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AfterEllen.Com


July 19th, 2005

Interview with Danielle Egnew
by Kendall Knight, July 19, 2005

In the cookie-cutter world of entertainment, who would have thought that an openly-lesbian Montana native who played in an outback all-girl rock band would end up being a sought-after talent in Hollywood? Of course I’m talking about the venerable Danielle Egnew, the lesbian singer whose stellar voice propelled her band Pope Jane from indie incident to cult classic.

Now a rising star in Hollywood, Danielle Egnew’s Midas touch is something that

everyone wants a piece of, and not without reason. Rock Star / Actor / Screenwriter / Radio Host / Clairvoyant Danielle Egnew is a creative prodigy. Add that she’s drop-dead sexy, highly intelligent, and genuinely friendly, and you’ll quickly find out why Danielle Egnew is the real deal.

AfterEllen.com: Curve magazine called you "The Most Likely to Turn You Into An Obsessed Fan." That’s so true. Internet message boards explode with women loving you, then hating you, then loving you again! What do you do to these women to make them so crazy?

Danielle Egnew: (laughs) I have no idea! I was sort of stupid a few years back, and answered some questions that were hypothetically posed to me on [an internet] gossip forum. I answered as myself, and that was a really bad idea. I was green with this whole PR thing, and didn’t realize how mean people were, or that no one really wants to hear from you. As a celebrity, you’re supposed to stay hidden, I guess, which still makes no sense to me. I mean, after all, you’re a public personality. If someone’s talking to you, shouldn’t you answer? So there I was, chatting it up, and it was like covering your arm in honey and sticking it in a hornet’s nest!

AE: Well, internet gossip forums are known for being vicious because of the anonymity. What possessed you to answer questions about yourself on a public gossip forum?
DE: Like I said, I was really naïve, there was a bunch of information going around the web about me that wasn’t true, so I was trying to set the record straight—which is a very bad idea. No one wants to hear the truth about anything. It just makes them think that the thing you were trying to clarify is something you are trying to cover up--the whole thing was completely blown out of proportion, and these women just freaked out!

AE: So I ask you again, what do you do to these women to make them so crazy?
DE:
(laughs) I honest to God don’t know! I still don’t! Talk to them, maybe? I guess you’re not supposed to talk to people like they’re your equal. They think that’s weird, somehow. People expect something different from public figures, like a bogus aloof attitude, or something that makes them feel untouchable. I tend to be accessible, and I think that just freaks people right out, for whatever reason.

AE: After all the craziness, and how obsessed we’ve all seen these women become over you, are you less accessible now?
DE
: Well, unfortunately, yeah. I mean, I’ve had to be, a little. It really bums me out. I’m from Montana, and that’s a very social culture. I love people, meeting new people. I’m a huge dork, and I like to hang out with folks! (laughs) But you’d be amazed at how many people get uncomfortable if you just walk up and say “Hi!” People look at you all shocked, like you have a big, oozing sore right on your forehead, and they back away, or freeze up. It’s bizarre. I thought it was just me for awhile, but I have some other friends who are also in the public eye, and they said the same thing. Most people just can’t handle you saying hello, if they recognize you. I honestly don’t get it.

AE: Being an out lesbian entertainer, do you think your lesbian fans act differently toward you than say, straight male fans that might find you attractive?
DE:
(laughs) Oh, well…(laughs) yeah. I mean, women tend to be more intense anyway when it comes to something we’re attached to. I’m not saying men aren’t intense, but in the scope of fans, men are a lot more laid back. The women, regardless of whether they’re gay or straight, tend to be a lot more in-your-face. I think that’s just a general difference in the sexes, though. I don’t mind either way. I just like to talk to people. I’m happy they want to talk to me!

AE: Since your sexuality isn’t a secret, do you find that it limits the offers you get in terms of working film roles?
DE:
No, I haven’t found that, but most of the roles I’ve been being offered are playing lesbians, or musicians! (big laugh) Apparently, lesbians are the hot character to play right now, thanks to The L Word. We’re very “in,” you know! (laughs).

AE: So you’re saying that the dreaded Hollywood Closet isn’t real?
DE:
The Hollywood Closet is a ridiculous idea, because technically, almost everyone is in it! It would have to be enormous! (laughs) There are so many bisexual and gay media personalities, and it’s just the norm in the industry, but there’s still this old school fear that if anyone finds out you’re gay, you’ll lose work. That’s such a myth. This isn’t 1965. I really don’t think it [sexuality] is as big a deal as people want to make it out to be. I think we, as a society, have much bigger fish to fry in the 21st century. The more we stop splitting hairs on personal sexuality, the more we can bring some actual human issues up to the forefront of entertainment and make a difference. How about world hunger? How about world peace? You know, anything other than “Who is so-and so-sleeping with?”

