Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Republican gay sex scandal of the week

Mississippi Senator Trent Lott announced his resignation yesterday, which must have been sad news to all the other white supremacists on Capitol Hill. Lott, you'll recall, left his position as Senate Majority Leader in disgrace after declaring at Strom Thurmond's 100th birthday party that the country would be better off had the segregationist Dixiecrat been elected president. Gay folks may also remember his compassionate explanation of homosexuality in a 1998 TV interview: "It is [a sin]....You should try to show them a way to deal with that problem, just like alcohol...or sex addiction...or kleptomaniacs."

Lott may have more than an office party and a gold watch ahead of him though. He'll also have a gay sex scandal to contend with, according to inside-the-beltway blogger Big Head DC:

Once upon a time, there was a twentysomething boy-next-door type with reddish blond hair and a brilliantly white smile. Not one to shy away fromattention, he wrote a blog called “Fifteen Minutes,” and also became a freelance writer for various publications, including The Stranger in Seattle. He’d often focus on his non-traditional lifestyle as a gay male escort — a topic that often fascinated his readers, which, in turn, helped him to garner a substantial amount of powerful business acquaintances through the years.
Based in San Antonio, he would travel all over the world to meet his clients, which included high profile celebrities, businessmen and even politicians in the United States Congress.
Sometimes within his writings he’d give advice on how other males could become successful escorts. Other times he’d post videos of himself flexing on YouTube. Once, he even scolded gay escort Mike Jones for outing Rev. Ted Haggard as one of his gay escort business participants.
“You were paid for sex, Mike,” he wrote in 2006. “The most important rule you can follow when taking people’s money in exchange for sex is that—no matter what—their lives stay their own and whatever passes between the two of you remains private. Period.”
Many of his clients greatly appreciate his professionalism. In fact, according to one 66-year-old patron who reviewed him on a gay escort site, he is “a very reliable escort who keeps you informed.”
The boy happens to be real, and his “stage name” is Benjamin Nicholas. One of the politicos Big Head DC has learned he’s alleged to have been involved with is the married Sen. Trent Lott, 66, who unexpectedly announced his retirement on Monday. Lott is well-known to have been against a plethora of gay rights issues throughout his terms in Congress. He was also good friends with Sen. Larry Craig throughout his time in Congress.
Nicholas told Big Head DC today via e-mail that he didn’t want to go on the record to talk about his dealings with Lott, because, said Nicholas, “Trent is going through his fair share of scrutiny right now and I don’t want to add to it.” However, e-mail and other records confirm that the two have met on at least two occasions.
“All I can say at this point is no comment,” Nicholas told us. “It’s the professional thing for me to do.”
In a subsequent e-mail message, Nicholas confirmed that another publication is working on a story about a “possible relationship” between Lott and himself, but Nicholas also “politely declined” an interview for that story.
“As I said before, Lott has quite a bit on his plate right now and I don’t really want to add fuel to the embers,” Nicholas told Big Head DC.

I'm gonna go pop some popcorn now. This should be quite entertaining to watch.

Listening to: Don Tiki - Da T'ing He Grow

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Prince to fans: No, fuck YOU!

In the grand tradition of passive-aggressive diss songs, Prince has released "PFUnk" in response to PFU (hear it here). He must really be pissed off because he sounds inspired for the first time in ages. This track illustrates perfectly why it's so difficult to remain a Prince fan. On the one hand, it's funkier than a sack o' grandaddies. Great melody and horn parts, hot guitar work, a nice reminder of what he's capable of doing. But the fact he can knock out a great song in such a short time just underscores what a cheat Planet Earth and 3121 were to the fans who paid for them. He's still completely in the wrong with this ridiculous attack on his fans, the sentiment he's expressing is pretty ugly and he seems to be addressing particular individuals in PFU with homophobic epithets. Could he possibly work harder to prove what an asshole he is? From RollingStone.com:
Prince Releases Diss Track As Battle With Fans Gets Funky

As you may have read, as part of their copyright crusade, Prince’s legal staff recently demanded that all images of the Purple One be removed from specific fan Web pages. Several sites banded together to form Prince Fans United, there was a brief pause in the action and now … a diss track.
In response, Prince registered the Web domain name “Princefamsunited.com” and posted a seven-minute funk jam called “PFUnk,” alerting fans to its presence on fan site message boards. The song makes no secret of its target: “The only reason you say my name is to get your fifteen seconds of fame, nobody’s even sure what you do,” Prince sings. “I don’t care what people may say, I ain’t gonna let it ruin my day.” Toward the end, Prince tells his fans, in his famed helium-like “Camille” voice, “I love all y’all, don’t you ever mess with me no more,” before taking out all his anger on his guitar. Prince goes as far as calling one person, likely a member of the PFU, “a big fat punk,” and threatens someone called “Weemolicious” by singing “Look here Weemolicious, you and your boyfriend, lemme tell you somethin’ right now, you run up on me again with words or otherwise, I’mma knock both you punks out.” He also sings that he wants digital music to “disappear.”

