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Checking in with Adam Lambert

Three albums in, singer finds musical maturity

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Adam Lambert, gay news, Washington Blade
Adam Lambert, gay news, Washington Blade

Adam Lambert says his D.C. show this weekend will be a roller-coaster musical ride. (Photo courtesy 42 West)

Adam Lambert
 
Lincoln Theatre
 
1215 U St., N.W.
 
thelincolndc.com
 
Saturday, March 5
 
Doors: 6:30 p.m.
 

Flashy. Theatrical. Glam rocker. These are just a few of the descriptions people placed on Adam Lambert in 2007, when he became something of a household name appearing on the eighth season of “American Idol,” finishing as runner-up to Kris Allen.

In the seven years since, Lambert has released three acclaimed albums, and sold about 2.5 million records and more than 5 million singles worldwide. He’s also served as lead singer for Queen the past few years and did a stint on “Glee,” combining his acting and musical chops.

Lambert’s latest release, “The Original High,” debuted at no. 3 on the U.S. Billboard 200 and the artist is currently on tour to support the album, stopping at the Lincoln Theatre on Saturday, March 5.

The singer has never been shy about his sexual orientation, and has long been active in LGBT rights. Recently, Lambert took time to talk with the Blade about his music, sexual orientation and what it’s like to replace a legend.

WASHINGTON BLADE: What can those coming out to the Lincoln Theatre on March 5 expect from you that night? What defines an Adam Lambert concert?

ADAM LAMBERT: This show is definitely kind of a product of my evolution. I’m exploring new ideas and new sounds. It’s been seven years since “Idol” and I’ve definitely grown up a bit. I approach things in different ways now and have learned a lot about my fans and myself as an artist, and musically, I’ve grown and broadened my palate, so to speak.

BLADE: Looking at your latest recording, “The Original High,” what inspired your songwriting?

LAMBERT: With this third album, which I feel is my strongest so far, I sort of have found a song for everything that I want to talk about. Some of the songs on this album are reflections of where I think we are at as a society, both good and bad. The lead single, “Ghost Town” is sort of saying, “Hey, we’re all sitting here trying to figure out who and what we want to be but it’s difficult.” The way in which we communicate has become sort of disconnected and disenchanted and sometimes I am left with that feeling of hopelessness of numbness for a period of time. But then again, we set that song to a crazy, sexy house beat and it makes you want to dance, and maybe that’s part of the medicine we should be looking for — getting together and dancing.

BLADE: You just turned 34, pretty much at the edge of being a Millennial, which probably helps you appeal to generations young and old. Do you think about how to appeal to different generations when coming up with new music and designing your show?

LAMBERT: I don’t think it’s that premeditated. I have a very diverse circle of friends as far as age goes and background. I think the people who I know inspire me a lot and kind of inform what I do. I have thought about it at times. If you’re 22, this is where you’re at in life, vs. what are the 37-year-olds feeling? It’s a part of it.

BLADE: When you first started in the business, were there boxes you wanted to check off? If so, what boxes remain unchecked?

LAMBERT: You can’t really control it. I sort of take it one day at a time. I got my sales up and I’m on the ride. I have an amazing team of people I work with. There are definitely things I want to try — some more acting opportunities would be cool — and I want to keep putting out music. I love the idea of putting out a song that connects with people worldwide.

BLADE: Speaking of acting, you’re slated to appear as Eddie in Fox’s upcoming revival of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” this fall.

LAMBERT: I love it. I think it’s going to be a pretty amazing production. They’ve been doing these musicals on TV, but this is the first one that’s going to be filmed, it’s not a live presentation. It will have a lot of integrity to the original because they have Lou Adler on board (the original producer) and his son is producing the music. Kenny Ortega (the director) is no stranger to musicals on film and the cast they put together, I am honored to be a part of. I’m very excited.

BLADE: I know David Bowie was a big influence on you and your music and it was a sad loss for the music industry when he passed away. Tell me a little about what he meant to you.

LAMBERT: He was ahead of his time and not afraid to be an outsider and push ideas that weren’t necessarily popular, and I love that. I think he was willing to be weird, which I also admire. Sonically, physically, I think he was an icon. David Bowie’s voice sounds like no one else, he looks like no one else. He was one of a kind.

BLADE: Is that what you set out to do? How would you define your philosophy of who you want Adam Lambert to be?

