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TRANSVOCALIZERS — Meghan Chavalier

| Jul 19, 2010
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When you first encounter Meghan Chavalier on the Internet, a very bold lettered WARNING ADULTS ONLY page comes up right away. A real in-your-face introduction if ever there was one. So, let’s get the obvious out of the way immediately-Meghan Chavalier is a former adult film star with something like 175 films under her-uh, garter belt. Call her a she-male, or a “chick with a dick”, it doesn’t matter, because there’s a lot more to her than the films she’s done.

“Biggest misconception about people in the porn industry is that all we know how to do is have sex,” she said.

In Meghan’s case, that misconception couldn’t be more true. She’s an author, a singer/performer, a business owner, and an activist for transgender rights who has started an organization called Stopping The Hate. This is her first interview with TGForum, and we’re pleased to introduce Meghan Chavalier to our readers.

TGForum: For the sake of background information, I’d like to ask this: You didn’t start using the name Meghan Chavalier until 1991, and performed under the name Meghan Crawford at first, correct? Were these early performances lip syncing or in your own voice? What type of material did you use?

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Meghan Chavalier: That is correct. Back in the “old” days we used to have Houses. I was part of the House Of Crawford. I started performing in Milwaukee, not using my own voice, always lip syncing. I normally did Madonna songs, because I think it was part of the criteria to being a stage performer in those days. It was either Madonna, Mariah, or Whitney. If you were around in the early ’90s, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

TGF: Musically, who are your influences? What did you listen to growing up and what are you listening to now?

MC: I was a child in the ’70s so I listened to a lot of disco music. I am definitely influenced musically by Madonna and Olivia Newton John. They were always my favorite singers. Today I still listen to music from the ’80s. I don’t listen to the radio at all anymore so I wouldn’t even know whose out there these days. I remember when MTV actually played music videos.

TGF: Do you play any instruments?

MC: I play the drums. I started playing in seventh grade in school. I have to be honest though. I always wanted to play a wind instrument but I got teased so much in school that I thought the drums would be the “butchest” instrument I could play so that’s how I ended up being a drummer.

TGF: Finding the proper order of your discography was kind of difficult…

MC: Meghan Chavalier released in 2008; Songs From The Inner Realm, 2008; 15 Minutes, 2009; Just Dance, newest release, was released also in 2009.

TGF: Plus, you have 18 singles and EPs as well, correct?

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MC: Actually I’m not sure of the number because I’ve released several singles by themselves. The newest songs are Lollipop and Extraordinary Life which were released this year. I plan on doing another CD at some point but I’m working on a book right now, so I’ve put it on the back burner for a while.

TGF: Do you perform any of this material live?

MC: I don’t perform live. I would perform live if I had a band, but honestly, the way I feel about music is that I record it and put it out into the world. It’s about how I feel at the moment. Most of my music is dance oriented, but I also love a good ballad or a good soft rock song.

TGF: Do you write all your own material-music and lyrics?

MC: I do write all of my own lyrics and come up with the basic beat for all of my songs. Once I finish that process, I work with two really great musicians who remix my songs for me. One of them is in Paris and the other is in Pennsylvania.

TGF: Let’s talk a bit about your books. How has Confessions Of A Transsexual Porn Star been received? Same with The Mystical Journey The Book of Elandor. Why did you decide to release that last one under your given name…and, it’s the beginning of a trilogy, correct?

MC: My autobiography was received well. It did well and I’m happy about that. I think it’s important for every person to write their life story. Everybody has an interesting life and has had interesting experiences and they should share it.
I wrote The Mystical Journey of Elandor under my birth name because I didn’t want my first book to be associated with Meghan Chavalier the transsexual adult film star. I wanted to write a book and have people read it and not pass judgment. It is part of a trilogy, when that trilogy will be completed is fully up to me so I’m not sure when the final two books will see the light of day. Writing a book can be a long process.

TGF: In doing research for this interview, I also found that in December 2008, you and your boyfriend opened a restaurant. Are you actively involved in running it? Care to share a bit about it?

MC: We actually closed our restaurant in 2009. The economy is just so bad it’s hard for any new business to stay afloat. It was a good experience for me, but I have to be honest…when it closed I was relieved.

TGF: What advice would you offer for any musician and/or singer just starting out? Same question, but what advice would you offer to anyone interested in getting started in drag entertainment?

MC: I was always afraid that I would never be able to sing or write which is what I’ve always wanted to do. There was a point where I just said, “This is what I’m going to do”, and didn’t look back. If you are passionate about something you should pursue it. Luckily with the way things are in the record industry today, everyone is releasing their music independently, and I’m part of that group. Just do what you love, and don’t let people tell you you’ll never make it, because anything is possible.

I would encourage everyone in our community to do drag shows. They are a great way to hone your craft and meet wonderful people. I miss the stage, but plan on doing a show or two this year. It’s been 15 years, so I think it’s time to try it one more time.

TGF: Stopping The Hate was started as an LGBT human rights coalition in 2008, correct? I understand that your inspiration for this was the murder of Angie Zapata. How active is the organization, and exactly what do you do?

