‘Find out what happens when people stop being polite… and start getting real.’
Sound familiar? It does to Danny Roberts. After starring on MTV’s ‘The Real World: New Orleans‘ in 2000, he’s back on television in ‘DTLA,’ a racy, eight-episode scripted drama premiering Wednesday night at 11 p.m. on Logo…
A native of Rockmart, Georgia (he attended UGA before appearing on ‘Real World’) Danny was one of the first ‘straight-acting’ gay reality TV stars who didn’t seem ‘gay.’ On the show he dated Paul, a closeted Army captain at the time, and even brought him into the Real World house on-camera. MTV had to blur Paul’s face, worried he might be discharged if anyone found out he was gay.
Danny says he does keep in touch with Paul, but ‘very little’ and prefers not to talk about his past. I ask his thoughts on the current state of reality TV, as his show was one of the last Real Worlds before the series began introducing hot tubs and more drama into the mix. ‘That genre has highly evolved, or rather, devolved over the past decade,’ he says.
‘The Amazing Race’ is the only reality show
today that doesn’t make my skin crawl…’
‘The Real World was once interesting because it made social commentary and taught young people about people and situations that they probably never would have experienced in their own communities. As reality shows proliferated, they became competitive wastelands that pitch people against each other to bring out the worst in human nature for profit. ‘The Amazing Race’ is about the only one I can think of that doesn’t make my skin crawl.’
After the show Danny became famous – very famous – especially in the gay community, and it hit fast. Dating a member of the military brought on a lot of attention. So did his good looks and Southern charm. Roberts appeared on the cover of The Advocate with the headline ‘MTV’s Real World takes on Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’ He spoke at schools about sexuality, coming out, and the military’s policy. Danny even appeared on ‘Dawson’s Creek‘ and hosted a DVD collection of gay-themed short films, ‘Boys Briefs.’
His other roommates moved on. Kelley Limp married actor Scott Wolf. Matt Smith, the devout Christian who went to Georgia Tech and often clashed with Danny’s party-boy ways, returned to Tech and became a professional web designer. Julie Stoffer, the first Mormon to be featured on The Real World was suspended from Brigham Young University for being on the show, appeared in Eminem’s ‘Without Me‘ video, and now works for Path-U-Find Media, speaking to young people about morals and ethics.
Danny says he’s ‘still very close’ with one of his Real World roommates and keeps ‘loosely in touch’ with another. I ask of any changed their beliefs about gay people after living with him on the show. ‘I’m not sure either really did. Julie and Matt are still very involved in their conservative church lives. Julie evolved for a while but eventually, from what I’ve heard, she returned to all of her old ways. The cult sucked her back in.’
‘The cult sucked her back in…’
In 2004, MTV aired a special where they revealed his boyfriend Paul’s face for the first time. They moved to North Carolina, but lived in fear and eventually split up. ‘We could not be a normal couple,’ Danny told The Advocate in 2006. ‘We were forced to live underground.’
I ask him the best and worst parts of appearing on ‘Real World.’ ‘The best was the opportunity to travel,’ he says. ‘The worst was being associated with what has, over time, become such a sad and embarrassing piece of morally bankrupt television.’
What advice would he give to young people who want to be on reality TV? ‘What is your end-goal of doing such? What are your long-term life goals? If you think that appearing on TV is going to take you somewhere, you’re most likely wrong.’
Danny returned to Seattle after trying Atlanta, North Carolina and New York City. ‘It’s my adopted home and a place where I fit culturally. I work for an awesome new online real estate company called Redfin in recruiting. It’s a very cool tech start-up environment that I greatly enjoy. We’re just now breaking into the Atlanta market and starting to turn traditional real estate on its head.’
‘The Real World became morally bankrupt television…’
On ‘DTLA,’ Danny plays Waylon, ‘a mysterious character and a bit of a granola guy,’ he says. ‘Waylon is someone you’d probably find walking around Silver Lake in Los Angeles. In the beginning you’re led to believe that he’s Kinesiologist, but in time it will be revealed that there’s much more to this character.’
Danny says he didn’t decide to go back to television, per se. ‘This is just a fun, creative outlet to keep balance in my regular 9 to 5 life, which I don’t plan on changing,’ he says. ‘The producer found me doing his research a couple of years ago and asked me to be a part of the project. I wasn’t really interested, but over the next year or so we stayed in touch. I learned to trust in him as he fleshed out his ideas and eventually decided, ‘why not?’
