My latest obsession is watching reruns of the old Aaron Spelling series Fantasy Island; I gotta admit I think the premise is amazing: visit Fantasy Island where you can live out your fantasy – for a price.
Fantasy Island aired from 1978-1984, starring Ricardo Montalban as Mr. Rourke, the enigmatic overseer of a mysterious island somewhere in the Pacific Ocean, where people from all walks of life come to live out their fantasies. Of course there’s Tattoo (played by Herve Villechaize), who accompanied Mr. Rourke, announcing the catchphrase “De plane! De plane!” at the arrival of each new set of island guests, usually in the form of guest stars of the day (Sonny Bono, Linda Blair, Charo, Lisa Hartman, Loni Anderson, Desi Arnez Jr, Frankie Avalon, Scott Baio, Adrienne Barbeau, etc etc) .
Of course I recall this episodic series on ABC as a kid; loving the bright colours, the fabulous array of characters & situations & fantasies.. The anticipation was always – ‘What will this person’s fantasy be??? What I found is that as long as the series lasted, little was known about the man known as Mr. Rourke, other than that he is the sole owner and proprietor of Fantasy Island. Upon watching several of the first episodes it became very clear to me that his character has a strong moral code, yet he seems merciful – trying to teach each given cluster of guests important life lessons through the medium of their fantasies, frequently in a manner that exposes the errors of their ways.
Fantasy Island does have some serious undertones to it; in that not all of the guests have happy conclusions & sometimes things got eery, even having supernatural undertones in later seasons. Most of all it was fun, light-hearted. It appeals to the nostalgic in me … watching it now even till I am imaging what my own fantasy might be should a real place like Fantasy Island exist….
There’s something to be said for taking risks, jumping off the proverbial dock & facing the potentially cold waters. Take my friend Catina for example. I met Catina years ago in Ottawa while we both attended Algonquin Community College while we got our Social Service Worker Diplomas at night school. Catina was a single mom raising 4 kids – her strength & determination something I always admired, on top of her humour & her vulnerability.
During that time, in between classes & papers & deadlines – we supported one another & I knew that she had a penchant for writing because she always seemed to be writing journal entries or lists – or term papers.
We’ve stayed in touch for many years & what’s amazing to me is that despite any of life’s hurdles or punches to the gut, Catina somehow manages to keep that determination, that will to keep on truckin’ in tact.
The payoff, in my belief, is that she has developed a great recipe for success – she has boldly chosen to go where others in similar shoes may never go; she put herself OUT THERE by sharing her given gifts as a writer, channeling that passion & drive; submitting her writings & short stories to publications.
I’ve seen many of her successes in facing the fear of rejection & despite however many times her attempts fall flat, she has also achieved success. Her willingness to rise to the occasion of life proves that anything is possible, no matter what your life situation.
Today I opened up the mail to find a big envelope containing a personal letter & a copy of Women’s World – & inside is a short, but sweet story Catina wrote & submitted about a random act of kindness that impacted her in a positive way. The result: this article, found page. 43 graces a big publication that will be seen all over the world!!!!
WAY TO GO CATINA!!!!
I’m proud of you & the example you lead by putting yoruself out there. I love you dearly & am so happy to watch your success continue!
DANNiEL OiCKLE: electro-pop entertainer, actor, published writer, painter & photographer; pusher of buttons; & nothing short of inspiring.
Oickle produces at a speed most others never accomplish; for example, in 2010 he released a book of poetry calledDancing In Silence, another, My Heart Has Teeth, in 2012. In and around the same time period he released the self-produced albums Poison Apples & Other Delicacies (2011), The Corruption of Flesh (2011) on his record label Torrid Productions, all the while assembling videos, generating his own press & staging live shows at venues all over Ottawa like Club SAW Gallery and Mercury Lounge. I don’t know where this man finds his drive or motivation but what I do know is that he is remarkable, love or hate his work.
I get Danniel Oickle. Meaning, I know the boy-behind-the-man behind the photos & promotion & the in-your-face plethora of projects. While I have personally been inspired by his abilities I would also be lying if I said I wasn’t aware of how at times his work has generated some less than positive public feedback. Take for example hisOttawa’s Xtra!feature; a cover shot by photographer JONATHAN HOBiN depicting Oickle with religious overtones that had a lot of tongues wagging, & some not in his favour: “He should prepare himself to be a very small fish in a very large, unforgiving pond” said an anonymous online reader.
Oickle also released a video in 2012 called ‘Caring & Hate‘, shot on location in the Byward Markets’ Mercury Lounge; inviting hostility, in particular from the Ottawa/Montreal queer community. Some people held little back, calling it: “The work of attention whores desperately trying to force the idea they are talented and beautiful“, as well as “more bi-trans crap about femmy twits trying to shock the bourgeoise.” It was quite clear Oickle’s vision & work wasn’t going to make it without a lot of criticism, most of which translated as mean & personal attacks. Welcome to the wonderful world of being an entertainer, right? Fortunately, for as much criticism he receives, he also has supporters: “Art is supposed to do just that, force emotions. Apparently ‘Caring and hate” is doing just this…leave the rest of us to appreciate someone breaking the mould“. Another fan wrote: “I prefer to celebrate artists, especially when they stand by their work, are true to themselves and continually grow while exploring the creative process.”