AE: What about Gay Rights? Do you think that’s a real issue?
DE:
Well of course I do, but I’m not sure how gay entertainers can push that along any faster than Will and Grace, or The L Word. We can certainly be visible, but the battle isn’t in the public perception of gays and lesbians, it’s in the public perception of those who might vote in favor of gay rights! (laughs) Look, I feel that people’s personal sexual preferences really should be a non-issue. We’re all human beings. And for the most part, sexuality really is a non-issue in entertainment, unless you’re one of a handful of A-listers who really think they’re pulling the wool over America’s eyes, and God bless ‘em, because obviously they are very afraid of being outed. And that must be terrifying for those people, to live in fear like that all the time. I couldn’t do it. In terms of gay rights, that to me falls in the category of human rights. And of course I think those are paramount. I would love to be legally married in my own country. It’s embarrassing that we have to leave our own borders to achieve such a basic civil liberty.

AE: You’re known for being a prolific creative genius. How were you able to achieve so much in the competitive world of entertainment?
DE:
I think it boiled down to being the last one standing at the end of the day! (laughs) Being successful in entertainment is a numbers game. You have to create something, then throw it out there and hope it flies. If it doesn’t, then you’d better scrap it, and try again, and you can’t get hung up on what didn’t work, and you can’t quit. I mean, you can, but then entertainment probably isn’t the business for you! (laughs) I’m really blessed in that I have a lot of areas that I can creatively turn to--music, acting, writing screenplays, underscoring films. When one area would hitch up and slow down, I’d go to the next one. Pretty soon, they were all hitting, I had more work than I knew what to do with, and everybody was calling me a creative genius! (laughs) I really am honored that people like my work so much. It really, really means a great deal to me.

AE: You do understand that your creative record is off the scale, don’t you? Two optioned screenplays this year, recording two albums this year, filming two movies this year, getting your talk radio show syndicated this year – most people would die from exhaustion. You don’t even look tired.
DE:
I don’t? Right on! (laughs) Seriously, being creative is what I love. It doesn’t make me tired.

AE: Do you ever sleep?
DE:
Once every 200 years, when the crow flies at midnight. (laughs)

AE: What is the secret to focusing your prolific creative juices?
DE:
(laughs) That sounds really naughty, and sort of makes me crave rare steak at the same time. Is that weird?

AE: Let me re-phrase that. What is the secret to your overwhelming success in music, film, and screenwriting?
DE
: Ah! How linear of you! There really is no secret. I just refuse to give up, and keep doing what I like to do, and the success has always followed. I’ve always been good at multi-tasking creatively. Other areas, I suck. Don’t make me balance my checkbook! (laughs) I find that if I don’t have a good balance of outputting separate [creative] mediums, I sort of break down, like a car that should be driven fast, but eventually falls apart because it only goes around the block once or twice. As long as I am constantly working on two or three things, I get them all done efficiently. My dad calls it “my disease.” (laughs)

AE: You’ve got some feature films coming up that you are starring in, and one of them is a screenplay that you originally authored. What’s it called?
DE:
It’s called Imogene’s Waltz, and it’s a drama set in a small town in Montana. It’s an amazing character piece that’s a story about who we are, versus who we create ourselves to be. It’s great! Clear Pictures is doing that film in 2006. I play Jane, the only gay person in a tiny town of 650 people. It’s being directed by Susan Turley, who directed and produced the gay thriller The M.O. of M.I. as well as a bunch of other films. Susan also cast me in a film she wrote and is directing, called Changing Spots, and that’s supposed to begin filming this fall, but I think they’re changing the name of the film if I’m not mistaken. But before that, I’m playing Dexy in Melody and Harmony, written and directed by Teresa Crespo-Hartendorp with LyonHart Films, filming this summer.

AE: Which film are you the most excited about starring in?
DE:
Honestly, they’re all terrific, and very different, and I feel incredibly blessed to be cast in all of them! Of course, I’m pretty thrilled that Imogene’s Waltz is getting made, and I’m even more thrilled to be doing the score for the film!

AE: Your career started out in music, with the all-girl band Pope Jane. Are your band days over?
DE:
Oh, hell no! (laughs) Music will always be part of my life. I couldn’t stop singing and playing if I tried. I do all kinds of music, from ambient meditation stuff to my solo album, which is coming out sort of Alt Country, weirdly enough. I’m still working on it [solo album] but it will be done pretty soon--in theory. The filming has cut in a bit to the recording schedule. Pope Jane is still technically together--we’re just on hiatus right now while I do all my other stuff.

