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The Alternative


Vol 1 Issue1 August 1, 2007

MEET DANIELLE EGNEW

by Jakks Andersen

Though technically I was born female, I don't relate with gender, either way. My gender is Queer. I date other Queers. Because I don't really get the need to assign a gender, I've always had a problem with feminine-looking lesbians. It's not that I don't like them. It's that they confuse me. They make me think of my mother or my sister, neither of whom I, as a GenderQueer, find in any way sexually attractive. I try and get past my femme prejudice, but even dedicating myself to marathon nights of The L Word can't break me into the idea of feminine women being with other women. I get Shane. I don't get Bette.

I was scheduled to interview a heavy-hitting lesbian in music and film, who also happens to be a femme. As a journalist, I usually stick with subjects that I relate with. But in this instance, I wasn't going to pass up the opportunity to have some star credit under my belt, or to meet the woman whose career is as colorful as her Technicolor hair. I was more worried about how I would cover up the hives that erupted all over the backs of my hands. Femmes make me nervous.

My femme was singer / actress Danielle Egnew, whose name is a regular on list after list of famous lesbian icons. In spite of their cult to mainstream appeal, I was never a Pope Jane fan. I was a Butchies Queer. Pope Jane was three femmes, and Danielle Egnew was the queen femme of them all, with her big girly voice, big curly hair, big lipstick, and who could forget the famous photo with the big studded guitar strap hanging around her neck over her big naked feminine parts? I needed to adjust my attitude for the interview.

 

I met Danielle Egnew at a lesbian bar around the corner from her Sherman Oaks home called The Oxwood. She suggested Starbucks, but I could feel the backs of my hands begin to itch again, so The Oxwood was my idea. I got there early and waited with my beer. I could only imagine what she would order while pulling credit cards from her Dolce and Gabbana or Louis Vuitton wallet…some froo froo drink with more garnish than the saddle bags on my vintage Kawasaki cruiser. Again, I adjusted my attitude.

I turned to shake hands with Danielle Egnew. I didn't expect her to be in glasses but her narrow tortoise shell specs were very studious. She was big smiles, big hand shake, big mane of curls that fell down her back striped that bright red, black and platinum blonde, big full painted lips. All femme. I had no idea what we were going to talk about past the list of generic questions in my wallet. Then my eyes stopped at her Starfleet Academy T-shirt. It was so startling that I actually read the shirt out loud. A very Homer Simpson move.

"Are you a Star Trek fan too?" she asked me. "I'm a Voyager whore."

What? Star Trek? Voyager who? Again, Homer Simpson took control of my mouth. "No, I hated Star Trek. I didn't know people actually wore Star Trek clothes, " like the matching Starfleet Academy sweatpants she was wearing with a pair of beat up cowboy boots that had nothing to do with the rest of the outfit. Danielle Egnew's eyebrow turned up in a smirk. Doh! I put a cork in my inner Homer.

Her promo pics are standard Hollywood, best side forward and accurate enough for me to recognize her in a crowd, but her photographs don't capture her full character. In spite of her predisposal to the feminine archetype, Danielle Egnew is a knock-out. Part Native American, the Cherokee and Lakota make for high cheekbones, Her Italian blood sculpts her jaw line and neck, and with pale Welsh skin, Egnew looks more like an animated character from a Disney film. Her big brown eyes should be doe-like, but they're not dewy. They're deep, like if you misstep you'll drown in tar. Maybe that was just the look she was giving me. I didn't feel like the interview was off to a very good start. Then she laughed.

It was a snorting belly laugh. "Oh yeah," Egnew snorted some more, "they make Star Trek clothes. I have more at home, but not the Starfleet uniforms. That would be weird."

That's when I found my angle for this interview. This wasn't going to be the world's most awkward visit ever. In spite of Danielle Egnew's drop-dead good looks, flowing femininity, grocery list of talents and general status as a lesbian icon, she was really weird. That I could work with.

She ordered a chilled double Patron, no lime. You can tell a lot about someone by what they drink. Patron is top shelf, strong, right to the point, and confident. Double Patron says that the person drinking it is double confident, no messing around with extra filler like hops, carbonation, and the 12 ounces of water that I use to keep my hands busy. I nailed the character of Danielle Egnew in one drink.

She asked me, when was my birthday? I told her June 14th, a Gemini. She told me all about Gemini, about me, then about personal things off the grid that made me both uncomfortable to hear a stranger report to me, yet curious to hear more. One of Danielle Egnew's many talents is Clairvoyance. In fact, she's known on an international level for this gift of Mediumship, even applying what some would consider her TV Superhero abilities to know the future into the field of assisting law enforcement. According to Egnew, it runs in her family. I soon realized that I was the one being interviewed, or rather, reviewed. I'd have to stay on my toes.

Though her private metaphysical practice in Los Angeles is busy with clientele, most of America does not know Danielle Egnew the Clairvoyant. Danielle Egnew is best known as being the power singer / producer for the all female band Pope Jane, breaking down the Indie-to-mainstream barrier in the 90's and building a bridge to a world wide fan base that Indies everywhere would cross, once it was built. Ten years ago, Danielle Egnew created both an Indie sound and music marketing plan used by so many artists today. It was so successful that Pope Jane didn't need a record label. By the time the labels decided to jump on the Pope Jane bandwagon, the industry, just as Egnew had predicted while penning music industry articles years before, fell into financial collapse.