Danny says he enjoys ‘DTLA’ compared to his Real World experience because ‘I love that it has a great balance of comedy and drama. Gay themed television tends to be predictable, dramatic camp and I can’t stand that. This show has a gritty edginess that is softened by comedy.’
Are there any plans for him to return to Atlanta? ‘Some day it’s highly possible as my family is still there,’ he says. ‘But I need to see some political and economic change first. Atlanta has some of my favorite parks anywhere, namely Piedmont Park. I love biking through it’s more forgotten parts in and around south downtown and southwest Atlanta. I still have a house in Adair Park, which I adore.’
‘Gay-themed television tends to
be predictable, and I can’t stand that…’
Created, directed and produced by Larry Kennar (‘The L Word’), ‘DTLA’ stars a cast of newbies along with TV veterans Darryl Stephens (‘Noah’s Arc’), Leslie Jordan, Sandra Bernhard, Melanie Griffith, and Tiffany ‘New York’ Pollard and more.
‘DTLA’ is the first television series to receive domestic and international distribution funded by Kickstarter, a crowd-sourced platform for funding creative projects. 218 backers donated $33,525 to get the project off the ground. ‘I think that’s amazing,’ Roberts says. ‘It took a lot of hard work, dedication and belief from the public to make this happen. I’m still amazed that Larry and Darryl were able to pull this off.’
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‘I don’t eat meat, but I do cocaine,’ Sharon Needles tells me. ‘We’re not all perfect.’
The RuPaul’s Drag Race Season Season 4 winner has never been one shy away from controversy. That’s why animal rights group PETA chose Needles for its Halloween ad campaign launching October 23rd. ‘Eating shouldn’t cost an arm and a leg,’ the ad says. ‘If gnawing on flesh turns your stomach, why not go veg?’
‘I don’t agree with everything PETA says…’
Needles is, in fact, a vegetarian. But she doesn’t want to preach. ‘When I did the ad, I told PETA I wasn’t going to tell people to go vegan or not wear fur. I don’t agree with everything PETA says. But I’m not the kind of person who’s going to distance myself because I don’t agree 100%. Success comes with compromise.’
PETA’s openly-gay Vice President Dan Matthews tells us, ‘We’re thrilled to have Sharon Needles represent PETA this Halloween, and hope that her quirky sense of humor may change a few minds about the sanity, or shall I say, insanity, of eating meat.’
I ask Needles if she was paid to do the ad. ‘I did not get paid. I did it for free – and on a day I was really busy! The pay I’m getting for this is my younger fans who hang on every word I say. I like to bring things I’m passionate about to their attention.’
Needles was the target of a protest this year at for using the N word in one of her earlier acts. PETA often stages protests, including one recently at the Georgia Aquarium Pride Party. I ask if she thinks protests are necessary to create change.
‘Historically, of course. They were very important in the fight for African American and gay rights and the fight against AIDS to create awareness. But I’m not sure they’re as effective anymore. We have access to so much information nowadays. We’re all much more aware. But I also know there are people who feel a strong calling to have their voice be heard.’
‘They actually made me cry…’
Did the protest at Needle’s Jungle show upset her? ‘I would love to say it didn’t, but it did. That was at the end of a consistent five month touring schedule. I had been performing in different countries and time zones. I had had no sleep. They actually made me cry. But I want to create a dialogue with anyone who misunderstands my work, so I donated my personal time for dialogue and discussion.’
Was she surprised by the protest? ‘I don’t know why, but I was. I’ve known about these racial equality activists in Atlanta where it doesn’t really matter what you say, you’re on the losing end. I should have just stayed home and taken a nap.’
Needles returns to Jungle on November 9th to judge the Miss Originality Pageant 2012, founded by David Magazine and sponsored by Brushstrokes. All money raised will be evenly split between PALS (Pets Are Loving Support) and Lost-n-Found Youth. After winning RuPaul’s Drag Race, what kind of judge will she be? ‘I’m kind of the Paula Abdul of pageant judging. I always have an open mind and I’m glad that they asked me to come judge.’
