Vancouver:Rufus Wainwright opening for Roxy music - Fri 3rd Aug

Vancouver:Rufus Wainwright opening for Roxy music
03 August 2001

Wainwright perfectly blase about the celebrity spotlight by Kerry Gold Vancouver Sun

Rufus Wainwright will open for Roxy Music at GM Place Friday.

Rufus Wainwright's bohemian fashion sense translates into plaid blazers, pink pants, garish brooches and Japanese zoris.

When talking about his love of Judy Garland, he once imitated the frazzled star by spastically grabbing handfuls of his shaggy hair. His two albums, a self-titled release in 1998 and his new one, Poses, dwell in the world of young, urban, hip gay men, and on stage, Wainwright delivers a between-song banter that could rival Paul Lynde in the catty department.

When he released his first album in 1998, "they told me flat out, 'Your demographic is going to be gay opera queens and your parents' audience,'" says Wainwright, from a truck stop in the midwest, on his way to visit James Dean's grave. "In a weird way, it didn't turn out to be either of that. It's mostly young girls, and so they were really surprised. But they are always surprised, those people," he adds, dryly.

If you missed Wainwright's unveiling of his new material from Poses this spring at Richard's on Richards, you get another chance when he opens Friday for Roxy Music. He'll have to omit the intimate interplay in the giant GM Place, but his flamboyance won't be lost under the spotlight. DreamWorks president Lenny Waronker, who's known for signing artists way out in left field (Rickie Lee Jones, Ry Cooder), signed Wainwright for his unique piano-backed brew of Tin Pan Alley and operatic pop.

At 27, Wainwright is at the critical juncture of having released two highly praised albums that have more than paid the bills. He's done the Gap ad, appeared on the Today Show, and even modelled for two of Anna Sui's fashion shows.

"I would definitely say that a lot of people know my name and I seem to be on the tips of a lot of tongues these days, which is usually a good sign," he says. "Let's hope they can spit it out."

While such fuss might make some new artists giddy, New York party boy Wainwright sounds perfectly blase about it all.

"It made sound checks and doing concerts look like building Babylon," he says of the modeling gigs.

He'd take an acting gig, like his father, who just landed a regular role in the upcoming Fox TV show Undeclared -- but only if he could play himself.

"I have no desire to challenge myself in that realm," he says, sounding perfectly pampered.

The offspring of Loudon Wainwright III and Kate McGarrigle is obviously adored by his family -- even his sister Martha, who sings with him on this tour and from the sounds of it, doesn't tolerate her brother's controlling ways. His fans, too, adore and protect him. Wainwright recalls the time a couple of rednecks heckled him at a gig in Boulder, Col., and some older gay men danced around the rednecks until they got uncomfortable and left the bar.

But as precocious and talented as he is, Wainwright is also having to learn a few survival techniques. He's not as cavalier about performing, for instance.

"I used to [get drunk] a lot before performing, but it became quite a problem, and now I only have a few sips," he says.

And while he plans to get more experimental down the road, he intentionally made the new album more accessible.

"The weirder it is, the harder it is to sell. And the more money the record company puts into it, the less they'll give you next time," says Wainwright, laughing.

"But I don't think I made it too bland or anything," he quickly adds. "I feel I maintained some of my ... quirkiness.

"But I figure I should start getting really debaucherous and crazy once I've sold a lot more records."


opening for Roxy Music

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