LATE NIGHT LAVENDER

LATE NIGHT LAVENDER

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

IT'S ALWAYS HAIRY IN PHILADELPHIA! Pierre Corvair Talks Bearlesque.














Philadelphia is famous for Independence Hall, the iconic Liberty Bell, and-- for foodies-- its soft pretzels and  cheesesteaks.  It's also the home of Tabu Lounge and Sports Bar, a seven-night-a-week hotspot which features everything from Drag Brunch on Sundays, to karaoke on Mondays and Thursdays, to many special events all year long.  The first Friday of every month, things get pretty hairy-- and hot!   Welcome to Bearlesque, the hybrid of Bears and Burlesque (with a touch of drag and gender-bending thrown into the recipe...)  One of Bearlesque's most colorful and visible performers is audience favorite Shaun Collins Faulkner, better known by his stage name (And oh, if that stage could talk...!) Pierre Corvair.  The performer, who knows a thing or two about getting the crowds excited, spoke with me about Bearlesque, what makes a Bear a Bear, and why you should head to the City of Beary-- uh, I mean Brotherly Love! 

JR: Hi Shaun.  Thanks for speaking with me.  So, how did the idea for Bearlesque get started?
PC: Who's Shaun? (Laughs) I barely go by my real name anymore! So please call me Pierre, all my friends do! Bearlesque is the brain child of Josh Schonewolf and Connor Michalchuk!  About a year and a half ago I met Connor at a dinner party at my house and we connected instantly. As the night progressed we discussed my career as a burlesque performer, I love a captive audience! He later performed a burlesque number in one of Josh's competition at Tabu. After the show Josh approached Connor about collaborating on a positive body image show which is what we now know as Bearlesque! Connor asked me to join and I jumped at the chance to be apart of such a positive show and message!   So I got my G-string out of moth balls and stopped bathing in Nair! (Laughs) But honestly, I owe a lot to these two men; for believing in me and breathing new life into my career! I will always be indebted to them!

JR: I am so happy you decided to "release the fleece" and liberate your body hair. (Laughs)  So, what was the craziest experience you've had while performing?  Did you ever have an audience member who ever got out of hand, or a crazy stalker?
PC: Hmmmm, the craziest experience... That's a tough one. I mean there was the time I slipped on stage mid-high kick and did an unplanned death drop.  Then there's the people who ask me for my underwear after a show! I've had men try to finger me and grab my cock, but that's part of being a stripteaser. I just coyly remove their hand and tell them that's not included in admission! (Laughs) I do get "yelled" at a bit for not responding to messages right then and there!  I find that to be a interesting reaction.  It's odd that people don't realize or think that I have a personal life and obligations! I'll get to it when I have time to devote to it. But it's not like that happens often-- thank God.  It's a little odd. I got recognized on the street for the first time a few weeks ago.  That was an interesting experience.  My date thought I paid the person to do that! (Laughs)

JR:  Oh, the tyranny of fame...!  So, to those who have never seen your show, what can a first-timer expect-- besides some hot and hairy guys peeling?
PC: Well, we have a very talent Sister Bear Pussy VonWeinermuff.  She is like the Hanoi Jane of burlesque and female drag queens. She is a amazing performer and activist! Not to mention a sexpot! We also have two amazing drag queens, the first being Philly's Premier Christian Drag Queen and an amazing comedy queen Bev! She always stops the show and will have you in stitches! The other is our very own baby drag queen Cara Kouture: She is such a rising star, so keep an eye out for her!!! And one of my favorite performs is Mika, who is a trans man! He is just so adorable and an amazing human being! I love him dearly! We have a great audience too!

JR: Awesome!  So... Boylesque, and burlesque in general, has been making a huge comeback lately.  Why do you think that is?
PC: We are perves! (Laughs) 
JR: How true!
PC: Honestly, I feel it's the economy and the want for something a little then the standard pole dancer or Chippendale! The people who go to burlesque shows are intelligent, and they want to be entertained and titillated! Burlesque is about the journey and about telling the story. It's foreplay on stage! It's about revving your engines! To be good at burlesque, you have to understand seduction, humor, and the art of the tease. 