However you choose to take him – he shows no signs of slowing down; & despite any naysayers he is currently ever-focussed on his latest project, the self-produced Blitzkrieg! (Torrid Productions, 2013). I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to get him on the phone long distance & have him participate in an interview. Not only was it a great way for us to catch up on life, it also provided a chance for him speak for himself about his experiences thus far, trying to make it as a ‘small fish in an unforgiving pond’, as well as promote a project I know he worked very hard on.
Below are some excerpts from our interview:
CC: Thank you SO much for participating in this interview with me Dann! I know you are busier than a one-legged man in a butt-kicking contest.
Dann: You’re welcome!!!
CC: First things first – please set the stage by letting readers know exactly what our connection is before I get started on picking your brain!
Dan: I have to say the first time I remember meeting you was when, I think you came to karaoke with Claude (Marquis), and you sang “Let’s Get Physical” by Olivia Newton-John and you got on the stage and you did ummm…. aerobics (giggles) while you sang it, and I thought ‘I think I’m gonna be this guys friend’.
CC: ….a proud moment. Let’s start the ball rolling with a simple, fun question. Important stuff that’ll tell readers who you really are….
CC: What is your favourite Madonna phase?
<insert long pause>
Dann: Probably ‘Blonde Ambition’? That was the tour… it was based on her… Best of CD that came out, ‘Immaculate Collection’. The other one from her would have to be… Erotica. I really love that album. I love how daring that album was, how edgy. I love the book that came along with it. I love that she was pushing all of these buttons for everybody. And she looked fantastic with the platinum blonde hair and, its great. I love that. I think she looked great with platinum blonde hair. But that’s just me. <insert laughter> A la Marilyn Monroe.
CC: Pushing buttons – this makes sense. Erotica is my favourite as well. Let me channel my inner Barbara Walters next by asking…. Who is Danniel Oickle?
Dann: It would have to be one of the hardest things to be forced to define who a person is, but if I must, I would have to say I am an artist. Everything good and everything bad that such a title would present. I am imaginative, insecure, insouciant, and immoderate.
(Silly me, I had to look up ‘insouciant‘ as I had no idea what he was calling himself.
insouciant : showing a casual lack of concern.)
CC: Who is your greatest inspiration and why?
Dann: As someone who wades in, swims in, and sometimes drowns in so many different artistic fields, I am drawn to many inspirations, yet certain ones have been long lasting. Overall thought, I’d have to pick Annie Lennox. Musically, I aspire to create the delicate balance between prowess and innocence that she so effortlessly conquers. Visually, I have been drawn to her androgynous and edgy appearance, aptness for fashion, trendsetting, and sheer gaul. Personally, I love her ability to maintain long-lasting friendships and collaborators, and of course I love her continued volunteer work towards causes she believes in. Professionally, I admire how she has managed to balance a skyrocketing career and a happy home life, all the while disregarding any negativity and bulldozing ahead at full force. She is a powerhouse, and I strive to follow behind, placing my feet in her giant footsteps.
CC: Top 3 Albums of all time?
Dann: The Eurythmics – SAVAGE . Sinead O’Connor – THE LION AND THE COBRA …Tori Amos – FROM THE CHOIRGIRL HOTEL . No special order.
CC: Dann, we’ve talked a lot about the fact that you’re quite a polarizing artist to some. In fact, a lot of folks online are downright harsh when it comes to responding to what it is you do. We know that in this industry its part and parcel with putting yourself out there. Any artist essentially opens themselves up to criticism the moment you agree to share yourself with the public. And its fundamental to have a thick skin. Yet I have wondered: what do you make of the criticism & how do you reconcile with it?
Dann: Love is easy to receive. It drives you on and is like a stiff wind at your back. But, I was told as a child that not everyone will like you and that you should not concern yourself by it. I must say, it is one thing to be un-liked by someone, yet it is another to be hated. I would love to tell people that there is a magic formula that you can use to make your skin gator thick, and that I truly have mastered the art of ignoring the “haters.” But alas, this is not the case. My skin is as thin as yours and hate is a vicious act, regardless of the importance or proximity of the hate. In this digital age, it is even easier for people to spout anonymous hate, but after rallying my troops, I decided that no matter what, I am going to do what I love. It was my brother in fact that said something profound to me, that really helped the first time I received uneducated and non-constructive critiques. He said to me: “Congratulations!” I was a little shocked. I asked him what he meant by that, and he respond: “You’re finally important enough for people to hate.” It seems like strange logic, but it holds water. Hate and love are emotions spurred by a stimuli. I am that stimuli, and am apparently strong enough to bring forth an emotional response. So, I must be doing something right. Even God responded to the haters and praised them more highly than the ambivalent masses: “So then because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of my mouth.” (Revelations 3:16). Love me or hate me but don’t ignore me.
