Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Maybe we're just flamboyant

I'm a huge fan of The 5th Wheel, the often-hilarious blog about barbershop singing written by Mike McGee, the original baritone of one of my favorite quartets, the recently retired Metropolis.

Yesterday, Mike posted a list of the competitors in the 2009 Barbershop Harmony Society International Chorus Contest. Because next July's International will be held at the Anaheim Convention Center, Mike jokingly assigns each chorus a "convention host" from Disneyland's cast of characters.

Who did Mike assign to my chorus, Voices in Harmony, the reigning Far Western District Chorus Champions?

"The gay parade dancer."

Seriously, is that any way to talk about northern California's premier men's a cappella chorus? I think not.

As Molly used to say... "'Tain't funny, McGee!"

(Okay, maybe it's a little funny.)

I suppose that any all-male performing organization based in the San Francisco Bay Area will occasionally get tagged with some measure of gay stereotype. After all, residents in sizable swaths of the country are convinced that everyone in the Bay Area is gay. (We, in turn, might characterize folks in those swaths as rednecks, which likewise may not be entirely accurate.) That perception may be especially strong when applied to male choral ensembles, given that one of the largest and most iconic such groups here is the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus.

Before Voices in Harmony formed, I sang with another ensemble, originally called the Pot o' Gold Chorus. Although Pot o' Gold had relocated eastward to Pleasanton by the time I joined, the chorus had been founded in the city of Dublin — hence the quasi-Irish name.

Fittingly, Pot o' Gold's insignia consisted of a rainbow streaming downward into a kettle filled with gold coins. Our stage costume was a black tuxedo accessorized with a rainbow-striped cummerbund. On many occasions, people saw a bunch of guys in stage makeup and rainbow cummerbunds, and from there leaped to a certain conclusion that you've probably already surmised.

Over time, the rainbow logo and accouterments were phased out, as was the Pot o' Gold name. The ensemble performed for several years as the Bay Area Metro Chorus before the merger that created VIH.

One of my fellow singers tells of an incident that occurred the last time BHS International took place in Anaheim, in July 1999. He was enjoying an adult beverage in the bar of the Anaheim Marriott following the chorus contest, while still clad in his Pot o' Gold tuxedo. A patron of the bar saw my comrade's cummerbund, and mistook the rainbow striping as a covert invitation to hot man-on-man monkey love. My friend — who, as it happens, is not gay — demurred.

Like the population of the Bay Area itself, Voices in Harmony is a diverse assemblage. Our membership reflects a variety of ages, ethnicities, occupations, lifestyles, and yes, sexual orientations. Different though we are, we share a common element (where have I heard that term before?) — we're men who enjoy singing and performing at a high level of musical excellence. And I'm proud to share the risers with every one of them.

If that Disneyland parade dancer can carry a tune, he's more than welcome.

Now, I'm off to rehearsal.

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6 insisted on sticking two cents in:

Anonymous Dave Olbrich offered these pearls of wisdom...

On Monday Dec. 8, I plan to make your blog my

I didn't see any other way to get in touch with you, so I'm leaving a comment here. I hope that you read it.


12:56 AM  
Anonymous FirstTimeLongTime offered these pearls of wisdom...

I can only hope this isn't the last time we see the phrase "monkey love" in one of your posts.

9:04 AM  
Blogger SwanShadow offered these pearls of wisdom...

Dave: Wow, I'm honored -- both by the recognition, and by getting a comment from someone in the comics industry whose name I immediately recognize. :)

Mine isn't really a comics blog, except on Fridays. And even then, it's more about comic art than about comics per se. But... thanks!

I'll make sure to direct my readers to your post. I'm also adding your blog to my blogroll -- today's article on Jack Kirby is worth the price of admission.

12:50 PM  
Blogger SwanShadow offered these pearls of wisdom...

FTLT: I'm sure it won't be, because it isn't the first time.

12:53 PM  
Blogger Sam offered these pearls of wisdom...

Y'know, someone gave me a rainbow colored beanie with a propeller on it. I wore it one night to DJ a gig and everyone swore I was gay. Sadly, I never wore that beanie again.

2:58 PM  
Blogger SwanShadow offered these pearls of wisdom...

Sam: Just imagine what people would have thought if you'd had on those rainbow suspenders Robin Williams used to wear on Mork and Mindy.

3:33 PM  

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