JR: A lot of people think that being a Bear is all about how big you are or how much body hair you have.  But in your view, what makes a Bear a Bear?
PC: I think what makes a Bear a Bear would be sheer masculinity. Twinks, jocks, and other such identifiers focus on the boy, where as the Bear community focuses on what makes a man a man: hair, the musky sent of a man, and fucking like men. The Neo-Bear community is much more than a cuddly, furry, chubby man! It's Cubs, Otters, and Daddy's... Oh my!

JR: For people who have never been to Philadelphia, what are some of the things that the Bears must do while visiting-- besides going to Bearlesque at Tabu?
PC: First you have to check out The Bike Stop which is the Leather/Bear bar here! I love their jockstrap and underwear night in the dungeon (Winks)! We also have an amazing Drag culture here. On any given night, you can see a drag show with some really talented queens! Of course, there are also the museums and historical sites! Its the birthplace of America! Strangely enough, we have an amazing food scene... so eating a lot is definitely on the agenda.  Visit Geno's Steaks for a real Philly cheesesteak, of course!  We are also getting a Boxers soon, which I'm super excited about!











JR: As a sexy man who works in a sexy monthly show,  what do YOU personally find sexy in a guy?
PC: Amazing credit! (Laughs)  Intelligence, drive, independence, maturity, and being healthy physically and mentally! I also like a man who is a protector and a mentor! I am pretty "Take Charge" with my career and friendships, so I crave someone who can be my rock and take charge when I need them to! Talent is another one, whether it's art or business!  I need a man that with style and flare: Cary Grant and James Dean in one!















JR: Awesome!  So, what do you like to do in your spare time?
PC: Spare time? What is this you speak of? I'm working on so much right now! I have a new show starting in Atlantic City NJ: The Royal Burlesque Show at Scores! It will be every Sunday this summer! I'm working on a photo project that I'm calling "A New American Pin-Up", as well as working on ideas for my own show! I wanna do a show like one we've never seen before! So, look out for that! I'm always working on new routines and revamping old ones.  So when I do have spare time, I'm with my friends and family! Or I'm watching a old black and white movie or even a documentary! I'm also a very good chef, so when I need to refocus my energy, I'm in the kitchen! I'd love to do a YouTube channel on modern entertaining, dinner parties and soirees and such! I can't tell you how many people don't have a basic home bar or get overwhelmed planning a party? Is so simple and easy!

JR: (Laughs) That's ME!  I have become very skilled at  crashing other people's parties rather than learning to entertain myself... It's so much easier!  So, lastly: At what age do you think that a male or female burlesque artist should hang up his or her G-string once and for all?
PC: Brush burn on your balls and tits! Tempest Storm was bumping and grinding at 85 and is amazing! I think she busted her hip and had to stop! But for me personally, 45 is my expiration date! I think I'll be ready to settle down and have a family at that point or maybe just produce shows.  I don't know! That could change; Life is never set in stone! Sexuality never dies, so I like to think I'll still be desirable at any age!
JR: I've always believed that sexiness is ageless... so I look forward to seeing you still plying your trade for Bearlesque 2069!  Thanks, Pierre!

Celebrate independence and freedom at the next Bearlesque on Friday, July 4th at Tabu Lounge and Sports Bar, 200 S 12th St, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19107.  Visit the Bearlesque Facebook page at www.Facebook.com/BearlesquePhilly

(All photos of Pierre Corvair by John Donges Photography.  All photos of Bearlesque by Patrick Hagerty Photography.)

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

NEW YORK CITY "BEEFCAKE"! New York City Mover and Shaker Chris Reed talks about all things "Bear"!










NEW YORK CITY "BEEFCAKE"!
New York City Mover and Shaker Chris Reed talks about all things "Bear"!


Most guys know New York City promoter Chris Reed from his infamous Bear party "Beefcake" (now celebrating two years) or the popular Latin dance music party "Azucar" (AKA "Sugar") -- both held at the seven-night-a-week West Village hairy hotspot Rockbar. Reed is also a working actor and a photographer with an affinity for shooting the big hairy guys.  Reed says, "They tell me, 'Damn!  You make big boys look good!'  I tell them, 'They ALREADY look good.  They just don't see it.  Then, when I take their pictures and they get 100 'Likes' on Facebook, they realize it.  A lot people don't know how good-looking they are until you capture the right image, at the right time, on camera.  To me, it doesn't matter what your age is, or what your race is, or how much hair you have.  Sexy is sexy, and people have to realize that and embrace it."  Reed's latest, highly-anticipated project is "Beefcake: The Series", an upcoming Internet show which has stirred up a lot of buzz and excitement in the New York City Bear world-- and beyond!  Reed wrote, directed, and acts in the series.  The striking Bear mover and shaker met in New York City's Hell's Kitchen for an interview.  In between being mistaken for rapper/actor Common by a bunch of wide-eyed teenagers and receiving a casting call from his agent, we talk about the next big, hairy  thing he's got in store for us...