LAMBERT: It’s interesting, because if you look at (Bowie’s) career over 30 years, what he did was reinvented and evolved and as an artist, it looks like he was trying on new colors when he felt like it. I am inspired by that. In today’s media and music world, it’s very easy to become a brand and to get trapped in that brand. I think it’s exciting to be creative and explore new sounds and new looks and new colors and new ideas, and that’s what I want to continue to do — keep it fresh and continue to evolve.

BLADE: One of the things that impressed me about you is you’re not defined by your sexuality, you’re just you. Has this come easier to you as the years go by?

LAMBERT: Yeah. I think society is coming around as years go by. Seven years ago is not that long ago, but things were in a much different place. The exciting thing about being out in today’s entertainment world is that it’s less of a surprise, less of an issue and no longer a scary, unknown thing for the public. Acceptance, tolerance and visibility have made their way into the arts — as they always should have — and things are better now, focused on what they should be focused on, which is the arts themselves.

BLADE: You’ve done a great deal for the LGBT community, and I know it’s something that remains important to you.

LAMBERT: Of course. I spent years in L.A. going to gay bars and gay clubs, and that’s where I socialized and listened to music, and that’s where I fell in love with dance music. That’s part of my culture. Obviously, I have had a lot of other opportunities that mixed me with other types of people as well. I like the idea of saying, “Let’s not segregate ourselves, let’s throw it all together.” My involvement with the theater was great for that because you have every race and religion and gender — that’s the utopian fantasy I’ve always had.

Adam Lambert, gay news, Washington Blade

Adam Lambert (Photo courtesy of 42 West)

BLADE: You’ve been performing with Queen for the past few years, which you’ve said is something of a dream for you.

LAMBERT: It’s been incredible and I’m still doing more with them this summer. It’s such an honor to sing lead for one of the greatest rock bands of all time, although it’s intimidating to be compared to Freddie Mercury because I think he was amazing. I don’t think I can in any way compete with him, but for me it’s not about that. It’s about bringing these songs to life for fans of the music and the band and help everyone remember what made the band so great in the first place. These songs have been a part of people’s lives for years and years, so getting to perform those songs, the collective joy you feel in the audience, there’s something very rewarding about that.

BLADE: Any last message for those coming out to the concert?

LAMBERT: Come and be prepared to go on a roller coaster with me. There are some songs from the last two albums as well and for fans of this new album, I’m finally getting to present them. It’s going to be a great time.

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Baltimore DJ on using music as a bridge to combat discrimination

Deezy brings high-energy show to the Admiral on Jan. 28

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DJ Deezy has hosted multiple events in D.C. and Baltimore. (Photo by Carlos Polk from We Dream Photography and Studios)

A Baltimore DJ will conclude a month of performances in Baltimore and Washington, D.C. clubs this Friday, Jan. 28, according to the artist’s management. DJ Deezy is set to perform at the Admiral in D.C. at 9 p.m. 

Since the year began, Deezy has hosted electric events at clubs such as Hawthorne DC, DuPont and the Baltimore Eagle Bar & Nightclub. 

The Washington Blade sat down with the DJ to discuss the course of her career. 

The beginning of DJ Deezy’s infatuation with music dates back to her childhood spent between her mother’s house in Baltimore City and her father’s house in the suburbs. 

In Baltimore, Deezy was exposed to the local rap and raw hip-hop scene that inspired her to embark on a rap career in high school. 

Concurrently, she was entrenched in Motown and classic rock by virtue of her singer, songwriter, and guitarist father Ron Daughton’s involvement in a classic rock band. He is a member of “The Dalton Gang” and was inducted into the Maryland Entertainment Hall of Fame in 2015.

“Before I embarked on my DJ journey, my father let me record ‘a little 16’ on his tape recorder,” said Deezy. “Eventually, he bought me a wireless microphone that I carried around with me to performances.”

Between her experience as a rapper and watching her father maneuver the classic rock music scene, Deezy acquired varying tastes in music that have influenced how she curates her sets today. 

She “specializes in open format vibes with spins from multiple genres including hip-hop, rap, circuit, and top 40s hits,” according to a summer 2021 press release from her management.

Deezy is also a proud member of the LGBTQ community — she identifies as a lesbian — and this also informs her approach to her work.

“I’m easily able to transition and rock the crowd because I can relate to many different backgrounds,” said Deezy. “I can DJ in places that are predominantly white, Black, or gay [and still do my job effortlessly].”

Centering community

Deezy values representation. Not only because she exists in a field dominated by men, but also because DJs who inhabit other identities aside from being men are less common in the industry. 

The scarcity of Black and lesbian DJs has prompted her to use her career as evidence that people who are different can attract audiences and succeed.

