If you haven’t had the pleasure of experiencing Ethel Merman in person, you really must clear your schedule and make sure that you absolutely DO NOT MISS her appearance on the main stage at Seattle PrideFest at the Seattle Center on Sunday, June 26th! I first laid my eyes on Ethel last October when Trannyshack came to Chop Suey in Seattle. I was absolutely blown away. This crazy drag queen (that looks a bit like the real Ethel Merman), with huge hair and wonderfully exaggerated make up, belted out an incredible version of Tina Turner’s “River Deep, Mountain High”. The audience went wild. I was, as usual, the crazy lesbian up front screaming “WORK!” at the top of my lungs. I couldn’t help myself. It was that fierce.
The following month, when I was in Palm Springs working on a weekend of Gay Pride events with my business partner David Richey at The Ace Hotel, there she was again. Once again, performing with Trannyshack. I’ve seen video from this performance and all I can literally hear is myself screaming at the top of my lungs. Which was a good thing, because it made me realize how rudely I was expressing my excitement. But, I digress. The point is, Ethel Merman is unbelievable.
I was lucky enough to steal a few moments of Ethel’s time for a brief Pre Pride appearance interview for Seattle Gay Scene. Read on…
LAK: When did Ethel first come about?
EM: Ethel first appeared in a stage musical version of the 1962 horror/camp classic “What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?” which ran for nine months at the Victoria Theatre in San Francisco. She played the younger Blanche Hudson’s fairy godmother (a part not in the original movie but oddly appropriate for the stage version).
LAK: Love how you sing live, kickin’ out these classic rock gems in this over the top drag. Do you think this gives you an edge over other performers?
EM: Well, let’s just say that my act is pretty unique. When people think of Ethel they don’t usually think of Nirvana or Led Zeppelin, so it’s always great to see the look on people’s faces when they realize she’s actually doing “Smells Like Teen Spirit” or “Whole Lotta Love.” Seems they get a real kick out of it. Plus, a lot of people do enjoy the live singing as opposed to lip-sync. Then there’s the wig…
LAK: OMG. Yes, I LOVE the wig! What is your favorite part of being Ethel Merman?
EM: That moment when I’ve hit a certain note in a song that brings cheers and applause from the audience. That feeling is very addictive. You could say I’m strung out on it.
LAK: Have anything special planned for festival goers at this year’s PrideFest?
EM: I’m going to stretch out and do some really contemporary material that I think works for Ethel. I’m also going to pay tribute to the Northwest music scene with a couple of numbers.
LAK: What else is on the agenda for Ethel this summer????
EM: Ethel will be in Reno on July 7th for their Rainbow Festival with her band The Ethel Merman Experience. She will also be appearing at the Oakland and Modesto Pride festivals. I think Ethel is rapidly becoming Queen of Pride, which just tickles her Pink!
You are just going to have to trust me on this, take a leap of faith, and catch her live, FOR FREE (for you cheapskates out there), at PrideFest. I am excited and honored to be a part of the Qulture Qreative team, working in tandem with One Degree Events, to bring Ethel to this year’s PrideFest line-up, which, by the way, is power packed! For a full listing of all the talent that PrideFest has to offer this year, click here!
For More on Ethel, click here.
Interested in hearing more from me? Check out my blog at: theeyesoflaurakendall.blogspot.com
Strangeways Note: I love, love, LOVE Ethel Merman (both drag queen and the original)! If you haven’t seen her perform, you MUST check her out…nothing like seeing a drag queen belt out “Smells Like Teen Spirit” in an Ethel Merman voice. A-MAY-ZING, High Energy, Live Performer!