Friday, February 27, 2009

Black Diva History Month, Part 3 (1942-present)

The final entry in my three-part series. You may notice some obvious omissions - especially when it comes to the disco era and the current wave of divas. There's always next February.
Marlena Shaw (Marlina Burgess, born 1942) an outrageous jazz and cabaret singer who started performing in the 1960s. Sandra Bernhard's take on Me & Mrs. Jones is a direct homage to Marlena's performance style.
Aretha Louise Franklin (born 1942) is "The Queen of Soul”. In 2008,  Rolling Stone ranked Franklin #1 on its list of The Greatest Singers of All Time. Franklin has won 20 Grammys to date, which include the Living Legend Grammy and the Lifetime Achievement Grammy. In 1987, Franklin became the first female artist to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. She recently sang in a ridiculous hat at the presidential inauguration of Barack Obama.
Marilyn McCoo (born 1943) is singer, well known for being the lead female vocalist in the group The Fifth Dimension, as well as hosting the popular 1980s music countdown series SOLID GOLD. The Fifth Dimension is a multiple Grammy-winning popular music vocal group, known for the hits Up, Up and Away, Wedding Bell Blues, Stoned Soul Picnic  and Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In.

Leslie Uggams (Born 1943) is an actress and singer, perhaps best known for her role in ROOTS, as Kizzy. Uggams also starred in the 1975 cult film POOR PRETTY EDDIE in which she played a singer who is abused and humiliated by the sick & twisted denizens of a backwoods Southern town. Read my review here. Early in 2009, Uggams will appearas the legendary jazz singer Lena Horne in the stage musical Stormy Weather at the Pasadena Playhouse in California.
Gladys Maria Knight (Born 1944), "The Empress of Soul," is an R&B/soul singer-songwriter. With her group, The Pips she scored many hits including The Midnight Train to Georgia. In 1986, Knight joined with Dionne Warwick, Stevie Wonder, and Elton John on the AIDS benefit single, That's What Friends Are For which won a Grammy. In the spring of 2008, Gladys appeared alongside Chaka Khan, Patti Labelle and Diana Ross at the Divas with Heart concert.Patti LaBelle (Patricia Louise Holte, born 1944) is a R&B and soul singer-songwriter and cookbook author. She fronted two groups, Patti LaBelle and the Bluebelles, and Labelle, which had a breakthrough hit in 1974 with their song Lady Marmalade. She went on to have a solo recording career well into the 1990s.
Diana Ross (Diane Ernestine Ross, born 1944) is a recording artist, actress, and entertainer. During the 1960s, she was the lead singer of The Supremes before leaving for a solo career in the beginning of 1970. In 1972, LADY SINGS THE BLUES featured Ross giving a bravura performance as Billie Holiday, earning her an Oscar nomination. In 1975, Ross starred in the camp classic MAHOGANY and in 1978 she was featured in the commercial and critical failure THE WIZ .
Joan Anita Barbara Armatrading, (Born 1950) is a British singer, songwriter, and guitarist. Armatrading had a string of critically acclaimed albums through the 1970s and 80s, and she is a three-time Grammy Award-nominee.Natalie Maria Cole (Born 1950), the daughter of legendary crooner Nat King Cole is a pop music performer who has won ten Grammy Awards. She achieved success in her early career as an R&B star, but smoothly changed her repertoire toward a more jazz orientated musical style in the early 1990s, including a posthumous duet with her father.
Chaka Khan (Born 1953) is an singer known for hit songs such as I'm Every Woman and I Feel for You. Khan was first featured as a member of the funk band Rufus before beginning her solo career, earning her the title of the "Queen of Funk Soul"Dianne Reeves (Born 1956) is a jazz singer, known for her outstanding live performances as much as her albums. I’ve seen her perform a few times and is quite memorable. She has to date won four Grammy Awards.Cassandra Wilson (Born 1955) is an jazz musician, vocalist, songwriter, and producer. Her cover versions of pop standards and rock songs are modern classics. She has won two Grammy Awards.Mary Edwards (Born 1960-something) is an up and coming composer and performer whose 1960s and 1970s influences are evident in her cinematically-inspired recordings.Dana Elaine Owens (born 1970), better known by her stage name Queen Latifah, is a former rapper who has found much acclaim as smooth-voiced pop singer and actress. Latifah's work in music, film and television has earned her a Golden Globe award, two Screen Actors Guild Awards, two Image Awards, and a Grammy Award.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Black Diva History Month, Part 2 (1930-1940)