Re-hashing Egnew's many talents is a no-brainer. She's Rock Star, Actress, Screenwriter, Composer, Producer of music and film, Radio Host, Sound Designer, and even Clairvoyant. But I was determined not to become another journalistic cliche. There had to be more to this woman than the sum of her talents, and I was right. What I discovered is that her vision, the endless creative template everyone raves about, was more a symptom of a larger problem, rather than a destination.

I learned that Danielle Egnew is addicted to creating things. I wasn't yet sure this addiction was healthy. This woman does not rest, ever, as far as I could tell. She described to me with great focus (and a vocabulary that fell out of a Dickens novel) project after creative project she was currently working on. The Double part of the Double Patron was beginning to make sense, though it didn't seem to have the least bit effect on her as she sipped it slowly.

Danielle Egnew's mind is a quadruple core processor on steroids. She's a steady stream of dreams, how to build the dreams, how to bring people to the dreams, and back to the beginning to start again. The cycle was intense but there was well-planned logic in how it all came together. She was speaking at a normal pace, but it was a mental effort to keep up with her.

After coming off of starring in and scoring the 2007 lesbian drama Changing Spots, she's producing, starring in, and composing original music for two feature films, her own original dramatic screenplay Imogene's Waltz, and the comedy Girlband by writer / director Renie Oxley. Egnew is providing original songs for the television reality series Boy's Town. More songs are erupting from this woman this year as she releases her long-awaited solo album Red Lodge, her first album release since Pope Jane went on hiatus in 2003. Egnew is also writing and recording an album with her new alternative rock band Junkie Cousin (Egnew calls the music "White Trash Rock") with co-producer and writer / guitarist Paul Houston. In addition, Egnew co-hosts syndicated radioshow The Music Highway with Sheena Metal, a broadcast to over 2400 affiliates.

In April of 2007, Danielle was part of the celebrity VDAY West LA's performance of The Vagina Monologues in a dream cast that AfterEllen rightfully branded "The V Word", as the cast included most of The L Word heavy hitters: Jennifer Beals, Janina Gavankar, Rachel Shelly, and Alexandra Hedison. That's not even counting the other lesbian folk-lore heroes that flushed out the cast such as Jill Bennett, Honey Labrador, Heather Juergensen, and Sheena Metal. So tight was Danielle's performance and involvement that she was invited by Executive Producer Victoria Russell to not only participate as talent, but to sit as a producer on the nation's largest upcoming bi-yearly VDAY event yet, the two week long 2008 Until The Violence Stops, which will include celebrity performances of The Vagina Monologues as well as comedy nights and live music all throughout the city -- a two week Mardi Gras of culture and social awareness amidst the silicone sea of Los Angeles.

I dived in and interrupted Danielle Egnew because I was getting lost. "Do you think you suffer from mania?"

Her mouth still half open in mid sentence, she went silent. I confess I gloated inside that I stumped her, because this woman had a come-back for everything. Her come-backs had come-backs. When she finally spoke, it was the voice of someone I hadn't met yet.

She simply said: "I don't suffer."

That moment in and of itself was worth the entire interview. That was the voice I was looking for, the voice that didn't exist on the press release. I liked it best.

From that voice, I learned a lot more about Danielle Egnew in those two and half hours. Mostly I learned that I had drastically stereotyped this woman, and that femmes weren't so scary after all. We talked about how much she misses her home state of Montana with its wide open spaces and we talked of her love of Science and Physics. We talked about how she loved to perform in musicals and why Sweeney Todd is her favorite, why she believes director John Waters to be a genius who, to quote Egnew, "paints with his camera on a canvass of stained sheets". She discussed why she believes Captain Kathryn Janeway is the greatest Star Fleet Captain ever (with Captain Jean-Luc Picard as a close second). Egnew told me about some kind of engine she's designing for deep space travel that runs on something called "dark matter" and magnets, and I wasn't sure if this topic fell under the Science category or if this was some Star Trek thing that went over my head. Either way, I had no idea what she was talking about but she really seemed to, so I tried to be polite. We talked about her obsession with watching Discovery Channel and how she's become a wild fan of "her crab boys" as she called them on The Deadliest Catch. We even discussed her crush on The X-Files character "Dana Scully"(not to be confused with a crush on X-Files actress Gillian Anderson) which inspired her pop single Special Agent Dana Scully, a popular track on mp3 sharing sites around the world, in which Agent Dana Scully is actually a lesbian.

"I gave up on trying to hunt down all the publishing money on Scully the minute I saw that it was getting pirated and passed around on some Korean download site," said Egnew. "I figured, if I can't even read the language but they're still getting into the song, which is in English, how can I be offended by that?"

But most of what I learned about Danielle Egnew is that as much as I thought I knew about her, there was so much more there that I didn't expect, and I had to wonder if those parts might be the best? Danielle Egnew's complex inner geek is what defines her. It's what she consciously wrapped up in that beautiful femme package in order to sell herself to the masses, and it's that inner dream-builder she protects with a non-stop barrage of witty banter to throw off an unsuspecting press hound. No matter how beautiful, bright and hyper-accomplished, I uncovered the natural weirdness of Danielle Egnew, and I liked it. I would happily invite both her and her Louis Vuitton wallet to a dinner party without fear. Even if she is a creation addict.

Danielle Egnew is online at www.DanielleEgnew.com.


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© 2006-08 Ave Vox Entertainment™ / Danielle Egnew / All Rights Reserved.