JR
: Hi Chris.  Thanks for speaking with me.  So, congratulations about the creation of "Beefcake: The Series".
CR: Thank you.  It's exciting.  I wanted do something kind of "East Coast Bear"-- something a little bit different from what we might have seen before.  I have a comedic background, and so I wanted something a little more gut-bustingly funny.  My comedy is very "dark" and "blue"... and I kind of "push the envelope" a lot.  So, that's where I'd like to go with the comedy in "Beefcake".  And, I also wanted to do something that highlights a lot of Bears of color-- Latino, Middle Eastern, Asian, African-American... because sometimes they get left out.  To me, that's what the Bear community is about: a mix of EVERYBODY.  When you look at the Bear flag, you have all those different colors on there... but sometimes, in a lot of the things that we've seen over the last two years, it's not represented. 

JR: That's what I like about where we live.  In New York City, you do see Bears of all colors partying together.
CR: Yes.  New York is so unique.  I have friends all over the country, and I travel to parties all over-- and in different areas of the country you have parties that are typically all or mostly White, and all or mostly Black, and all or mostly Latino... and not really a mix.  But in New York we have EVERYTHING.  It's so awesome, because there's always somebody there for everybody.  For me, that's what makes it a fun party.  I don't want to an all-Black or all-White or all-Latino party.  I want to go to where EVERYONE is represented.   That's what I want with "Beefcake"-- the party and the series.

JR: Gotcha!  So, what was the hardest part about getting "Beefcake: The Series" started?
CR: The funding.  We really didn't TRY to raise a lot of money.  Our goal was $5000, and we raised it in 21 days.  That was only about 35 to 40 donors.  We only wanted to do about six short episodes at first.  The other hard part was getting everyone together to coordinate the whole project.

JR: How was the response from the Bear community with the "Beefcake" Kickstarter campaign?  Were people supportive?
CR: People were VERY supportive.  Like I said, we raised the money in 21 days.  I was like, "Wow!  We should have had a bigger budget!" (Laughs)  But I just wanted to test the market, to see how it went, and to put it out there... and then, if there was a lot of interest, then we would possibly do some more and see what happens.  I think there is gonna be even more interest.  Even as we were shooting, people were laughing on the set.  If these guys were laughing while we were working, then people sitting at home watching it on their computer or on their Smartphones are gonna laugh too!

JR: I can't wait.  So, you mentioned about the divisions within the Bear communities.  A few years ago you heard a lot about "A List Bears" and "B List Bears", and today we hear a lot about segregation between MuscleBears and Chubs...
CR: Arrrgghhh!  I HATE it! I see it a lot.  In fact, I was just in Florida on vacation for three weeks, and that segregation is very big down there.  It's worse in Southern Florida than anywhere in the country.  But you do see it everywhere.  You have the Musclebears, your Bears, your Chubs... but I like it better when everyone is together.  Why can't we all just get together and party?  I don't really like those titles.  I think they're ridiculous.  I understand that Musclebears, for example, may want to hang out with other Musclebears, from a friendship point of view... maybe you work out at the gym a lot together. That's cool. But when it comes to going to a party, I think it's ridiculous to just have a category of people and just want to hang out with them the whole time.  I know that some muscle guys can be very arrogant-- and not want to speak to other people.  Again, it's ridiculous.  I believe that in New York, we are breaking down those barriers.  I see everybody hanging out together.  It's changed a lot over the last four years since I've been back in New York. 