How did the fans, and the PFU, take to the diss track? With open arms and, surprisingly, dropped jaws. As one poster on the Housequake.com board said, echoing the general response, “It really is head and shoulders above anything on [Planet Earth] or 3121.” Another poster thought they discovered an unearthed B-side from 1987, if not for the topical lyrics. Even the union that gets the brunt of Prince’s bile, the PFU, celebrated the track they helped inspire.

Still, the question remains: Why did Prince’s team target specific Web sites and ask for photos of everything from Prince-inspired tattoos to album-cover images to be removed? Could it be that the sites penalized were bootlegging and file sharing concerts, or diverting traffic from Prince’s official site, 3121.com? Avera denies both claims, saying there’s no file sharing on the boards, and that all the sites route traffic to 3121.com when possible. The sites in question claim they were singled out because they operate message boards that are sometimes critical of the star. Prince does have a history of unleashing his purple wrath on online boards: He terminated the NPG Music Club’s message board, an official paid service for diehard fans, shortly after the release of 2001’s Musicology. “I signed in one day, everything was fine,” Karen Avera, spokesperson for PFU and Housequake moderator, said. “The next day I went and everything was gone. No warning.” Avera speculates negative reactions to the album on the board — which is similar to some of the fan criticism Prince’s Planet Earth received just a few months ago — was to blame.

The fan sites say they have always cooperated with the Paisley Park lawyers — that is, until now. When fan photos of Prince’s London concert marathon started surfacing on message boards, the lawyers asked that the photos be removed and replaced with shots provided by Prince-hired photographers. The fan sites gladly replaced the pictures. Now, however, the lawyers are demanding those photos be taken down. To date, Housequake.com has not removed the images, and since the site is based in Holland, Avera is unsure of whether the cease-and-desist letters are within their jurisdiction.

When Rolling Stone talked to John Giocobbi, the Managing Director of copyright protection agency Web Sheriff, regarding Prince’s battle with YouTube, Giocobbi said, “Prince has always been a very independently minded artist and kind of bold and pioneering in a way. It goes back largely to the kind of promise he had with Warner Bros., when he lost the right to use his own name and then he became The Artist Formerly Known As. And once he recovered his scars from that battle, he was a lot more savvy as a result of that too. And he’s a lot more kind of protective about his rights.” When asked whether the Web Sheriff is just going after illegal bootlegging of Prince videos, Giocobbi admitted that, “In essence we’re going after everything, which is why it’s kind of pioneering.”

As far as Avera is concerned, those message boards are going nowhere. “Oh, we’re going to keep the message boards,” Avera promises, “because the boards go far beyond just talking about Prince’s music. It’s a connection where a lot of people worldwide have come together to talk and make friendships.” Despite feeling unappreciated, and the threat of a looming lawsuit, Avera swears that she, and the PFU, will remain Prince fans. “With everything that’s going on, we continue to listen to his music. We’ll continue to buy his music, because we appreciate his music.”

So now the pioneer of web releases and podcasting wants digital music to disappear? Good luck. Not only is that genie out of the bottle, Prince uncorked it himself.

Recently on PFU:
PFU has been contacted by Prince's Management and we are currently in discussions. We are hopeful that an amicable resolution can be reached wherein all can co-exist peacefully on the internet. However, if the talks are unsuccessful, the Prince Fans United Group vows to continue its fight. In the meantime, Prince has provided "Prince Fans United" with the song named "PFUnk" for your listening pleasure.

Many members and visitors will doubtless have seen the wildly inaccurate statement today by AEG that "Prince is not suing his fans" and referring to the Prince Fans United sites as "phoney". Not only is this statement confusing, libellous and misleading, we have actually been informed by Prince's representatives that his PR company (Outside PR) sent this in error last night and it has been picked up by a few key media organisations today.

We will shortly be issuing a (heavily) revised joint statement, however in the meantime please be aware that stories circulating on the internet that refers to "phoney" fan websites are wildly inaccurate and should not be taken at face value. Outside PR have assured us that every measure is currently being taken to withdraw these articles.

I thought "Chelsea Rodgers" was the one really good track on Planet Earth, and there's a video up for it now at http://chelsearodgers.com/ featuring The Twinz. You know about The Twinz, right? (Not to be confused with the musical duo of the same name.) Prince has been squiring around these entertainers (I would never use the term video ho) who joined his tour as backup dancers and singers ever since former Paisley Park employee and possible stalker Manuela Testolini divorced him last year. Matching girlfriends- how very Hef of him.

Listening to: Prince & The New Power Generation - Insatiable
via FoxyTunes

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Paging Prince: Bitch, please.

