CVIndependent

Tue08202019

Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

Greater Palm Springs Pride has featured a variety of fun musical acts over the years—but none have been more fun than GayC/DC, which will be playing at Pride for the third year in a row on Sunday, Nov. 5, on the U.S. Bank Stage.

During a recent phone interview, lead vocalist Chris Freeman—also the bassist/vocalist of the legendary queercore band Pansy Division—said Los Angeles-based GayC/DC came about as a result of his participation in an all-male tribute band to the Go-Gos called the Gay-Gays. He told a fascinating tale about how he met one of the band’s guitarists, Steve McKnight.

“We weren’t really working or doing anything, and our singer said, ‘I’m done. I don’t really want to do anything anymore, and I’m kind of tired of it,’” Freeman said. “(The rest of us) thought, ‘What else could we do with the word “gay” in there?’ Our guitar player, Karl (Rumpf), suggested GayC/DC. I stopped and went, ‘Hey, that’s not a bad idea!’ I took the name and ran with it. A logo and all that stuff came really quick. It sort of wrote itself.

“I was the bass-player, and I thought, ‘Well, we’ll get a singer, and we need a guitar-player too.’ So I was looking through Daddyhunt,” Freeman said with a laugh, “and I saw a picture of this guy who was really handsome who played guitar. It wasn’t like I was looking at him like he was hot or anything, but I clicked on his profile, and I sent him a message. He lived in Torrance, and I asked if he was interested in playing guitar. I knew Glen (Pavan) was available and knew he should play bass, because I’ve known Glen for a long time and knew he was a big KISS fan. It worked out.”

Freeman said he didn’t originally plan on handling vocal duties for GayC/DC.

“We couldn’t find anybody to sing. I tried all sorts of people, and no one was willing to do it,” he said. “I thought this idea was too good, and I thought I’d give it a shot. I said to the band, ‘I’ll do it, but you have to audition me. Try me out like anyone else, because I want to make sure it’s right.’ After the audition, they said, ‘You’re in! Let’s do it!’

“It’s been difficult to do the lead-singer thing, because I’ve always identified as a bass-player and a songwriter. I never saw myself as a David Lee Roth. It’s a stretch for me to do this, but it’s working. It does require me to sort of change into this person, because it’s not really me. One of my favorite people is Alice Cooper, who was one of my rock-star crushes—not that I want to have sex with him or anything, but I was into Alice Cooper and Elton John when I was 13.”

Growing up in Seattle, Freeman said he became a fan of AC/DC during his teens.

“I always heard AC/DC stuff on FM radio, and it was stuff my brothers would listen to—some of the early stuff like ‘It’s a Long Way to the Top,’” Freeman said. “One night on the radio, they played the entire Let There Be Rock album when it came out. It was just before I was 16. I was blown away, and I was a fan instantly. That album to this day is my favorite AC/DC album. It’s got everything on it.

“But then I started to realize I was different, and I was probably gay, but I didn’t know yet—and then I started realizing that guys wearing AC/DC shirts … were the guys who would beat me up. So I didn’t go that direction. Within a year or two after that album came out, I was going to punk shows which were all-ages, and that’s where all the misfits were and the people who got beat up. When I would see there would be an AC/DC show, I’d think, ‘I’m not going to that show! I’m a target if I go to that show!’”

Freeman said the most interesting show GayC/DC has played to date was for a rather small group of people.

“We just recently played for a small theater company,” he said. “They were having some kind of improv party. This guy told us, ‘I want you to come in and play for 20 minutes in a small theater where they never have rock bands! You’re just going to walk in and be amped and kick their ass.’ Well, we did, and it was so much fun. … The PA system was where they were standing and talking on the mic—that’s what I was singing into. It was so loud and distorted. It was such a fun show, though. We played five songs and were done.”

Freeman said he was pleasantly surprised to again get the call for GayC/DC to play at Greater Palm Springs Pride.

“I’m shocked! The crowd in 2015 was the biggest crowd to this date that we’ve ever played for,” he said. “I’m expecting it’s going to be more that size this year than it was last year. Last year was a bit of a drag, because it was split between two stages. I actually played with three bands last year: I played in Pansy Division; I played in GayC/DC; and I played with this guy named Devin Tait, and I’ll be joining him again this year for a tribute to Bananarama called Boynanarama on Saturday.”

GayC/DC will perform at 1:15 p.m., Sunday, Nov. 5, at the U.S. Bank Stage on Arenas Road during Greater Palm Springs Pride. Admission is free. For more information, visit PSPride.org.

Published in Previews

Last week, the Independent published the final ¡Ask a Mexican! column, as penned by my friend and colleague Gustavo Arellano.

I was shocked on Oct. 13 when I got the news that Arellano—a longtime OC Weekly scribe who had served as the paper’s editor and spokesperson for many years—had stepped down. He quit, he said, because he refused to lay off half of his staff, and the owner would not accept any of Arellano’s counter-proposals (one of which included cutting Gustavo’s own salary in half).