JR: I always believed that a sexy man is a sexy man, and a fun guy is a fun guy, and a great party is a great party-- regardless of labels! So, it's too bad we still have these divisions...
CR: Yeah, it's a shame.  I just don't understand it either!  Atlanta, Georgia is bad too.  I have a friend in Atlanta who is mostly into Black guys, so he went to one of those clubs where everyone wants to go, and some guy walked up to him and said, "Excuse me... Do you know where you're at?"  He felt uncomfortable.  So, it's not just one category of people who are discriminatory or who are discriminated against.  It's everybody... every group of people.  That's why we have people who want to have "Beefcake" parties in different cities... but I don't know if they're ready for it.  Are they ready for that integration?  It's 2014-- why are we still talking about this?  Especially in the gay community, where we are always talking about equality and stuff like that... yet we have so much discrimination in our own community.  I had one guy tell me that he was "Bear Snobbish".  He only wanted to go to parties where there were other Bears.  I was like, "Wow!"  I understand that people have their preferences with what they want to see... but to say that other people are not welcome is a whole different ballgame.  It's just wrong!  I have friends who come visit to New York, and they come to "Beefcake", and they say, "What are THOSE guys doing here?"  For example, sometimes I'll get some transgendered people, and they may say, "What are THEY doing here?" I tell them that in New York City, it takes all kinds... and we all like to get together and have fun.  So, don't talk about a specific type or group, because we welcome everybody.  And that's what I want the show to be about!  I touch upon a lot those issues in the show.  We have a transgendered character, and those issues arise.  They're at the party, and someone asks what "that person" is doing there-- and the characters "get into it"   I want the show to be funny, but I also want it to open up some eyes.  Another issue we touch on the show is gay bashing.  I find that most of the gay bashing we see in the city is done to the smaller, more effeminate type of guys.  So, we have a scene where one of the guys is being attacked and then the Bears show up and say, "Why don't you pick on ME?!"  A lot of the guys I know are pretty big and no one is gonna mess with them.  I want to touch upon those issues, so we did.  We also have some characters who are gay geeks-- really into the comic books and superheroes!  I want people to be educated while they laugh, and let people know what the gay community is like in New York City.

JR: You've had an especially busy year.  What was one of the highlights or most memorable moment from the last year?
CR:  It's been creating the "Beefcake" web series.  I am so excited with the idea that a TV network might pick it up, or that some of the actors may get discovered and hired for a new show concept or whatever.  I wrote and created something that's funny and different, but that will also start an awareness... and, to brand myself as a writer and a comedic actor.  People see that I am tall and a big guy, so as an actor they see me as a cop or as a SWAT guy or a tough guy.  I get a lot of auditions for these bad guy roles.  So, to see me from a comedic side is what I want to do with "Beefcake"-- to get people to say, "Hey, this guy is actually funny!" as opposed to being seen as a guy who is gonna beat up somebody.  I love to do that kind of stuff, but I don't want to be pigeonholed into one kind of role.  I feel more natural doing comedy than playing a cop-- although I can pull off either one!  Self-producing: that's what it's all about!  I'm getting a lot of interest.  I've had people who I never even met who donated money to the series.  I can see that there's an interest and a demand for that kind of entertainment!   

JR: That's true.  The Bear community is really thirsting to see themselves represented more. 
CR: There are guys, even in the Bear community, who just don't know a lot about it! I myself didn't know anything about it until about eight years ago.  And then I was like, "This is hot!  These are some beefy, manly guys who like to go out and have fun together."  I went to my first Bear event when I was living in Orlando, Florida-- the Bear Bust and Tidal Wave.  I was like, "This is awesome.  This is great!  This is where I belong!"  I encounter people every month who say they've never been to a Bear bar or Bear event before, and they feel comfortable there. 

JR: I hear ya!  So, as a sexy guy who works with so many other sexy guys on a daily basis: What do YOU personally find sexy in a guy?
CR: (Laughs)I am into Beards, Bellies, and Butts!  That's what I like.
JR: (Laughs)I sort of suspected that, but I figured I'd ask you anyway!  Do you have a celebrity crush?
CR: Not really.  I think The Rock is hot, when I look at those big-ass arms!  He's hot-- and he doesn't have a beard, and he's smooth!  But I think that average, everyday people to me are sexy.  They don't have to pay for the way they look! (Laughs)  I'd say that the Bear image is becoming more popular in mainstream culture.  They highlight the Bear guy-- the chef John (Patrick Cox)-- in "Two Broke Girls".  The character is gay and he's funny as hell.  Also, there's Cam (Eric Stonestreet) in "Modern Family".

