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The Gazette: Dance icon Martha Wash is real happy it’s still raining men

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cover-example-croppedOriginal Weather Girl Martha Wash had some choice words this past month for British politician David Silvester, who blames the recent floods and storms in the U.K. on the passage of Britain’s gay marriage bill.

Wash took to her popular Facebook fan page and wrote, “As a straight woman who supports the LGBT community, [Silvester] is totally Daft (as the British would say). While he is entitled to his opinion, I feel he is out of touch with reality. To say that ‘storms and floods were caused by LGBT people and gay marriage’… Really? He sounds like someone living in the 1980s when it was said HIV/AIDS was caused by ‘gay people.’”

I brought up the subject with Wash during an interview in Montreal this week – Wash is in town to record a new song with local songwriters Sami Basbous and Andrew David, and to headline the Farha Foundation’s 15th annual Maskarade AIDS benefit gala. Wash repeats she believes David Silvester’s anti-gay proclamation was un-Christian and “laughable.”

But it doesn’t end there: After Silvester’s comments went viral, an anti-bigotry campaign launched on Facebook by Darren Pop propelled The Weather Girls’ cult classic It’s Raining Men back into the Top 40 British pop charts, 32 years after it reached #2.

Wash isn’t surprised. “My gay fans have been my largest supporters over the years,” she told me. “They have kept me working, and I thank them for that.  I think this love affair began when I started singing for [the late disco star] Sylvester, and it just carried forward.”

Sylvester tragically died of AIDS back in 1988 at the age of 41. Today, Wash continues to headline HIV/AIDS benefits like the Farha Foundation’s Maskarade Gala because the battle isn’t over.

“I found out Sylvester had AIDS when he called up my manager, then he told me, ‘Girl, I got it.’ There was nothing I could say, you just deal with it, and he kept  doing what he did – and that was working. You just try to live your life.”

Back then the AIDS holocaust was just beginning. “I remember I was in New York back in 1993 and every day for a week or two, I kept getting telephone calls about somebody we knew was gone, had just died, whether it was a close friend or somebody in the business. It felt like it was a plague,” says Wash. “It’s been over 25 years now since Sylvester died, but HIV/AIDS organizations still need help. I have always maintained that I wish I wasn’t doing AIDS benefits, but I will continue to do them until this nightmare will really be over.”

Wash will sing five songs at Farha’s Feb 13 Maskarade Gala, being held at the Marche Bonsecours in Old Montreal with masters-of-ceremonies Sonia Benezra and Alexandre Despatie. The gala will also feature a choreographed show created by Scott Fordham.

The event starts with a 6:30 p.m. cocktail, followed by a silent auction, gourmet dinner and all-night dancing with DJ Sandy Duperval.

.For each $300 gala ticket purchased, a $100 tax receipt will be issued. All event profits go to the Farha Foundation, Quebec’s leading fundraising organization helping men, women and children living with HIV/AIDS. Click here for more info and tickets.

Meanwhile, Wash has a new First Ladies of Disco tour in the works with fellow divas Linda Clifford, and Alfa Anderson, Norma Jean Wright, and Lucy Martin (formerly of Chic) in 2014: an I’m Not Coming Down remix by superstar producer Tony Moran in March 2014, and a duet with her old friend RuPaul (a song called Can I Get An Amen) on Ru’s new album being released on Feb 24.

Just don’t call Martha a diva, living legend or pop icon. She won’t have it, though Ms. Wash is all of the above.

“I’m just thankful that I‘m still here,” Martha says.” I hope I’m still relevant to somebody. I don’t trip on all that icon stuff. I’m still that down-to-earth girl I was all those years ago.”

Originally posted at: http://blogs.montrealgazette.com

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