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Confessions of a Pretty Lady

Sandra Bernhard on her live show, her comedic successors and the Prince cover she simply had to do

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Sandra Bernhard, gay news, Washington Blade

Sandra Bernhard
Saturday
8 p.m. (doors at 6)
Howard Theatre
620 T Street, NW
Thehowardtheatre.com
$35 advance, $40 door

By BRIAN WALMER

Sandra Bernhard, gay news, Washington Blade

Sandra Bernhard brings her live show, an evening of stories and songs, to the Howard on Saturday night. (Photo courtesy of Roots Agency)

It’s a busy Monday afternoon for actress/comedian Sandra Bernhard when we talk.

“I’m dealing with lots of business stuff, tons and tons of stuff,” she says, her voice instantly recognizable.

Controversial, sexy, outspoken Bernhard has been a staple in the entertainment world for three decades and shows no signs of slowing down. She continues to appear on various TV shows and tours with her stage show, which is in Washington this weekend. Look for her Saturday night at the newly refurbished Howard Theatre.

In a sense, Bernhard, who’s been out for years, is not a typical comedian. She doesn’t just stand there telling joke after joke, waiting for the audience’s reaction. Instead, she engages the crowd with her views and takes on everything from politics to pop culture and weaves in a selection of songs that drive her point home.

Her current show, “I Love Being Me, Don’t You?,” debuted in 2011 and has evolved dramatically since then, a trend she credits to her constant wave of new ideas and her own boredom.

“Events occur and my life changes, things happen and I fold it in because I’m excited about telling a new story.”

Bernhard was here in 2008 for a three-week engagement at The Jewish Community Center for the 20th anniversary of “Without You I’m Nothing,” a show that helped put her on the map in the late ‘80s.

“It’s always interesting to look back and have a different perspective on what was going on at the time. Bring it into modern day. You of course have to alter it for what’s going on. A lot of it still holds up so I think that’s a great thing.”

She says D.C. audiences are more open minded than other markets.

“Actually I think they’re more informed, that makes them more open minded,” she says. “The last time I played D.C. was that long run at The JCC, so I assume that was sort of the general audience. They were relatively informed and smart as one would expect in D.C. They seemed to be into it. At the same time longing for entertainment, because I’m sure it’s tedious being in that city with all the politics and stuff. I really enjoyed performing there.”

Of her trademark out-of-left-field covers, which previously have included acts as far ranging as Nina Simone to Bob Dylan, AC/DC to Prince, she says she starts with the lyrics.

“It’s always a song that has a great story, lyric that resonates even if it at first it seems kinda hokey or over the top,” she says. “Like a hair metal song. It’s just like a song that I can tap into the emotion and turn it into something sorta different and that’s kinda the criteria for what I do.”

And, as one might expect, with Bernhard, it’s about much more than simply singing a song. One thinks of her recent take on Lady Gaga’s “The Edge of Glory,” which elicits an “exactly” from the comedian.

“You gotta really give the audience what they came to see and what they pay for,” she says. “And never make fun of a song. I don’t like making fun of songs even if they’re sort of laced with irony and I’m bringing something very different to them.”

Later this month, Bernhard will be at Carnegie Hall for a Prince tribute.

“As you know, ‘Little Red Corvette’ is kinda my signature song and when I read about it I called my manager and said, ‘You gotta get me on this, I mean this is insane, this is like my signature song, nobody else can do this,’ so when it all came together I was very excited.”

The mix of comedy and music is more unusual in the performing world than you might initially think. Along the way, Bernhard has recorded four albums of music. She says she’d love to do another studio album and would “love to collaborate with a great producer. But you know you need money and need support and I don’t really have that right now, but I hope I do again.  In the meantime at least when people come see me perform, they know I’m in the pocket.”

The day of our phone chat is the Monday after the Grammys, which Bernhard said she watched just enough of “to know it was really depressing.”

Why?

