<

The Summer of Love

August 2, 2017 5:00 am0 commentsViews: 39
Todd Almond and Courtney Love. Photo: Meeno Peluce

Todd Almond and Courtney Love. Photo: Meeno Peluce

by Steve Desroches

Courtney Love is in a car going down Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles. Believe it or not the famous strip has lousy cell reception and she explains that she is so sorry, but she’ll be out of the dead zone in a few minutes, traffic willing, and then she can speak without fear of disconnection… which happens just then. Writer and musician Todd Almond chuckles and says it shouldn’t be too long and then lets out a sigh about technology and its dominance over our lives. As a friend and collaborator of Love’s, Almond can’t wait for her to see Provincetown for herself. She’s never been, but Almond and his husband frequently visit and are in love with the town, especially for its natural beauty. But they are also completely smitten with drag performer Dina Martina. They always make a point to see her whenever they are in town.

Love is back and farther north in L.A.,  so she’s confident there will be no more interruptions as the frustration gives way to a gentle kindness and eagerness to talk about the upcoming event The Provincetown Sessions: an evening of conversation and song at the Crown and Anchor where she’ll be on stage with Almond and another friend, writer Kevin Sessums, who will lead that night’s program. As she and Almond catch up quickly, he fills her in on the conversation she missed about the beaches of the Outer Cape and Dina Martina, who, like Love, came out of Seattle. Here’s Almond, a prodigious composer and theatrical writer, and Love, a rock and roll legend as well as a respected actress and fashion icon, and the conversation continually comes back to drag queens.

“My relationship to the gay community is entire,” says Love. “I was raised by drag queens and wolves.”

Love repeats, and then for emphasis, says she is not kidding. As a teenager on her own in Portland, Oregon, at the dawn of the 1980s, it was the city’s drag queens that often took her in, gave her advice on performance, and offered friendship and kindness. Her gay and lesbian friends and the LGBT community in Portland offered her the support she needed. So when she went into rock and roll, she initially fretted that in that hyper-masculine world she wouldn’t be around gay folks very much, if at all. And then one day when she was a bona fide rock star, she looked around at an event and saw she was seated next to Tom Ford, Marc Jacobs, and Calvin Klein, at which point she says she smiled and breathed a sigh of relief that once again she was surrounded by gay people.

It was Mark Subias, Almond’s husband and Love’s New York City representation for United Talent Agency that introduced them to each other. Almond’s theatrical work spans so many genres and forms, including musical adaptations of Homer’s The Odyssey and Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale as well as works that reference his midwestern upbringing, like Girlfriend and Iowa. He asked Love if she’d be in his latest work. Kansas City Choir Boy, to which she said yes, considering it an honor. Both went on to earn rave reviews for their performances in both New York and Los Angeles. Though having acted in film, most notably her Golden Globe nominated performance as Althea Leasure in 1996’s The People vs. Larry Flynt, Love was new to the theater. But it’s taking risks that pushes one to constantly evolve as an artist. Without taking chances and pushing yourself out of your comfort zone you’ll “just end up sitting at home watching Netflix all day,” she says. Working together as a team provides a certain degree of comfort, as your success relies on the success of everyone else. It’s a collaboration where everyone lifts each other up.

“It’s a team effort,” says Almond. “That’s implicit with the risk. If the ship goes down we all go down. We’re all on the same page.”

The first incarnation of this Sunday’s event was in March 2016 where Almond, Love, and Sessums presented The San Francisco Sessions at the Curran Theater. The journalist and writer of The New York Times bestseller Mississippi Sissy wrote a landmark 1995 Vanity Fair cover story about Love. At a time when many were out to hurt her, Love appreciated Sessums’ fairness and professionalism, which is why she accepted his invitation for these stage shows in San Francisco and now Provincetown. It’s a rare opportunity on its own to see this kind of an evening on the stage, but all the more so in Provincetown, where, despite its century plus of being a creative capital, rock and roll has been noticeably absent with only a few exceptions and despite a clear appetite for more.

Told about Provincetown’s firm place as one of, if not the most important and relevant places for drag queen culture in America today. Love searches her memory for the names of the queens from her Portland days – like Darcelle – when she hung out at the Metropolitan, a popular gay bar, where they taught her how to be glamorous. And she’s been a longtime friend of Lady Bunny. Love is abundantly aware of and grateful for her large LGBTQ following and that she’s considered by many to be one of the few gay icons of rock. And things are about to come full circle. There’s a series of photographs from the 1993 MTV Video Music Awards where RuPaul is hanging out with Love, her late husband Kurt Cobain and other members of Nirvana, and an infant Frances Bean Cobain crying as the drag superstar holds her.

“I’m actually going to be a judge on RuPaul’s Drag Race,” says Love. “My kid watches it incessantly so I said, ‘Why not?’”

Courtney Love and Todd Almond with Kevin Sessums present The Provincetown Sessions on Saturday, August 5 at 7 p.m. at the Crown and Anchor, 247 Commercial St. Tickets($50 – $130) are available at the box office and online at onlyatthecrown.com. For more information call 508.487.1430.