Here's a dozen more great ladies of song and screen.Dakota Staton (Aliyah Rabia 1930-2007) was an jazz vocalist who found fame and acclaim with the 1957’s gorgeous The Late, Late Show. One of my favorite LPs for all time.Nina Simone (Eunice Kathleen Waymon 1933-2003) was a Grammy Award-nominated jazz singer, folk songwriter, classical pianist, arranger and civil rights activist. Her work covers an eclectic variety of musical styles including soul, R&B, gospel, and pop music. Known as The High Priestess of Soul, she recorded her last album – the amazing A Single Woman in 1993.
Della Reese (Born 1931), is an actress and singer. She started her career in the late 1950s as a pop singer, best known for her 1959 hit single Don't You Know which was adapted from an aria (Muzetta's Waltz) from Puccini's La Boheme. She subsequently became an actress, best known for the long-running CBS hit TOUCHED BY AN ANGEL.
Barbara McNair (1934-2007) was an sadly underrated singer and actress. In 1969 alone she hosted her own syndicated variety hour, starred alongside Mary Tyler Moore and Elvis in CHANGE OF HABIT (1969) and had a role in the sexy Italian film VENUS IN FURS, directed by Jesus Franco. The following year she portrayed Sidney Poitier's wife in They Call Me MISTER Tibbs! (1970). Ms. McNair continued performing into the 2000s, until her tragic death in 2007.
Ketty Lester (Revoyda Frierson, born 1934) is a singer and television actress, who is best known for her classic 1962 hit single, Love Letters - used effectively in David Lynch's cult classic BLUE VELVET. Lester would later establish herself as a fine actress in the 1970s and 1980s. Appearing on two NBC shows, DAYS OF OUR LIVES from 1975 to 1977, and as Hester-Sue on LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE from 1978 to 1983.
Diahann Carroll (Born 1935) is an award-winning actress and songstress. Carroll's first film role was in CARMEN JONES in 1954, followed by the film version of Gershwin's PORGY AND BESS. Carroll is best known for her Emmy-nominated title role in the 1968 show JULIA in 1968. In the 1980s, Carroll joined ABC’s megahit DYNASTY as the jet setter, Dominique Deveraux, half-sister of Blake Carrington. She is still very active in showbiz.
Dame Shirley Veronica Bassey (born 1937) is a British singer most known for performing three James Bond themes GOLDFINGER (1964), DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER (1971), and MOONRAKER (1979). Ms. Bassey celebrated her 60th birthday by recording the hit History Repeating with The Propellerheads. This led to the 2001 album, The Remix Album: Diamonds Are Forever. In 2008 the song Goldfinger was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. Seeing her perform live in San Francisco is one of the most memorable evenings in my life.
Roberta Flack (born 1937) is a Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter and musician who is notable in the areas of jazz, soul, R&B and folk. Flack is best known for singles such as Killing Me Softly with His Song, The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face, Where Is the Love and The Closer I Get to You (two of her many duets with Donny Hathaway), and Feel Like Makin' Love.
Nancy Wilson (born 1937) is a Grammy-winning song stylist. She is known as both "Fancy Miss Nancy”. Her 1962 album with Cannonball Adderly is a alltime classic. She can be heard weekly on the long-running radio show, JAZZ PROFILES, on NPR.
Etta James (Jamesetta Hawkins, born 1938) is an blues, soul, R&B, rock & roll, gospel and jazz singer and songwriter. James is the winner of four Grammys and was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1993, the Blues Hall of Fame in 2001, and the Grammy Hall of Fame both in 1999 and 2008. She is best known for the song At Last. I have seen Etta perform at least a half-dozen times and she never ceases to entertain and amaze me.
Tina Turner (Anna Mae Bullock, born 1939) is an singer and actress whose career has spanned over 40 years and who has won numerous awards. She has been referred to as "The Queen of Rock 'n' Roll". I’ve seen her perform live on several occasions, and am always blown away by her energy. Oddly, I have never seen her big screen bio, WHAT'S LOVE GOT TO DO WITH IT?Dionne Warwick (Marie Dionne Warrick, born 1940), is singer best known for her partnership with songwriters and producers Burt Bacharach and Hal David. She also teamed with Barry Manilow for some memorable hits. Dionne is second only to Aretha Franklin as the female vocalist with the most Billboard Hot 100 chart hits during the rock era (1955-1999). No need to mention her acting in RENT A COP alongside Burt Reynolds and Liza or the Psychic Friends Network. Oh, I guess I just did.