At first, I fully expected Gustavo’s column to continue on in some form, albeit with a different name than ¡Ask a Mexican!, because the OC Weekly owns the rights to the name. In fact, in the version of this column that ran in the November print edition, I said the column would probably continue, as that was what I’d been told. However, after we went to press, Gustavo let me know the column would indeed end; he explained the decision in the final column, which ran last week. While I understand the decision, it breaks my heart. It was a fantastic column—and the first “regular” feature to ever start running at CVIndependent.com, way back when we were in beta five-plus years ago.

As for Gustavo’s plight … this is how it often goes at newspapers these days. While I have no inside knowledge of the OC Weekly’s financials, I do know that many layoffs at newspapers over the last 15-plus years have happened not because the publications were losing money—but because profits weren’t high enough.

This fact is one of the reasons I decided to leave my job as the editor of the Tucson Weekly in 2012, and then start the Independent here. The then-owners of the Tucson Weekly, Wick Communications, treated both me and the newspaper very well during my decade-long tenure there—but I knew that wouldn’t last forever. Sure enough, a little more than a year after I departed, Wick sold the Tucson Weekly—and the paper has been subjected to serious budget cuts ever since.

As bleak as all of this sounds … there is reason for hope. Last weekend, a number of my colleagues gathered in Chicago for the annual Local Independent Online News Publishers (LION) Summit. (Unfortunately, I was unable to attend.)

LION is a vibrant and growing organization of mostly newer, mostly online local-news organizations across the country. Almost all of us “LIONs” are small, scrappy and hardworking. Oh, and one more thing: We’re innovating. We’re finding new ways to tell our communities’ stories. And we’re investing in our publications rather than making cuts to keep shareholders or wealthy owners happy.

Gustavo Arellano is a gifted, hustling hard-worker who will land on his feet, so I am not worried about him. I’m also upbeat about the future of journalism. However, I am saddened by the huge loss that Orange County will suffer as a result of the decline of its independent alternative newspaper, the OC Weekly.

As for that aforementioned November print edition: It’s our annual Pride Issue. It’s on newsstands throughout the Coachella Valley right now—and we will be at the Greater Palm Springs Pride Festival this coming weekend. Come say hi! Thanks for reading, as always, and don’t hesitate to contact me with comments or questions.

Published in Editor's Note

After the 2016 election saw Donald Trump and Mike Pence take the White House, LGBT movements across the country have made some 2017 pride celebrations much more political.

However, this year’s Greater Palm Springs Pride, taking place Nov. 3-5, will be just like it has been in recent years. However, don’t be surprised if some of the participants take on more of a political, Trump-resisting tone.

Greater Palm Springs Pride president Ron deHarte said he’s definitely noticed a heightened political tone at some pride celebrations.

“There may be a few places where the ‘resist’ movement took a greater voice in the city over traditional pride marches or celebrations,” deHarte said. “Those, compared to the hundreds of pride events that occur across the country, have been few versus a majority.

“What we’re seeing is that there is a need to raise awareness across the country and prevent the LGBT voice from disappearing. In the case of Palm Springs, our parade and festival always (offer) an opportunity for anyone who participates to share their political statement, and share what’s important to them, and raise awareness for the issues of the day for that individual or group. We’re encouraging all participants to make their case, whatever that may be.”

The guidelines to participate in Greater Palm Springs Pride have not changed much over the years, deHarte said.

“We always state in our guidelines—and this has not changed since 2010—that what we encourage the community to do is celebrate the diversity of our community; share their radical or non-radical politics; show their support for equal rights for all individuals in our community and around the globe; share their artistic and sexual expression; and be proud. That’s what we encourage folks to do when they’re participating. That comes out when you watch the parade go by.”

DeHarte said that today in the Trump era, people who wouldn’t previously participate in Pride and other movements are now taking part.

“In California, the state voted in another direction, and I’m not sure we’re going to see any different attitudes come up,” he said. “I think we have a very outspoken community, and the community has become very politically active since the election with a number of rallies and marches that have occurred in downtown Palm Springs. I would anticipate we’ll see that continue, and I think it’s great, because people have gone to these rallies and events, and we’re seeing people who don’t normally participate come out and participate. … We’re going to have increased participation from people who may not have been involved in the political process. That’s a good a thing.”

The theme of this year’s Pride is “Viva la vida!”

“Each year, there’s a worldwide theme selected by the international pride organization called InterPride, and through the years, Palm Springs has adopted the worldwide theme occasionally—maybe just a handful of times over the past 30 years,” deHarte said. “This year, we adopted the worldwide theme in support of the movement around the world—in particular, to show support for our brothers and sisters in Central and South America.”

Palm Springs Pride continues to grow each year—dramatically so since the festival was moved from Sunrise Park to downtown in 2014. Attendance-wise, Palm Springs Pride is now the second-largest in the state, behind only San Francisco Pride.

“We’re no longer hidden behind the backdrop of a baseball field and the fences surrounding the baseball diamond over in Sunrise Park,” deHarte said. “We are as visible as you can be in downtown Palm Springs, and that says a lot for our community and for the city of Palm Springs, which has embraced the Pride Week activities to allow the festival and the parade, which causes the largest street closure annually in Palm Springs. … We have a larger presence today. That awareness is what we really strive for—increasing awareness for the LGBT movement and issues important to the folks promoting equality for all individuals.”

For more information, visit PSPride.org.

Published in Features