“The music business is so [pauses] it’ll never be what it was,” she says. “[The  Grammys] tries to keep this illusion alive and it just doesn’t work anymore.”

But with the paradigm shift has come certain freedoms, Bernhard suggests. She maintains a level of control that would be harder to ensure at a major label. Despite the constantly evolving nature of her tour, she says her various live releases still manage to capture enough of each show she does to keep her happy. Look for a release culled from a five-night run she did at Joe’s Pub in New York last year “soon,” she says.

Since Bernhard gets asked constantly about Madonna — everyone remembers her famous cameo in “Truth or Dare” — we took a different route. Of Cyndi Lauper, whom Bernhard joined for a few dates on the singer’s 2006 “Body Acoustic Tour,” she waxes nostalgic with no apparent subtext.

“She’s a great talent and it was fun and interesting,” Bernhard says. “I didn’t do that many shows; it was just the right amount. We knew each other and she needed some support out on the road and they asked if I wanted to do some of the dates and I said ‘Yeah, you know, sure.’”

Bernhard has seen a few episodes of Lauper’s new reality show.

“I think it’s sort of entertaining in a way you know? It’s yeah [pause], I don’t know if she’s happy with it. I’m sure it was sort of a real compromise on her part.”

Is there nobility in the willingness of Lauper — or any star — to put him- or herself out there to that degree?

“I don’t think that’s necessarily enchanting for people,” she says.

And yes, Bernhard considered the idea herself, perhaps to a further degree than many fans may realize. She says her idea for “A Day in the Life of Sandra Bernhard,” she calls a “lightly scripted version of my life” she pitched 18 years ago to HBO, failed to secure a green light.

“They didn’t understand what I was talking about. It was kind of the first and the last of it all.”

A more recent delve into similar terrain — her web show “Comedians Walking and Getting Mani-Pedis,” intended as an answer of sorts, to Jerry Seinfeld’s “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee,” ended up being “kind of an experiment” that “I wasn’t really happy with.”

Despite guests like Lizz Winstead, Rosie Perez and Wendy Williams, Bernhard says it “didn’t go where I wanted it to go.”

“I came up with the idea of doing a show from the manicuring station but the people who produce it came up with that stupid title and I was totally not into it,” she says.”

It’s on indefinite hiatus.

We dart around to all kinds of topics in our remaining moments and Bernhard, whom, as you might imagine, can be intimidating, is game for it all.

She does confess to a little self-censorship when it comes to whether her soon-to-be-15-year-old daughter, Cicely, is in the audience or not. She knows she’s sometimes mentioned in the act.

“I think sometimes now more than before it’s starting to irritate her,” Bernhard says. “When she’s at the shows, I try not to do certain pieces that I would do when she’s not there. She doesn’t follow me that closely either. Like if I came home with a CD, she’d never sit down and listen to it so I’m not too worried about her staring into the material per se.”

Because so much of her material is autobiographical, she has no plans to write a memoir. She says she’s been frank enough, though she confesses to “semi truthful, semi made up” story telling in her act, to keep her name largely out of tabloids.

Other celebs, she surmises, want it.

“You look at Rihanna and Chris Brown. Obviously they want the publicity. They’re willing to sacrifice their personal happiness, especially her. They got that whole thing going and I think it’s depressing, especially for a woman.  I don’t think it’s necessary to put myself out there in that way.”

Her trademark openness, she says, made her own coming out nearly moot.

“My work always spoke for itself which was all about personal expression, independence and freedom, no matter who or what you are,” Bernhard says. “That’s really where I stand on all of that. What do I need to do that for? I’ve always been comfortable in my own skin.”

Celebs who make their coming out a proclamation or acceptance speech event — Jodie Foster at the Golden Globes is fresh on everyone’s mind — strike Bernhard as excessive.

“I don’t need approval of my peers or my supposed group. You know, I’m not a group kind of person. I find that very self-serving. Who fucking cares anyway?”

