So much of world mourned the losses of high-profile celebrities like Rock Hudson and Freddie Mercury, who were tragically taken from us too soon from AIDS-related illness. Via the tabloids, most of the world was finally confronted with what most of us over 40 in the gay world had been feeling for years. On World AIDS Day, my thoughts often go back to those very vital folks in the gay community that didn't get the recognition for their artistic contributions in the mainstream media, but whose losses were felt deeply on our level.
Sylvester James, Jr., otherwise known simply as Sylvester, was the ( real ) gay Bowie in many ways. Along with his UK/anglo contemporaries, Sylvester was one of the first true genderfuckers; never letting anyone call what he did "drag," he simply dolled it up with make-up and glamorous outfits and sang his flat chest off. With classic hits like "Mighty Real" and the Patrick Cowley collaboration "Do Ya Wanna Funk?", his chart-topping abilities ( despite his flamboyant appearance ) paved the way for artists like Boy George and broke down gender and sexual walls for all of us.
Sylvester's early '80s collaborator Patrick Cowley was one of the first we were to lose to what was still then known as GRID. Cowley, Sylvester's keyboardist in the later '70s, went on to not only give us four Sylvester smash hit albums, but to have two hits on his own with Menergy ( with Sylvester on vocals ) and Megatron Man, as well as to produce a #1 dance single for Paul Parker. Currently in a bit of a resurgence, Cowley's work on gay porn soundtracks is being featured a 2-LP comp called School Daze and as part of an exhibit at MOCA in San Francisco.
Finally Dan Hartmansinger/musician/writer/producer of such hits as "Relight My Fire" with Loleatta Holloway ( later remade by Take That and Lulu ), "Instant Replay," and the Top 10 smash "I Can Dream About You" from Streets of Fireput a second face ( in addition to Freddie Mercury ) on victims outside of the dance community. While dance music was the majority of Dan's huge career, "I Can Dream About You" worked its way out of the clubs and into the most mainstream of ears of the day, bringing the AIDS crisis out of the closet, out on the radio and into our homes. These great musicians, along with others like Jermaine Stewart, Ofra Haza, Klaus Nomi and many more will live on for years in our hearts and minds as long we let the music play.
Moose will be playing all of these artists at Totally Requested '80s at Mary's Attic, December 6. World AIDS Day is December 1.