By Tim Parks
Of note, this was originally written in 2005, but I wanted to share it with my fan…hey girl!
The word diva has its roots as a Latin or Italian word for goddess. Time Magazine shrewdly observed in an October 21st, 2002 issue, that a diva by definition is ‘” rampaging female ego redeemed only in part by a lovely voice.” Meow-ouch, and I thought I was bitchy!
The word was originally applied to great female opera singers, but has come to encompass both positive and negative connotations of performers as well. On the plus side, anyone who has expansive vocal talents, and or a command of the stage is diva worthy. Dipping a toe into the negativity pool, the word can also imply that someone who believes the only thing that matters is themselves and must have every whim catered to…well, they are also considered a diva, and probably some other choice words.
In gay layman terms, a diva is a fabulous woman we adore and place high on a pedestal. Below are new definitions of some beloved performers, and what they have done and are doing to keep themselves diva-licious.
Cher (divalongevicus): We all know the well uttered phrase about nuclear holocaust, and only cockroaches and Cher remaining. She is the only recording artist in history to score #1 hits in four successive decades, and has the record for longest span-34 years-between #1 hits.
In trying to find out any information on the formidable artistic force, it seems someone may have sprayed her career plans with Raid! There are no pending CD’s, and it’s been three years since Living Proof-that’s a millennium in Cher years! As for the silver screen, there’s only the stalling of a movie, In The Pink, a proposed project about cosmetics saleswomen also starring Bette Midler and Britney Spears.
Maybe it’s a good thing-remember her endorsement of friend Lori Davis’ line of hair care products-who knew they were wig safe? So what could Cher be doing? Sitting around eating scrambled eggs with Chastity? Asking Elijah Blue to fetch mama another glass of water? Or maybe, we should heed the words she spoke at the 325 shows of her Farewell Tour-give her a frickin’ break, she’s been a diva for 40 frickin’ years, whoa!
In the summer of 1965, “All I really want to do,” was her first hit record as a solo artist, people. I was at her final, final show in April, there was a “gentleman” protesting outside of the Hollywood Bowl with a sign that read “Homosex is a sin.” Without knowing it, he was taking a cue from Cher’s “know your audience” approach, as the evening was all tears, cheers and queers. To date, the tour has brought in $250 million dollars and remains the most successful solo tour by a female in history. Follow that you bitches!
Madonna (divakarmachameleon): Do you remember when Mo was a man-eating boytoy, hell bent on world domination through song? Have 20 years really transpired since her first official movie, Desperately Seeking Susan and her nude photos in both Playboy and Penthouse were released? Yes indeed, time is a cruel bitch mistress.
Long before she sported a certain little red string on her wrist, Madonna just wanted the world to dance. Her approaching tenth studio album being released in November entitled, Confessions On A Dancefloor, should help in that endeavor. (It was originally going to be called Defying Gravity, and I thought a good alternate title could have been Bra.)
Never one afraid to experiment (who hasn’t seen the book, Sex?), she is also taking part in a three-way- musically speaking, of course. Swedish producer/songwriters Bloodsky and Avant, who wrote and produced Britney’s “Toxic” have also penned some tunes. Perhaps they are behind the only confirmed single title, “I Love New York.” Also on board to help us get into the groove are Stuart Price (a.k.a. Jacques Lu Cont), her musical director on The Re-invention Tour.
Speaking of The Re-invention Tour (segue way alert!)…her documentary about life on the road of said tour, a follow-up of sorts to Truth Or Dare, called Madonna: I’m Going To Tell You A Secret will be released. After many delays, like not playing at The Cannes Film Festival and then a “was going to be out and then wasn’t released in June” start date, looks like it will also be out in November.
And, the DVD of The Re-invention Tour will be in stores for the Holiday season. Of course we all know about her delving into the children’s book market, her most recent one Lotsa De Casha made it on the New York Times Bestseller list. She’s slated to provide her voice to the 2006 animated movie, Arthur and The Minimoys. Damn, she’s one busy Esther!
Janet Jackson (divamissjacksonifyouarenasty): Remember when the words “nipplegate” and Janet Jackson were not linked forever in controversy? How will our Miss Jackson survive? Well, receiving the HRC (Human Rights Campaign) award on June 18th for the millions of dollars she has raised for AIDS related causes, is a good start. Even better is her big middle finger to Middle America! She has cameo as a stripper decked out in a Britney-esque schoolgirl ensemble in boyfriend Jermaine Dupri’s “Gotta Getcha video.”