Marilyn Manson and Rob Zombie come to Atlanta on Thursday for their ‘Twins of Evil’ tour. Were they some of Needles’ earlier influences? ‘Marilyn Manson was my Michael Jackson,’ she says. ‘For me, he was that idol when you’re a kid and you have all their posters and own all their albums and go to all of their shows. And you have this fantasy in your head that one day you can maybe be them.’
‘Marilyn Manson was my Michael Jackson…’
Does Manson still influence her? ‘As an adult he doesn’t influence me that much. I have tastes that are a little more underground and less Hollywood. When I was a kid it was and N’SYNC and all these other pop groups that were being turned out by a bullshit factory to make money. Then there was this Marilyn Manson person – and I loved that. He said rebel against your teachers and parents and worship Satan. I can’t believe more gay youth weren’t attracted to him instead of Britney Spears.’
Who were some of Needles’ other influences? ‘Elvira, horror films, Peg Bundy and bimbo culture, the 80′s, the high fashion of Alexander McQueen. I’m constantly submerged in documentaries and nightly news and pop culture. I wish Mitt Romney had a more distinguished look so I could dress like him.’
Needles says she has three costume options lined up for Halloween – the irony is not lost on her since she dresses up every night – but hasn’t chosen one yet. ‘Vincent Price because I love male characters and I never get to be one; The Bride of Frankenberry because if he had a bride I wonder what she would look like; and Latrice Royale because she’s beautiful and I love her!
I ask if Atlanta drag queens have influenced Sharon Needles. ‘I’m very inspired by the queendom of Atlanta – RuPaul, the most stunning, statuesque drag queen of all time; Lady Bunny, who is ridiculously talented; and of course, Nicole Paige Brooks!,’ she yells. ‘I would certainly say Atlanta is the mecca of drag.’
‘I’m in the Atlanta airport almost every day…’
How much competition, backstabbing, and cattiness exists among the RuPaul’s Drag Race contestants? ‘Before you’re on RuPaul’s Drag Race, it’s easy to say you don’t like someone and be bitchy. But – and I’m not just saying this – I worship every drag queen who has walked down RuPaul’s runway.’ But then it slips out – ‘Of course, there’s no competition with me, honey,’ she laughs.
I ask Needles what she likes about performing in Atlanta. ‘I’ve only performed in Atlanta once so far, so I didn’t get to see much of the city. But I LOVE the airport! People don’t realize this, but I’m actually in Atlanta almost every day. If I’m not with my boyfriend, I’m with Dan who works at the bar in Concourse B. He’s the most charming man in the world.’
- To learn more about Sharon Needles, visit her at SharonNeedles.com or follow her on Facebook and Twitter. Get a Sharon Needles PETA magnet here.
‘Stressful. Incredible. Amazing. Frustrating. Fabulous. Exhausting. Rewarding.’ Those are the words Josh Kilmer-Purcell uses to describe competing on this season’s ‘The Amazing Race.’ ‘I could go on and on. It was simply the biggest experience I’ve ever had, and we were very fortunate to be chosen,’ he says.
‘It was truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,’ echoes Brent Ridge, Josh’s partner of 15 years. ‘As we’ve gotten older and more mature in our relationship, we’ve learned that the memories you build with one another are the most valuable possession you’ve got. Even more valuable than a million dollars.’
The two certainly have some memories. While Brent was a practicing physician, Josh was dating a crack-addicted hustler and moonlighting as a drag queen named Aquadisiac in New York. He wrote about those experiences in ‘I Am Not Myself These Days,’ a memoir that became a New York Times bestseller.
To stand out from all the other drag queens, he wore live goldfish in his costume. And of course, PETA protested.
‘They sent me a letter,’ Josh explains. ‘And they were kinda right about it. While none of my fish were harmed by appearing in my drag costume breasts, I’m sure it wasn’t the most pleasant experience for them. I wouldn’t do it again.’
Although he hasn’t done drag for over 15 years, Josh says his favorite Atlanta drag queen is Charlie Brown. ‘She and the Goddess Raven will forever hold the top spots in my heart.’
The couple met in New York City in 2000 and have been together every since. In 2007, they purchased a 19th century farmhouse in Sharon Springs, New York to launch a lifestyle business, Beekman 1802. Today, they grow 80% of their own food and sell soaps, homegoods and other items on their Web site.
