My Gay Toronto - 416 Scene

Taylor Dayne rocks Christmas with Pride


"Apparently Dee wrote her very much like his wife, there are a lot of parallels," says Taylor Dayne of her role as Roxanne in Dee Snider's Rock & Roll Christmas Tale. "She's very strong, very sexy, an independent-thinking woman. She owns a club and has a real warm heart. She's all heart but inside she knows the difference between right and wrong. I have a big pivotal role in the show in helping the band make better choices. It's a fun role."

But of course we all associate Taylor Dayne with that big beautiful voice. "The music's great," she says. "Fits to my voice. It is Christmas songs but all original and rock n' roll. It really showcases my voice. It takes place in a club, there's a band that's coming to terms with their fate, trying to do the same thing over and over, and some magic things happen. There's rock n' roll, house music, all the elements."

Dayne has done musical theatre and television work but she is still primarily known as a voice, as an incredible singer. "Of course. I sang my entire career but when Dee came to me, he said, 'You're just perfect. You're sexy, you're strong, you're older, you're wiser, you're like Tina meets da da da da.' I said, 'Tina meets everything doesn't she?' Well Taylor meets everything. People always describe my voice as powerful but sultry. I get that, I understand. I think I can live with it at this point."

There has been a determined effort to let potential audiences know that Dee Snider's Rock & Roll Christmas Tale is a show for the whole family, not just metalheads and Twisted Sister aficionados. "It's really fun, very funny. Kids are going to love it. What kid doesn't love rock bands? I was 12, 13, and that's what I wanted to be: in a band. There's a lot of glitter rock n' roll in it, so yeah, it's fun as hell. And very family 'cause the message is still the sincerity of bringing everybody together which is what Christmas does, that's the universal voice of it."

But there are treats for the metalheads in the house. "The band is too much. It shows the strength of Dee and the fact that he has something to say. There's nothing but mad respect for anyone who continues to thrive and survive in an industry that definitely doesn't open doors, you have to push through." 

And a gay audience? "They're going to love seeing me onstage," says Dayne bursting into laughter. "When I came out with my video for "Tell It To My Heart" it got a big audience. Girls started coming, 15-year-olds looking like me, the clothes, the lips, the hair, the whole business. Then of course it translated into transvestites coming to shows and pretty soon I was going to their shows. I don't know what to tell you, you try to hit a home run and it's where it leads. And over the years my gay, my transgender, my LGBT audience has seriously been the most loyal audience, I can absolutely tell you that.

"But I've also watched it grow, grow, grow. Prides to me are family events. They're community events, city events. It's brilliant." Dayne has played many Prides but has turned down lucrative offers for circuit parties. "Yeah, yeah, that's old news," she says. "They're more family as opposed to a three-day binge. It gets old. That's all. It's a preference."

Dayne is honoured to be a gay icon. "That's a cherry on the top isn't it? My big fat mouth, I'll pull the chain on anything. There were never any plans in that direction, you do what you love right? I made so many records, was in so many bands before "Tell It To My Heart," just trying to be heard. A 20-year-old isn't sitting in the marketing meetings the way the labels are."

But Dayne is secure in her status and wants to emphasize the appeal of Dee Snider's Rock & Roll Christmas Tale to her gay fans"It's that time of year, you just want to feel that environment of festivity, fun, warmth and that everybody's on the same page. And it's not The Nutcracker."

There has always been a rock n' roll/gay crossover and  more drag queens than will admit it have studied at the Twisted Sister school of couture and make-up. And Snider has turned into an intriguing DILF. Dayne gushes about Snider, but Dee Snider's Rock & Roll Christmas Tale also features local hero Sean Kelly, well-known for his work with Carole Pope. "He's lovely," says Dayne. "Truly. Listen, I don't think he's ever acted before if I'm not mistaken. He's such a sweetheart, he's doing fabulous. Really, he's adorable. And he can play, he's shredding up on me. He's a real musician. These are all real musicians, it has to be that way."

And Peter Diewick who climbed from hot stuff go-go dancer to roles in Rock of Ages and The Toxic Avenger? "Oh, that Peter can act. He's lovely, he's great. And he's singing, doing a great job. He's just really fun to watch. He's dynamite in the role."

Dayne, who can seemingly sing anything, has yet to do a Christmas album. Or, for that matter an album of standards. "Are you telling me you guys are ready for that? Ready for the little Jew from Long Island to knock out a Christmas album?" Dayne does have a new single, "Dreaming," that is a slice of contemporary pop pleasure so she doesn't need to fall back on an album of standards. But the idea intrigues. "I think I'm at that age where it would be very respectable and honourable, and my voice is in that place where it would feel really comfortable."

When informed of Dee Does Broadway which she hadn't heard of (and I am still trying to track down a copy of) she laughs heartily. "I wouldn't lean towards show tunes, more standards and maybe some Christmas stuff. 'Isn't It Romantic,' 'Time After Time.' It might as well have the word 'love' in it. stay within my genre. What else would I be known for?"

For the next few months, Dayne will be known as Roxanne. "Toronto's been very good to me," she says. "I get a lot of love here. Casino Rama was a lot of fun. We're talking about some dates in the new year, February. Keep your eye on my website."

Dee Snider's Rock & Roll Christmas Tale runs Tues, Nov 17 to Sun, Jan 3 at The Winter Garden Theatre, 189 Yonge St.,