Pressed for her comedic successors, she cites the cast of “Bridesmaids” and name checks Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig and Amy Poehler.

“All that kind of grouping of girls who kinda came from the imrpov world are just really smart and funny and talented.”

She calls the late Phyllis Diller, whom she appeared with on Roseanne Barr’s “Roseanne’s Nuts,” “amazing and incredible — I just love her for who she was and all the years she kept at it and was so brilliant. She’s a fabulous person. I’m so glad I got to know her. She was really a cool lady.”

A new book — it would be her fourth — is “on the back burner.” Bernhard says she would need a “bigger platform” than she currently has to make it worth the effort.

There’s only one topic that comes up for which Bernhard is tight lipped.

Though vague, she does admit to a writer friend who “just came up with an idea for me and another actress that’s under development right now,” she says.

Could it be? Brash, outspoken Bernhard declining to elaborate?

For once, mystery prevails and she sounds almost coy.

“I’m really excited about it but I’m not gonna talk about it until it’s really happening.”

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Real Estate

What homeowners are grateful for this year

Where you live should be something to appreciate

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(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Since you’re reading this over Thanksgiving weekend, I wanted to write about gratitude as it pertains to real estate, so I started by Googling “gratitude, house.” 

Unsurprisingly, page after page of results were links to recovery centers and residences.  Sandwiched in between was a now defunct coffeeshop and yoga studio in Bandra, Mumbai. Although I applaud people who are in recovery and I like yoga, none of that hit the target of what I was looking for, so here are some of my thoughts and suggestions.

Can you be grateful for things inside, outside, and around your home? Of course you can! It might not feel as profound as expressing thanks for the people you love, or good health, or your chosen faith, but as a homeowner, you’re making memories and experiencing ups and downs that you’re going to reflect on years down the road.

Think about the purchase of your home and the steps you went through to seal the deal. Did you find it quickly? Did you compete with other buyers and win? Did you pay a fair price? Did you get a great interest rate? Did the loan process and settlement go smoothly? If so, be grateful.

Where you live can also be something to appreciate. Some people want a bustling urban environment with nearby amenities, such as shopping, dining, transportation, or multiple ways to exercise. Others want the quiet and solitude of a cabin in the mountains or on a lake, with acreage, wildlife and beautiful views of all Mother Nature has to offer. Still others want a larger, more reasonably priced home in the suburbs outside the Beltway, where they can hop on a train and get lost in a novel en route to the office. 

So, is your home situated in the neighborhood or environment you wanted? Did the schools, if important to you, meet your expectations? Is it close to (or if you prefer, far from) family members? Is your commute to work or school manageable? If you answered yes to any of these questions, be grateful.

If you work from home, is the space pleasant and the atmosphere conducive to ensuring productivity? Is the color scheme energizing? Peaceful? Would your décor get at least an 8 out of 10 from Room Rater when you have a conference call on Zoom? 

Is your home big enough to expand into as your family grows? Small enough for downsizing? Does the layout still meet your needs or have your needs changed? 

Is what you own your dream house or condo? Could it be? If you need to make some modifications, be thankful for HGTV, the DIY channel, YouTube how-to videos, Thumbtack, and Yelp reviews.

Living through a renovation can bring out the worst in people. Weeks or months of doing dishes in the bathtub or showering at the gym can cause friction in even the most committed relationship. Once your renovation is completed, however, be grateful that your sanity withstood the trauma of living through it. 

Be thankful for the things you don’t notice or think of often. Do you love the way the dining room chandelier casts light on the ceiling at night or how the sun streams in through the skylight in the early morning? 

Perhaps the feature wall you added makes you smile when you come in the front door or a favorite piece of art that reflects your personality catches your eye. Maybe you have pleasant memories of family gatherings in front of the fireplace or choruses of “Score” as you and your friends watch the World Cup on your 65” TV.