‘I love the history of the Beekman Mansion,’ says Josh. ‘I love feeling like Brent and I were somehow ‘chosen’ to be stewards of this 208-year-old property for as long as we’re able to. Sometimes, I feel that the house is taking care of us as much as the reverse. Brent agrees. ‘What we like most is that living on the farm gives us the opportunity to learn something new every single day, and we are better people because of that.’
In fact, the farm may even be haunted. Brent reveals that according to a local energy reader, there are five spirits who reside in the house. ‘The strongest one is a young girl who thinks we’re her imaginary friends. The name ‘Mary’ is carved into one of the hallway floors in a childlike scrawl, so we’ve named this girl ghost Mary. ‘She follows us around the house laughing,’ says Josh.
Of course, like Brent’s former employer Martha Stewart, life on the Beekman farm is captured on camera for ‘The Fabulous Beekman Boys,’ a reality show now in it’s second season on the Cooking Channel.
‘You’re going to see a lot more of our life on the farm, and possibly a Beekman wedding,’ says Brent.’ Josh wrote about their experiences in his book, ‘The Bucolic Plague: How Two Manhattanites Became Gentleman Farmers, An Unconventional Memoir,’ last year.
Brent wooed Martha Stewart by writing her a letter while she was incarcerated. ‘When I was planning a new center for the care of older adults in my previous life as a physician, I wrote Martha a letter in prison presenting an argument as to why she should be the Center’s benefactor.
That’s how the Martha Stewart Center for Living at Mount Sinai came to be, and now it’s one of the largest outpatient clinical care centers for older adults in America.’ Stewart later asked Brent to be the Vice President of Healthy Living at her company, Martha Stewart Omnimedia. He accepted, and they’ve remained friends even after his position ended during the recession.
‘Martha the boss is very different from Martha the friend,’ Brent says. ‘She’s an exacting person, and I like that. Ambiguity really is inefficient. I’ve learned two things from her: Make a decision and be confident in it. And when you’re done changing, you are done. Those are words I still live by.’
Josh tells me he’s working on a new book, perhaps another memoir. Last year, the duo published ’The Beekman 1802 Heirloom Cookbook‘ with recipes from their farm. ‘There are so many great autumn flavors,’ says Brent. ‘Right now we’re making butternut squash lasagna rolls, roasted cauliflower soup, and the Company Is Coming Apple Cake.’ Josh also loves the lasagna rolls, ‘They’re so incredibly simple, yet elegant enough for a dinner party.’ Next up is a dessert cookbook, ’1802 Heirloom Desserts,’ due out next October plus a furniture line based on rural life.
On October 27th, the two will sign their cookbook at the Morningside Farmers Market, the only certified organic produce farmers market in Atlanta. When I ask why it’s important for people to shop at a farmers market instead of a grocery store, Brent says, ‘In the midst of such an important election year, we think it’s critical that people vote with their wallets. It may cost you a little more to buy produce and goods at the farmers market, but those dollars are staying in your own community. Those things make a difference.’
Josh points out that ‘besides the obvious health benefits of buying the freshest food, there are also environmental benefits. When you buy a strawberry shipped in from Chile, you’re responsible for the carbon footprint of getting that berry from Chile to your mouth. A farmer’s pickup truck that travels 30 miles from a local farm to the farmer’s market has a much smaller footprint than a tanker ship or a freight plane.’
Later that day, Brent and Josh will demonstrate several of their recipes at the Country Living Fair in Stone Mountain. ‘We’ve had a long partnership with Country Living Magazine,’ says Brent. ‘They’ve been great supporters of Beekman 1802, so we love visiting the fair and meeting with their readers.’ Josh agrees. ‘The people who attend are always incredibly enthusiastic and friendly. We always get a great crowd. And the vendors that set up the booths are probably the best curated we’ve ever seen.’
The Fabulous Beekman Boys appeared at the Country Living Fair last year, and Josh signed his memoir at Outwrite Bookstore in 2006. ‘I love that Atlanta is as current on trends as any American city, but miraculously doesn’t have the stress that comes with trying to stay out in front,’ says Josh. ‘We love meeting the people and eating the food at every place we visit,’ says Brent.
Having just celebrated Atlanta Pride, I ask the two what they’re most proud of. ‘Having tried many things in life that I didn’t necessarily think I would enjoy,’ says Josh. ‘I often didn’t enjoy them. But, I would have enjoyed ‘not trying’ a lot less.