“I want to put us out there especially for Baltimore,” said Deezy. “I know that there’s Black lesbians out there doing the same thing as me, but why aren’t we getting [recognized]?”

In 2018, Deezy rented out a “Lez” lot at the Baltimore Pride block party where she set up a tent and played a set for the crowds tailgating around her. While entertaining them, she distributed her business cards — an act she believes yielded her the contact who eventually got her booked for a residency at the Baltimore Eagle.

While this was a step forward in her career, Deezy acknowledges that it wasn’t without challenges. She likened entering the Baltimore Eagle — traditionally a leather bar frequented predominantly by men —to navigating foreign territory. 

“When I first got there, I got funny looks,” she said. “There’s a lot of these guys who are like, ‘Why are you bringing a lesbian DJ to a gay bar?’”

But Deezy powered through her performance, lifted the crowd from its seats and “rocked the house [so that] no one will ever ask any questions again.” 

She admits that she’s an acquired taste but believes in her ability to play music infectious enough to draw anyone to the dance floor.  

“Feel how you want to feel about a Black lesbian DJ being in the gay bar,” said Deezy. “But music is a bridge that [will] connect us all, and you’ll forget about your original discrimination when you [experience] me.”

While Deezy has mostly performed in the DMV, she has also made appearances in Arizona where she hosted a family event and also in clubs in Atlanta and New York City. 

Her work has also attracted international attention and she was the cover star of  French publication Gmaro Magazine’s October 2021 issue

Looking to the future, Deezy’s goal is to be a tour DJ and play her sets around the world.

“I had a dream that Tamar Braxton approached me backstage at one of her concerts and asked me to be her tour DJ,” she said. “So, I’m manifesting this for myself.” 

In the meantime, Deezy will continue to liven up audiences in bars and clubs around the country while playing sets for musicians like Crystal Waters and RuPaul’s Drag Race celebrity drag queens like Alyssa Edwards, Plastique Tiara, La La Ri, Joey Jay and Eureka O’Hara — all of whom she has entertained alongside in the past. 

Outside the club, Deezy’s music can be heard in Shoe City where she created an eight-hour music mix split evenly between deep house and hip-hop and R&B. 

DJ Deezy (Photo by Carlos Polk from We Dream Photography and Studios)
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Rodriquez scores historic win at otherwise irrelevant Golden Globes

Award represents a major milestone for trans visibility

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Michaela Jaé Rodriguez, on right, and Billy Porter in 'Pose.' (Photo courtesy of FX)

HOLLYWOOD – Despite its continuing status as something of a pariah organization in Hollywood, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association has managed to cling to relevance in the wake of last night’s behind-closed-doors presentation of its 79th Annual Golden Globe Awards by sole virtue of having bestowed the prize for “Best Leading Actress in a Television Series – Drama” on Michaela Jaé Rodriguez for her work in the final season of “Pose” – making her the first transgender performer to win a Golden Globe.

The ceremony took place as a private, no-press-or-audience event in which winners were revealed via a series of tweets from the Golden Globes Twitter account. No celebrities were present (not even the nominees or winners), although actress Jamie Lee Curtis participated by appearing in a video in which she pronounced her continuing loyalty to the HFPA – without mention of the  longstanding issues around diversity and ethical practices, revealed early in 2021 by a bombshell Los Angeles Times report, that have led to an nearly industry-wide boycott of the organization and its awards as well as the cancellation of the annual Golden Globes broadcast by NBC for the foreseeable future.

While the Golden Globes may have lost their luster for the time being, the award for Rodriquez represents a major milestone for trans visibility and inclusion in the traditionally transphobic entertainment industry, and for her part, the actress responded to news of her win with characteristic grace and good will.

Posting on her Instagram account, the 31-year old actress said: 

“OMG OMGGG!!!! @goldenglobes Wow! You talking about sickening birthday present! Thank you!

“This is the door that is going to Open the door for many more young talented individuals. They will see that it is more than possible. They will see that a young Black Latina girl from Newark New Jersey who had a dream, to change the minds others would WITH LOVE. LOVE WINS.

“To my young LGBTQAI babies WE ARE HERE the door is now open now reach the stars!!!!!”

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As You Are Bar and the importance of queer gathering spaces

New bar/restaurant poised to open in 2022

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As You Are Bar had a pop-up venue at Capital Pride's "Colorful Fest" block party in October. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

More than just a watering hole: As You Are Bar is set to be the city’s newest queer gathering place where patrons can spill tea over late-morning cappuccinos as easily as they can over late-night vodka-sodas.

