The DougBlog
"Et sans savoir pourquoi, disent toujours: Allons!" —Baudelaire

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

My First Feature Interview: Patricia Racette and Beth Clayton!!

Plus a bonus at the end…Missy’s best birthday present ever!

Enough already. For a while now I’ve been asked time and again why there has not been an update to the blog. Well, there hasn’t been much to report—especially since this is primarily a travel blog and I’ve barely gone above 66th Street. Plus after Easter Island, any entry seems like it’s gonna be a letdown. But I finally have a few developments to report, especially my first published feature article!

How this came about is a somewhat long and convoluted story. My friend, the world-famous Anna Wahrman, knows someone at the Web site, which is owned by Logo/MTV. They wanted to do an article on Patricia Racette and Beth Clayton—two world-famous opera singers who also happen to be a couple. Anna called me because I’m a big opera fan and also a writer, so I applied.

The editor at gave me the job. “Just let me know when you get the interviews set up,” she wrote back. Interviews?! I don’t know how to do celebrity interviews! I thought it would just be a research-based piece! Suddenly it seemed like I had bitten off more than I could chew, but I was excited by the challenge. I contacted both singers’ agents and requested a joint interview.

Time passed, and I heard nothing back. AfterEllen said they did not want to do the piece unless it involved an interview, so I thought the dream was over. Then, suddenly, I got an email from Beth Clayton herself! She said that she and Patricia would love to do the interview! They would both be in New York a few days later and invited me to their apartment!!

I have to admit that I was scared. Terrified. I’d never done anything like this! I prepared questions and a recorder and left plenty of time to get there on the big day. I paced in front of their building for about 10 minutes beforehand, breathing deeply…and then I went in.

I was greeted in the hall by Beth and their frisky little dog Sappho. They offered me a drink (I had water) and all four of us sat down on their couch for the next hour. Within minutes, it was like talking with old friends. Both of these women were unbelievably kind, warm, generous, and down-to-earth. I’ve met other singers who are true “divas” in every sense of the word; Patricia and Beth are anything but. In fact, one thing I stressed about beforehand was whether or not I should call them “Ms. Clayton” and “Ms. Racette”. After a few minutes, it seemed to me that they would probably hate that.

So it was a great experience all around; they’re the kind of people you want to be best friends with. You can read the interview yourself for the nuts-and-bolts of our discussion; but having heard both of them sing and now knowing them better, I can honestly say that they are truly outstanding women, both in their craft and as people. Their dedication to their careers and—even more—to each other is inspiring.

CLICK HERE TO SEE THE ARTICLE. You can also download a PDF of the article by right-clicking here and choosing "download file" (or whatever the hell you do on your computer).

Patricia & Beth at their commitment ceremony in 2005:

Beth as Carmen at New York City Opera:

Patricia as Madama Butterfly in San Francisco:


Bonus: Missy’s Birthday Present!

For Missy Wilson’s birthday, I bought her something that I know she’s had her eye on for a while…the SkyRest® Pillow! Familiar to all readers of the SkyMall catalogue (available in a fine airplane seatback near you), this pillow offers long-haul comfort that makes you look like a short-order moron:

So to satisfy Missy's obsession with this dubious invention, I got her one. Here's Missy opening her gift with unbridled excitement:

Later in the day, she finds herself succumbing to somnolence:

So she takes a little SkyRest…:

…and soon she’s back and better than ever!:

For more embarrassing uses for the amazingly versatile SkyRest pillow, CLICK HERE and visit their sophisticated Web site.


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