‘The Fabulous Beekman Boys’ was the first reality show in history to focus on a gay couple in a long-term relationship,’ says Brent. ‘So much homophobia exists because of lack of exposure. We are so grateful that our production company, World of Wonder and Discover Communications gave us the opportunity to expose a wide swatch of America to the boring, normal people that we are.’
- Meet The Fabulous Beekman Boys in Atlanta on Saturday, October 27th. They sign their ‘Beekman 1802 Heirloom Cookbook’ first at Morningside Farmers Market at 9 a.m., followed by a cooking lesson and meet and greet at the Country Living Fair in Stone Mountain. Morningside Farmers Market is located in the parking lot adjacent to Rosebud, 1397 North Highland Avenue in Virginia-Highland.
‘I’d say, STOP BULLING!’
It’s no secret that family is, how shall we say, ‘open minded.’ When we were heading to her house to ‘sinterview her and her mom, June the Coupon Queen, we had no idea what to expect.
10 minutes away from their house, June called my cell phone: ‘I was going through your Facebook page, and I just have a question: Are you family?’ she asked. Then the line went dead. Apparently, there’s not much cell service – or anything else for that matter – in McIntyre, Georgia.
‘Oh no,’ I thought. ‘She’s probably real conservative and found out I was gay and now doesn’t want me coming to her house, after I’ve just driven two hours from Atlanta!’ But June called back. ‘Sorry for asking, but I figured you might be family. Alana LOVES family!’
Turns out Alana’s Uncle Lee, who she calls ‘Poodle,’ is openly gay and they are very close. Now Alana calls all of her gay fans ‘Poodles.’ The U.K.’s Daily Mail reports that Alana May have outed five months before he officially came out by calling him a ‘Poodle’ on his show.
‘If someone in my class was being bullied, I would say: STOP BULLYING!’ Alana says. June chimes in, ‘I don’t care who you are, nobody should be bullied. Big small, ugly fat, nobody should bully anybody, that’s just wrong.’
- ‘Here Comes Honey Boo Boo‘ airs Wednesday nights at 10 on TLC.
‘We actually pulled phrases and titles
from Cosmo and put them in the lyrics…’
One night several years ago, Leah LaBelle heard that one of her favorite bands, N.E.R.D., was playing a special show in her hometown of Seattle. An admirer of its lead singer Pharrell Williams, LaBelle was not about to let not having a ticket stop her from meeting him. She sweet-talked her way into a backstage meet-and-greet, and when Williams appeared, marched up to him and said, ‘I’m a singer and I just want to tell you that I’m a huge fan and you’re going to produce my album on day.’
Recalling the memory now, LaBelle shakes her head and laughs.
I don’t know what came over me, normally I’m not that bold, but clearly I was on a mission. I didn’t want to seem like a crazy, psycho fan, I wanted him to know that I sang. But of course in that moment, you’re always thinking, ‘I hope I get discovered today.’ I just went for it.’
LaBelle didn’t get discovered that day. She was only able to chat with Williams for a few minutes before he was hustled away to perform. But her prediction that he would produce her album did come true. Williams is responsible for half of the songs on LaBelle’s upcoming debut album, with the other half produced by another industry heavy-hitter, . The two have signed her to a joint venture with Williams’ label I Am Other. Dupri’s label So So Def and Epic Records, now headed by L.A. Reid, who was bowled over by LaBelle’s soulful voice, edgy style and playful spirit.
Since signing, LaBelle has been in the studio with Williams in Miami and Dupri in Atlanta, recording a series of summery, hook-laden jams like her first single, ‘Sexify‘ – a lighthearted, girl-talk song that was inspired by a series of Cosmopolitan magazine coverlines. ‘We wanted to capture that cool girl who talks about love, life, sex, fashion, style, everything – so we actually pulled phrases and titles from the magazine and put them in the lyrics,’ LaBelle explains.
‘Pharrell really encouraged me to embrace the fun, fearless side of my personality. I hope that song inspires girgls to feel free to be sexy to guys while still being true to themselves.’
LaBelle also gets a chance to express her love for hip-hop on the breezy ‘Boxx Chevy,’ which Dupri wrote and produced. ‘I love music with beats that bump and go straight into your soul,’ she says. ‘that song has a harder aspect to it, but it’s still girly. It was fun to tap into that character and go to a different place. Pharrell and JD bring out different sides of me. Both are true to who I am.’