JR: What are your secrets for staying in such great shape?
CR: Black don't crack-- unless you smoke it! (Laughs) I am a diabetic, so I stick with a low carb diet most of the time.  I go to the gym at least four days a week.  I have to, to stay competitive as an actor. I eat right and exercise all the time.  Even when I am at work.  I was on this project and I was doing 500 pushups in a day.  I would bring my resistance band and my yoga mat to work, and I was doing situps and pushups on my break.  I found that once I started adding some muscles, I started getting more calls.  So, it's been a twofold thing.

JR: So, what's your favorite guilty pleasure?
CR: My favorite guilty pleasure? (Laughs) I guess it's partying.  I like to party!  Someone called me "The King of the Bears" one time because we always go out and have a good time!  That's the one thing about New York: we have a good time EVERY WEEKEND!  In some places, people go out and party once in a while, but in New York we party every weekend!  I like to have fun, and laugh, and make other people laugh.  So, hanging out with friends and having a good time is definitely my guilty pleasure.  

JR: Awesome!  So, lastly, where can people find out what you're doing?
CR: The best way is www.Facebook.com/BeefcakeParty. ; Also, www.Facebook.com/MrChrisReed is my page.  You'll be hearing about "Beefcake: The Series" on there soon!  We're planning on expanding "Beefcake" the party to other cities, even internationally.  I think that London is the first place I'd like to go to.  There are a lot of Bears there!
JR: Sounds GRRR-eat!!!






Chris Reed, George Hains, and Joe Fiore bring you The Poseidon Adventure Boat Cruise II on Gay Pride Weekend in New York City, Saturday June 28th!  Visit www.facebook.com/events/598148716901151/ for more info!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

THE PRIME OF MS. KAREN WYMAN!


THE PRIME OF MS. KAREN WYMAN!

The year was 1969.  Karen Wyman was just a wide-eyed 16-year old girl from the Bronx when she appeared on national television with entertainment legend Dean Martin.  Wyman wowed both Martin and the masses with her larger-than-life voice.  Many more TV appearances followed-- as did club gigs, seven albums, and enough celebrity stories to fill a week-long special on the E!  Network.  Needless to say, Karen's youth wasn't what you'd call "ordinary"!  How many teenage girls, after all, can brag about having Johnny Carson swim past them in the pool at the Beverly Hills Hotel during an earthquake?  Wyman took some time away from show business to have a family and to do some self-discovery.  Now, in 2014, she's ready to make people take notice of that amazing voice again. Wyman may be older and (much) wiser, but her vocal talents remain as unblemished as ever.  She launched her comeback at New York City's cabaret hotspot The Metropolitan Room in March with a show named, appropriately enough, "The Second Time Around".  Next up was a highly acclaimed performance at New York City's envied Symphony Space in May.  As a singer with a now-adult perspective on her career, some of her songs have found renewed meanings.  Wyman brings up a musical favorite which she performed as a teenager, and then sang again recently as an adult: "Why Can't I Walk Away".  Like its title suggests, is about being a relationship that you can't walk away from.  On doing that song as an adult, Karen tells me, "I sang that song intuitively.  Of course, now I understand what it means.  Everybody responds to it.  If I can't relate to a song, I can't do it.  I listen to a lot of beautiful songs, but I don't know if I want to do them.  I choose songs that I can sink my teeth into, that mean something to me.  One of my particularly favorites is 'Where Do You Start?'  It's a very heavy, dramatic song... and when I sing it, it's almost like I'm talking.  I am asking 'Where do you start?  Ho
w do you separate the present from the past?  How do you deal with all the thing you thought would last, that didn't last; With bits of memories scattered here and there, I look around and don't know where to start...'  At 16 years old,  I couldn't have sang that song... It would have sounded ridiculous.  So, in my head, I think I needed to grow up.  I felt that I was missing a lot of things.  It all happened so fast.  I think in my own way, I rebelled: I got married young to rebel, and I had a child very young-- which makes you grow up very fast! I was divorced at a young age, and remarried.  Unfortunately, I divorced again." She laughs and adds, "I'm not a professional 'marry-er'! Today I tell everyone, 'You're never gonna get married just once.  Figure it's gonna be twice!"  But anyway, I needed to grow up.  I didn't know who I was.  Even though I was on TV, I was shy.  I was insecure, and never thought of myself as 'Karen Wyman, young music star'-- or took it too seriously.  I was always very down to earth."

