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TRANSVOCALIZERS — LaLa McCallan (Part 2)

| Mar 1, 2010
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This month, we conclude our interview with Daniel Dalton, a.k.a LaLa McCallan. She is an amazing entertainer with a three octave vocal range who sings not only pop, soul, and jazz standards, but opera classics as well. For this portion of the interview, LaLa discusses her wardrobe and her side business of selling wigs. Be sure to check out her website for more information.


TGForum: The first photo I saw of LaLa was in the 18th century costume with the ship in the wig. First off, the 18th century clothing and wigs look so heavy and awkward…and probably hot. How hard is it to perform in costume?

Daniel: You know, I tend to be very critical of myself, and when I come off stage I often think, ‘Oh, I should have sung that section better,’ and so on. Then I remember that I am basically singing without breathing! The costumes are so tight and so ‘sewn on’ that the last time I can take a full breath is before the first zipper goes up. While the 18th century gowns are lighter than they look, the heat from the skin tight gowns is such that I lose around 3 pounds after every show. If only I wouldn’t gain it back almost right away!

TGF: Some of your videos use other time periods as backdrops: 1950s, 1960s, etc. Do you have a favorite era for LaLa’s stage attire and presentation?

D: Definitely the ’50s and the 18th century. These were times when the feminine figure was exalted by fashion in the most extreme-and least practical-ways. I can hardly wear those costumes on stage for the duration of the show. I can’t imagine what it must have been like to have to spend your life dressed like that!

TGF: How successful has your side business with wigs been; and basically, what lead you to get into it?


D: I’ve always been interested in extremely glamorous hairstyles, but really it all started when Stuart ordered this huge wig from Vegas. That was actually the spark for the whole LaLa enterprise. Something clicked in me, and I thought I can do this, and I want to do this even better. Today it remains more like a very time consuming hobby rather than a business for me, but I do love that my designs are appreciated all over the world. I only wish I could be there when the girls open the boxes.

TGF: I know your background is theatrical and acting, but I’m curious how much attention you pay to GLBT politics, and to the crossdressing/transgender communities, both in Europe and the U.S.

D: I have always been out and I have always been at the forefront of the gay movement in my city. I sang my ‘two voices’ version of My Way (where I switch between Frank’s key and a Soprano register) in the very first gay pride in Bologna (Italy) in 1995, long before LaLa came about. When Stuart and I got married in Canada, I made the headlines on local newspapers as the first man in my city to be legally married to a man abroad. I’ve been out and proud marching and a member of GLBT associations wherever I’ve lived, both in London and in the U.S.

However, this is Daniel. LaLa is a stage persona, and as such has a much softer approach to the issue. I think the character is a statement for tolerance in itself, with her kind but unapologetic self confidence. Our goal with LaLa is to inspire tolerance through the acceptance of her talent. So far, we have been quite successful; the audience is inevitably guarded at the beginning but is standing on their feet cheering by the end.


TGF: I take it you have yet to perform in the U.S., since your site mentions developing plans to bring LaLa to English speaking countries. Would that be a full production? How would you present LaLa here? And when, any details you can share?

D: I have already performed the show in English for various corporate events, and I have to say it goes over beautifully. Adjustments would have to be made, of course. As far as the production values, well, the bigger the better. The real problem is that drag in the U.S. seems to be identified with impersonation of famous characters and LaLa never really imitates anybody. While she may pay tribute to a diva or another, she always remains her own persona. That’s why we don’t really use the term ‘drag queen’, but refer to her as Diva en travesti. It’s her stronger asset, but also her main detraction, as she is difficult to pigeon hole. But with the right producer, we believe that her potential would be limitless.

TGF: Any plans to record and release an album or maybe a live performance DVD?

D: Yes, we are definitely planning a DVD for release in 2010 with all of LaLa’s official videos in high resolution, never before released live performances, and a whole lot of little special features. Please stay tuned to the shop page of our website!

TGF: What do you think of the current state of drag entertainment in general?

D: Well, it depends on what country you’re thinking of, because it changes slightly but significantly according to where you are. In Italy, for example, it’s still very basic, but in the last couple of years the girls are glamming it up like it’s going out of style, investing more in their image and their websites. I don’t want to take undue credit, but indirectly I may have something to do with that. In the states for what I can see, your legends are still going strong, and RuPaul’s Drag Race has definitely upped the ante. I would like to see more drag back in mainstream, especially people with real talent, such as John Cameron Mitchell and the whole fallout from the Squeezebox in NYC who made their mark in the ’90s.

TGF: What kind of advice would you offer to someone wishing to start in theater or as a drag entertainer?

D: I’d say learn how to be specific. Plan ahead. Find what makes you unique and build on it. And don’t be afraid to invest in your image, whether you wish to be the queen of glamour or the queen of trash, one thing is always true: you get what you pay for.

TGF: Anything you wish to say in closing?

D: I just want to thank you for the interview, and for allowing us to bring our diva closer to your heart. And remember…it’s LaLa as in ‘Oh, lala!’ honey!

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Category: Music

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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