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Headliners bring their pride to Pride Fest

Published May 31, 2012 4:33 pm

Festival • Prince Poppycock, Frenchie Davis and Kristine W headline this year's music and arts pride festival.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

As you get dressed to attend the Utah Pride Festival 2012, don't be ashamed that no matter how hard you try, you simply won't be as beautiful as Prince Poppycock.

Those who didn't watch a pre-Howard Stern season of "America's Got Talent" might be unaware of the alter-ego of 34-year-old John Andrew Quale, a gifted operatic singer who also happens to dress like an androgynous dandy from the 17th century named Prince Poppycock.

Quale, along with Frenchie Davis and Kristine W, will headline Utah's annual festival celebrating the diversity of Utah's gay, lesbian and transgender communities, as well as the people who love and support them.

In a phone interview, Quale said it takes at least four hours to apply his powdered makeup, bright red lipstick, super-extended eyelashes and costume complete with Marie Antoinette wig — the Kirsten Dunst version. "It's mostly a full-time job," he said. After all, the gear requires up to 11 suitcases to pack.

As his alter ego, Poppycock wowed judges Howie Mandel, Sharon Osbourne and Piers Morgan during the 2010 season of the summertime reality show, finishing fourth after delivering arias from "The Barber of Seville" and Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" with commanding stage presence, a pristine countertenor and, of course, panache.

As Poppycock, Quale has been a popular performer at pride festivals around the country since becoming a finalist on "America's Got Talent," and he'll perform Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at Washington Square's North Main Stage. The singer said he believes his out-and-proud persona is "important for disenfranchised youth."

Another veteran of reality shows is Frenchie Davis, who will perform on the same stage Saturday at 8 p.m. The 33-year-old R & B singer became a semifinalist on the second season of "American Idol" before being disqualified due to topless photos taken when she was 19. Then, after Broadway stints in "Rent" and other shows, she appeared on the first season of "The Voice," where she auditioned by singing "I Kissed a Girl" by Katy Perry. She was selected by Christina Aguilera and advanced to the next roud before being cut.

In a phone interview, Davis said she has used her name recognition from reality shows to aim for higher targets in the entertainment world. "All we can do is climb over every obstacle that presents itself as best we can with our heads held as high as we can hold them," she said. "We try to learn as much as we can, and be willing to work our a—es off. Most importantly, we make the most of every opportunity that presents itself and hope for the best."

Some of those opportunities have been pride festivals. "I love performing for the gay community," Davis said. "They have been my most loyal fan base, so I almost always say 'yes' when I am asked to perform at a pride event."

Between the reality shows, she has paid her stage dues. Davis appeared in "Rent" in 2003, was cast as Effie in a West Coast-touring production of "Dreamgirls," performed the role of Mahalia Jackson in the Hartford Stage production of "Mahalia: A Gospel Musical," starred in the 30th-anniversary national tour of the musical revue "Ain't Misbehavin' " (with "American Idol" winner Ruben Studdard) and in 2010 was cast as the Fairy Godmother in Rodgers & Hammerstein's "Cinderella."

"I learned that eight shows a week is not for the faint-hearted, and I learned how to have fun onstage," Davis said of musical theater. "Broadway is where I developed stage presence."

The final headliner is nightlife hero Kristine W, who hasn't ever performed in Utah but learned about the Mormon faith through her first boyfriend. The high-school romance didn't last because of his faith, though she remains friends with him, his wife and their five children.

Kristine W's name might not immediately register, but if you stepped foot inside a dance club since the early 1990s, you have probably shaken your poppycock to one of her 16 No. 1 hits on the Billboard Hot Dance Club Songs chart. A former Miss Washington and a leukemia survivor, the singer was named the No. 3 Dance/Club Play Artist of the Decade by Billboard, following Madonna at No. 1 and Beyoncé at No. 2.

Pride festivals are another frequent stomping ground for Kristine W. "I live for them," she said. "They're so much fun. [The audiences] love the theatrics, and they bring their moms."

After diving head-first into jazz on her last record, Kristine W will be issuing "New and Number Ones" this summer, a return to the dance music where she reigns supreme. Although the album features some of her best-known songs, she has arranged them differently and added new vocals. "It's a little scary," she admitted. "We're updating everything. It's taking an old picture and putting a new frame on it."

Dance music is what the world needs now, she claims. "People have had tough times and don't need to dwell on it."

A tireless gay-marriage activist, Kristine W was so much an opponent of California's proposition that would have banned gay marriage that she has the slogan "NO H8" tattooed on some of her recent publicity photos. Her father died when she was 3, so she was raised by her mother and a grandmother. "Two mothers raised me," Kristine W said.

dburger@sltrib.com

Utah Pride Festival 2012

When • Entertainment: Saturday, June 2, at 3:30 p.m.; Sunday, June 3, at noon

Where • Washington Square, 400 South and State, Salt Lake City

Tickets • At gate. $10; free for kids 12 and younger.

Parade • Utah Pride March on Sunday at 10 a.m. The march begins at the corner of 400 East and 300 South, heads north on 200 South and then west on 200 South, disbanding after crossing West Temple.

Headliners • Prince Poppycock will perform on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at the North Main Stage at Washington Square, followed by Frenchie Davis at 8 p.m. Kristine W will perform on Sunday at 4 p.m. at the North Main Stage at Washington Square.

Info and schedule • http://www.utahpridefestival.org

Other events

Friday • 7 p.m. Grand Marshal reception honoring Academy Award-winning screenwriter Dustin Lance Black and local honorees Valerie Larabee, Ben McAdams and The Salt Lake Tribune's Pat Bagley, at the Leonardo Museum, 209 E. 500 South, Salt Lake City. Tickets, $40, include light refreshments and a cash bar.

Saturday, June 2 • 12:30-2:30 p.m., Pride Interfaith Service, St. Mark's Cathedral, 231 E. 100 South, Salt Lake City

Saturday • 2 p.m., Pride Transgender Rally and March; gather for speeches at the corner of State Street and North Temple; the march will begin at 2:30 p.m., converging with the Dyke and Interfaith marches to enter Washington Square for Pride Festival opening ceremonies.

Saturday • 2 p.m., Dyke Rally and March; gather for speeches at the south side of the State Capitol, 350 N. State St., with the march beginning at 2:30 p.m.