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TRANSVOCALIZERS — Epiphany

| Apr 25, 2011
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New York City probably has just about anything and everything you’d ever want, didn’t know you want, or probably shouldn’t have in the first place. When it comes to drag entertainment, and drag queens in particular, NYC has something  going on every night of the week.

This column has featured such New York and east coast area entertainers as Hedda Lettuce, Lady Bunny, and Yolanda in past installments. This month Epiphany (a.k.a. Calen David) is our guest interview.

Originally from the west coast, Epiphany has made a name for herself for her vocals as well as her beauty and stage presence. In addition to club performances, she has been booked for private events before audiences that range in diversity from the British Consulate to celebrities such as Kelsey Grammer, Rufus Wainwright, and Susan Lucci.

Transvocalizers is pleased to introduce Epiphany, who presents herself as a very straight forward, succinct,  focused, and incredibly talented, entertainer.

TG Forum: You arrived in NYC in 2004 from the San  Diego area, right? Is that your original home?

Epiphany: Yes, a town called Carlsbad.

TGF: What were your musical influences growing up?

E: My dad listened to a lot of jazz and had tons of old rock and roll records.  My mom listened to all the pop songs in the ’80s and ’90s .  Also, I listened to musical theatre . . . go figure.

TGF: Any musical training or voice lessons or even acting lessons for that matter?

E: Well, when I first went into college, I was a musical theater major, but found it a bit too stuffy and old fashioned.  I had years of training at that point, having been in dance, music, and acting since I was 6.

TGF: I found  some great quotes on your Facebook page:  “Professional clothing removal technician.”  I love that, but it makes me wonder, do you strip or have you done so in the past?

E: Not really, per se, although things do happen.  That refers to the removal of other people’s clothes.

TGF: Here’s another quote, and  quite long:  “This profile is the authentic product of a drag queen living exclusively of it.  Before you come for me, remember that it is my full time job.  Some people criticize me for not having a day job. To me, that’s a cop-out. Live as a piece of art. Don’t just do it once in a while, and until you can accept that, I have no patience with you.”

This brings up two questions:  does criticism make you stronger, and do you live full time?

E: Criticism always makes us stronger. I don’t live “en femme” all the time because I have to rush around all day just to make “her” work for a few hours.

TGF: I like the name Epiphany and Epiphany Get Paid.  Any special meaning there?

E: Epiphany is special; the “Get Paid” is not a formal last name. Just something I used for Facebook ’cause they  wouldn’t just let me have a first name.  So I tried to be funny with  “Get Paid” and it stuck, I guess.

TGF: Musically, what do you currently use as material?  What is your criteria in picking songs for Epiphany?

E: I use many different kinds of material based on the gig, from Lady Gaga to Songs For A New World.

TGF: How old were you when you first started doing drag?

E: 20.

TGF: What is your opinion of the current state of drag entertainment?

E: Kind of like all entertainment at the moment.  I think it’s oversaturated with people who aren’t good . . . they’re just doing the job.

TGF: Are you political?  Do you get involved in GLBT politics?

E: Yes, a  bit.

TGF: What advice would you offer to anyone interested in doing drag as entertainment professionally?

E: Be ready to bust your ass.  It’s not as easy as we make it look.

TGF: I wasn’t able to find out if you’ve recorded or not. If so, what’s available, and if not, any future plans to do so?

E: Yes, I have some tentative things in the works, but I’m a busy queen.  It’s hard.

TGF: Is there any kind of material you won’t do as part of your act?

E: I don’t like to make fun of the audience, which is a typical drag show move.

TGF: Anything you’d like to say in closing?

E: Hmmmm . . . not really.  Just maybe to all your readers: Don’t be afraid to be yourself and explore your options.  The more you travel, the more you will see that somewhere people think you’re amazing.  You just have to find that place and fly.

You can find out more information about Epiphany (a.k.a Calen David) through Facebook and MySpace.  There are videos on YouTube and if you Google “New York City Drag Queens,” there’s some interesting stuff there as well.

ALSO THIS MONTH

Miss Coco Peru

Haven’t heard much from Coco Peru for a while, but that’s partly my fault, or my computer’s fault.  Anyway, she’s announced two new Coco Peru shows to be held in L.A., running for only 6 dates-May 13,14,15, 20,21,22, at the Renberg Theatre, 1125 North McCadden Place, Hollywood, CA, 90038.  Box office #: 323-860-7300.  Coco says of the event:   “Remember,  when you purchase a ticket, you not only help a drag queen pay off her mortgage, you help support the L.A. GLBT Center’s programs and, in the end, that will make you feel so good about yourself! I’m really doing this for you.  I’m better than therapy!”

Jessie J   Who Are You

Jessie J is a British artist who is somewhat hard to categorize.  I say that because she sounds so “black,” but is a white chick.  She definitely has an R&B influence, but her vocals are so strong, she can carry a solo piece accompanied only by acoustic guitar and have it sound powerful.

Of the album’s 13 tracks, the stand out cuts are Rainbow, Do It Like A Dude, Momma Knows Best, Big White Room and the title cut (which is probably the most radio friendly), Who Are You.

Who Are You and Rainbow could easily pass as GLBT theme music,  especially with the line “. . . we are the colors of the rainbow . . .” from RainbowDo It Like A Dude is probably the best dance tune on the project, while Mama Knows Best is a sort of pseudo big-band, wanna-be torch song that sounds like it came from another era.  For that reason alone, it’s a stand out because Jessie J pulls it off so well.

Personally, I find the best vocal, the one tune that shows what Jessie J can really do, is the aforementioned acoustic piece which is entitled Big White Room.  It was recorded live with just voice and guitar, but it’s powerful and stunning.

There’s a story behind this tune as well.  It’s the fist song she wrote, at the age of 17,  about the time she was in the hospital when she was 11 years old.  She shared a room with a younger boy who lost his life.  The song has followed Jessie J throughout her career, getting over 300,000 views on YouTube and garnering  over 50 cover versions.  “Big White Room is my comfort blanket,” she said. “I’m so happy that people can personalize the meaning of the song.”

Jessie J’s Who You Are is great music, and especially great music for drag queens, dance clubs, the GLBT community as a whole, and for all music heads who appreciate a talented vocalist and songwriter.  She’s a lady from whom I expect we’ll hear more great material in coming years.

Neon Hitch Get Over U remix EP

Neon Hitch (her real name) is another Brit with a great voice. Before releasing her first project, she gained a reputation as a song writer, making contributions to artists such as Friday Night Boys and Kesha. The remix EP contains three different dance mixes of  Get Over U and not only showcases Neon’s ability to work with different production techniques, but shows what her range truly can accomplish.  (Neon Hitch is also on Twitter and Facebook)


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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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