By Tim Parks
Long before she adopted the moniker of Stacey Q, Stacey Swain was courted by the notion of becoming a full-fledged entertainer at a young age.
She studied classical ballet and tried out her vocal prowess by pursuing roles in live opera and Community Theater. At the age of ten, she landed a coveted spot as the youngest member of the Dance Theater of Orange County, all but solidifying that she was indeed following her life’s passion.
Some of her “dates” with destiny from that initial jumping off point included: being an entertainer at Disneyland and she was also a showgirl and elephant rider at Ringling Brothers & Barnum & Bailey Circus.
But things seemed to kick into high gear when she co-founded and became the lead singer of the synthpop group Q in 1981, which was an unlikely twist of fate, as she explained to me.
“I’d never had any singing lessons, I’m not a singer, I was a dancer, so the singing thing was relatively new,” she stated. “I’ve grown to love singing so much, which is amazing for me, because I am so self conscious and shy and inhibited as I was. It was the last thing I ever wanted to do was stand in front of thousands of people and sing, so it kind of grew on me.”
The group Q morphed into SSQ (Stacey Swain Q), due in part to Swain becoming the focal point of the group. Ultimately, the star quality that Swain exuded led to her being signed to Atlantic Records as a solo artist, and she took the stage name of Stacey Q, in part, as an homage to her former band.
1986 proved to be a banner year for Stacey Q., not only did she find musical bliss when her signature single, “Two of Hearts” raced up the charts, but her debut solo CD, Better Than Heaven, yielded a second Top 40 hit with “We Connect.” And, Stacey Q reflected on her favorite memory of being a part of that era, was a sense of camaraderie with her band.
“My favorite part was that I could do it with my friends and loved ones and we had a grand time,” she said.
Her popularity as a teen idol (Stacey Q was almost thirty at the time) led to her being cast on the popular television show, “The Facts of Life” as a singer named Cinnamon, a role that was written specifically for her and saw her become the love interest of the character of George the handyman (played by a then relatively unknown actor named George Clooney). This television union provided her with a way to combine all of her entertainment loves, and she had this to say about the experience.
“It was nice meeting the girls, Cloris Leachman and I sort of became friends, and it was great working with George Clooney. It was nice to be in television acting, because my experience thus far had been live stage theater.”
Now that all things ’80s are in vogue again, Stacey Q gave her thoughts on this rekindled love affair with the decade that introduced Pac-Man, Reaganomics and leg warmers to the masses, as well as some really great music.
“I think that the new wave, that whole phenomenon, I don’t think we’re going to see a better movement,” she recanted. “It’s a really particular time for music; and I think that’s why people tell their kids and their grandkids, and oh god help me, the great grandkids about the music that they listened to, the ’80s stuff.
“I think that they gravitate towards things in the ’80s again, because, well let’s face it, what have been the offerings in the ’90s and the beginning of this millennium?”
In conjunction with the 47th anniversary celebration of The Brass Rail (November 1st through the 3rd), Stacey Q is set to perform at the bar on Friday, November 2nd. And her show sounds tailor made for gay audiences and ’80s philes alike.
“It’s 100% unadulterated pure fun,” she explained. “Everybody can just be themselves, and we haven’t seen each other in such a long time, that’s really the most fun part is saying hello again. And everybody is always so kind, and I want to thank everybody for being so supportive, and we’re trying to get that new record done.”