David de Alba Interview Plus Music News!

| May 9, 2016
de Alba as Garland

de Alba as Garland

David de Alba, best known for his past work at San Francisco’s famed Finocchio Club, has been featured in this column several times over the past couple of years. He has also been a guest contributor to TGForum, posting interviews with other well known drag entertainers.

David is now the subject of a new film that is soon to be released. He was gracious enough to submit to yet another interview, wherein he talks about the film, the events leading up to it, and the people involved with the production. So, it is an honor for TGForum to post this interview with Mr. David de Alba.

TGForum: Congratulations on the new documentary. I understand that it’s being produced by a female film maker. Would you mind giving a bit of background?

David de Alba: The film documentary lady’s name is Berry Minott and she flew all the way from San Francisco and spent two days filming me at home. I have been told she is known for her excellent documentary filming.

TGF: I also understand that a gentleman named Peter Linenthal is involved.

David de Alba, The Cuban Legend

David de Alba, The Cuban Legend

DdA: Peter is a newspaper archivist for the Potrero Hill district in San Francisco, the area that my long time partner Paul Ryner and I, and my parents, owned our first California homes during the early 1970s. I also owned my hair salon [there], Heri, The Hairstylist To The Stars.

Peter was directed to me by Mike Moss, the owner of Potrero Hill Newspaper and it was Peter who then took a liking toward my theatrical past and present achievements. He was the one who suggested to Berry to do a film documentary about my life. I understand it’s five hours long, but of course has to be edited down. Peter also created a SF Tribute Facebook Page.

TGF: Since she filmed you over two days time, did you have any input as to the type of questions she asked and how the overall interview as conducted?

DdA: The one who interviewed me over the phone over a two evening period was not Berry, it was Peter. Peter’s interview and Berry’s interview are quite different and right now, Peter’s interview has been featured (here) on TGForum, the condensed version. What I find interesting, Peter has a few hours of an audio of him interviewing me. I even sang a little for him over the phone.

TGF: Do you have input on the final edit of the film? What’s the title?

DdA: I have no idea what it’s going to be called, nor have I been asked a title suggestion. Berry has complete control of the editing process.

TGF: Where will this be shown? Do the two of you plan to show it on the film festival circuit? What about as part of LGBT events? Ultimately, what is the final goal of even having a documentary produced?

DdA: Well, I have suggested to Berry and to Peter that the documentary should be played at The Castro Theater and Theater Rhinoceros (both are gay owned and gay oriented theaters), and I played the latter one when I lived in San Francisco. Hopefully they will have the right connections to have it played at those theaters.

de_Alba0512I also suggest to them to have any of the SF libraries who may have some type of stage or theater to see if that film could be played there. I also suggested to sell the DVD set on eBay because to this day Finocchio Club postcards still are for sale. Of course, there is YouTube.

I would like to have this known that I have been asked by many people in the past for me to write a book about my life. After all, a little boy from Cuba leaving his country in 1959 because of the horrible Fidel Castro take-over, then starting to perform professionally in drag and also as a male dancer in Chicago from 1965 on, then getting to be hired at Finocchio Club as the bi-lingual singer of that club’s famous revue…

I was the only Cuban ever hired to sing, because there were two other very talented Cuban performers working at Finocchio’s, but they were considered the revue’s better dancers. I am still performing in drag because most of the best performers from Finocchio’s have passed away and the two still remaining are Lavern Cummings and Rene De Carlo, who have been retired for many years. This is one of may reasons why I have been asked to be in such a documentary.

TGF: I know that years ago, you did some recording. Is any of this material still available?

David outside his San Francisco salon with Tony Curtis.

David outside his San Francisco salon with Tony Curtis.

DdA: All of these recordings are now on YouTube and are no longer for sale. It was quite hard to have my partner Paul help me record the songs, then have to dub DVDs, making liner notes, packaging and then having to stand for sometimes more than half an hour at the post office just to mail one or two CDs. It became too much work and I did not have the back-up of a big company to help me sell these recordings in record stores. At least I did record many songs and that was quite hard, but fun.

TGF: How have your recent live shows in Las Vegas been received?

DdA: Most of the shows have been sold out. The newspaper and media people have given me excellent coverage and even very nice interviews. I can’t say the same thing for the TV media, though…with the exception of one FOX TV doing a special segment on me and my Judy/OZ memorabilia. People in charge of booking talent, in my opinion, have some kind of prejudice toward giving a female impersonator some coverage. Unlike when I lived in San Francisco because there I did a lot of TV and I was always asked to be on different programs.

TGF: What kind of support have you gotten from the trans community as a whole?

DdA: I have been sort of disappointed with the TG community here in Las Vegas, with the exception of a dear friend and fan named “Michelle The Tall” who is a TG gal herself…who always brings a few of her TG friends. I have even gone to TG meetings at “The Center,” a LGBT oriented organization here in Las Vegas, introduced myself and it really did not help.

TGF: In closing, is there anything else you’d like to say that I might not have asked?

de Alba as Boy Chic

de Alba as Boy Chic

DdA: Well, I have now become a teacher because when I do a show here in Las Vegas either as Judy Garland or as my Finocchio Club’s own International Act named Boy Chic…not only do I come out in drag…but sing songs you don’t hear any more from The American Songbook and also a few well known Spanish songs. I also do many special narrations of anecdotes and special stories, many of them backed up with videos and still photos, so I am NOT just another guy in drag, but a “Class Act” as critics always labeled me. I am trying very hard before I leave this Earth to create on-stage something of essence, with lots of nostalgia and musical history. I wish so much for the TG community to really back me up, especially those over fifty years old, who may remember or have been at Finocchios and know well the stage characters I portray!

