Over the last couple months, we’ve made mention of the upcoming movie Rev. Yolanda’s Old Time Gospel Hour — The Movie. Well, until there is a definite date for the film, a new book entitled Rev. Yolanda’s Old Time Gospel Hour Behind The Scenes has been published and is now available through Amazon.
The book is a large coffee-table type production, and is the cumulative creation of film maker iKE ALLEN and photographer Chritina Gressianu. It’s published through Mr. ALLEN’s company, Avaiya.
By way of introduction, Mr. ALLEN describes the Old Time Gospel Hour as “A gender bending gospel celebration for the New Thought generation. Taking traditional sounding melodies and instrumentation, Rev. Yolanda is creating new gospel songs with New Thought lyrics that affirm the god/goddess within and embraces the diversity of mankind.
“In all my years of making films, I had never created one in New York City,” Mr. ALLEN went on to say. “Spending a week with Rev. Yolanda brought this excitement to a whole new level … a perfect co-creation began.”
By now, Yolanda is of course extremely well known for her many CD releases and the live drag persona. However, not to be overlooked is the fact that Rev. Yolanda is an actual reverend, ordained through One Spirit Interfaith Seminary. It was while studying at the Seminary that Yolanda came up with the idea for the Old Time Gospel Hour show. Yolanda, whose legal name is Roger Anthony Mapes, was even willing for a time to completely give up performing. As luck, or perhaps even divine guidance would have it, Roger Anthony Mapes realized that Yolanda was his true calling.
“New Thought is a movement that began in the 1800s and exploded at the turn of the 20th Century,” Yolanda said. “It started with the teaching of Phineas Quimby. The inherent belief in New Thought is that all beings are divine manifestations of the universal life source energy that we call God … that diversity dwells within each person, that all people are spiritual beings.”
New Thought teachings are found in organizations today known by several different names, such as Unity, Centers for Spiritual Living, Religious Science and Christian Science.
While the book emphasizes Rev. Yolanda’s spirituality throughout, let’s not forget whom we’re talking about here — one of New York City’s best known drag queens. There are great photos of Yolanda getting ready. And of course the wigs — oh, heavens, there are the wigs.
When asked about the wigs, Yolanda said, “I have several, about 4. All my wigs are custom made by my friend, wigmaker and fellow trans person Joie Starr.”
I admired country and country gospel music stars that embodied the phrase ‘the higher the hair, the closer to God’,” Yolanda said. “Ladies like Tammy Wynette, Dolly Parton, Dottie Rambo, and my favorite, Vestel Goodman.”
The large size of the …Behind The Scenes book allows the photography of Christina Gresssianu to really be prominent. There are great city scape shots of NYC, as well as wonderfully captured intimate moments with Yolanda and husband Glen (along with a small circle of friends) in their Bay Ridge Brooklyn apartment.
And of course, there are performance shots that seem to allow Yolanda’s wigs to become a force of nature unto themselves.
The ...Behind The Scenes book is the perfect teaser for the movie, and it offers commentary not found in the film. Even though it’s a bit on the pricey side ($75), it’s the absolute “must have” for any true Rev. Yolanda fan who has followed her career up to this point. And it’s a well deserved testament to the artistry and talent of Roger Anthony Mapes, a.k.a Rev. Yolanda.
Rev. Yolanda has won her second Manhattan Association of Cabaret and Clubs (MAC) Award in the category of Impersonation/Characterization/Drag Artist. The film of Rev. Yolanda’s Old Time Gospel Hour has just been submitted to 33 different film festivals nation wide. Online distribution of the film will begin only after a festival premiere. Until then, a live music sound track CD from the movie is available on Amazon.com, as is the book. There are also Rev. Yolanda T-shirts and other gift items available through Zazzle. For more information, please check out Yolanda’s site, her publisher’s site, and www.photocg.com.
ALSO THIS MONTH
David de Alba’s new show and newest tribute to Judy Garland, By Myself On A Lonely Stage 2015, is set for Sunday, June 21st at The Onyx Theatre in Las Vegas, NV, at 2 p.m. (953 East Sahara Ave., 26B E, phone 702-732-7225; for more information, please check out David’s website.
Darren Criss returns to Broadway as Hedwig, and the character of Yitzhak is being taken over by Rebecca Naomi (known for her work in American Idiot and Passing Strange.) These role changes started on April 14, and Mr. Criss will have a limited 12 week stint in the lead role.
What’s Mine by Anne Steele
New Yorker Anne Steele is no newcomer to the music business. She is a highly regarded cabaret and live venue performer and has won three Manhattan Assoc. of Cabaret and Clubs (MAC) Awards, as well as two New York Bistro and Nightlife Awards.
Steele’s first album was 2010’s Strings Attached. Her new EP project, What’s Mine is more intimate, yet very diverse stylistically.
The EP is mostly upbeat, open with the title cut, What’s Mine, a real 1960s girl group/pop tune that’s a very fun way to start the new project.
Two really good rockers — Worst I Ever Had and Tough follow.
Without You Tonight is the project’s lone dance track (having something of an anthem type feel, with excellent keyboards), and Shadow Of You is the EP’s lone ballad.
The one huge, stand out track is Don’t Tell Us How To Love. It starts with a dance beat, but alternates to a moderate tempo, then back to dance. Yet, it still manages to play with dynamics throughout. This one track is definitely the EP’s best production moment.
Most of the time, Anne Steele sounds like a very seasoned rock chick instead of a performer more noted for cabaret work. She delivers a very impressive second release. It’s only drawback is that it’s too short — I wanted to hear more. And for a music reviewer to say that, it’s an accomplishment.
What’s Mine was produced, arranged, mixed and mastered by Erik James and Kevin Benoit (both of whom also played everything except drums, which were provided by David Sierra.)
Anne Steele will be touring throughout the coming summer months. Check out her website for dates; also on Facebook and Twitter.