Script for June 2003, QMH:
Burt Topper - the gay teenager
Welcome to Queer Voices on KPFT and I'm JD Doyle. By now you probably have already figured out that this edition of Queer Music Heritage is going to be a little different. Like all my shows it's still devoted the music of our culture, but on tonight's show I'll be playing some very unusual selections. I'd kind of be surprised if you've heard more than one or two of these songs before. I'm calling this my Songs I've Been Meaning To Play Show. And a lot of these recordings just would not have fit on my other shows, like the opening number. It's a strange sort of spoken word song narrated by Burt Topper. The track is called "The Gay Teenager" and it appeared on a soundtrack from 1967 from a very obscure movie that had two titles, "Teenage Rebellion" and "Mondo Teeno." I've never seen it but it's been described as a pseudo-documentary portrait of Hollywood's Sunset Strip, with commentary on the clubs, drugs and other vices present.
Okay, if you're looking for continuity from song to song on this show, well, you've caught the wrong edition of QMH, as tonight's selections will careen all over the map. A good example is this next song, and it's dedicated to Jimmy Carper, who produces the show AfterHours on KPFT. I heard it first on his show, and he got me started doing radio, so blame him. The song is from 1957. It's by Billy Devrow & the Devilaires, and is called "The Queer Policeman."
Devroe - the queer policeman (1957)
I followed Billy Devroe by an act called the BeeJays. I have a hunch where they got their name but won't speculate further. Their 45 came out in 1980, and of course the song they mangled was the Girl Group classic "My Boyfriend's Back," originally done by the Angels, in 1965.
Also from the mid-60s are these next two songs, and they are both very obscure unreleased demos.
The first one is sung by Roger Cook. He and his songwriting partner Roger Greenaway were from England and were fairly successful in the late 60s and early 70s. One of their most well known songs was turned into this commercial that you should recognize.
New Seekers - I'd like to buy the world a Coke
In those days it was common for songwriters to record their own songs as demos, used to try to interest producers in recording the songs, so the gender of the singer on a demo really didn't matter. In England in the 60s there was a potato chip product called Golden Wonder Crisps, and their TV ads featured a super-hero-type kid called Golden Wonder Boy. This song was made for the ad campaign, but it's not known if it was ever used. So, here's Roger Cook on lead, with writing partner Roger Greenaway singing "Golden Wonder Boy." It will be followed by a mystery song.
Roger Cook &
Roger Greenaway - golden wonder boy (60s)
After "Golden Wonder Boy" was a demo called "I'll Make Him Mine." That's the mystery song. I got it on tape in the 80s from a collector friend of mine in London. Many hard-core collectors have tried to uncover who the writer or singer is on it, or anything more about it, with no success. All I know is it sure would have been great in the 60s to have heard a song like that on the radio.
Next up are a series of gay-related recordings involving the movies. I say recordings rather than songs because they are movie ads that were issued to radio stations to play as commercials. These are all 7 and 12 inch vinyl pressings, and are quite rare. I'll start with the oldest one, from 1968, for the Rod Steiger movie "The Sargeant," about a homosexual Army sergeant and his desire for a handsome private. And it's followed by ads for "The Staircase" from 1969. That movie starred Rex Harrison and Richard Burton and mainly went for the shock value of seeing those stars pretending to be two very stereotypical pathetic old queens. You'll hear three short ads for that one.
It's kind of amazing in this world of "Will & Grace" to remember how closeted the ads for movies like these were, and how they tried to rely on titillation. Here are a couple more. The first one is for the lesbian-themed movie from 1968 called "The Fox." It starred Sandy Dennis and Anne Heywood and had the typical ending in those days of death and betrayal.
The Fox (1968)
But the gay related movies of that time were not all heavy-handed dramas, some were pathetic comedies. This one is for a movie from 1970 I've always wanted to see but have never had the chance. It's called "Some of My Best Friends Are " I've got the press kit for the movie (which by the way you can see on my website) and it describes the flick as "a penetrating insight to the gay world." Well, I doubt it. I have the impression it was one of those laugh at, not laugh with movies. Some of the stars you might know were Fannie Flagg, Rue McClannahan (later from the 'Golden Girls'), Sylvia Sims and Carleton Carpenter. We'll come back and visit Carpenter again in a few minutes. But here are two movie radio ads for "Some of My Best Friends Are "
Some of My Best Friends Are (1970)
Gee, I still wish I could see that movie.
