Sunday, 6 April 2014

Medal Quest : Going For A Gong

In 125 days time thousands of athletes will converge on Cleveland and Akron for the Gay Games, each of them hoping to go back home with a gong. If you haven’t heard that term before, a “gong” is a slang name for a medal, which gives me enough of a reason to introduce music into my Medal Quest series!

Most of the competitors at the Gay Games and Outgames are amateur athletes. They have other jobs and other lives outside sport and some of these are musicians. Here are some music makers who have gone home from the Gay Games with a “gong”.

Mark Chatfield (1953-1998)
Gay Games IV, New York 1994 – swimming: 6 gold, 1 silver, 1 bronze
Mark is one of that select group of Gay Games athletes who are Olympians. He came 4th in the 100m breaststroke final at the 1972 Munich Olympics, breaking the Olympic record in the heats. He took a break from competitive swimming for a few years and returned in 1980 to compete in US Masters competitions. In 1994 he was one of 5 Olympians to appear at the New York Gay Games (the others being Greg Louganis, Mark Leduc, Bruce Hayes and Peter Prijdekker). By this time Mark was a successful musician. He’d been a member of the Los Angeles Baroque Orchestra since the ‘80s, and singer and composer in residence at St. Cyril of Jerusalem’s church in Encino. In 1993 Mark co-founded a small chamber ensemble called Musica Angelica. He also founded and performed in a quartet called La Chanterelle and a trio called Trio Galanterie. Mark died of lymphoma in 1998.

Kaia Wilson
Gay Games VIII, Cologne 2010 – table tennis: 1 gold, 1 bronze
As mentioned last month in my article “Grrrl Power” Kaia Wilson is a pioneer of the Riot Grrrl music movement and queercore punk. She was a founding member of the band Team Dresch, which is widely acknowledged as one of the greatest of the queercore Grrrl bands. In 1995 Kaia recorded her first solo album and then formed the band The Butchies, a much less queercore punk band. In 2010 Kaia combined a tour of Germany with Amy Ray’s punk band and a newly rediscovered passion for table tennis by entering the Gay Games in Cologne. You can read all about her gold-medal-winning performance in this diary she wrote for “Curve” magazine.

Jacques Snyman (b.1973)
Gay Games VII, Chicago 2006 – track and field athletics: 4 gold
Well, where do I start? South African Jacques has both sport and music in his DNA – his grandfather Johannes Viljoen competed for South Africa in the 1928 Olympics, and his grandmother was an opera singer. Jacques himself was a keen rugby player, and when he was living in the UK he played with the King’s Cross Steelers. Returning to South Africa Jacques found himself being chosen to compete in Mr Gay South Africa in 2009, and as a nude model for various porn sites! But it is his voice which now dominates his career. He is a countertenor, one of the highest male registers. He is becoming more and more well known, not surprising considering what he does in this video below! (Topical family history info : from my initial research it appears that Jacques may be related to both Oscar Pistorius and Reeva Steenkamp, and to a later Mr Gay South Africa).
Angela “Bucky” Motter (b.1965)
Gay Games VII, Chicago 2006 – bodybuilding: 1 silver
“Transgenderbender: that’s the word my friend uses to describe herself. I think that term fits me well” writes Bucky on his website. He started song-writing at the age of 10 and went on to earn Bachelor degrees in classical guitar and music performance. He began recording in the ‘90s with jazz and soul, and opened concerts for B B King, Indigo Girls and Manhattan Transfer, among others. His competitive bodybuilding career began in 2005, though it has been a lifelong passion. Hopefully, Bucky will be competing in Cleveland later this year.

Stephen Perkins (b.1947)
Gay Games VII, Chicago 2006 – bodybuilding: 1 silver
Graphic designer and certified nutritionist Stephen began his musical life as a drummer in his high school marching band. From there he went into the band of the North American Aerospace Defence Command in 1969. On leaving the army Stephen studied graphic design and became art director on a Los Angeles news magazine. A miraculous recovery from AIDS Related Dementia in 1999 led Stephen to pursue a healthier lifestyle and he launched a website for HIV+ bodybuilders called The Muscle Kitchen in 2005. He medalled in all 3 of his first bodybuilding contests, one of which was the Chicago Gay Games.

Just by chance, Angela Motter and Stephen Perkins both appear in a YouTube video about bodybuilding which was posted on the Federation of Gay Games website 2 days ago (it wasn’t planned that way, honest!). The video also points out the relevance of music in bodybuilding routines.

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