Celebrating Gay Pride 2011 & Chatting with Olivia Newton-John

There were a thousand people reporting a thousand stories on Gay Pride 2011. Even the mainstream media hit hard, as the right for gays to marry and have the same legal rights as everyone else in our society has finally become the law of the land. Someday, many years from now, we will look back, and it will be like looking at Columbus’ time, when people thought the world was flat. People will wonder what took us so long to get this right. Anyway, this weekend, I set my sights on interviewing Olivia Newton-John.

She was playing a Josh Woods and FornabaioVoss Events blowout on Governors Island saturday night. Some very helpful people over at Big Machine Media (shout out to Jessica Berek) came to my assistance, hooking me up with Olivia’s person, Michael Caprio. I didn’t even have to grovel much or say things like “Please Mr. Please,” or “You’re The One That I Want,” or “I’m Hopelessly Devoted To You,” or go so far as to invoke “I Honestly Love You.” They worked really hard to get me this interview, and Michael Caprio, I got to believe that you are “Magic.” It had to be over the phone, but I was going to talk to Olivia Newton-John and I, who never gets flabbergasted, was star struck and awe struck at the opportunity.

I went in decidedly punch drunk as my week was a little rough. I opened Hotel Chantelle’s rooftop, my Chihuahua and a piece of my heart, Arturo, passed away after 17 years, and my mother-in-law flew in to inspect me. My phoner with Ms. Newton-John kept being pushed back. I thought it was done with as I walked through Thompson Square Park on my way to a little slice of heaven, er, Xanadu. But the phone screamed and it was Michael Caprio: “Could you do Olivia in 8 minutes?” As a thousand OMGs bounced around inside my head, I ran to a deli, got a pen and pad, and called back. I exchanged “hey’s” ‘hello’s” and “where are you’s” with the legendary singer/actress/activist. She knew I was blushing and bumbling and was as sweet, helpful, and fun as can be. She was on a ferry having just finished sound check. A police helicopter hovering directly over my head wouldn’t allow me to get it right. The copter moved as I did and I felt a little like Henry Hill from Goodfellas. Everyone knows I have “Never Been Mellow,” and I must have been a sight yelling at the sky on one of these “Summer Nights.” In the end, we decided to do this via e-mail.

I wasn’t happy with New York’s finest in general this weekend, as it became known that even while the historic legislation’s ink was still drying on Friday night, a squadron of cops raided the leather and Levi’s bar The Eagle. They reportedly shined flashlights in people’s faces, searched them, and were all around bad sports. The timing of the raid was questioned and Manhattan Borough President Scott Springer has stepped up, demanding an investigation. I’d like him to also find out why that chopper was overhead while I was trying to interview Olivia Newton-John—okay, okay, investigate the Eagle thing first.

I headed to Williamsburg and straight to Graceland tattoo and salon for some advice on what questions to ask. They know Olivia over at Graceland and “Let’s Get Physical” was playing as I entered. They were all busy inking and cutting and I knew I had come to the right place. “What should I ask her?” I implored. Everyone knows the history…Grease, a zillion big records, Xanadu. Everyone chimed in, including the customers. After a couple dozen “I can’t ask her that’s,” a question I could actually dare to ask came forth. Here’s my e-interview: Hey, it’s Steve Lewis from BlackBook. I’m sitting in Graceland tattoo and hair salon in Williamsburg where they all love you. We’re listening to “I Honestly Love You,” and we want to know who you were singing to. Every time I sing the song it has a new meaning. I can’t remember who it was then!

This year’s Gay Pride is special because of the historic marriage legislation. Your performance is such a great part of this great celebration. Tell me about your feelings and what you have to say to a community that has always embraced you. I have many gay friends that I love and care about, and I’m so happy that they can now share their lives with their chosen loved ones and be afforded the same rights as other married couples.

Why do you think that you’re so iconic in this community and loved by so many people in general? I don’t know but I’m very grateful for it! I guess I’ve been around long enough, was lucky enough to be in two iconic movies and had great songs that have endured.

You have a world class smile, do you have a dark side as well and how does it manifest itself? You will never know! Ask my husband!

Today is part of Gay Pride weekend and with that comes a question about celebrities who are in the closet. Many feel their “coming out” would help the general acceptance of gay people in society, while many embrace their right to privacy. How do you feel? I feel, as with everything, that it is everyone’s right to privacy. We have to respect people’s choices.

What are you working on these days? I just filmed a movie with Stephan Elliot and Priscilla Queen of the Desert, called A Few Best Men. I played mother of the bride, which is art imitating life as my beautiful daughter Chloe is engaged to be married! I also have a dance mix of “Magic” available on iTunes now and the money goes to the Olivia Newton-John Cancer and Wellness Centre in Australia. The centre has two floors dedicated to research with the Ludwig Institute, plus a state of the art cancer treatment center. But best of all, there is a wellness centre to support the patient and their family going through cancer. For more information, go here.

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