New Year, New Website

To my loyal Look It’s Joanne children: It has been an incredible 2012. I bear hugged Marvel Comics founder Stan Lee while I was wearing a Wonder Woman costume. I called out “Mr. Reiner?” to When Harry Met Sally director Rob Reiner at the Democratic National Convention, to which he replied, “Yes?” like I was an annoying yet lovable niece. I even got to keep up with fabulous local drag queens for my first Creative Loafing cover story. They have become a lasting part of my life. And by lasting, I mean glitter is still stuck to my face from all the air kisses and air hugs.

Since the holidays are a time of reflection (and eating raw cookie dough as an acceptable midday snack), I wanted to re-post one of my favorite Look It’s Joanne columns on my new and improved website. I hope you like it as much as you did the first time around, or perhaps you will finally see it’s actually pretty terrible.

I wrote “Powered on Dreams” right before North Carolina passed Amendment One on May 8, the state constitutional ban making the only legally-recognized union between a man and a woman. My younger sister and I had a short-lived band called Licorice Snap! when we were teenagers, and our opus, “Powered on Dreams,” was an ode to equality, which we believe was well ahead of its time.

Thanks for the love this year, and happy re-reading. Here’s to a fabulous 2013!

Powered on Dreams
(Originally published April 27, 2012)

When my sister and I hit our early teens, we formed an underground band. You probably haven’t heard of us because we were that cool. Or that obscure, but you get it. We dubbed ourselves Licorice Snap, an electronica-infused, spoken word phenomenon that was bound to blow the minds of our then emo, pre-hipster audiences.

Christina Aguilera Cookie
Actual Picture of Christina Aguilera

Every spare afternoon, we headed into the recording studio to lay down some sweet tracks. It was the start of a new millennium, hot on the heels of Ricky Martin and MTV Total Request Live. YouTube and widespread recreational music programs were a mere sparkle in the eyes of their future creators.

At the time, Licorice Snap had a new sound. Eva cranked out sweet electronica beats and I rocked the spoken word. We even had a handheld dictionary called Franklin (which, incidentally, you could play hangman on too) that would talk in a Stephen Hawking-like voice. We programmed (fine, manually typed in; this was before smart phones!) our background vocalist to say “Lambs Love School” for our house remix of Mary Had a Little Lamb.

Our songs were about loving yourself like the fabulous queen you were or aspired to be. Miss America (I Wanna Be) should have been a number 1 hit. We should have been on the cover of “Rolling Stone” playfully giving everyone the finger or using said finger to rage on a keytar.

Alas, our unabashed ode to peace, love, and fierceness was too ahead of its time.

No one heard our music because we didn’t know where to play it or who would listen to it. How would we even lug our sweet sound machine, a desktop computer in our parents’ house, to a gig? Our studio was our parents’ house. Pretty soon, we unceremoniously lost the music-making program when the computer went out of commission. The dream seemed to die. I clutched our EP, emblazoned with Eva’s color pencil cover art, to my chest like my Christina Aguilera drag queen cookie held her sugar dough baby.

With the looming Amendment One vote to ban gay marriage and benefits for unmarried or domestic partners in North Carolina, up for vote on May 8, we can’t afford to keep our fabulous soundtrack of hope locked in the archives.

Licorice Snap’s opus, Powered on Dreams, says that anything and everything is possible. The imagery of a flying car that puffs purple exhaust describes a utopia that will overcome bigotry, homophobia, and racism if we just believe in ourselves. And yes the song is kitschy, because it’s our right to be tongue-in-cheek with a message. Politician Harvey Milk understood that balance of theatrics and politics. When he was running as the first openly gay member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in the late 1970s, he said, “You gotta give ’em hope.”

If Powered on Dreams inspires you to go out and be fabulous, or more fabulous than you already are, then Licorice Snap’s ten-year hiatus was well worth the wait.

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