And, she’s also starting work on a new CD with longtime collaborators Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis and paramour Jermaine Dupri. It’s set to be all dance and more of a return to Control. Dupri insists that even though Damita Jo undersold (only going Platinum, umm, boo squish) that this is not a comeback for Janet. I won’t call it a comeback, she’s been here for years. Oh wait, that’s in reference to L.L. Cool J…words.
Mariah Carey (divamakesdogsearsbleed): Speaking of comebacks (segue way alert #2!), somebody enjoying a huge one presently is Mariah Carey (that all sounds dirty somehow). She recently scored her 16th #1 single with “We Belong Together,” and that puts her behind The Beatles (with 20 No. 1’s) and Elvis (with 18 No. 1’s), again, that sounds dirty! Maybe it’s her penchant for wearing couture that makes her look like she’s stuffed into a sausage casing that leads me to dirty assumptions.
Putting my professional hat on at a jaunty tilt… her CD, The Emancipation of Mimi, has gone triple platinum, and that’s enough to brush off the muted flecks of Glitter that could have permanently tarnished her career. Well, that and being cuckoo for Coco Puffs-hey, where did my hat go? Look out for her next single, “Shake It Off”-could it be her next hit?
Whitney Houston (divasweatsalot): Someone that needs a big hit (segue way alert #3) is Whitney, and I am not talking about from a crack pipe, either. The once wholesome, big-piped (again, not of the crack variety-crack is whack!) Houston has seen her career sidetracked by stints in rehab, and a rocky marriage to Bobby Brown. S
So, how to best mend a shattered public image? Hey, why not be featured on your husband’s reality show Being Bobby Brown? That’s a great idea! What could you talk about in a public forum? Hmm…oh, I know-how about the time he helped you dig out a stubborn stool (as in sample, and not of the sitting variety)?
To paraphrase her on said show-hell to the no! Whitney was in the studio before rehab visit #… (Wait, I lost track-math is hard!), working on her comeback album. Let’s hope she can pull it together both professionally and personally-a talent that big shouldn’t be wasted, literally.
J. Lo (divailiketacosyburritos): Her latest CD, Rebirth, only sold 650,000 copies so far in The U.S., and is widely regarded as a flop (why sugarcoat it, right?). “Get Right” was her only big hit, but it had that grating trumpet being dragged under a bus hook. The second single, “Hold You Down,” peaked at #64.
Despite all of that, she’s readying her next single, “Whatever You Want To Do,” a mix of funk, hip-hop and dance-sounds like it has flava-hey! Future projects are reported as a new remix album; culling hits from her last two musical endeavors (do they still make ep’s?). Also looming on the horizon is a Spanish language CD with ultra thin hubby (see, I can be nice. I was going to say corpse-like. Oh. Oops.) Marc Anthony-let’s hope it’s not as creepy as their stilted Grammy performance. Well, at least she has that acting career, and three upcoming movies slated for 2005. Ay Carumba!
Diva-lites (divaandtherest): Gwen Stefani has a new single, “Cool,” and will be touring with The Black Eyed Peas in the fall. Look for her at Cox Arena on October 20th. Britney Spears is preggers-no, really!? Aside from giving birth, her only upcoming project is the release of Chaotic on DVD on August 23rd-can you handle their truth? (I don’t wanna touch nothin’ skeevy Mr. Federline has handled.)
Christina Aguilera has a self-described “retro blues/jazz/soul record, but a really meaty, gritty, real raw record of soul” (and that’s a direct quote, I couldn’t make it up) that’s near completion.
Destiny’s Child are calling it quits (shut up!), and before they do-have you ever noticed the eerie similarities between them and The Supremes? Kelly Rowland could pass for Mary Wilson, as could Michelle Williams for Florence Ballard, and Beyonce, well, she’s vying for Miss Ross’ position.
The Spice Girls are talking about a reunion, to mark the 10 year anniversary of “Wannabe’s” release in 2006. They were supposed to reunite for Live 8, but…Mel B. a.k.a. Scary Spice felt “it was difficult going back to something she did in the past.” Umm, as opposed to what you are doing presently? Take a cue from Madonna and Cher there, Scary.
Actually, we can all take a cue from our divas, as there is a lot to learn from their wealth of experiences. They have the power of longevity, the ability to reinvent, and a resilience that belies their larger-than-life personas that live underneath mere flesh and bone- perhaps that is what makes a diva a diva? That’s one to grow on. Until next time, that’s all of the news that’s fit to print.