If you’re like me, you’re thankful that your boiler made it through last winter, that you didn’t have to patch the roof again this year, or that you found that hole in the fence and repaired it before your dog got out. 

During the year, we can lose sight of the things we are grateful for, so as Elle Woods suggested in “Legally Blonde 2,” I highly recommend keeping a gratitude jar. 

Use it to keep track of what you’re grateful for by writing things down and dropping those notes in the jar. Then, when you have a home anniversary or are stressed out about a renovation, when out-of-town company stays too long or when the kids draw on the walls with a Sharpie, pull out a note from the jar and read it aloud like a mantra. 

Unlike the sisters of Delta Nu, however, you don’t really have to snap your fingers after reading it.

Valerie M. Blake is a licensed Associate Broker in D.C., Maryland, and Virginia with RLAH Real Estate / @properties. Call or text her at 202-246-8602, email her via DCHomeQuest.com, or follow her on Facebook at TheRealst8ofAffairs.

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Real Estate

Tips for holiday home sales

Buyers at this time of year are more serious

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Tasteful holiday decorations can improve the look of your home if you’re selling at the holidays.

The holiday season is often considered a difficult time to sell a home – but sometimes it’s necessary. For whatever reason, you may need to make a move quickly, and selling during the holiday months from November through January is your best option. If you find yourself in this situation, you should know that selling during the holiday season does have certain advantages. 

Often, more than during any other time of the year, buyers are in the same situation as sellers – they are buying for a reason. It may be a relocation for work, it could be a move to be closer to an older family member, or any number of other reasons that require a move quickly. As a result, holiday buyers are more serious, and make more competitive offers, not to mention the fact that there is often less competition from other sellers because fewer homes are on the market.

If you find yourself needing to sell your home during the holidays, focusing on the advantages can be helpful, along with a few other tips, including:

• Add some holiday cheer to your home: Often, holiday decorations can add an extra spark of seasonal flair and can be quite helpful to sellers – provided that the decorations aren’t overboard. Decorations that are too large or flashy may distract buyers and make your home feel crowded or cluttered. The right decorations, however, can be cheerful and bright and add some holiday spirit to your home that buyers enjoy. 

• Create some curb appeal: The holiday season is a wonderful time to enhance your home’s curb appeal with tasteful lights and other décor. It’s also important if you live in an area where leaves fall from the trees to be certain to rake and maintain your yard and surrounding landscaping. Certainly, if it is icy or snowy, you should shovel your driveway and sidewalks and make sure your home is safe for potential buyers to visit. Additionally, bare trees often draw more attention to the exterior of a home, so ensuring that your paint is touched up, gutters are cleaned, and other exterior features are in good condition is important. 

• Choose the right price point: Regardless of the time of year, pricing your home competitively will help to increase your chances of selling it quickly. Often, homes priced too high will linger on the market. The longer a home stays on the market, the more skittish some buyers become, and the lower the price may eventually have to go to ultimately sell it. Pricing your home competitively from the beginning can be very helpful.

• Remain accessible: The holidays can be a busy time, with many obligations and activities. As a result, it can often be more difficult than usual for real estate agents to arrange and schedule showings. Clearing your schedule as much as possible to accommodate agents and potential buyers can help to ensure that you get as many showings as possible, which will ultimately increase the chances of a quick and successful sale.

• Find the right real estate agent: The importance of this last tip can’t be overstated. Finding an agent who knows and loves the community will help you to market your home effectively, highlight all of its selling points, and connect with the right buyer. At GayRealEstate.com, buyers and sellers across the country are paired up with LGBTQ-friendly agents who can help them achieve their real estate goals, and this can make all the difference between a smooth and successful selling experience, and a stressful one.

While these tips are intended to be helpful, it’s also extremely important to consult with an agent who knows your unique market and can give you tips for your particular home. At GayRealEstate.com, we’d love to connect you with that agent today. Get in touch with us soon – we look forward to helping you reach your real estate goals.

