A GoPride Interview

Linda Clifford

Disco icon Linda Clifford talks about her legendary career and upcoming Chicago House event

Thu. September 6, 2012  by Mark Nagel

Mum is the word... you have to show up September 15th to see it all!
Linda Clifford
Legendary disco Diva Linda Clifford will be the featured performer of Chicago House's all-new fundraiser "One Night Stand" Saturday, Sept. 15, at 8 p.m. at the Park West, 322 W. Armitage Ave.

Grab Magazine's Mark Nagel spoke to the singer and actress about her many accomplishments and upcoming performance.

MN: (Mark Nagel) So Linda, I hear you're putting on a show at the Park West next month.

LC: (Linda Clifford) This whole process has been amazing, the whole night is going to be unbelievable!

MN: The little gay boy in me is saying what am I going to wear!

LC: (Laughing) I am going through the same thing. I am like should I change three or four times?

MN: And that dressing room at The Park West is so far away!

LC: Tony is going, we can do a quick change on the side of the stage. I used to do that in the Catskills when I was younger and I did not mind because my body was great, but now I am just not so sure.

MN: I remember that your daughter was a runner up for Miss Illinois, but is it true you are a former Miss New York state?

LC: I was, but my poor child, I got her involved. I was Miss New York many many years ago when it wasn't very cool or acceptable for an African American. The problem that happened was they awarded the title and crown to two Caucasian girls and I am leaving with my parents because I was just 18 and a couple of the judges came after me and asked me to please not leave because there has been a mistake. We are like 'okay', but hurry up because we had a long drive home. We are sitting there waiting and we still don't know what is going on, but a photographer from "The Daily News" came and snaps my picture. The next thing I know they have posted my family's home address and picture in the newspaper about this horrible event were this black girl had the nerve to compete against white girls in a beauty pageant. In New York, they phrased it as this American justice, but in the south they went the other way. As a result, my family had to move from our home because our lives were being threatened. They threatened to blow up the plane I was going to be on to go to the Miss USA Pageant and my parents had to hire a bodyguard for me. Remember it was a different time.

MN: I did not realize you have been in a few movies, like "Sweet Charity". Is that when you found the song "If My Friends Could See Me Now?"

LC: It was so not that, because it was the whole Broadway thing I thought it would be sacrilege. You can't take a classic, and my people were like you have to record it and I am like no I am not! But they went in and recorded the track and when I heard it I am like I want to do that song. It was actually ten years later after the movie that it happened.

MN: Is it true you were living at Broadway and Surf in Chicago when it hit big?

LC: Yep, you just have all the information on me!

MN: I have stalked you for years!

LC: (Laughing) I was living at Broadway and Surf and recording. The funny thing is a lot of people thought I was in New York or Hollywood or one of the flashier towns. In fact one morning I walked out of my apartment and there was this huge billboard with my picture on it and I am like oh my god who did this!

MN: But you also worked with the legendary Curtis Mayfield. What was he like?

LC: He was the sweetest man and like his voice, very gentle, very kind and fun to be around. He was so talented he could write a song about anything.

MN: You also worked with Shaft himself, Isaac Hayes.

LC: I did and we did quite a few songs together and we was so much fun to work with. He was a very funny man.

MN: Rumor has it you performed many times at Studio 54. I have read all the books on that place...what was it really like?

LC: Yes, I performed at Studio 54 and it was almost like a second home. I was there at least once a month.

MN: To pay you, did they just bring cash down from the ceiling?

LC: (Laughing) you would be surprised what rained down from the ceiling. I don't know if I want to give too much of the stories because I am saving them for my book.

MN: Now lets talk about your event "One Night Stand" on September 15th.

LC: We are recreating that era and that club, so when people come in September they will be seeing the old Studio 54. This event is going to be over the top!

MN: Now I have seen you perform with your band, with a track show, and last May at the Chicago House Fashion Show. You were with dancing boys! Will we be seeing more of these hunky guys?

LC: You might, you never know! You could see a lot of things. There will be a lot of surprises happening.

MN: I heard a rumor there were going to be 50 nearly naked dancing boys.

LC: Mum is the word... you have to show up September 15th to see it all!

MN: You have done so much in your career. Is there anything you still want to do?

LC: There are two things I would like to do: a CD of my favorite standards and I would like to write my autobiography. I think I have a few things to tell people that they don't know.

MN: So is Facebook the best place for fans to keep up with you.

LC: Yes, because my website has not been updated in a while.

One Night Stand starring Linda Clifford takes place Saturday, Sept. 15. Tickets range from $35-$200 and can be purchased online at www.chicagohouse.org or by calling 773-248-5200 x303.

Interview provided in partnership with Grab Magazine.

Interviewed by Mark Nagel