bad self (the self-loving "Vanity"), she’s never been as out there or as much fun. Then there are the ballads, especially the ethereal "You Lost Me" co-written with Sia. As Ms. Genie-in-a-Bottle says herself on "Vanity": “I’m not cocky, I just love myself bitch!" Get in line, haters.
Andy Bell’s second solo release, Non-Stop is the most joyful thing he’s put his name on since Erasure’s Wild! (back in 1989). Co-written and co-produced by Pascal Gabriel (Ladyhawke, Kylie), these 10 dance tracks run the electro-vibe gamut, from the stuttering groove of opener "Running Out" to the chill ambience of "Slow Release." There’s also a duet penned and sung with Perry Farrell, "Honey If You Love Him (That’s All That Matters)" and our favorite, the careening "DHDQ" — which stands for "Debbie Harry Drag Queen." Oh, we pray for a video for that one.
Junior Vasquez releases "Nervous Breakdown - Volume 2" August 17.
On the heels of Christina Aguilera's high-profile full album leak a few weeks ago, Eminem's Recovery leaked in its entirety yesterday...two weeks before street date. (BTW, um, not that we know anything about this personally but album track "No Love," which features L'il Wayne, serves up a brilliant sample of Haddaway's "What Is Love?").
Suck on this: the latest soundtrack from vampire central, The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, features new tracks from Florence + the Machine ("Heavy in Your Arms"), Beck and Bat for Lashes ("Let’s Get Lost"), and author Stephanie Meyer’s favorites, Muse ("Neutron Star Collision [Love Is Forever])."
Bikini season is more than nigh upon us: it’s here people. So do us a favor, slap on Just Dance 3, immerse in body-moving jams like Mariah Carey’s "H.A.T.E.U. (Jason Nevins Mix)" get toned and meet us on Fire Island.
Ah, the end of an era! Actually, the first season of Glee comes to a close tonight, and Columbia has thoughtfully released Glee: The Music, Journey to Regionals with versions of "To Sir With Love" "Over the Rainbow" and — oh, yes — "Bohemian Rhapsody."
ceo — "Come With Me" ceo (aka the Tough Alliance’s Eric Berglund) dons Adam Ant war paint in the black-and-white clip about visiting "a place they call reality." Overrated — reality, that is — but this dreamscape is lovely enough, especially Berglund’s very hairy chest.
Jump Jump Dance Dance — "Modern Eyes" We love big balls — disco balls, that is, which are featured prominently in this quirky clip from the California dance-rock duo that messes with depth perception and shadow play, all to a streamlined beat.
Anane — "Plastic People" Born off the west coast of Africa in Cape Verde, Anane rocks Marianne Faithfull’s scathing "Why’d Ya Do It?" riff in this sci-fi throwback that’s equal parts Metropolis, King Kong and Grace Jones circa-1981.
Straight No Chaser — "Tainted Love" This male a cappella ensemble swings Soft Cell’s classic on their recent With a Twist CD. The video features the boys paying homage to The Hangover in the far seedier enclave of Atlantic City, NJ.
Andy Bell on experiencing his first dose of ageism: "I saw this guy, turns out he was 24, and I went up to him and said 'you are stunningly good-looking.' And he says, 'I thought you used to be good-looking when you were in Erasure.' And I thought, I still AM in Erasure. Then he went on to say that he really only likes to have sex with people his own age. I have never been an ageist person. My tastes are open to all men, I like all ages, all races, all kinds. I remember thinking is it me, and the fact that I am 45, or is the issue with this kid?"
Foot in mouth: Helen Thomas sorry for saying Jews should "get the hell out of Palestine" and "go back home to Poland, Germany, America and everywhere else."
Anna Paquin on coming out as bisexual earlier this year: "It wasn't like it was a big secret. It was just a cause I cared about
and privately supported, but not one that I had ever had an opportunity
to speak out about in a way that would be useful. Obviously I know that
one person's voice doesn't necessarily do that much, but I just wanted
to do my bit."
NY Times columnist Charles Blows explains why heterosexual men are becoming increasingly accepting of gays. One theory: "Virulent homophobes are increasingly being exposed for engaging in homosexuality...In fact, there is a growing body of research that supports the notion that homophobia in some men could be a reaction to their own homosexual impulses. Many heterosexual men see this, and they don’t want to be associated with it. It’s like being antigay is becoming the old gay. Not cool."