AE: Speaking of other stuff, tell me about your syndicated talk radio show, The High Road. How did you find yourself in talk radio with everything else you have going on?
DE:
Well, I had something to say! (laughs) I was really disgusted with…geez, how do I put this? (pause) I was disgusted with the lack of education in this country regarding issues of a spiritual nature. I don’t mean “church” spiritual, I mean...“Spirit” spiritual. We are all such spiritual creatures, capable of infinite miracles and amazing, endless manifestations that could make our lives so much richer. But no one wants to broach the subject of what it means to create your own miracles. We live in such a victim consciousness right now, such a fear consciousness running the country that the idea of a powerful individual who can dramatically affect change is really frowned upon. The High Road focuses on the spiritual, paranormal, sociological and political, but mostly spiritual physics, or how to make your life exactly what you want it to be with out some downer person convincing you that you’re powerless!

AE: Whoa. That’s a mouthful. I’ll have to go back and re-read what you said.
DE:
That’s talk radio!

AE: You’re clearly very passionate about issues around spirituality. Could that be because you’re an ordained minister?
DE:
That’s one reason. I find that we’ve misused spirituality in this country to a great extent, to further an agenda of separatism. The Jesus that I am familiar with isn’t a Separatist, doesn’t hate anyone, and talked about everyone getting along. It bothers me that some of the worst terrorists, in my opinion, are religious organizations on our own US soil who have hijacked the identity of Jesus to further their own hate-filled agenda, which is hardly a Christ-like thing to do.

AE: Did you really Pastor a Christian church as a lesbian?
DE:
Well, yeah, I didn’t exactly show up to church, hang my gayness at the door, and throw on my vestments instead! (laughs) It’s really disgusting to me that the word “Christian” has become almost synonymous with “Judgment” or “Exclusion”. It’s supposed to mean “Christ-like”, which doesn’t involve being judgmental, or exclusive. I Pastored in two very inclusive denominations--one being a Metropolitan Community Church, which is open to all people and is traditionally very gay friendly, and the other being a non-denominational inclusive gay-friendly ministry called The Winds of Grace, that the staff of the MCC church and I started after the MCC church pulled out of my hometown. It was really fun. There’s a big need for gay and lesbian people to be able to connect in a spiritual community, Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Muslim or whatever their background is. I think times are changing with the acceptance of gays in the clergy, but they’re changing slowly. I was always outside the box as a Pastor, though, no matter what the denomination.

AE: I’m sure you were. You’re also a Clairvoyant who has been featured on the radio in Los Angeles and helped solve police cases with your incredible abilities. Is that the other reason you’re passionate about spirituality?
DE:
(laughs) Oh my, you played the Clairvoyant card. (laughs. Pause) I would suppose that’s the other reason. There is an ignorance in viewing spiritual gifts and abilities such as Clairvoyance and Clairaudience. We’re taught they’re demonic, which is complete BS. The bible is full of spiritually gifted people. Jonh the Baptist was a wicked Clairvoyant! (laughs) Look at Buddha, he was a prolific Medium. I just think it’s time we took God, or Universal Intelligence, or Bob, or whatever you call your Higher Power, out of the ignorance box and into the 21st century.

AE: So you’re authoring a book series on Spiritual Physics. What exactly is that?
DE:
It’s a term I’ve given to the actual working process of manifesting miracles. There is a lot of science, a lot of physics to manifestation that’s really interesting. You can, literally, make something out of nothing. When you break down the “how-to”, it works out to Quantum Physics, or the functioning of the infinitesimal. I’ve always been a Quantum Physics junkie, an arm-chair physicist! (laughs) So my books are about the manifestation of miracles, and the physics behind it, so people can easily put their brain around the concept and make it theirs in everyday application, rather than miracles being some untouchable thing that died with a guy who walked in the desert 2000 ago. Like that movie What The Bleep Do We Know? It covers a similar set of topics. I loved that movie.

AE: And you think Quantum Physics is going to make it easier for people to understand how to make miracles happen? Isn’t that like saying using College Trigonometry would make it easier to do your taxes?
DE:
Not exactly. With trig, you have to sling numbers. With Quantum Physics, you sling energy. It’s a lot easier.

AE: Easy for who? You’re writing a “how to make miracles happen” handbook for the masses, like Miracles for Dummies?
DE:
(laughs) Hey, that’s a catchy title! Better than the one I thought up! (laughs) It’s a lot easier than it sounds, I promise. I just want to share with people that miracles, and manifestation, aren’t a trick, or aren’t only granted to those who live perfect lives. They’re part of our spiritual operating system. They’re actually supposed to be part of our survival mechanisms down here, to be able to manifest just what we need, but somewhere along the line, some church and some state decided that it would give too much power to the masses to enable people with their own greatest gifts. Which is sad, because holy people like Buddha and Jesus and Mohammed and Paramahansa Yogananda all tried so hard to hook people up with their own highest potential, and the spiritual organizations of the day were running around behind them screaming “Blasphomy!”

AE: I’ve heard rumors about your enormous mind. Now I’ve seen that brain in action. What a thing of beauty.
DE
: Well, thank you, but don’t tell anybody. They’ll expect me to do something with it!

Danielle Egnew is accessible online at danielleegnew.com


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