Look for Part 3 tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Black Diva History Month, Part 1 Addendum (1886-1922)

Before I get to Part 2, here's a few great African American women who I mistakenly left out of Part 1.Ma Rainey (Gertrude Malissa Nix Pridgett 1886-1939) was one of the first known blues singers to record. She was known as The Mother of the Blues and she influenced every major blues performer to come along after her.
Josephine Baker (1906 – 1975) was a controversial American expatriate entertainer who became a celebrated French citizen in 1937. She was given the nicknames the "Bronze Venus," "Black Pearl", "Créole Goddess" and in France, she was known as "La Baker". She was portrayed by Lynn Whitfield in 1991 TV film, THE JOSEPHINE BAKER STORY.
Dorothy Jean Dandridge (1922–1965) was an Academy Award-nominated American actress and pop singer. She starred in CARMEN JONES in 1954. She was portrayed by Halle Berry in the 1999 HBO film, INTRODUCING DOROTHY DANDRIDGE.

From Arizona to Los Angeles

I'm finally back home, and like THE NEW DICK VAN DYKE SHOW in its final season, I've travelled from the Arizona desert to the glittering sites of L.A.. Only I didn't have a crappy, unmemorable theme song playing behind me.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Fat Tuesday & Other Missed Opportunities

Because I've been on a two-week road trip from LA to Orlando, Florida (and back) I've missed opportunities to blog about things such as Friday the 13th (the day, not the movie franchise), Valentine's Day, Abe Lincoln's big birthday and most recently Mardi Gras. Oh well, sometimes life happens and when your Disney hotel doesn't provide free wifi, it's just not worth the trouble of paying $9.99 a day for internet service.
So I apologize to my faithful readers and I assure you that once I am back in my home office I'll be back to my old blogging self with lots of new posts about bad movies, TV, pop culture and the part 2 of my tribute to the great African-American divas.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Chico's Angels, Part 3

For those who've enjoyed parts 1 and 2, here's the third installment.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


Walt Disney's visionary Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow eventually evolved into the theme park we know of today. And I just happen to be there - today!
For my controversial (and quite silly in retrospect) review of the apparently much-loved CAPTAIN EO attraction film from last year go here.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Wonderful World of Disney Anniversary

As I celebrate the 35th Anniversary of my first visit to Walt Disney World, I recall an NBC TV special that aired around the same time as my second visit to the Orlando theme park.
This spectacular two-hour retrospective of Disney's primetime anthology show aired on September 13, 1978 and was hosted by popular ABC stars Ron Howard and Suzanne Somers and featured an array of guests from all over the dial. I love how they decided to list characters (both live action and animated) among the "guests". Oddly Minnie Mouse and Daisy Duck didn't seem to rate enough to be featured in the ad - yet Old Yeller did. Seeing this ad makes me long for both the glory days of TV Guide and the network TV retrospective special. These type of clip shows became the standard back in the 1970s and continued to a lesser degree into the 1980s and 1990s. It seems like today PBS is the only outlet for such programs (like the recent MAKE 'EM LAUGH), and that truly saddens me. Oh well - what can you do? I'm off to the Magic Kingdom now!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

The Premio Dardos Awards

Last week, Dougsploitation was bestowed the prestigious Premio Dardos Award, and now it it my turn to dole out the honors to five of my favorite fellow bloggers. Of courses there are many other blogs that I enjoy on a regular basis, but these five are the ones that keep me coming back for more (for various reasons). So, with no futher ado, here are my picks (in alphabetical order):

COMICS AND THINGS - Tony Z's funny and informative look at what's hot and what's not in the world of comic books and collectibles. Also his GOLDEN AGE SUPERHEROES is a well-researched and fascinating look at many forgotten classic characters.DAVELAND BLOG - Dave's awesome collection of vintage Disneyland photos of memories is truly magical. Even if you've never been to Disneyland, this site stirs up memories of the child in us all. Dave's original artwork blog is also worth checking out.SHIRTLESS SUPERHEROES - What can I say? I'm a sucker for a half-naked super-hero. Who isn't? This site uncovers all the greats. You'll be amazed how many comic book characters spend as much time out of costume as they do in costume!THIS AND THAT - Not always safe for work, this blogger is self-described as "liberal, intelligent, passionate, sensitive, queer, activist-somewhat, music lover, dancer, frustrated, handsome, beautiful, sexy, libra, aggravated, aggravating, reactionary, reader, dreamer, perverted, witty..." What's not to love?
...and last, but certainly not least is the always safe for work VINTAGE DISNEYLAND TICKETS - more great Disneyland memories as seen thru and amazing collection of promotional materials and advertising. I'm constantly astounded by what I see here and inspired to make my blog as enjoyable.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Driving through Louisiana...

Reminded me of one of my favorite movies from the 1980s.

Friday, February 13, 2009


This morning I woke up a few miles east of a town called Truth or Consequences, New Mexico...