The down to earth and lovely singer met me in New York City to discuss her plans for the next big phase of her career... starting with this Monday June 16th at The 4th Annual Night of 1000 Judys, a comedy/variety show honoring Judy Garland.  (Here's an interesting bit of trivia: Wyman actually played Dorothy at the Municipal Opera House in 1975 in St. Louis, starring with the original Wicked Witch of the West, Margaret Hamilton!)

JR: Hi, Karen!  Thanks for speaking with me!  So, how does it feel to be performing again?
KW: It feels great.  It's a real high, it's euphoric, it's... it's the best thing that ever happened!  When I perform, I feel like I'm in love; like I'm walking on air.  That's how it feels!
JR: Wow!  That's great to hear.  So, when you first started out in the business as a teenager, what was your most rewarding or most memorable moment?
KW: To tell the truth, it was meeting Dean Martin.  It was the first thing that I ever did professionally.  He was the first star that I ever met in my life.  He was a major star, and meeting him made a major impression on me.  It was really like a fairy tale.  And, of course, there was meeting Ed Sullivan.  When I worked with Carol Burnett and all the other major stars, it was great! I didn't get "jaded"-- I still felt "up there".  But the first impact of meeting Dean Martin and Ed Sullivan was major.  I can't believe that a little girl from the Bronx met a major Hollywood star.  It was mind blowing.  I think my mouth was hanging wide open.  I mean, I was a kid, and even at that age I knew how good-looking he was!  You know who else I met?  Cary Grant. 
JR: Wow!  I'd rather have met Clark Gable myself, but why not?
KW: (Laughs) I met him at a Faberge party... It was a big gala.  At that point he had the white hair, you know...! But I just stood there, again with my mouth wide open, and was like, "Hel-lo!".  I also met Fred Astaire, Burt Lancaster, Lucille Ball, Fred MacMurray...
JR: Was there anyone who you met which was NOT a pleasant experience or happy memory?
KW: You know, there wasn't.  You know who else I met?  I was on the lot of Universal or one of those... I was a kid and I had my sheet music in my hand. My manager and the agent were talking, and this big tall man comes up to me and asks, "What have you got there?"  I was like 16 and a half and I said, "That's my sheet music."  He went on to ask, "What song is it?"  I was talking to him about my music, and then I realized that the tall man was Clint Eastwood!  He just started talking to me.  He was very sweet and nice.  I guess he felt sorry for me, a kid in the middle of all these adults!   He probably would never remember me now!  I used to hang out with Victor Garber.  We had the same manager, Kenny Greengrass.  He was in a singing group at the time.  I remember him when he had that big Afro!  I hadn't seen him in like 100 years, and then I saw him a few years ago at a restaurant on the Upper West Side.  He remembered me. So, I was really around a lot of stars.  And I must add that Carol Burnett was one of the nicest ladies on the planet.  She made me feel so welcome.  She's just a beautiful human being. 
JR: Too bad you were too young to get into trouble!
KW: (Laughs)
JR:  So, let's fast forward to 2014... and since you've started performing again, what has been the most rewarding moment lately?
KW: The most exciting thing was performing at Symphony Space.  I had already gotten my feet back on the ground, and when I did Symphony Space it was like I knew who I was again.  The "Second Time Around" shows at the Metropolitan Room were great and exciting, but I was still finding myself.  They were like rehearsals: you just keep getting better and better and more comfortable.  But when I sang in front of the 800 people, it felt really, really good.  I just felt wonderful.  I'd like to do more of those.
JR: Eight hundred people.  Wow!
KW: Twenty, forty. eighty, one hundred, eight hundred... That never bothered me!
JR: Damn!  So, you mentioned to me that you'd like to move into a different musical direction...
KW: I think that I am definitely "The American Songbook", but I'd also like to sing songs from my generation: the 70's, the 80's... which would be The Beatles, Billy Joel... They are MY age group, and I could do it in MY genre.  I know that people my age are gonna say, "Hey, I know that song!"  The old songs are wonderful, and even people our age still want to hear the great songs from the 20's, 30's, et cetera... but they also want to hear the songs they grew up with.  So, I want to take another approach with the new act.  I would start listening to maybe Neil Diamond, and maybe Jimmy Webb... These were MY time.  I'm always gonna stick with the classics.  They are timeless.  My comeback show "The Second Time Around" had a theme.  But I'm back now!  I don't have to keep repeating myself.  I don't know what the next show will be.  It might just be great songs put in a great lineup.  It doesn't have to have a theme.  It can just flow: different styles, different tempos... like a collage.  Maybe I'll even put a Spanish song in there.  I've been thinking about that.  I think I could do well in the Spanish market! 
