inktober52: power

This is Sabrina Ellis.

Sabrina is a ridiculously talented singer-songwriter-musician-dancer-performer from Austin, Texas.  They are the singer for several bands, including Sweet Spirit and A Giant Dog.  While performing with their bands, they are a bundle of pure energy. Jumping, dancing, twirling, singing, writhing — non-stop!

The first time I saw A Giant Dog was at a small club in Philadelphia. My son introduced me to Sabrina and they were kind enough to put me on the guest list for the show. Every time I saw Sabrina after that, they were sweet and friendly and even a little shy… in direct contrast to their on-stage persona.

Sabrina was the last person I hugged in public prior to the world shutting down for the COVID-19 pandemic.

This is Sabrina Ellis. And they’ve got the power.



DCS: leslie jordan

June is Pride Month.

How could you not love Leslie Jordan?

He was a versatile actor, singer, writer, comedian… a jack of all trades. In reality, Leslie Jordan essentially portrayed one character and that character was Leslie Jordan. As an actor, he made guest appearances in a number of television series, stealing every scene with his trademark genial, folksy manner and his soft Southern drawl. He had a recurring role on the sitcom Will and Grace, as well as being a regular cast member on Hearts Afire and more recently Call Me Kat. He brought his character to both comedy and drama, proving that he was adept at both. He was awarded an Emmy in 2006 for his guest role on Will and Grace.

Displaying his musical prowess, Leslie released a gospel album in 2021. During the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, Leslie took to Instagram for regular posts and comedy performances, gaining nearly six million followers.

In addition to his stage and screen appearances, Leslie was a vocal and active advocate for LGBTQ rights, working with AIDS Project Los Angeles and even handling duties as a food deliveryman for Project Angel Food.

In late October 2022, Leslie was driving to a morning of filming for Call Me Kat, when he suffered a “sudden cardiac dysfunction.” He drove his car into a building on Cahuenga Boulevard in Los Angeles. He was pronounced dead at the scene. Leslie was 67. A one-time drug and alcohol abuser, Leslie was proudly sober for over two decades at the time of his death.



DCS: sue hardesty

June is Pride Month.

Arizona-born Sue Hardesty began her budding writing career as an editor, refining books for other authors. She collaborated on her first book, a collection of recipes, punctuated by commentary on gender roles and identity, entitled The Butch Cook Book. The book was likened to the old-fashioned church-issued cookbooks, but for a new and decidedly different audience.

Sue published her first novel, The Truck Comes on Thursday: Book 1 in the Loni Wagner Crime Fiction Series in 2008. Primarily a crime novel, it was filled with plot twists, as well as romantic scenarios. The book proved so popular, it received two additional reprints. She ventured into the niche genre of Lesbian Young Adult with Panic in 2013, before returning to the “Loni Wagner” series for two more books.

Sue continued to serve as a book reviewer and critic for her fellow lesbian authors until her passing in December 2022 at the age of 89.



inktober52: scratch

I saw Emo Philips at a little comedy club in Philadelphia in 2009. There were four people in the audience. My son and I were seated at a tiny table for two positioned stageside and a man and a woman were at a larger table about six or so feet behind us. That’s it.

There were 46,000 people five miles south, cheering the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park as they tried to pull ahead of the New York Yankees in a World Series that was currently tied at a game each. The rest of the city was either tuned into the game on television or listening to the local radio broadcast.

But four brave souls — of which I numbered myself — were anxious to see an evening of irreverent comedy. Adhering to the show business credo “The show must go on!,” the somewhat peculiar Mr. Philips did not disappoint. As a matter of fact, at one point during the show, he sat down on the edge of the stage, set his elbows on our tabletop and rested his chin on the knuckles of his clenched fist as he delivered his surreal humor in his trademark sing-songy voice.

After the show, he mingled with the four of us and thanked us for not being baseball fans.



DCS: bud brisbois

12-year old Bud Brisbois picked up a trumpet and his life was never the same. Mostly self-taught, he headed to Los Angeles after a brief enrollment at the University of Minnesota. Bud bounced around the LA music scene until he joined Stan Kenton’s band as lead trumpet player. He recorded ten albums as a part of Kenton’s band. Bud spilt with Kenton in 1963, taking more lucrative work as a studio musician.

Bud played on hundreds of recording across all genres. He worked with such diverse acts as Herb Alpert, Tony Bennett, Rosemary Clooney, Nat King Cole, Bobby Darin, Neil Diamond, Frank Sinatra and Duke Ellington. Bud performed — uncredited — on recordings by The 5th Dimension, Bonnie Raitt and even The Monkees. Bud’s trumpet can be heard at the forefront of the Hawaii 5-0 theme song as well as on the theme to The Jetsons.

In 1973, Bud formed the rock group Butane and took lead vocal duties in addition to his signature trumpet. The band, although unsigned, appeared on an episode of the late-night music program The Midnight Special. Unable to sign a recording contract, Butane disbanded.

After some marital trouble, Bud left the music business. He took an unlikely job as a car salesman. In the middle 1970s, he slowly began playing the trumpet again, as it helped him to cope with his lifelong mental illness. He taught some music classes at the Mesa Community College in Phoenix, Arizona and joined a few local jazz bands.

In 1978, Bud made a guest appearance with the jazz fusion group Matrix. After the show, he told the band: “I played as well as I have ever played.”

Less than a week later, Bud committed suicide. He was 41 years old.



DCS: terry hall

In 1982, Fun Boy Three released their first of two albums. Formed from the remnants of the breakup of pioneering British ska band The Specials, Fun Boy Three brought together Neville Staple, Lynval Golding and Terry Hall for a fleeting bit of fame. With a little help from girl group du jour Bananarama, recorded and released the single It Ain’t What You Do (It’s The Way That You Do It) to much success. The tribal drum driven tune was catchy and infections — just what New Wave radio lived for. My girlfriend (now wife) bought Fun Boy Three’s eponymous first effort and I recorded it to listen in my Walkman. And I played it a lot.

One day, as I was once again giving Fun Boy Three’s debut album another run-through, my mom began to sing along to It Ain’t What You Do. I stopped the cassette mid-chorus and was taken back. Now, my mom was cool. Ask any of my high school and post-high school friends. But, was she this cool? Could she be sneaking listens to I-92 “Rock of the ’80s,” the Philadelphia radio station that was the first in the area to change formats to the New Wave trend.

“How do you know this song?,” I asked my mom

She laughed. “This song,” she explained, “is from the 1930s” And she laughed again. “It was originally done by Jimmie Lunceford and his big band. I believe Ella Fitzgerald sang it.”

“Ella Fitzgerald?,” I countered, “That lady who breaks the wine glasses with her voice on the Memorex commercials?”

My mom laughed again. I started up my cassette player again and my mom picked up singing along. The next time I was at my girlfriend’s house, I checked the label on the record and, sure enough, the song was written by Melvin “Sy” Oliver and James “Trummy” Young. Oliver and Young were noted jazz musicians, with Oliver a member of Jimmie Lunceford’s band and Young, an associate of the great Louis Armstrong. (I didn’t know any of this information the time. I found all of this out much, much later.)

But my mom knew the song. And that was pretty cool.

Fun Boy Three had six top singles in their native United Kingdom, including a darker take of the Go-Go’s bouncy Our Lips Are Sealed, which Terry Hall co-wrote with Go-Go’s guitarist Jane Wiedlin in the aftermath of a short romance. Fun Boy Three only lasted a few years before the members went off to explore other ventures.

Terry Hall passed away on December 18, 2022 at the age of 63.