GLBT Music Stars Light Up
THE 2005 FRESH FRUIT FESTIVAL AWARDS GALA
APRIL 24, 2006 - KNITTING FACTORY, NYC
by Robert Urban
"Artists on the Arts" feature for www.StonewallSociety.com
photos by Tom Zeigler
(note - I was in the wings, offstage and onstage for some of the night, and thus did not catch all of the goings-on. For a full list of all Fresh Fruit Awards cateories, presenters and awardees, visit www.freshfruitfestival.com. This article features the mostly music-related highlights from the evening)
among the award recipients - Sirius QutQ radio host JEREMY HOVIES - musician/producer ROBERT URBAN - musical artist GEORGIE JESSUP
GLBT music stars came out in force on April 24 to make the entertainment happen at the recent Fresh Fruit Festival Awards Gala here in NYC at the Knitting Factory.
After a delectably catered 6-7pm cocktail/networking hour in the club's Front Bar, "Best Performance of the Fresh Fruit Open Mic" winners TOKYO PENGUIN opened the awards gala show in the Knitting Factory's main room with a brand new latin/dance number - sung entirely in Japanese to honor their families, who had flown in from Japan just for the show. Despite any possible language barrier, TOKYO PENGUIN's inane brand of physical, choreographed comedy put their song's meaning across to the packed house. As is the band's trademark - there was jaw-dropping, non-stop laughter thoughout their performance.
Then indomitable comic host MURRAY HILL took the stage for his/her opening monologue. Murray's classic, borscht-belt banter left no Fresh Fruit Board Member or Awardee un-skewered.
HECTOR CORIS and PAUL JOHNSON accepted their "Fruitie" award for "Outstanding Music and Lyrics" for their show What's Your Problem?
Fresh Fruit's "Outstanding Concert Performance" award went to VIBRALUX from the Festival's TRANS-ROCK EXPLOSION show. On hand to accept the award was Vibralux's fearless leader/lead singer MERCURY MAD, who had flown in from Kansas for the night's gala. Then in a surprise, last minute team-up, MERCURY was joined by Trans-Rock Explosion host/producer ROBERT URBAN (yours truly). Together we offered up an acoustic rendition of VIBRALUX's moving, love-torn ballad "Miles Away in the Dark".
It was my turn next. Representing the entire Trans-Rock cast, I accepted Fresh Fruit's "Outstanding Event" award for the TRANS -ROCK EXPLOSION concert. It was such an honor to have been able to work with America's top transgender rock stars Lisa Jackson, Vibralux, Georgie Jessup, and Temptress. Here's to their phenomenal talent and showmanship... or is that showwomanship?
In another surprise performance pairing - I was then joined onstage by new singing/songwriting sensation ROGER KUHN. Together we performed the rocker "CUBES OF LIGHT" from my very first CD - "godless". ROGER will be one of the stars of this summer's Urban Productions' TWO SPIRIT glbt Native American concert on July 17, which I'll be producing & hosting for the fest.
Fresh Fruit Festival's board directors Carol Polcovar and Nick Curto came onstage to present the the Fest's beloved "Outstanding Spirit Award" -
Carol: "Every year we give an award to a show that best exemlifies the spirit of the Fresh Fruit Festival. What is Fresh Fruit spirit-well, this year we have two examples-one is a show we agreed couldn't be done in New York, a large musical , with a big cast, coming up from Tennessee, toting actors, set, costumes---. It was impossible but Michael McFaden writer, director , producer and his indominatble cast did what LGBT people have been doing for more than 2,000 years -took their fate in there own hands, scoffed at nay sayers and did what they damned well pleased. And in doing so, won the award for best musical and gave us Layne Sasser, who in the non-singing role as the older Chole won our hearts and the prize for best actress". MICHAEL McFADEN and LAYNE SASSER each came up and accepted for their awards.
Nick: "The second "Spirit Award" goes to the amazing Trans/Gender/Rock/Explosion curated by Robert Urban who had us rock the night away with the boys and girls of gender rebellion. The talented Georgie Jessup will accept the award for Trans/Gender/Rock/Explosion."
Transgender rock icon GEORGIE JESSUP, who'd come up from Delaware just for the awards show - came up from the audience and received Trans-Rock's "Outstanding Spirit Award". In accepting, Georgie spoke movingly of transgender persons in the arts. She will be returning to NYC this summer, as she will also be one of the stars of the upcoming 2006 Fresh Fruit TWO SPIRIT music show on July 13.
Waafrika was a stirring play written by African playwright Nick Mwaluko. It told of danger and conflict, of Kenyian tibal tradition and dictatorial law. It showed us how history and culture can comspire to keep all of us enslaved. Brilliantly directed by Stacy Waring and acted by a remarkable ensemble cast, it has given us our awardees for directing and acting . Zaineb Jah who gave a breathtaking performance as the Kenyian chief's daughter torn apart but opposing needs and desires and for directing : Stacy Waring .