LaBelle’s personal story is as rich and textured as her music. Her parents met in their native Bulgaria where both were well-known performers. Her mother sang in an Abba-esque pop group while her father was a guitarist in one of Bulgaria’s first rock groups. Back then Bulgaria was a community country, and her father was imprisoned several times for offenses such as having long hair. Unwilling to raise children in such a controlling environment, LaBelle’s parents defected to Canada while on tour, and had Leah while they were living in Toronto. After a few months, the family moved to Pennsylvania where they struggled to make ends meet.
My mom cleaned CVS parking lots. She was literally picking up cigarette butts by hand off the concrete. It was hard for them to go from being famous to being nobody knowing or caring who they were.’
Eventually the family made its way to Tacoma, Washington, where LaBelle’s parents formed a pop group called Double Freedom, which toured the U.S. However, their marriage faltered during those years and after the couple divorced, Leah and her mom moved to Seattle. ‘My mom had to start over by herself,’ she says. ‘It was jut the two of us. We didn’t know anybody. It was really rough.’
When LaBelle was seven, her mother took her to see ‘Sister Act 2,’ and young Leah fell hard for its star, a pre-Fugees Lauryn Hill, who belts out a hip-hop inspired version of ‘Joyful Joyful‘ in a pivotal scene.
‘Lauryn Hill became my role model for days. I had been singing with my parents since I was three, but when I saw her, I knew I wanted to perform.’
From there, LaBelle’s career took many twists and turns. At 10, she joined a prominent Seattle gospel choir, which she performed with until she was 16. ‘I really grew into myself as a singer during that time,’ she says. It was where I discovered my soul and my depth because gospel music so passionate.’
at 17, she auditioned for Season 3 of ‘‘ and made the finals – an experience she credits with teaching her some hard lessons about the music business. ‘It taught me that work ethic, but also to stay true to yourself and to listen to your gut because most of the time you’re right.’
After graduating from high school, LaBelle enrolled in Boston’s prestigious Berklee College of Music, but only stayed for a year. She moved to Los Angeles and began plying her trade as a backup singer, touring with artists such as Keri Hilson, Jordin Sparks, and Eric Benet. She also pursued her solo career, but after many false starts with people making promises they didn’t keep, LaBelle was ready to give up.
‘My mom said, ‘What are you doing? Figure out your life. The thought of losing her support was a real bottoming-out moment for me. I was like, ‘I think I’m done,’ and I would have never ever said that about music.’
The day after she spent the night crying herself to sleep, LaBelle woke up to tweets that both Williams and Dupri were trying to contact her. They had seen her YouTube videos and were trying to reach her through the site to no avail. Within days of meeting, she was signed to their labels and Epic Records. ‘I have been so humbled by this whole experience,’ LaBelle says. ‘L.A. Reid asked me if I was ready for everything to change and I said, ‘You have no idea. I’ve been ready my entire life.’
- To learn more about Leah LaBelle, visit LeahLaBelle.com or follow her on Facebook and Twitter. Her debut album arrives Fall 2012.
The film, releasing June 15th, features interviews with over 30 rappers including Ice Cube, Common, Kanye West, Dr. Dre, NAS, Sandy Denton from Salt N’ Peppa, and Eminem. It journeys from rap’s beginnings in New York City (East Coast) to Los Angeles (West Coast).
Atlanta is left out, which Ice-T says is because ‘the Atlanta rappers were too busy. I tried, but I couldn’t get everyone. I wanted . was off making a movie ['Steel Magnolias']. But the film isn’t really about the rappers, it’s about the art of rap.’
Eminem talks about how rap saved his life. ‘Rap is all I was ever good at. Without rap, I wouldn’t have been good at anything,’ he says. All are driven, hard-working, and pay credit where credit is due, often to their predecessors. They are more artistic than you might think, as evidenced by shots showing how the rappers carefully craft words onto paper.
Ice-T says he named the movie ‘The Art of Rap’ because it really is about the art. ‘Today, all people care about is the gossip. What I’m wearing, who I’m [sleeping with], what I’m doing. The art has been lost.’
Here are more tidbits Ice-T shared at the screening:
On the state of rap today:
‘Rap is an art form that started in America, but people treat it as a joke. I just want it to go on forever, and there’s nothing wrong with that.’
