BY NATASIA LANGFELDER
Dyke Diva Lori Michaels first came on the scene in 2006 performing songs featuring pulsating dance beats and good-time lyrics and gained increasing notoriety touring with her sexy “Me and the Girls” club show, also featured on here! TV.
Michaels is also the founder of the Reach Out organization, created in 1989 to educate people about substance abuse, crime, violence, and health issues such as AIDS and cancer. Michaels also works tirelessly for marriage equality through the “I Want the RIGHT” campaign.
GO magazine referred to you as a “stereotype breaker.” Is that an image you wanted to create for yourself?
I knew I was ready to bring it on and, in saying that, I think everything just came very natural for me. The timing was right, and the “packaging” of me started to fall into place. Initially, I came out on the scene with the hopes of people just being able to enjoy my music and shows. But the title “Dyke Diva” hasn’t stayed attached to me for this long just by doing what has always been done.
So much about being a lesbian is serious. We face sobering issues regarding discrimination, being kept in the closet, etc. Your music really expresses a lighter side of being gay. Is that part of your message or is that a reflection of your personality?
Every day I am reminded about the issues our community faces, especially by teens and adults who reach out to me to let me know that I have helped them to be who they are. I recognize that I have a genuine platform with my songs, my shows, and my projects. I’ve chosen to not only celebrate life and embrace our differences, but to help people stop this nonsense of promoting anything less than equality. At this point, I think it would be really hard NOT to have my music reflect what I want to express who I really am.
You’re a crucial player in the marriage equality movement “I Want the Right.” In fact you have a music video for the theme song for the movement, “The Right,” which features a cinematic profile of anti-marriage activists. Can you tell our readers about how you created that profile and more on what “I Want the Right” is about?
From the moment I heard the song “The Right” (written by Curtis King, Jr.) I knew I wanted to do something for marriage equality and we included it on my debut album. When the time presented itself for me to create something that would help out, I did. And the right people came around who were willing to put themselves out there—on many levels—for this cause. Gabrielle Lindau and Stephanie Stokes and the crew/talent on this project have taken the song to another level with this no-budget, labor-of-love music video. And “I Want the Right” is a different kind of campaign that starts with education and awareness and goes on from there to help normalize this issue.
Tell us more about Reach Out.
I can’t talk enough about Reach Out! Simply, I started the non-profit organization when I was 16 with hopes of simply helping people. I had no idea, way back then, that it was going to evolve into so many different projects/programs and be recognized in the amazing ways that it has been.
How did you develop the concept for “Me & the Girls”?
Great question; great story; enter Jamisin Lee. I had performed at a women’s event with two other women, but not under the name “Me & the Girls.” Shortly after that, Jamisin Lee came over to my house and we grabbed a yellow pad of paper and talked about creating something that no other lesbian artist ever had before. We jotted down some song ideas and possible venues, and people who we wanted to have involved. We decided that day that we were going to put the show together as soon as possible. Jamisin talked to a New Jersey promoter, Robin Rohr, and we were ready to go with our first show in Asbury Park, NJ. After that, the rest is history!
Mike Greenblatt wrote in the “Aquarian Weekly”, “[Lori] Michaels can croon a sexy ballad one minute before becoming a ball-busting dominating vixen the next.” I think his observation is best demonstrated by listening to your songs “The Right” and “Meet Me at the Partay” back-to-back. The first makes me want to dance and the other cry. How do you switch character so completely during a live show? Is it easy for you to transition to an upbeat number after performing a slower song?
I actually got a kick out of that observation in that very mainstream rock publication. As for the switching moods during a show, I don’t think I have to switch so much as to just embrace the moment. The music inspires me. The crowd inspires me. I’ve been performing for so long and in front of so many crowds that I just let myself go and enjoy the ride.
Have you ever had a huge disaster during a concert? Can you tell us about it in embarrassingly detailed fashion?
Oh my. Believe it or not, I have had a few embarrassing moments, but “Me & the Girls” have managed to cover it up nicely. Actually, what am I saying? It is usually something ridiculous that occurs only with me and Jamisin Lee. I remember one club show being in the middle between Jamisin Lee and another girl, and they were both grinding up on me, and I realized at the same moment as Jamisin did that I had gotten my bracelet stuck on/in her fishnet stockings in a very bad place to have to keep my hand for more than a few notes. Without missing a beat, Jamisin leaned into me – really hot, really sexy – and whispered in an angry tone, for only me to hear, “Rip it.” Now, everyone else thought we had such a hot, sexy moment, when in reality she was beyond angry that I had ruined another one of her expensive fishnets. I’m not usually very easily distracted on stage, but I think I missed more than just a few lines of my song after that one!
You were featured in the short film “These Showers Can Talk,” a comedy about lesbian relationships. What can you tell us about that project?
I was thrilled to be a part of it and I absolutely loved working with (director) Gabrielle Lindau.
What is the craziest piece of fan mail/email that you have received?
I can’t tell you that; I’ve still not recovered completely.
You grew up in New Jersey. If MTV offered you a spot on ”The Jersey Shore” would you do it?
No, but if Bravo TV were to offer Danielle Staub (formerly of “The Real Housewives of New Jersey”) her own show, well, let’s just say I would totally want to be cast for THAT show!
What song was playing when you lost your girl-ginity?
How about I just tell you this – it was a song that worked to get the straight girl. Then we’ll call it a day on that question.
What is your all-time favorite song? You can only choose one!
“Vivo per Lei” (translation: “I Live for Her”) the live version by Andrea Bocelli and Heather Headley.
What song in your iPod are you most ashamed of?
I love all kinds of music, and no, I am not in any way, shape, or form ashamed of my Barry Manilow playlist, thank you very much!
Recommend five songs that all lesbians need to have in their iPods.
The Lori Michaels “Girl Thing,” “Rebound,” “Meet Me at the Partay,” “Wild Ride,” and “Unconditionally” power pack, for sure! It’s available on iTunes.
You mentioned your song “Rebound.” Did you write that song with a particular woman in mind?
Yes, I did. I actually wrote it because I called this woman my “rebound” in a conversation I had with someone else and she found out about it. It took some time for the song to come to but I like to think it’s a really good one.
What do you want your fans to take away after listening to your music?
That’s an interesting question. I am just grateful to even have fans. They don’t have to take anything. They can have it!
Wild card: Tell us something about you that we should have asked.
I think you hit me with some good ones! We have to leave some questions for a Part Two, right?
Michaels’ album “Living My Life Out Loud” is available on iTunes, Rhapsody, Amazon, Verizon V-cast and stores nationwide. Michaels is also the owner of Lori Michaels Productions.
Photo by Doug Sanders