Spoken word like performance art is a genre that gets to the quick and moves the heart. The Fresh Fruit Awards for spoken word goes to Claudia Alick.
Waafrika Claudia Alick
The evening's award proceedings were indeed honored as Trans-Rock-Explosion star - the one and only LISA JACKSON - came up to perform her signature glbt anthem "FABULOUSLY DONE". Lisa brought the house down, and was cheered on by the enraptured audience, who demanded, and got, an encore. Knitting Factory's booking manager, who was in the house and caught Lisa's stunning performance, booked her on the spot for a show this summer at the landmark NYC club.
Announced next was Fresh Fruit Festival's most prestigious honor - The PASSION FRUIT Award.
"Every year the Fresh Fruit Festival honors those who have supported-the LGBT community and the arts- This year we honor JEREMY HOVIES of Sirius Radio. He is not only a pioneer by of sattellite radio but has used his time slot and his amazing knowledge of music to introduce LGBT musicans and songwriters to a new audience. Past winners of the Passion Fruit Award have included then Council Woman Margarita Lopez, Mark Russell of Dixon place and, of course, the puppets Rick and NIck from Avenue Q who last year graciously sent Mrs. Thistletwat to accept their awards, so Jeremey Hovies, you are in good company".
JEREMY HOVIES came up from the audience to accept the 2005 "Passion Fruit" Award - an in his speech, thus usually low key radio host proved to be quite the comic entertainer and audience charmer.
The Fresh Fruit COMMUNITY SERVICE AWARD was bestowed upon NY Assembly member Deborah Glick.
Carol Polcovar: "I first met Deborah where a lot of the then young political lesbians gathered- woman's bar called the Duchess. I was impressed by her coherent ideas on political action - I was also impressed by the women slow dancing ( I was just coming out) And like many lesbian-feminist's and I also wanted to change the world. There were a lot of us then. Many of us scattered into our lives and left our early political radicalism. There were only a few like Deborah who used their energy and intelligence to change our world. . As the both first out lesbian and the first out gay Assembly member, Deborah Glick focused on civil rights, reproductive freedom, environmental issues, and the arts. She proposed bills to prevent evictions and to provide Domestic Partnership. Her presence in the legislature resulted in the passage by the Assembly, of the Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination bill, for the first time after twenty years. As an Assembly member and a member of our community Deborah Glick enriches all of society by standing up for what we as a group have learned- compassion and the need for social justice for all, Accepting for Deborah Glick is Bethany Jankunis".
The ever fabulous CLOVER HONEY closed the show
with a stunning rendition of the classic "The Lady is a Tramp".
Gay film director Wolfgang Busch (Is Paris Burning sequel HOW DO I LOOK?) captured the entire FFF awards show on film and is now editing to create a special film presentation segment he will produce & curate this July for the upcoming 2006 Fresh Fruit Awards Festival.
The star-studded event was also videotaped by UNDER THE PINK CARPET television, capturing all the musical performances and interviewing all the awardees and performers.
The overall spirit of The Fresh Fruit Festival is captured below in transcripts of the 4/24 Awards Show opening speeches:
Nick Curto - President of All Out Arts:
"Hello and Welcome. I'm Nick Curto President of All Out Arts. We produce the Fresh Fruit Festival. All Out Arts' mission is to support emerging LGBT artists and to help in remembering the great lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender artists of the past.Tonight we are here to the honor all the amazing, performers, writers, directors and entertainers who made Fresh Fruit 2005 such a smashing success. Tonight we honor too those artists whose work won the hearts of last year's audiences and the Fresh Fruit Board of Directors for they will receive the coveted Fruit's of Distinction Award, theFruitie which will be presented to them by the beautiful Laverne Cox. Please continue to support Fresh Fruit this celebration of our lives, our art and our culture and remember as a 501c3 organization your donations are tax deductable".
Carol Polcovar - Artistic Director:
"Thank you, Nick and thank you all. What we do at the Fresh Fruit Festival is to honor our community's artists and the art they make, to honor our community and its great and beautiful diversity, to celebrate the contribution of our art and artist's to world culture. Put together it adds up to one great celebration of us. So much beauty in the world would be absent without us. Tonight we take time honor the artists who brought the most excitiment to last's year's festival. Too often artists feel insignificant in a culture where the only measure of value is cash on the line. It isn't often an artist gets to hear what we have accomplished but it is important that artists to celebrate our contribution, we have to in order to continue our indespensible labor of bringing joy and meaning and purpose to the chaos of life. A thank you is especially needed for our community's artists whose art is often denigrated for not being “mainstream” enough or important enough, or too controversial, or not worthy of mass approval. Tonite we say thank you. Thank you so very much".
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