And for those of old enough to recall the great stunt-oriented game show classic, here's the fabulous theme song...

Speaking of daytime TV themes - I spent most of my day today driving through the state of Texas - a state so big that NBC once decided to rip-off CBS's prime-time hit DALLAS, by spinning off a few characters from ANOTHER WORLD by moving them to the Lone Star state. Too bad they didn't move Bay City cop Larry Ewing and his bimbo wife Clarice to Texas, because then there'd be two Ewing families in the six flag state.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

...just passing though...

Who cannot drive through Phoenix, Arizona without thinking about Linda Lavin warbling the theme from ALICE? Well I certainly cannot! To celebrate my "just passing through" here's the song as featured in the rare pilot episode of the hit show (based on one of my favorite movies of all time, ALICE DOESN'T LOVE HERE ANYMORE).

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Dougsploitation is Going on DougsploitVacation

I'll be blogging from the road as much as I can. Here's me in 1974...
 I'll be revisiting Walt Disney World - 35 years later.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Awards & Angels

Dougsploitation is proud to accept the prestigious Premio Dardos Award, bestowed upon us by the lovely and talented Marc Harshbarger of DEEP DISH. It is an honor to be recognized, so of course I'd like to thank Jesus - because you can't win an award without him. After all, "Jesus is a Friend of Mine". 
This award is designed to recognize unique voices and visions on "the interweb" as well as to promote fraternization/community spirit amongst bloggers of all sorts. The way this award works is: once received you (meaning me) must nominate five other blogs that you think are worthy of the award and then they will each choose five and so on and so forth.  Sounds like fun - but to be honest I've had a long busy day and I don't want to unfairly judge other bloggers at this very moment–so instead please enjoy a two new preview episodes of CHICO'S ANGELS starring my glamourous friends Kay Sedia and Frieda Laye.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Sunday, February 8, 2009

My Visit To The Homoerotic Cowboy Museum

Now that I've gotten your attention, I'd like to tell you about my visit to The Gene Autry National Center of The American West, located in Los Angeles' Griffith Park. I've lived in walking distance from this tourist attraction for almost 8 years now and finally decided to check out what's behind it's doors when my friend Laura got free passes for her, me and my friend Pam. I got much more out of it than I ever expected. Never a big western fan, I was somehow always been drawn to the iconic image of the American cowboy. I wonder why...The museum's permanent collection features rare photos, paintings and artifacts depicting these rough and tough  guys. From rodeo participants (above) to outlaws (below).  The miners pictured below in Ernest Narjot's 1992 painting Miners: A Moment of Rest would not look out of place on the cover of a gay pulp paperback.And the hunky Native American seen here in Charles Deas' 1846 Solitary Indian could easily pass for one of The Village People. Even my friend Pam thought the figure had a WeHo gym body.
Other pieces of interest include the entire Best of the West doll collection featuring Jane West!
Watch this for more on Jane:
Another famous western gal, was Annie Oakley, the legendary real-life performer whose life was immortalized on stage and screen through the Irving Berlin musical, ANNIE GET YOUR GUN.
Annie has been played by many gay icons starting with Ethel Merman all the way to Reba McEntire. Somewhere along the way Judy Garland was supposed to play her in what would have been a true classic.Unfortunately, Judy was replaced by the wonderful Betty Hutton, who made the role her own–but she's no Judy. Betty's costumes are on display at the museum.
As well as many examples of Annie Oakley merchandise...
and actual photos and items belonging to real woman.
The Bold Caballeros/Noble Bandidas exhibit features some wonderful film posters and collectibles including some wild western women like BANDIT QUEEN!
And a good amount of CISCO KID objects including posters like this one featuring everyone's favorite gay, Latino Joker, Cesar Romero!
In this one, he's even got a GAY AMIGO!
The character was so popular with kids, that he even had his own comic book...
and cool toys like this kinda creepy mask.
Elsewhere in the museum you can see Kate Hepburn's costume from 1975's ROOSTER COGBURN.
And pieces of the set from Robert Altman's 1976  revisionist western BUFFALO BILL AND THE INDIANS OR SITTING BULL'S HISTORY LESSON.
Including this gorgeous backdrop featuring Buffalo Bill...
as played by a dreamy Paul Newman.A display on costumes designs also caught my did a homage to THELMA & LOUISE!
But to my surprise, among the hundreds of other Hollywood western props, photos and costumes and costumes I actually found a small exhibit on Homosexuality!Along with the poster and a costume from ZORRO, THE GAY BLADE...
Was a lobby card from...
"the gay cowboy movie". Now that's what I call a happy ending to a wonderful day out.