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MC: When I started the website we had columns written by various members of the LGBT community but after about six month we changed formats and went strictly to news related items and interviews with people within the community.

I attend events that I believe are making changes for the better in our community. I plan on holding a larger event at some point, it’s just a matter of getting people on board. There are people out there who really want to make changes in the world, and then there are people who really don’t want to do anything if it doesn’t have anything to do with them or their lives. Angie Zapata’s murder was the inspiration for the website. I was so angry with the way some of the public reacted to her death, saying she deserved to die for not telling the person who killed he she was transgender. Can you imagine even putting something like that out there? Someone deserves to die? What kind of world do we live in? It’s sad, isn’t it?

TGF: If you had one thing to say to the transgender community, what would it be? Also, in closing, any final words?

MC: I would encourage all of my transgender brothers and sisters to be exactly who they are. You cannot live your life for someone else…you must live it for you.

In closing, I’d like to say this. Do something that will change people’s lives. Do something that will encourage others to help people in need. Never stop fighting for equal rights and never give up hope. Fight the good fight. You have to be who and what you want to be in life if you hope to find any measure of happiness.

If you go to her website be warned…it’s very graphic. Her books, music, and films can be ordered through the site, and the music is also available through Amazon.com.  Check out Stopping The Hate as well.

ALSO THIS MONTH

Now for your dining and dancing pleasure, a couple of brief reviews of new CDs.

woodardLucy Woodward — Hooked
Lucy Woodward’s third album, Hooked, can be pretty accurately described with one phrase-old school. But in this case, it’s a VERY OLD school we’re talking about here. From start to finish, Woodward presents an album of pure American big band, including 4 interesting choices for covers. The other eight tunes were co-written by Woodward and several talented songwriters.

The lead-off song, He Got Away, is a step back in time to when big bands had incredible female vocalists out front for a few numbers.

This is followed by the first of the covers, Sans Souci, by Peggy Lee and Francis J. Burke. The 1967 Disney flick Jungle Book song I Wanna Be Like You (The Monkey Song), by Robert and Richard Sherman, is another well done cover that’s quite entertaining.

Woodward also chooses to cover Stardust, the Hoagy Carmichael, Mitchell Parish classic. Woodward’s voice is set against an acappella backing that makes her choice of this classic a perfect closer for the project.

The last of the four covers is a Woodward’s take on Nellie McKay’s Another Woman. (McKay’s Normal As Blueberry Pie A Tribute To Doris Day album was featured here in April.)

While it would be easy to classify Hooked as big band music, part of what makes the project so listenable is its ability to touch on several different genre’s from that era. This Empty Room is European music hall; Too Much To Live For is done in a mid-tempo jazz groove; Leave It To You comes across like any of the best torch songs from B-movies; and the use of strings along with the band is heard on Purple Heart and Slow Recovery.

Perhaps Woodward’s best vocal performance is found on Babies. The song is probably also the best produced, ranging dynamically from full orchestration and full voice to faint hush. When Woodward chooses to sing with real intensity, her voice has an edgy quality, almost a grit to it.

Lucy Woodward’s Hooked is the kind of album you thought they didn’t make anymore. There’s absolutely no substitute (or samples) that come close to great musicianship, intelligent songwriting, and a vocalist who understands how to properly interpret her material.

Executive producers are Lucy Woodward and Dahlia Ambach-Caplin. Several producers are used, but most notably Tony Visconti. Check the CD insert for more information.

night_workThe Scissor Sisters —  Night Work
The Scissor Sisters third album, Night Work is an attempt to turn back time. The overall concept of the project is how would the dance club music of the late 1970s-early ’80s have sounded if that scene hadn’t ended? Where would that music be if it had been allowed to naturally progress?

The group consists of Jake Shears (vocals); Ana Matronic (vocals); Babydaddy (bass, keys, guitar, and programming); and Del Marquis (guitar). Night Work was produced by Stuart Price and also features John Garden (keys and musical direction) and Randy Schrager (drums and percussion).

Opening track/title track Night Work is described by the band as “…the ultimate going out song…” Basically, it’s strong ’80s rock with a dance beat.

One of the real standout tracks is Any Which Way — pure disco with absolutely pure Bee Gees style vocals. They nailed the sound musically, lyrically, and vocally. These folks were obviously born about 35 years too late.

Something Like This and Skin The Cat are great vocal moments for Matronic. But probably the high point of the entire album is its closing track, Invisible Light. Described as Pink Floyd in the Pleasuredome, it also contains the Bee Gees style vocals with a slight David Bowie influence. This one tune is definitely dance music on steroids, but with influences that push it into another direction.

Previous Scissor Sisters albums are their self titled debut in 2004; Ta-Dah (2006); a rare Australian import called K-Mart Disco; and the DVD Hurrah! A Year Of Ta-Dah. There are also several singles available. One of their most interesting releases is their first single, Electrobix, which was B-sided with a disco version of Pink Floyd’s Comfortably Numb. Now that I’d like to hear.

While the Scissor Sisters are definitely a dance music band, they’re not afraid to stretch the boundaries of their chosen genre’. That’s true creativity.


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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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