On violence in rap:
‘If you listen to my albums, I always die or I talk about the downside of the game. Real rappers would never put stuff out there without a conscience. When they do, it comes back to them. You have to be able to do your rap in a prison and have them believe it.’
‘I don’t care about black people. If I only cared what black people thought, I wouldn’t have married a white woman.
On work ethic:
‘Rap is a lot of work. When you see Dr. Dre’s house in the movie, you can tell he works.’
On breaking in:
‘It’s hard for new rappers today, because the radio stations are owned by Clear Channel, which is a corporation. You have to fit into their mold of what they want, which is usually pop. Sometimes an artist wants to do real rap, but they get sucked into that pop vortex because they want to eat. And there are no more record stores, so really the only place to find music these days is on the radio.’
On why the film is so funny:
‘Homies are actually funny – until we shoot you. [Laughs] I wanted to show the rappers as I know them. If you watch Coco and I [on E!'s 'Ice Loves Coco'], you see that we’re funny.
Along with revealing to Kaye that there will be no more Housewives cities for now (‘Never say never, but I think we’re good’), here are 5 more tidbits Cohen revealed during his talk at SCAD Atlanta:
- He enjoys a Diet Coke from Chick-fil-A – ‘I didn’t realize they are anti-gay!’
- His favorite Housewives song is Tardy for the Party‘ – ‘I have to give it up for ‘TFP’ – I feel like we created an empire around that. It was the best theme song for ‘Watch What Happens Live’ until ['Flipping Out's'] Jenni Pulos did our rap.’ (See our Kim Zolciak Interview). ‘s ‘
- He thinks Bethenny Frankel is funnier than Lisa Vanderpump – ‘I’m friends with Bethenny. Every time we hang out, she just cracks me up.’ (See our Bethenny Frankel Interview).
- His last celebrity hookup? ‘I guess it would have to be Lance Bass.’
- He will not be replacing Regis Philbin – ‘I will not – I have my own show, 5 nights a week.’
And his response to criticism of the Real Housewives and reality TV in general? ‘I’m proud of every show we’ve ever done – every single one.’
Cohen, who had just flown in from L.A., stayed almost an hour after his talk to sign books and take photos with fans before jetting home to New York City.
Check out these behind-the-scenes pix from Andy Cohen’s CNN interview and book signing at SCAD Atlanta…
Watch Andy Cohens’ opening remarks to SCAD Atlanta below…
On the season finale of last night, revealed her new line of Bedroom Kandi sex toys at a party for fans. Here she is giving us a more up-close-and-personal demonstration. Kandi is currently expanding her empire with a network of in-home Bedroom Kandi party reps. She tells us she wants the party network to be ‘just like Tupperware, only with a different kind of plastic!’ Apply here.
Kandi says her show, which gives two aspiring hopefuls a chance at the music business, is different from other music programs like , The Voice, and X-Factor.
‘Our show is totally different. We take you through the whole process of being an artist. It’s not even just about the artist, it’s about the whole team, and can we even accomplish this? You see us getting frustrated and agitated sometimes.’
Thousands of people applied for the chance to come to Atlanta be mentored by Kandi and her team. Bravo narrowed the applicants down to 50, and Kandi chose two from there.
‘We wanted to take two people who may not had been the best vocal talent, but really wanted it. It was hard looking at the tapes, because everybody liked someone different.’
In the end, Kandi chose Melissa, a young single mom and Matthew, a college guy who had been going through some personal difficulties with his family. ‘His story really touched our heart. I love the underdog.’
As we all know from the hit song ‘Tardy for the Party’ Kandi wrote for fellow cast member , the voice isn’t everything. Some may argue in today’s world, anything.
In fact, Kandi says there are three main ingredients necessary to cook up the perfect pop star:
‘I feel as a music industry vet, in order to make a mark when you first come out, you have to have the right image, the right song, and a good stage show. It’s one thing for people to like your song, but when they see you perform, you don’t want to crash and burn.’
Kandi wrote an original song for each person on ‘The Kandi Factory.’ The first episode is a 90-minute pilot. If it gets picked up, Kandi hopes to showcase two new aspiring performers on each episode.
‘That means I have to write two new songs every time. It’s a lot more work, but an opportunity to give a lot more people exposure to the world. A lot of people just need that chance to be seen.’
