Friday, 25 September 2015


Bugs’ interview with Melissa Etheridge originally ran in the October 2015 issue of Fugues magazine.
Three Dollar Bill: Your new album This Is M.E. is a departure for you. What did you want to do with this latest album?

Melissa Etheridge: The change started in 2013 when I changed management, agencies and lawyers. I changed my whole scaffolding. I needed fresh ideas. The music business was changing. I knew there was a place for me and a lot had to do with own creative independence. So we decided to release an independent record. That means I’m in total control. It’s all up to me. At that point I decided I wanted to go so far outside the box that people would say ‘Whoa, what’s this?’ Yet at the same time stay in the centre, so as to always be me. When you hear these songs, when you hear these great productions around them, you still hear my guitar, my harmonica, the words are mine. It’s me in a kind of new and different car.

Sunday, 20 September 2015


This interview originally ran in the May 2015 issue of Fugues magazine

I met literary legend Felice Picano at a Montreal brunch hosted some 15 years ago by my friend Louis Godbout. That day I interviewed Felice for the first time and we became fast friends. I interviewed him for my annual Felice Picano column in my syndicated column Three Dollar Bill for a decade, a tradition I am continuing here in my Fugues column.

It never matters if Felice has product to sell – the world-class name-dropper and memoirist always is a great interview and has met just about everybody. Rudolf Nureyev once grabbed his bum, Felice had lunch in Fire Island one afternoon with Elizabeth Taylor, his cock was photographed by Robert Mapplethorpe, and when he outed the late Anthony Perkins years after their affair, critics screamed, “Picano is a name-dropping slut!”

In other words, I adore Felice, the trailblazing writer whom I call the Godfather of Gay Lit.

“I really did know everybody, but it was all happenstance,” says Felice, currently promoting his latest memoirs, the highly entertaining Nights at Rizzoli (OR Books) about the famed original New York City Rizzoli bookshop located at 712 Fifth Avenue.

Friday, 11 September 2015


This interview with Sandra Bernhard originally ran in Three Dollar Bill on June 5, 2008
Sandra Bernhard, a Jewish girl in a land of whiny WASPs, knows what it’s like to hurt. That’s why she’s always told those who’ve mocked her to fuck right off.
In fact, she’s made a career of telling assholes to fuck off.
"Fish Lips!" Jerry Lewis used to call Bernhard on the set of The King of Comedy, the 1983 Hollywood blockbuster that made Bernhard a household name.
But like Bernhard once told Arsenio Hall, "I’m the only actress in Hollywood who didn’t pay to have these lips!"
Today the author and star of stage and screen, from the Great White Way to Tinseltown, named one of the 100 greatest stand-up comics of all time by Comedy Central, brings her new loudmouth act, Plan B From Outer Space, and her rock band, The Rebellious Jezebel, to Toronto’s Massey Hall to kick off that city’s Pride celebrations on June 22.
"Going through customs in Canada is one of the most loathful things in the world," NYC-based Bernhard told me this week. "They harass the shit out of you if you’re a single parent [travelling with your child]. They ask you, ‘Do you have a letter from the father?’ And I say, ‘There is no father!’ I want to say, ‘Fuck you, you fuck!’ They drive me nuts. So now I come up without [my daughter]. The bureaucracy in Canada is pathetic."

Thursday, 10 September 2015


I sat down with legendary stand-up comic Wanda Sykes –who came out publicly in 2008 at a Proposition 8 rally In Las Vegas– on the eve of her 2015 Just For Laughs Gala in Montreal, to talk about her voice, LGBT civil rights and her white family. 
I’ve interviewed some very unique sounding voices over the years – James Brown, Cher, Joan Rivers. It is surreal to listen to your voice now. Have you always known you have a special voice? Do you deliberately try to use this to your advantage onstage?
Wanda Sykes:  I don’t deliberately try to use it in my stage act. I didn’t know I had a unique voice (for many years), but I did know it (sounded) different when I was a kid. My mother wanted me to change my voice. She’d say, ‘You have to do something about your voice! It doesn’t sound pretty! Listen to all the other kids, they sound nice, and then there’s you!’ I had no idea how I could change my voice. So I was always worried I had an ugly voice. I was an adult before I found out people liked my voice when I did stand-up or animated roles. I’m glad I never had any work done on my vocal chords. It’s kind of paying off for me. People love my voice and that’s cool.

Friday, 4 September 2015


Coming out as a lesbian on stage is still a very political act – if it weren’t, more women would do it.”

This interview with Kate Clinton originally ran in the August 2015 issue of Fugues magazine.

I was checking out trailblazing queer stand-up comic Kate Clinton’s website the other day and came across some fabulous blurbs on her media page, by such LGBT icons as Lily Tomlin and Tony Kushner.

“Kate, you’re not showbiz – you’re show art!” Tomlin said, while Kushner observed, “Kate Clinton cuts through ten thousand miles of badness with a single brilliant insight, complete with punchline.” 

Then, tucked neatly between Tomlin and Kushner, I was surprised and delighted to read one of my own Three Dollar Bill column quotes about Kate: “The woman is a goddess.”

Thursday, 3 September 2015


"I think you become a legend after living all your life and I haven’t lived all my life yet. I’ll be a legend when I die." Photo courtesy Borealis Records

This interview with Penny Lang originally ran in Three Dollar Bill on May 4, 2006

Montreal folk singer Penny Lang was going to teach Janis Joplin how to play guitar back in the fall of 1970. But Janis died on Oct. 4 of that year at the Landmark Hotel during the L.A. recording sessions for her album Pearl, and Joplin’s keyboardist Ken Pearson, a Montrealer who was the love of Penny’s life, returned home without Janis.

"Once I spoke with Janis on the phone," Lang recalls. "I was in pretty bad shape. I’m bipolar and I’ve had some rough periods. I take lithium now but back then it wasn’t legal. I was looking for Kenneth and Janis was great."

Lang had two things in common with Joplin – Ken Pearson, of course, and that they both loved women.


“Sexuality and identity have been the ingredients of my music and lyrics since the beginning.”
 UMG recordings

This interview with Mika originally ran in Daily Xtra on June 18, 2015
The tabloids have been obsessing over Mika’s sexual orientation ever since the British-Lebanese pop star exploded on the charts in 2007 with his debut album, Life in Cartoon Motion. To the surprise of no one, Mika came out as gay in 2012. But just three years earlier, when I first interviewed Mika, his handlers warned me to avoid personal questions and stick to the music.

So instead, Mika and I had talked about another closeted pop star, the late Freddie Mercury. It was like we were talking in code. Imitating Mercury from the famous backstage British TV interview on the Queen —We Will Rock You: Live in Montreal 1981 DVD, Mika turned to me, legs crossed and, pretending to hold a cigarette, did his finest imitation of Freddie Mercury. “Yes, dahling,” Mika said à la Mercury. “Hello, dear!”

Following three sold-out concerts with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra (OSM) earlier this year, I sat down with Mika to talk about his new album and his obsession with Freddie Mercury.