JR: Have you ever done a Spanish song?
KW: Yes, I sang "Besame Mucho"... phonetically! (Laughs) Even Harry Connick Jr. did that one!  My father is from Brasil.  Maybe I'd do a Portuguese song... just to show another side of me.  Like I said, the first show was about me coming back.  But now, I'm back!
JR: While we're on that subject: A lot of people will want to ask you a question along the lines of "Where have you been?"  or "Why have you been gone so long?"  Do you ever get tired of answering that question, or feel that it's not really that important?
KW: (Laughs) No, I feel that it's important.  I even notice that on YouTube, people make comments like, "Whatever happened to her?"  My life just took a different path.  I don't know if it was meant to be.  Maybe it is a blueprint: Maybe it's SUPPOSED to be a certain way in your life: like, I was supposed to have my two children, and I was supposed to go through "stuff"... My career came very fast and very easily, which doesn't happen.  People work and struggle for years to be an "overnight sensation"... and I didn't.  It just happened.  It can be very confusing for a young girl, because you miss your teenage life, and you miss your friends...You miss growing up.  That's what it is.  I think that's what happened to me: I needed to grow up.  I felt that I didn't deserve to be a star.  In my head I was just "Karen from the block".  I was the first one! (Laughs) When the music industry started to change in the 70's, I tried to do contemporary things... but it was hard.  I didn't fight it through, so I just decided to take another path.  I got married early and I had my son right away, and sixteen years later I had my daughter.  I really believe that I was supposed to have my daughter-- that theory of the "blueprint" again! If the universe wants to take you on a path, then maybe it's for the better.  A few years ago I said to myself, "Well, now my daughter is grown.  But what happened to Karen Wyman?"  Because Karen Wyman, the singer, has been inside me all along.  I just buried her, to raise my family.  I woke up one morning and said, "I want to sing!"  I had no clue how to go about it, or what I was going to do, or how to make it happen.  No clue.  So I just started to imagine myself singing-- like daydreaming.  I made little steps.  I called up a friend and he said, "Why don't you sing at the Open Mic at Birdland?"  That's how it started.  I did "Why Can't I Walk Away?" Lainie Kazan was there.  She said, "Why aren't you singing?"  I said, "Well, I just did!" (Laughs)  I met her for lunch.  Then I got on the phone and connected with my drummer Eddie Caccavale, who was also Lainie's drummer.  We met, and he said, "I'm gonna get you singing again!"  And, he did.  This was all about two years ago.  So, that's how it started.  I started feeling my way around with arrangements, and then I got together with John Oddo.  He's played for the best.  I always worked with the best musicians... I was spoiled!  We fit like a glove.  John "got" me.  For "The Second Time Around", every song was about my journey.  Every song said something.  Now it's time for the next big thing.

JR: Speaking of the next big thing...!  So, your next gig will be at The Night of 1,000 Judys.  Judy has been a gay icon for decades.  What does her legacy mean to you as an artist?
KW: She's one of my favorites.  She was an emotional singer who makes you cry.  Judy Garland is timeless.  She had that...vibrato! That "old" style may be dated, but it still gets to people.  It's like when Shirley Bassey did "Goldfinger" at the Academy Awards.  She blew it away.  That audience just all stood up like they were stuck in the hiney... and it wasn't just out of respect.  The woman hit the notes!  It just goes to show you that no matter what your age or musical style, "If you're good, you're always gonna be good!"
JR: Well, you should know!    

Karen Wyman will appear next at "Night of 1,000 Judys", a benefit for The Ali Forney Center, on Monday, June 16th at the Merkin Concert Hall at the Kaufman Center, 129 West 67th St, NYC. Other performers include Sierra Boggess, Jane Monheit, Austin Scarlett, Jackie Hoffman, Sarah Dash, Allison Fraser, Julia Murney, Rory O'Malley, Erin McKeown, and Aaron Weinstein.  Visit www.AliForneyCenter.org/Judys for more info and tickets. See and hear more  Karen Wyman at www.KarenWymanMusic.com.