- ‘The Kandi Factory’ premieres Sunday, March 4th at 10 p.m. on Bravo following ‘.’
“I literally fell out of my mother’s
womb and landed in her high heels.“
Jordan played Mr. Blackly, Emma Stone’s newspaper boss in the film. He’s also known for his work in ‘Will & Grace‘, ‘Sordid Lives‘, and his one-man shows ‘Like A Dog on Linoleum’ and ‘My Trip Down the .’ Carpet
You’re from the South, where did you grow up?
I grew up about an hour and a half above Atlanta in a little town in Chattanooga, Tennessee called Missionary Ridge. You can have it if you want it!
You lived in Atlanta for a while also, right?
Well I came out of the closet in 1973 and had to find my tribe, so I moved to Atlanta. I was always sort of out but not really… I mean I had been sneaking into gay bars since I was 16!
Tell me about ‘Lost in the Pershing Point Hotel‘ which was a real hotel in Atlanta. You wrote and starred in a film about it by the same name.
The Pershing Point Hotel was at the corner of Peachtree and West Peachtree and just filled with hookers, whores and queers! It was sort of like the Chelsea Hotel in New York City. Home to rift-raft.
I lived there for a time in the 70s when I first got to Atlanta, and was lost both literally and figuratively. I used to get so high that I couldn’t even find my own apartment!
It was right at the start of Atlanta’s growing gay scene. I remember Colony Square was being built, and Piedmont Park and Ansley Mall were becoming the places to go if you were gay.
What was it like for you being gay and growing up in the South?
Sitting on the pews of the Baptist church in Tennessee is where I really learned to hate myself. You feel so abandoned when you’re gay and raised in the church.
My spiritual adviser once said to me, ‘You’re a fag hating fag.’ I quickly realized that growing up in a devout Christian home was the cause of a lot of my problems.
I didn’t have a choice being gay – I mean I literally fell out of my mother’s womb and landed in her high heels!
Now that you’ve been sober for years, can you talk about your addiction?
It’s funny, when I was loaded I had no trouble being gay. So I stayed loaded for 30 years!
The 70s were all about disco and Quaaludes, the 80s were about cocaine and lots of money, and in the 90s everyone was dying from AIDS.
You can drink forever, but I had to quit doing drugs because I really thought I was going to die. Then all of a sudden, I was 40 years old and didn’t know how to be gay without them.
Is it true you went to jail five times?
I was very popular in the L.A. County Jail! But I don’t think for the right reasons. I’m a big talker, which is great if you’re in jail. Being able to tell stories helps a lot, especially if you’re 4′ 11″!
You played Brother Boy, a cross-dressing gay man who craved attention in Sordid Lives. Were you always so dramatic?
Oh yes. I used to pull out my pee pee in malls to get attention! My mother always said, ‘Can’t you just whisper your problems to a therapist instead of acting them out for the world to see?’
My friend Del Shores wrote Sordid Lives, which was actually four short plays that ended up all together. My part of the movie was a play called ‘The Dehomosexualization of Brother Boy.’
How is your life now?
I’m a lot happier now and am artistically saturated. I got a lot of notoriety for doing Will & Grace, but I was sort of an aging show pony.
They’d trot me out on stage, I’d do my thing, then they’d trot me back off. But in my plays I have a say in the writing and direction. They’re about my real-life journey into sobriety and queerdom.
Do you wish more characters would come out?
Yeah. You know, lesbians have their heroes in Ellen and Rosie, but gay men don’t really have any. I sort of wish a big butch athlete would come out.
What I learned from working on Will & Grace was that we can put a face on homophobia through laughter.
Despite your childhood, are you a religious person now?
Someone once said, ‘religion is for people who are afraid of going to Hell, and spirituality is for people who have been there.’ Even though I feel like I was spiritually raped as a child, I’m not a deeply spiritual person.
Are you looking forward to coming back to Atlanta?
I’m always excited to come back to Atlanta, because it’s the South and only an hour and a half from my hometown.
When ‘Like a Dog on Linoleum’ was playing in Los Angeles I would walk out on stage and know that there were about four southerners in the audience. Sometimes I felt like I was at a pony show!
I’m like Ethel Merman – I can cry out of one eye and work the stage with the other, so get ready!