[ 2008 Update: the movie has now been released on DVD, Click Here (and scroll down) for info ]
My last movie ad is for the 1969 comedy "Gay Deceivers." This movie is actually not that bad, and has even been released on DVD. The plot is two straight boys pretending to be a gay couple in order to beat the draft and stay out of the Army. Female Impersonator Michael Greer plays the very campy, gay landlord where they set up their fake housekeeping. You can also see the press kit for this film at my website. For this movie there was even a tie-in recording, a 45 rpm record called "Gay Deceivers" sung by one of the actors, Kevin Coughlin (cog-lin) . You'd hear the movie ad first and then the song.
I wanted to come back to Carleton Carpenter, one of the stars of the movie "Some of My Best Friends Are ," because he was a fairly openly gay actor for those times. He was in many Broadway musicals and several movies in the 50s. His big claim to fame is a duet he did with Debbie Reynolds in a movie from 1950 called "Two Weeks With Love." The song from the movie was a smash hit, and I guess it tells us something about the tastes of those times. Here are Carleton Carpenter & Debbie Reynolds singing "Aba Daba Honeymoon." Mostly it's Debbie who does the singing, and I'm just going to play a little bit of it because that's probably all you can stand.
Debbie Reynolds & Carleton Carpenter - aba daba honeymoon (1951)
Carleton Carpenter is still alive and is now 77 and I've read that in recent years he's been doing local theatre.
On to an actor who's lately in the news again, because he finally came out of the closet. At age 69 Richard Chamberlain decided it was time, or maybe it was just in time to help sell his new book. In the 60s he was a TV star on the show "Dr Kildare" and, like many TV idols of the day, released records, whether they could really sing or not. He managed to get four top twenty hits out of it, including his biggest hit "The Theme from Dr Kildare," also called "Three Stars Will Shine Tonight." It made it to #10 on the Billboard charts in 1962.
Richard Chamberlain - three stars will shine tonight (1962)
Next up are two folks songs, one from 1997 and one from about 60 years earlier. We'll start first with the one from 1936. I consider it one of those songs that are accidentally gay. It's a recording of an old folk traditional song and sounds gay because males are singing it. It's done by Bill and Charlie Monroe, the Monroe Brothers. By the early 1940s they split up as an act and Bill Monroe eventually became known as the father of bluegrass music. But here are the Monroe Brothers doing "Where Is My Sailor Boy." And it will be followed by a folk song where I don't think that it was accidental that it comes across as gay.
- where is my sailor boy (1936)
After the Monroe Brothers you heard Paul Warren from his CD "How Can I Keep From Singing," from 1997. He sang the Carter Family song "I'm Thinking Tonight of My Blue Eyes."
I started that little break with the theme from Masterpiece Theatre, I always wanted to do that. And this next song could hardly be further away from the dignity of that piece. The artist goes by the name Indigo Etheridge (get it?) and the song is called "Monogamous Slut."
Indigo Etheridge - monogamous slut (2001)
Now, wasn't that refreshing.
The CD is called "Co-dependent Obsessive Love Ain't So Bad (So
Leave the Window Open)." As I said, for this album the artist
goes by Indigo Etheridge, but I've met her and know her real name
is Julie Goldman, and as you might expect, her live act is lots of
fun. She even has a video of that song. Now isn't that scary?
JD Collage (3:38)
Okay, I got that out of my system. Now for another song I'm pretty sure you haven't heard. It's by an artist named Jim Colleran, and I met him last year in New York City at one of the Outmusic Open Mics. Before he even finished this song I was getting my business card out of my wallet to give to him. He later sent me this song on a demo CD, so this may be the radio premier. It's called "Love The Sinner."
Jim Colleran - love the sinner (2002)
Again, that was Jim Colleran.
Since this is Gay & Lesbian Pride Month, I'm closing the show with a new gay pride anthem and I happen to know both the writer and singer. It's called "Proud & Free" and was written by Jon Gilbert Leavitt. Jon wrote another anthem that I love, simply called "Pride," and I was delighted have been probably the first to play it, way back on my first show in January of 2000. This time someone else is doing the singing, and he made a very good choice with the vocalist. It's sung by Deian McBryde. Deian is quite an accomplished singer, whose three albums demonstrate his ability to go effortlessly from pop to cabaret to jazz.
When I was in New York I managed to get quotes from both of them talking about the song. First is the writer, Jon Gilbert Leavitt. Jon, tell me about the writing of "Proud & Free"
When it came to the recording, you're not the singer this time. What happened?
No, I went with a real singer, I went with Deian McBryde who is a cabaret and pop performer in New York. He's got a very positive and addictive kind of musical personality. When he opens his mouth and sings he really brings people together and he brings people in with him and I thought there's no one better to sing a song like this than Deian McBryde.
And, I was also, at a different time, able to ask the singer, Deian McBryde, about "Proud & Free"
So, here's Jon Gilbert Leavitt's new pride song, as sung by Deian McBryde. It's called "Proud & Free."
Deian McBryde - proud and free (2003)