My name is Prince, and this is my bitchface

It's not easy being a Prince fan. The man who made some of the greatest music I ever heard also has a history of treating collaborators, associates, girlfriends and wives pretty despicably. (Possessed: The Rise and Fall of Prince was a real eye-opener.) His pseudomystical pronouncements, name changes, spiritual flip-flops and other Princely behavior that seemed oh so enigmatic and cool and rebellious when I was 18 look like tired shtick today. His tenuous grasp of the social and political issues he brings into his music makes me embarrassed for him. Some say his work is teeming with misogyny. I won't defend or convict him on that count, but read the lyrics from The Rainbow Children and decide for yourself. The whole religion thing... so upsetting I can't even go there. It's a case of love the art, feel strongly ambivalent about the artist.

He's really mean to his fans too. All my friends have heard the story of the humiliating sermon I watched him give one girl at a fanclub meet-and-greet. And incredibly, Prince is one of those rare artists who actually sues his fans. He attacked zines and websites run by fans solely to spread the love of his music and sued them out of existence. Why? Prince has a storied, contentious relationship with the media. He has addressed his critics directly in songs. Of course an utter narcissist wants zines and websites devoted to himself. Prince just wants them to be full of uninterrupted praise and worship. Anyone who was remotely critical got banned from Prince's official site. And copyright nonsense aside, the fans all know he went after the Uptown fanzine because they dared to criticize him. There are plenty of fawning, purple Kool-Aid-drinking "fams" (Prince's preferred term since "fan is short for fanatic") on the unofficial fansites but just as many fans who live to skewer his egregiously bad efforts and generally take the piss out of him. Clearly his fragile widdle ego can't handle it. The lawsuits are another way for Prince to silence his detractors and continue living in his hermetically sealed bubble full of sycophants, completely divorced from reality. And he's at it again now with the cease-and-desists.

But this time, I am ecstatically happy to report that the fans are fighting back! From http://www.princefansunited.com/:

In an extraordinary, but not unfamiliar move, the rock legend Prince is using an army of lawyers to launch attacks on his own fans. Several of the largest web communities dedicated to the artist have received notices to cease and desist all use of photographs, images, lyrics, album covers and anything linked to Prince's likeness. It is our belief that these threats are not made in an attempt to enforce valid copyright as Prince alleges in his threats, rather we believe they are attempts to stifle all critical commentary about Prince. We strongly believe that such actions are in violation of the freedom of speech and should not be allowed. Prince claims that fansites are not allowed to present any artwork with Prince's likeness, to the extreme that he has demanded removal of fan's own photographs of their Prince inspired tattoos and their vehicles displaying Prince inspired license plates. Prince's representatives have requested that the fansites provide them with "substantive details of the means by which you [the fansites] propose to compensate our clients [Paisley Park Enterprises, NPG Records and Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG)] for damages..."
The owners of the three largest fansites supporting Prince: http://www.housequake.com/, http://www.princefams.com/ and http://www.prince.org/ have come together to fight back to what amounts to an injustice to the fansites and the very fans who have supported Prince's career, many since the very beginning nearly thirty years ago.
It is their hope that Prince will reconsider his position and allow these fansites to continue their existence without constant threats from Prince and his attorneys. Should this not be possible, the fansites are fully prepared to defend their position in the proper court of law, as well as fully prosecute any claims to which they are justly entitled.
The owners of housequake.com, princefams.com and prince.org acknowledge that, while Prince is entitled to control of his copyrights, it should be within the law. The law clearly provides for displaying of images of a celebrity's likeness for newsworthy events or matters which are considered to be public interest. All three websites feel that the photographs and/or likeness displayed on their websites clearly fall within the public interest category. Additionally, the use of photographs is legal based on the fair use doctrine, i.e. the displaying of album cover art, or the collage headers created by website members using a variety of different photographs.

I am so thrilled they are not buckling this time! I hope they post a tip jar so supporters can contribute to their legal fund.

Yo, Prince? Can we have a moment? Seriously man, fucking chill. Think about whether you can really afford to be this aggressively evil to your fan base so soon after the 70% Filler-tastic Planet Earth. You can only coast on twenty-eight-year-old goodwill for so long. You have to grow up and accept that you can't control what people say about you. You are biting the hand that feeds in the ugliest possible way, and like the majority of your fans I find your behavior disgusting and intolerable. I pledge never to spend another cent on a Prince CD, DVD, concert ticket or anything else that generates revenue in your general direction until your legal attacks on your fans cease and desist.

My name is Prince, and I use M.A.C. MoistureBlend NC20.

Listening to: Prince - The Question Of U

via FoxyTunes

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Tearoom habitués are hearby advised to use the craigslist personals

Busts are busting out all over. Thank Larry Craig. I was going to post every time I read about one but quickly realized one could easily devote an entire blog to the subject. Here's the latest, involving (surprise) a politician.