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Queery: Bev Stanton

The artist behind Arthur Loves Plastic answers 20 gay questions

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(Blade photo by Michael Key)

For all the ballyhooing that’s occurred as the major label record industry has slipped dramatically over the last decade-plus, there are lots of indie acts that are quietly but consistently building impressive oeuvres in the digital age. Bev Stanton is one of them.

As electronica imprint Arthur Loves Plastic, Stanton — a 45-year-old Silver Spring resident and lesbian — has, since the mid-‘90s, released dozens of projects, had her work licensed for shows on the Discovery Channel, VH1, MTV and other cable networks. She was one of 24 artists profiled in “Pink Noises: Women in Electronic Music and Sound,” a 2010 book by Tara Rodgers, and she’s won a dozen Washington Area Music Awards (“Wammies”) in the electronica category. Stanton uses all the usual techniques — she makes her own loops, samples other sources, records friends playing various instruments, uses MIDI tricks and more. She attributes her popularity to good timing and perseverance.

“I just sent some product to a company,” she says. “They were trying to bridge the gap between people creating music and projects that wanted music but that wasn’t just cheesy canned stuff.”

Listen for her Thursday from 6:30 to 9 p.m. in the back room of Jackie’s Restaurant/Sidebar in Silver Spring (8081 Georgia Ave.) where she and Rodgers will spin for an Equality Maryland fundraiser (equalitymaryland.org/events for details).

Ironically, Stanton does not own a TV so she never sees her work on the air. She concedes that’s probably “for the best” and says it would be too tempting to watch constantly if she owned a set. By day she works in D.C. doing online work for an environmental non-profit. She came to the area about 20 years ago after living in North Carolina and craving a “more cosmopolitan” area.

Stanton, who admits to a fetish for mid-century design (she loves the “atomic age” look of chairs of the era), was born in the Bahamas but grew up mostly in central Florida. She enjoys web surfing (especially Daily Mail) and spending time with her two cats, Nicky and Kimba, in her free time.

(Blade photos by Michael Key)

How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell?

I came out in high school and fretted over telling my best friend but it turned out he was gay too so it all worked out.

Who’s your LGBT hero?

Dusty Springfield. Despite her phenomenal talent she was plagued by insecurity. However, she was an uncompromising perfectionist in her artistic approach and her music transcends her era.

What’s Washington’s best nightspot, past or present? 

I used to enjoy DJing at the back room of the Black Cat for Girl Friday events several years ago. It was a very eclectic crowd of shoe-gazing males, edgy lesbians and ostensibly straight women who apparently just needed a few drinks to defy labels. I also loved spinning at Cafe Japone in the bar with the fiber optic ceiling.

Describe your dream wedding.

Even if marriage equality passes in Maryland I have the major  barrier of finding a woman who would want to marry me. In the meantime I might resort to a Sue Sylvester-style ceremony but would ditch the tracksuit and wear black.

What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about?

Animal rights.

What historical outcome would you change?

Columbus’ arrival to the New World.

What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime?

I don’t have TV so I always feel a little out of the loop and rely on Facebook to keep up, with mixed results. But Susan Boyle’s overnight success on “Britain’s Got Talent” demonstrated the power of YouTube and was a triumph of raw talent over slick music industry packaging. It almost makes up for Katy Perry!

On what do you insist?

To thine own self be true, or at least have a plausible excuse.

What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?

“oh no! i sent an email to my coop board this morning to report a gas smell in my living room only to discover it was a burning odor from a feline pheromone diffuser. add this to the list of things i will never live down.”

If your life were a book, what would the title be?

“Easy Does It!”

If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do?

I would offer to administer the serum to every straight female friend who has told me they are sick of men just to see how serious they are about this.

What do you believe in beyond the physical world? 

I believe I am currently in purgatory and suspect that ascension to the afterlife is about as merit-based as things here on earth.

What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?

Please come up with an elevator speech to help me explain the ENDA controversy to my straight friends!

What would you walk across hot coals for?

Enlightenment

What LGBT stereotype annoys you most?

That lesbians are hummus-consuming granola activist types whose lives revolve around their cats … oh wait!

What’s your favorite LGBT movie?

I loved “High Art” though it was more a commentary on the art world than a lesbian film per se. Radha Mitchel was captivating yet understated and underrated.

What’s the most overrated social custom?

The Super Bowl. It is a great time to do supermarket shopping!

What trophy or prize do you most covet?

I would love to win the lottery so I could pay cash for my apartment and politely instruct my mortgage company to stop hounding me for documents!

What do you wish you’d known at 18?

It isn’t what you know, it’s who you know!

Why Washington?

I love D.C.! Although it’s inhabited by people with a heightened sense of self-importance, it is a destination for passionate activists trying to make the world a better place. The architecture is beautiful and the monuments are absolutely stunning. I have lived here over 20 years and still find new places to visit and explore.

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PHOTOS: Not Another Drag Show

‘Blackout Edition’ celebrates musical artists of the 1990s

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Drag performer Tiffany D. Carter hosted “Not Another Drag Show: Blackout Edition” at Dupont Italian Kitchen Bar on Monday. Performers included Carter, Nubia Love-Jackson, Uju Betta and Echinacea. The show featured the songs of Black artists popular in the 1990s.