Co-owners and founders Jo McDaniel and Rachel Pike built on their extensive experience in the hospitality industry – including stints at several gay bars – to sign a lease for their new concept in Barracks Row, replacing what was previously District Soul Food and Banana Café. In a prime corner spot, they are seeking to bring together the disparate colors of the LGBTQ rainbow – but first must navigate the approval process (more on that later).

The duo decided on this Southeast neighborhood locale to increase accessibility for “the marginalized parts of our community,” they say, “bringing out the intersectionality inherent in the queer space.”

Northwest D.C., they explain, not only already has many gay bar options, but is also more difficult to get to for those who don’t live within walking distance. The Barracks Row location is right by a Metro stop, “reducing pay walls.” Plus, there, “we are able to find a neighborhood to bring in a queer presence that doesn’t exist today.”

McDaniel points out that the area has a deep queer bar history. Western bar Remington’s was once located in the area, and it’s a mere block from the former Phase 1, the longest-running lesbian bar, which was open from 1971-2015.

McDaniel and Pike hope that As You Are Bar will be an inclusive space that “welcomes anyone of any walk of life that will support, love, and celebrate the mission of queer culture. We want people of all ages, gender, sexual identity, as well as drinkers and non-drinkers, to have space.”

McDaniel (she/her) began her career at Apex in 2005 and was most recently the opening manager of ALOHO. Pike (she/they) was behind the bar and worked as security at ALOHO, where the two met.

Since leaving ALOHO earlier this year, they have pursued the As You Are Bar project, first by hosting virtual events during the pandemic, and now in this brick-and-mortar space. They expressed concern that receiving the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA) liquor license approval and the local Advisory Neighborhood Commission, or ANC, approval will be a long and expensive process.

They have already received notice that some neighbors intend to protest As You Are Bar’s application for the “tavern” liquor license that ABRA grants to serve alcohol and allow for live entertainment (e.g. drag shows). They applied for the license on Nov. 12, and have no anticipated opening date, estimating at least six months. If ABRA and the city’s Alcoholic Beverage Control Board give final approval, the local ANC 6B and nearby residents can no longer protest the license until the license comes up for renewal.

Until approval is given, they continue physical buildout (including soundproofing) and planning their offerings. If the license is approved, ABRA and the ABC Board can take action against As You Are Bar, like any bar, at any time if they violate the terms of the license or create a neighborhood disturbance that violates city laws such as the local noise ordinance.  In the kitchen, the duo snagged Chef Nina Love to develop the menu. Love will oversee café-style fare; look out for breakfast sandwiches making an appearance all the way until close. They will also have baked goods during the day.

McDaniel and Pike themselves will craft the bar menu. Importantly, they note, the coffee bar will also serve until close. There will be a full bar as well as a list of zero-proof cocktails. As with their sourcing, they hope to work with queer-, minority-, and women-owned businesses for everything not made in-house.

Flexible conceptually, they seek to grow with their customer base, allowing patrons to create the culture that they seek.

Their goal is to move the queer space away from a focus on alcohol consumption. From book clubs, to letter-writing, to shared workspaces, to dance parties, they seek an all-day, morning-to-night rhythm of youth, families, and adults to find a niche. “We want to shift the narrative of a furtive, secretive, dark gay space and hold it up to the light,” they say. “It’s a little like The Planet from the original L Word show,” they joke.

Pike notes that they plan on working closely with SMYAL, for example, to promote programming for youth. Weekend potential activities include lunch-and-learn sessions on Saturdays and festive Sunday brunches.

The café space, to be located on the first floor, will have coffeehouse-style sofas as well as workstations. A slim patio on 8th Street will hold about six tables.

Even as other queer bars have closed, they reinforce that the need is still present. “Yes, we can visit a café or bar, but we always need to have a place where we are 100 percent certain that we are safe, and that our security is paramount. Even as queer acceptance continues to grow, a dedicated queer space will always be necessary,” they say.

To get there, they continue to rally support of friends, neighbors, and leaders in ANC6B district; the ANC6B officials butted heads with District Soul Food, the previous restaurant in the space, over late-night noise and other complaints. McDaniel and Pike hope that once nearby residents and businesses understand the important contribution that As You Are Bar can make to the neighborhood, they will extend their support and allow the bar to open.

AYA, gay news, Washington Blade
Rachel Pike and Jo McDaniel signed a lease for their new concept in Barracks Row. (Photo courtesy Pike and McDaniel)
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