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Perpetual Change — Roger Anthony Mapes (Part 2)

| Aug 31, 2009
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Last month was the first installment of our interview with Roger Anthony Mapes, a.k.a Yolanda. Since Roger had some very interesting insights and thoughts, we though we’d run the interview in two installments so as not to edit out anything that is important.

In last month’s installment, Roger briefly mentioned the new album that he has been working on with Rober Urban as producer. The album, House Of Joy is finished and is available. Roger had this to say about the entire project: “This project is a lobor of love that combines Yolanda and Roger Anthony Mapes into one entity. I’m singing my original songs about the joy of the human condition. Sometimes I love my pain, sometimes I love LOVE itself, and always I love others who inspire, motivate and even disappoint me. The purpose of my life is to EXPERIENCE it…if it’s ‘good’ or ‘bad,’ it’s still valuable because it makes me who I am.” (check out for information on the new album)

There will be an album release part for House Of Joy, October 8th, 7p.m. at the Laurie Beechman Theater, 407 west 42nd Street (9th Ave.), New York, NY. Reservations needed: 212-695-6909 $15 cover; $15 food and/or drink minimun. Musical direction by Robert Urban.

And now, Part 2 of TGForum’s interview with Roger Anthony Mapes

TGForum: I discovered some interesting albums under your name. Let me know if all this is correct; Yolanda And The Plastic Family (1999); Welcome To Yolanda World (The GLBT Hall Of Fame Edition, 2005); Welcome To Yolanda World-the Ballads (2008); also Out Music’s Hot And Sweet (contains the tune Freedom by Yolanda)

Roger Mapes: Yes, my first CD as Yolanda recorded in Burlington, VT with the original Plastic Family. The next one was a release of the first album when I was inducted into the GLBT Hall Of Fame. The Ballads album was an internet release, which included some original acoustic guitar versions of some of the songs. The Out Music compilation contains some great music by artists such as Alix Olsen, Justin Tranter, Rachel Sage, Robin Renee, Josh Zuckerman, and Freddy Freeman.

TGF: There’s also a thing called Abballicious, which sounds very interesting.

RM: “Abbalicious was an ABBA cover album sung by a selected group of NYC drag queens in 2004-05. Cashetta, Sade Pendavis, June Bug, Connie Cat, Joie Starr…to name a few. I did a solo acoustic blues cover of Lay All Your Love On Me, with Robert playing guitar. That cover still blows me away. But the record was not promoted properly and so it sank into obscurity. We did a country cover of Dancing Queen that’s just so fun…also a video, although I don’t know what happened to all of that work.

TGF: You’ve also had some other various creative endeavors and projects over the years: Alien Love Ball, your cable TV show; the theatrical production of The Legend Of The Faggot Reborn.

RM: I’m not doing the cable show anymore, but the future awaits! And…amazing…how did you find out about The Faggot Reborn? I love you!

TGF: You seem willing to take creative chances. Any new productions of this nature in the works now?

RM: I have three projects happening right now. The album with Robert Urban; a 2 person theatre piece with my friend and actress/writer Susan Hasho here in NYC ( she’s written a lot of monologues about her life and spiritual journey that blend in nicely with my songs. We’ll be sharing the stage acting her stories with me interspersing the appropriate songs); and a NYC cabaret show to be directed by Peter Napolitano of The Ridiculous Theatre Company.

Mapes as Yolanda
Mapes as Yolanda.

TGF: Do you still function as an HIV educator? If you don’t mind my asking, how is your health, and how are you doing personally? If you don’t mind, talk a bit about HIV and the trans community.

RM: I’m not functioning as an educator, but I do work at a day job call Alpha workshops. We are the only not-for-profit organization in the country that trains and employs people living with HIV/AIDS in the decorative arts. We are an industry pioneer ever since our founding in 1995, both in developing a unique training curriculum and in creating a felxible, supportive workplace responsive to the medical, financial and emotional needs of people with a chronic illness

I work in the wallpaper department and design andhand paint one-of-a-kind wallpaper. It’s an amazing and fun environment. We have had several trans people as students and employees, obviously with HIV. Find from them that thte risk factor is about the same as anyone else. At Alpha, people are usually ready to get their lilves back together and get back into the world doing something interesting to them.

TGF: I was surprised to find out you’re also a graphic artist. How long have you been painting?

RM: I’m actually in Fine Arts. I make the distinction because I’ve had very limited experience as a graphic artist although my work at Alpha has more of a graphic quality to it. I’m primarily an abstract expressionist painter and have been so since a very early age. I started making paintings and writing songs at the same time…around 4th-5th grade. I took this very seriously.

TGF: What kind of response have you gotten? Have you had a gallery show of your work?

Robert Urban (L) with Mapes (R).
Robert Urban (L) with Mapes (R).

RM: I’ve had many gallery show throughout my life and sold many paintings. I am proud to be in the collection of NYC Mayor Bloomberg, and Tony Perkins. I’ve also done album covers for musicians at the now defunct record label Strictly Rhythm and magazine covers for Billboard magazine on several occasions.

TGF: Is this type of creative expression a form of release or another form of expression that won’t come out any other way?

RM: It’s simply what I do with my life. It’s neither therapy nor particularly and “expression” of anything other than the DIVINE creative urge. I must create and I know that is the primary expression of God for me in this world.

TGF: I never heard of the GLBT Hall Of Fame, or the Stonewall Society Awards before…this brings up two questions. a) Do you feel trans artists are gaining more respect from the gay/lesbian community as a whole?, and b) do you feel such recognition will help future, and/or up-and-coming trans artists?

RM: I do..and a lot of that is about the particular trans artist feeling powerful about who they are and what they do. The only way to gain more respect from the gay/lesbian community as a whole is to gain more respect for yourself as a WHOLE PERSON. It’s your job to believe that and act accordingly. Then you will see acceptance from others. Do the research…find the places to submit your music — they’re out there. Just make good music. Then you will see acceptance from others.

TGF: Anything you’d like to say in closing that I might not have asked?

RM: God is good all the time no matter how you feel. You are good all the time no matter how you feel. You have all the power you need to accomplish what you want in life. It is inside of you and if you get still and quite your mind for 15 minutes a day in the morning, you will hear the inspiration guide you. If you need help finding resources for your spiritual growth and development email me and I’ll send you links to teachers that can help you. You are strong and you can have the life you want. All the best…all the time!

(Roger Anthony Mapes does invite you contact him at [email protected].)

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Category: All TGForum Posts

Pam Degroff

About the Author ()

Pamela DeGroff been writing for TGForum since the start of 1999. Her humor column, The Pamela Principle, ran until 2005. She started the Perpetual Change music column in May of 1999, and in 2008, Angela Gardner came up with the idea for the Transvocalizers column and put Pam to work on that. Pamela was a regular contributor to Transgender Community News until that magazine's demise. While part of a support group in Nashville called The Tennessee Vals she began writing for their newsletter, and also wrote for several local GLBT alternative newspapers in Tennessee. Pamela is currently a staff reporter for a small town daily paper in Indiana, and is also a working musician.

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