CC: In saying that , what would you change about yourself?
Dann: This is a hard question, cause there are two things that pop into my head, one physical and one not. But I’d have to say the physical is simply vanity, but the other is much more emotional. As someone who suffers from OCD, I would truly love to remove it from my life. It is extremely difficult to work around, and has caused much turmoil. Though, I have found many coping mechanisms, OCD still overcomes my thought processes and can control my behaviour. It would truly be a blessing to never again have my mind overrunssive thoughts.
CC: Next, people would like to know about your latest project. Where did the inspiration for Blitzkrieg! come from?
Dann: While I was developing “Corruption,” I treated it as a multi-disciplinary concept, including: audio, visual, installation, and performance. At times it was a little like being a new parent. It forced me to learn on the fly, and it often moved faster than I could keep up. I was striving to create an experience that combined my love of classics, religious studies, different forms of art, and music. As much as I wanted to make a great album, I also wanted to push boundaries and stretch my audience. I also discovered that with such growth often comes growing pains.
“Blitzkrieg!” was different in many ways. I was exhausted from the treadmill and the often-times “coal walking” that was “Corruption” and wanted to focus simply on the music. I wanted to study love. It seems so much in life is controlled by this one idea. I also wanted to do a few covers of songs that were both cohesive to the thematic idea of the album, but that also moved me. The visual aspect of this album was more loose. I was listening to a lot of old recordings, watching war documentaries, and digesting stories about the deep south…so in the end, they kind of all became bedfellows. The southern twang and sticky heat of the bayou, the scratchy warn out and raw recordings of the pre-electronic age, and the imagery and bravery of the great wars all meshed with my characteristic sexuality to create what can be called the “sound” of Blitzkrieg!. Where “Corruption” was cerebral, Blitzkrieg! was emotional. Like two siblings in the same house, you can see their parentage yet their individuality is equally distinct.
CC: Music aside, what is your greatest extravagance?
Dann: Extravagances are all subjective, but I’d have to say that to me, an extravagance is something you overspend on but could live without. So, for me that would probably be fashion. I notoriously adore clothes and accessories, everything from high fashion couture to designer bags and shoes. When I was young, my brother and I would buy fashion magazines and collect the photographs of the models like hockey cards. By college, I would save my money, sometimes just $5-10 a week, in order to buy some “fantasy” fashion piece, some piece of designer “art.” To this day, fashion is something that excites me, and I think it will be, till the day I die.
CC: If there’s one thing you’d want people to know about you – what would it be? Now is your chance to set people straight.
Dann: I am just a nerd who loves Catwoman comics, eats too many Bounty Bars, and loves the way my cowboy boots click on wooden floors. I love a cold night in the arms of my lover, and plan one day to run away from everything and become a beach bum eating coconuts and skindiving for pearls. But even in the realm of my fantasy, I can hear the waves crashing on the beach and a tune starts to play out.
CC: If I were to say ‘Your wish is my command’, snap my fingers and tomorrow your artistic dream gig/opportunity would be yours to experience – What would it be? Nothing is too grande!
Dann: I have this daydream of a hot Mediterranean night playing at the Acropolis in Athens. The stands are packed with familiar faces and ardent fans. My sets and lights are lavish, and a full orchestra backs me up. I am joined on stage by all the various collaborators and friends I have had the joy of working with over the years, and we have the most amazing be-in that lasts until the sun comes up.
CC: What’s next for Danniel Oickle?
Dann: When you find out, let me know. I haven’t turned the page yet.
CC: Final wrap-up question: speaking of Olivia Neutron-Bomb, aerobics and your penchant for erotic risqué songs, ever consider a cover of ‘Physical’, a la Danniel Oickle?
Dann: Well! I love Olivia! I grew up on her, as she was my father’s favourite singer. I remember, all too well, dancing around the house to “Physical” and always thinking of it as “the dirty date” song. Now as a singer, It would be fun to cover Olivia, but “Physical” is slightly too iconic in my opinion. Any rendition by another pop singer will seem flat. If it was to be covered, it should be covered completely differently. But while working on Blitzkrieg!, I did consider two distinct Olivia tunes: “Culture Shock” and “Silvery Rain.” But in the end, I went a different route. I don’t think those numbers will ever truly be “off” the list though, as I simply love them. One day…one day.
TANYA TUCKER is simply one of the best that ever was & ever will be. If you’re looking for a classic album you need not look any further than her first album, released in 1972 when she was merely 13 years old. We’re talking about a voice ahead of its time – & a country phenomenon who is incredibly underrated in todays sea of country bullshit.
In particular I gravitate towards her earliest albums when I want to sample the best of the best – albums often produced by the great BILLY SHERRIL, who notably worked with the likes of TAMMY WYNETTE & more. For more of TUCKER, download her on iTunes & read her autobiography ‘Nickel Dreams‘.
_________________________________________________________________________________________ Back in the late 80’s and throughout the 90’s, I poured over Rolling Stone Magazine. Didn't a lot of…