Now That`s Entertainment!
Posted: 04/30/2009 - 00:35
• Transgender Artists on the Rise
By C. Michael Woodward
So, you’re on the entertainment committee for this year’s annual fundraiser or corporate party? Or maybe your local Pride celebration is in need of some new blood—or you’re realizing that you’ve only hired gay or lesbian performers despite having more than two letters in your LGBTQQIA mission statement? Perhaps the students on your campus really want to experience something new and different this year.
Good news! There’s a plethora of talent just a booking agent away—but you might be overlooking a very important resource in your search. Ever-resilient and cutting edge, the transgender community is a great place to find all kinds of gifted performers sure to please audiences of any identity or orientation.
While celebrities have been coming out as gay or lesbian a lot lately, you can still count really well-known out trans people on one hand: Alexis Arquette … Dr. Renee Richards … Christine Jorgensen … RuPaul … maybe Ed Wood, or Lucas Silveira of The Cliks, the first transgender band to be signed to a major record label.
This makes sense, though—the last thing most trans people want to do is stand out in a crowd. Still, the number of openly trans-identified performers is growing fast. While none of the acts you’re about to meet have achieved “household word” status, many of them are on the verge of major breakthroughs. You should book them now while they’re still within reach of your entertainment budget!
Namoli Brennet (Tucson, AZ)
Singer/songwriter and extraordinary musician Namoli Brennet has an impressive collection of honors for her “transcending folk” style, including four OutMusic Award nominations. Brennet has shared the stage with Melissa Ferrick, Michelle Shocked, and Alix Olson. Her song “We Belong” was featured in a documentary of the same name. www.namolibrennet.com
Coyote Grace (Sonoma, CA)
From their Web site: “Girl meets Girl. Girl becomes Boy. Girl and Boy become a band.” So goes the story of Joe Stevens (guitar) and Ingrid Elizabeth (upright bass), who together create one of the most unique acoustic duos to surface in this millennium. www.coyotegrace.com
Stevie Gold (Phoenix, AZ)
Stevie Gold has travelled the world as keyboard player for Sister Sledge, Patti Page, Sarah Vaughn, Donna Summer, and more. After more than three decades of mainstream success, Stevie took the bold step earlier this year of transitioning from male to female “on the job” as a high-profile working musician. firstname.lastname@example.org
Georgie Jessup (Baltimore, MD)
The music of Georgie Jessup has been compared to that of Springsteen and Mellencamp as well as the Motown sound. A passionate social justice activist who challenges society’s thinking on a number of topics, she describes herself as winkte, a two-spirit identity that embodies the traits of both man and woman. www.georgiejessup.com
Lipstick Conspiracy (San Francisco, CA)
This hard rock band first leapt into the spotlight in 2004 shortly after the release of their first album, Don’t Tell a Soul, when they were named the 2004 Best Girl Band by the Bay Area Reporter and dubbed by the media as the “first all-tranny band.” www.lipstickconspiracy.com
Too Much Information (Tucson, AZ)
Celebrated for their vocal blends, universally appealing music, and talented players, TMI plays classic rock, blues, and danceable originals. Some of the six members are trans and some are not, and they’re equally diverse in race. TMI was named Runner Up – Best Cover Band at the 2006 Tucson Area Music Awards. www.tmi-band.com
Katastrophe (San Francisco, CA)
The queer mantra “We are everywhere!” is true: consider FTM hip-hop sensation Katastrophe, aka Rocco Kayiatos. Katastrophe has been blazing a new trail in the typically homophobic and misogynist genre since the late 90s. In addition to multiple tours of Europe and North America and a growing list of film and TV credits, his homegrown debut CD earned him OutMusic’s 2005 Producer of the Year award. www.katastropherap.com
Ian Harvie (Los Angeles, CA)
Billed as the first-ever transgender comedian, stand-up genius Ian Harvie’s career took a giant leap forward when Margaret Cho took him along as a featured performer on her “The Sensuous Woman” national tour. He has appeared on Logo's OutLaugh and Wisecrack and Out & About Today on CBS. www.ianharvie.com
Kate Bornstein (New York City, NY)
Kate Bornstein is (among other things) an award-winning author, playwright and performance artist. Her books are taught in more than 120 colleges and universities around the world. Among Kate's many performance pieces are Strangers in Paradox; Gender Outlaw: On Men, Women, and the Rest of Us; The Opposite Sex is Neither; and y2kate: gender virus 2000. www.katebornstein.com
Good Asian Drivers (Boston, MA)
Kit Yan is a transgender slam poet; Melissa Li is a lesbian rocker and guitarist. Together with drummer Ashley Baier, they're the Good Asian Drivers. Hailed by Curve Magazine as "groundbreaking," GAD’s specialty is “do-it-yourself radical transgender performance art that aims to encourage more diversity in the media and provoke dialogue on GLBT, Asian-American, artist, and activist issues.” www.goodasiandrivers.com
Scott Turner Schofield (Atlanta, GA)
According to his Web site, Schofield is “a man who was a woman, a lesbian turned straight guy who is often called a fag.” A huge hit on the college circuit, Schofield is perhaps best known for his “one-tranny” show “Becoming a Man in 127 EASY Steps” as well as his book, Two Truths and a Lie. www.undergroundtransit.com
C. Michael Woodward is a transgender freelance writer and diversity consultant living in Tucson, Arizona. He welcomes reader feedback at michael@lgbtQA.com.
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