Patti LaBelle Talks Aretha, Trump’s Trans Ban & The Man Who Mooned Her On Stage
Image via WENN
I love when we get the chance to see or read about Ms. LaBelle for any extended period of time. Simply because you know when you hear from her, it’s from a place of honesty and a rare type of realness we don’t often get from celebrities.
We had such an opportunity as a recent interview with Ms. LaBelle was printed in Pride Source During the interview, she talked about everything from the singers who can really sing to Donald Trump, to whether or not she has beef with Aretha Franklin.
See what she had to say in the excerpts below.
The guy who got carried away on stage.
I don’t know if he was gay, but in Vancouver last year, a fan got frisky on your stage and…
Showed me his ass?
Is that what he did?
Yeah! He mooned me! Because he came up and I was looking at him through the whole show and I said, “Oh, he’s an enthusiastic fan,” right? I try to look at the people that I’m gonna bring up, so I brought him up thinkin’ he was cool. He did his little shake and then turned around and pulled his pants down. I had on high pumps. I kicked that ass.
You even called him a “bitch.”
I did! I did use a curse word. And I felt so bad. He took me to that limit. I said, “How could he take me there?” And they had it on TMZ or whatever. I said, “It’s true.” Gotta protect myself. (Laughs)
On getting clowned for bringing the LaBelle hair back.
I was happy to see that you did NYC Pride this summer. Is there something special about performing for an all gay audience?
That night it poured, so when Deborah Cox was on she did three songs and then had to be rushed off the stage. It could’ve been shut down ’cause it was so bad. Everybody got drenched. So instead of my going on at 9, I went on at about 10:15… and they were still there!
My whole thing is, when I knew I was doing gay pride, I said, “I’m gonna wear something beautifully outrageous, and I’m gonna have that old Patti LaBelle hair that I used to do with the fans and all that jazz.”
I said, “I’m gonna wear that hair!” And from the time I went on until the end, they never stopped yelling for more. I mean, when we were pulling out in our car, they were still, “More, more, more!” They were so enthusiastic. But what I did: I wore that old hair, and a lot of people who didn’t know me from the ’80s – we got some bad press for it – and I said, “You know what, I did that for my queens. They understand it.” It was for you guys. But I enjoyed doing it. And then the wind knocked that sucker down. I said, “OK, I’m gonna have to kick it up.” (Laughs)
Ha! Who would give Patti LaBelle crap for her hair?
People who didn’t really understand where I was in the ’80s. You know, some of the younger kids – they don’t have a clue who Patti LaBelle or Labelle was.
So what do they know you for?
I have no clue.
I’m thinking, “But that is part of your legacy.”
Yeah, they’re Patti latecomers.
Her iconic shade
Do you pay attention to the memes and GIFs of you throwing shade that people love to share on the internet?
Yeah, I see them. And you know what, I’m honored! (Laughs) And whenever I see something that’s not totally positive about me, I say, “God, at least they thought about me.” It’s really the way to look at these situations. But at the end of the day I know who I really am… and that’s a cool chick! (Laughs)
Do you ever regret things that you say?
My god, about 50 million things. I’m full of regrets. But you know what, I’m honest. So it will come out and I’ll say, “God, I didn’t mean to say that.” But it’s too late. And I’m not gonna whoop myself up for it. I did it and I’ll do it again. I know I’ll do it! I do have my little cop son watching me, so I try to be nice.
People are under the impression there’s rivalry between you and Aretha Franklin, but you recently quashed that rumor when you said, of anyone, you’d most want to duet with her. Why do people think you had a beef? And what’s the deal with women constantly being pitted against each other?
I’m not gonna be pitted against any lady in this industry. I do my job, I sing hard and I sing well, and I love what I do. If another lady finds that as being too much for them, or whoever might feel I’m being too much, that’s their problem. But I’ve never had beef.
Now, there are a lot of ladies in this industry who don’t care for Patti LaBelle – and some gentleman, also – but I look at them and I smile. Because what can I do? I can’t change your mind, boo, because I don’t wanna change your mind. You go on thinkin’ about me the way you think. No – but I haven’t had beef with anyone. I’ve had a lot of dislikes. But I pay no mind. I keep moving and I don’t stop to talk about the ones who talk about me.
Regarding “Bel Hommage”: If there’s ever an album that pays homage to you the way you pay homage to artists such as Nina Simone and Frank Sinatra on this album, who would get your blessing to cover your songs?
Oh, I would give Fantasia blessings. And Ledisi. The little singing girls. The ones who can really, really sing.
So we’ve got Fantasia – who else is on this covers album?
Ledisi, Andra Day, Emeli Sande and Leela James – my god, that girl can sing. I love these ladies.
To the gay community
You know what, I was so angry with myself when I did NYC Pride. There was a song that I recorded many, many years ago called “Land of the Living.” I meant to do that that particular night and we didn’t have time to rehearse it, but I’m gonna put stuff like that back in my show.
I just want all of my gay fans to know that I will always be here for them the way I am: honest, to the point, and loving my gay fans even more and more each day. I mean, when I think about it, the gay fans are some of the reason – one big reason – I’m still standing, ’cause they loved me when other people tried not to. Everybody always says, “What makes gay men like you?” “I have no clue,” I say. I still don’t. But I know that love has lifted me up for many, many years.
As long as I can stand on stage and my gay men and lesbian women see Patti LaBelle as someone who’s always been honest on stage – you know, I’ll stop and have to go to the bathroom and I’ll let them know I’ll be right back. A lot of cutie girls stand up there and they pretend for the hour or however how long and that’s just gross. It turns me off.
Why did you want to perform that song at NYC Pride?
Because there are so many gay men who were there who might be going through something with life. You’re in the land of the living, so act like you’re living. I just know what gay men go through and I wanted to put that song in the air, but I will.
On Donald Trump and the trans ban
There couldn’t be a more perfect time. There is so much happening in the world. Maybe you heard, but President Donald Trump said trans people are no longer able to serve in the military.
I know! My friend told me. They’re banned from service, according to the Trumpette. Ain’t that a witch.
On her legacy
I just want to be honest and truthful, and I want people knowing that when I did whatever I did, it was all the way. Never half percent, always 100 percent. One-hundred percent in everything: my cooking, my dressing, everything. If I can’t go all the way, I won’t go halfway. I have to go all the way. And just how honest I am – they can remember that. The more honest I am, the better I get by, the more things come to my plate. Everybody knows that if you give Patti something, it’s gonna be quality. That’s just how I work.
You can read the full interview here.