(Washington Blade photos by Michael Key)

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Music & Concerts

Janet Jackson doc premieres this weekend

Remembering 10 times iconic singer was there for LGBTQ community

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Janet Jackson’s two-part, four-hour documentary debuts this weekend. (File photo by Shilla Patel)

Iconic singer Janet Jackson, a longtime LGBTQ ally, unveils her long-awaited documentary simply titled “Janet” on Friday, Jan. 28. It concludes the following night; each installment is two hours long. 

Jackson has said she spent five years compiling footage and creating the documentary, which airs at 8 p.m. both nights on A&E and Lifetime networks. It was produced by Jackson and her brother Randy Jackson and it’s timed to commemorate the 40th anniversary of her 1982 debut album. 

An extended trailer for the film reveals Jackson will talk candidly about her brother Michael and the 2004 Super Bowl incident, including the news that Justin Timberlake reached out and asked her to join him during his widely panned 2018 Super Bowl return performance. 

Prior to the pandemic, Jackson announced a new studio album and tour titled “Black Diamond,” but both were postponed due to COVID. No official word about the status of either, but speculation is rampant that she will finally release the new album once the documentary airs.

“Musically, what I’ve done, like doing ‘Rhythm Nation’ or doing ‘New Agenda’ or doing ‘Skin Game,’ creating those bodies of work with Jimmy and Terry, I feel like I’ve laid a certain foundation,” Jackson tells Allure magazine in a new cover story this month. “I would hope that I’d be able to continue if I choose to. You know what I mean? But only time will tell.”

As Jackson’s legion of queer fans awaits this weekend’s premiere, the Blade takes a look back at 10 times Janet was there for the LGBTQ community. 

1. “The Velvet Rope” project. In 1997, Jackson released her critically acclaimed sixth studio album “The Velvet Rope,” an introspective and deeply personal collection of songs that touched on her depression, but also tackled LGBTQ issues. On the track “Free Xone,” she spoke out forcefully against anti-LGBT bias. She also covered Rod Stewart’s “Tonight’s the Night,” without changing the pronouns in the love song, prompting speculation about her sexual orientation. But it was her international No. 1 hit “Together Again” that continues to resonate with LGBTQ fans. An upbeat, joyful dance song, it was conceived as a tribute to Jackson’s friends who died of AIDS.

2. GLAAD award. In 2008, Ellen DeGeneres presented Jackson with the Vanguard Award at the 19th annual GLAAD Media Awards. GLAAD’s president said, “We are delighted to honor Janet Jackson at the 19th annual GLAAD Media Awards in Los Angeles as such a visible, welcoming and inclusive ally of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. Ms. Jackson has a tremendous following inside the LGBT community and out, and having her stand with us against the defamation that LGBT people still face in our country is extremely significant.”

3. Ebony magazine interview about her sexuality. In 2001, Jackson gave an interview to Ebony magazine in which she was asked about her sexual orientation. “I don’t mind people thinking that I’m gay or calling me gay,” she said. “People are going to believe whatever they want. Yes, I hang out at gay clubs … I go where the music is good. I love people regardless of sexual preference, regardless of race. No, I am not bisexual. I have been linked with dancers in our group because we are so close. I grew up in a big family. I love being affectionate. I love intimacy and I am not afraid to show it.”

4. Video support for It Gets Better, Trevor Project. In 2010, Jackson recorded a video for the Trevor Project and later appeared on CNN’s “Larry King Live” to promote awareness of youth suicide. “If you’re LGBT you’re probably thinking you’re all alone, but you’re not,” she said in the video. “I can relate because I was one of those kids who internalized everything.”

5. “State of the World Tour.” Jackson’s LGBTQ support continued in 2017. Her tour’s opening sequence highlighted a range of problems facing the world, from famine and war to police brutality and included a call for justice and for LGBTQ rights.

6. “The Kids.” Jackson has always employed a diverse crew of professional dancers for her videos and tours. Some of her closest friends and collaborators over the years have been prominent out gay and lesbian choreographers, singers, dancers, makeup artists and designers. She lovingly refers to her backup dancers as “the Kids.”

7. NYC Pride performance. In 2004, Jackson performed for a packed audience at Pride Dance NYC at Pier 54.

8. “Will & Grace” cameo. In 2004, Jackson made a memorable cameo on “Will & Grace,” judging a dance-off between Jack and another dancer.

9. HRC, AIDS Project Los Angeles awards. In 2005, Jackson was honored by both the Human Rights Campaign and AIDS Project Los Angeles for her work raising money for AIDS charities.

10. Janet’s Blade interview. In 2006, Jackson granted an exclusive interview to the Washington Blade. It was one of the rare times she touched on the Super Bowl controversy and her brother Michael’s acquittal on child molestation charges, telling Blade Editor Kevin Naff, “I got all of that out of my system, that’s not what I’m feeling right now. I wrote about [those controversies] but I didn’t choose to put it out there on the album.” In the interview, Jackson also reiterated her support for marriage equality, said she’d never had a sexual relationship with a woman and revealed that she’d never met Madonna.

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Out & About

International Women Club set for Jan. 24

Event at National Harbor

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International Women United Organizer will host “Multicultural International Women Club” on Monday, Jan. 24 at 7 p.m. at National Harbor.

The goal of this event is to bring together women from different countries and cultures for friendship, support and community. Guests will get to share interesting facts about their country, talk about their culture, values, styles, and differences with others while learning from others and making friends from all over the globe. Those who speak English as a second language are welcome to attend.

This event is free and more details are available on Eventbrite.

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