Jeff Hammerberg is founding CEO of Hammerberg & Associates. Reach him at 303-378-5526 or [email protected].

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Autos

Holiday gifts for car lovers

Something for everyone, from a Barbie Maserati to Subaru dog sweaters

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Sure, a $100 gift card to use at the gas pump or EV charging station is a nice stocking stuffer this holiday season, but there are plenty of other much more playful gifts for car fans. 

Subaru Blue-Striped Beanie

To help reduce waste and carbon emissions, Subaru offers assorted eco-friendly clothing. This includes a blue-striped beanie ($15), made from 100% recycled acrylic knit and festooned with a sassy pom on top. Subaru Motorsports USA logo is embroidered on the side. 

Barbie Maserati Grecale Trofeo SUV 

For megabucks motorheads, Neiman Marcus offers its annual holiday catalogue —a collection of “fantasy gifts”— with the Barbie Maserati Grecale Trofeo SUV ($330,000). This fab ride—in shocking pink and with yellow accents—can sprint from 0 to 60 mph in less than four seconds. Only one is available, with 10% of the sale donated to the Barbie Dream Gap Project, which helps provide equal opportunities for girls and young women. 

Hyundai Nexo Kiddie Car

Back in the day, there were Hot Wheels, Matchbox Cars and Tonka Toys. Today, there’s the Hyundai Nexo kiddie car ($737), an electric-powered plaything with vegan leather, stitched seating and rear sensors that beep when there’s an obstruction. Parents can control the car via a Bluetooth remote-control system. Charging time: seven hours.

Mercedes Classic 300 SL Desk Clock

Turn back time with the Mercedes classic 300 SL desk clock ($85) made of aluminum and stainless steel, with a wave pattern on the dial similar to the design used on the dashboard of that vintage Benz. 

The Godfather Cadillac Model Car

Like Marlon Brando, here’s an offer you can’t refuse: The Godfather Cadillac ($23), a diecast model of the 1955 Fleetwood in that movie. 

Ferrari Wraparound Sunglasses

Caio bella! Sleek unisex sunglasses ($1,275) from Ferrari feature a futuristic wraparound design with steel frame, titanium nose pads and the automaker’s prancing-horse emblem on each lens. 

Maserati Blue Unisex Socks

What better stocking stuffer than, well, socks. Maserati’s blue unisex socks ($31) are made of a high-quality blend of cotton and technical fabric, with the Maserati trident logo inlaid on the side and sole of each sock. Ideal for outdoor activities or sports.

BMW Scooter

The BMW kid’s scooter ($120) is made of durable plastic and metal, with a height-adjustable steering bar and convenient storage drawer to hold stuff. Available in choice of two snazzy color combinations: white/raspberry or black/orange. 

Ford Bronco Holiday Adult Onesie

Ford is proud of its ugly holiday sweaters, but this year there’s the Bronco holiday adult onesie ($45). Made of 100% polyester polar fleece, this glorified pajama comes with loose-fitting hood, tight-fitting cuffs for your arms and ankles, and a cringe-worthy design in maroon, sage and cream coloring. 

Land Rover Heritage Watch

Inspired by old-school aviator timepieces, the Land Rover Heritage Watch ($282) has a leather strap, rugged stitching and early Land Rover logo on a matte black dial and ion-plated case. Available with a snazzy Land Rover presentation box.

Subaru Dog Sweater

Subaru offers festive gifts for those four-legged members in your family, including a holiday dog sweater ($35) made of jacquard knit. Other Subaru pet-centric presents: collars, leashes, clip-on safety light, travel roll-up mat, toss-n-chew dog toy, fleece plushie full of cat nip, and more. 

Retro Datsun Lunch Box

Gearhead foodies will appreciate the Datsun lunch box ($15), with images of two iconic cars from that retro automaker: the racy 240z roadster on one side and the stylish 510 sedan on the other. 

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