For more information regarding David and the future release of the aforementioned documentary, please check out his website. See a segment from the video in which David talks about his mother Tila here on TGF.

ALSO THIS MONTH

Coco

Coco

Coco Peru

Coco Peru’s new show, Coco’s Guide To A Somewhat Happy Life, will be in Los Angeles, May 13,14,20,21 at the Los Angeles LGBT Center Theater. Tickets are $25 and part of the ticket proceeds go directly back to the Center’s programs, including the Homeless Youth Program. Visit the theater website for information, or call 323-860-7300; also please check out Coco’s website also on Facebook and YouTube)

Rev. Yolanda

Rev. Yolanda’s Church With A Two Drink Minimum is scheduled for May 15, 3-5 pm, at Sidewalk Café, 94 Ave. A, at East 6th St., New York, NY. Learn more on her website.

Georgie Jessup

Georgie Jessup will be performing as part of The Night of 1000 Dylans, May 21st at The Roots Café, 409 Church St., Baltimore, MD.

UPCOMING NEW RELEASES

Shawna Virago

Shawna Virago

San Francisco’s Shawna Virago will be releasing a new solo album soon. We will be posting an interview with her in this column soon, and will follow up with a review of the new project when we get our advance copy.

The same goes for the new release by Ryan Cassata entitled Shine. I had mentioned having heard just a brief bit of one of the songs of this a while back. I think you’re all boing to be surprised at his newest work. While I haven’t heard all that much of his work, this one does rock, so look for the review when it’s eventually posted.

Rev. Yolanda has been putting the final touches on her next Country Gospel Kirtan. I don’t have a firm release date yet, but I know the good Rev. will send a review copy when it’s ready. Looking forward to this as well.

NEW MUSIC

lauper_detourDetour by Cyndi Lauper

As the old Monty Python saying goes, “…and now for something completely different…”, in this case it’s Cyndi Lauper’s new COUNTRY album, Detour. And no, I didn’t make a mistake, that’s not a typo, Ms. Lauper has released a completely country project. This is her 11th studio album and it came about through a conversation with the album’s executive producer Seymour Stein. The idea was to record classic country songs from the ’40s, ’50s and ‘60s — back when country music still sounded like country music.

While thinking that Cyndi Lauper and country music might not be a good fit, just consider what she’s also released in the last few years. 2010 saw the release of a pure blues project entitled Memphis Blues, which featured players such as B.B. King, Allan Toussaint and Johnny Lang. There was also a follow-up DVD of a live performance of these tunes, entitled To Memphis With Love. The blues project was followed by Lauper’s foray into Broadway, by writing the lyrics and music to Kinky Boots. This brought forth a solo record by one of the show’s leads, Billy Porter. Next, in 2014, came the release of Cyndi Lauper, She’s So Unusual A 30th Anniversary Celebration, which included some bonus track remixes.

Okay, so all that’s not enough? Apparently not. On Detour’s 12 songs, Lauper’s voice proves to be more than compatible with the genre. Her best vocals are on standards such as I Fall To Pieces, Walkin’ After Midnight and the oldie I Want To Be A Cowboy’s Sweetheart, (originally by Patsy Montana) with incredible yodeling (yes…yodeling..) by none other than Jewell.

Lauper also duets with Emmylou Harris on Detour, Vince Gill on You’re The Reason Our Kids Are Ugly (originally by Conway Twitty and Loretta Lynn), Allison Kraus on Hard Candy Christmas, and the legendary Willie Nelson on Night Life, which Nelson co-wrote for Ray Price, back in the ’50s.

The project was recorded in Nashville, and both Vince Gill and Willie Nelson played on the sessions. It’s a real testimony to the clout, and just plain street cred, Cyndi Lauper has when she can draw musicians from the top of the talent pool in any genre she decides to tackle. In recording country songs, Lauper said in a press release that she’s going back to her childhood, when she heard country on her Aunt Gracie’s radio all the time. And honestly, if I heard any of the tunes from Detour on the radio now, I’d swear it was some new country singer just released…she does them as pure country. It’s not contrived in any way, and her voice is a perfect fit. That’s talent…no, that’s pure artistry. And that’s what Cyndi Lauper is know for. Learn more on her website, and also on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Lauper will be on tour this summer, through September, co-headlining with Boy George.

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Category: Impersonation, Music

About Pam Degroff: Pamela DeGroff been writing for TGForum since the start of 1999. Her humor column, The Pamela Principle, ran until 2005. She started the Perpetual Change music column in May of 1999, and in 2008, Angela Gardner came up with the idea for the Transvocalizers column and put Pam to work on that. Pamela was a regular contributor to Transgender Community News until that magazine's demise. While part of a support group in Nashville called The Tennessee Vals she began writing for their newsletter, and also wrote for several local GLBT alternative newspapers in Tennessee. Pamela is currently a staff reporter for a small town daily paper in Indiana, and is also a working musician.

Comments (3)

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  1. Carollyn Olson says:

    Sorry, David, I mean ULTIMATE, not intimate. Good old Spell Check on the computer. Hugs, Carollyn

  2. Carollyn Olson says:

    David is the intimate in female impersonating. If there is a better one-man show, I would love to know who it is. The fact that David is now preforming and drawing sell-out audiences, in his fifth decade is even more amazing. He is definitely an ICON in the field…and a great person too!!! Love, Carollyn

  3. MichelleTheTall says:

    Fabulous! Can’t wait for the show! Please make sure the venue and date are posted here! Love,
    Michelle