Friday, January 29, 2010


It's been many a cold, cold winter for Anita Bryant, the singer and "Florida Orange Juice" spokeswoman. Ever since she declared that God didn't create "Adam and Bruce," and began to spout her fundamentalist views on homosexuality, she was effectively blacklisted and driven out of show biz and into the snow. Seems January, mid-winter, is a good time to bring her back, at least so we can hear the reason she became popular in the first place.

Here at the Illfolks blog, where the devil sometimes puts in advocacy, we ask: If people still listen to Richard Wagner's music even though he was a Nazi, and if a lot of real kewl kats love to collect the songs of Charlie Manson, then should there be a ban on something by Anita Bryant?

The reply seems to be yes, keep her blacklisted. Burn, witch, burn. Collector's Choice ( has only one basic Bryant "greatest hits" collection while most everything from Patti Page or Julie London or even Mitch Miller has been re-issued. PBS hates Anita, too. On recent specials on 50's and 60's music (produced by a gay guy), PBS showed vintage clips of Rosemary Clooney singing "Come Onna My House" and Patti Page's "Doggie in the Window" (are any tunes more revolting and dated?) and invited Gogi Grant to warble live (and still on key) "Wayward Wind." Why wasn't there a vintage clip of Anita singing "Paper Roses" or a "Wayward Wind" variant like the peculiar "Cold Cold Winter?"

The Illfolks answer? Unfortunately for Bryant, being a fundamentalist Christian woman isn't as daunting as being a fundamentalist Muslim who might conceal a bomb in her burka. Islamic and Muslim fundamentalists speak out against homosexuality (Anita no longer does) and even want gays put to death.

Where's the gay guy throwing a pie in the face of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad? Nope, the oh-so-brave gay guy who hit Anita picked on a woman who couldn't fight back. After the attack, he stood there waiting for his close-up.

Listen, if you can't get to Ahmadinejad, how about going to the Iranian embassy with a bunch of your gay friends and pulling a scene right out of Laurel & Hardy's "Battle of the Century?" Why not target some obnoxious cleric who gives press conferences to spout anti-gay views? Oh...forgot. Do that, and you'll be living in fear like that Danish cartoonist who drew Mohamed. Some religious fundamentalists you leave alone.

No less a radical than Phil Ochs was delighted when Anita Bryant recorded "The Power and the Glory." Why? Because at the time Bryant was a symbol of pure Americana in a whitebread world where Mitch Miller and Patti Page had hit albums (which are still in print via CD, so don't think middle-of-the-road is dated!) Don't think for a minute that Anita was unaware of what she was singing when she earnestly covered Phil's lyric lines:

"Yet she's only as rich as the poorest of her poor
Only as free as the padlocked prison door."

Illfolks, the blog of less renown, is a compassionate blog. Anita Bryant is not going to be shut out. "So love me, love me, love me, I'm a liberal."

It seems as wrong for Anita Bryant's good work to be denied listeners as it is for an Adam Lambert to be promoted all over just because he's gay. There are radio stations who play the garbage music of George Michael only because he's openly homosexual. At what point do we shut down a person's art on the basis of personality? Think about it in relation to Michael Jackson, who openly sang anti-semitic lyrics ("Jew Me" is not a "nice" phrase) and who, we are constantly being told, deserves a free pass as a child molester and lunatic because he was The King of Pop. Do you think Roy Orbison was a big fan of Jews? Nope, but that doesn't mean a Jew should boycott Roy's music. Or does it?

In her day, Anita Bryant was the Queen of Pop, right there on the record racks with other American cheese, be it John Gary, Andy Williams or Kate Smith. There's still an audience for her type of music. After all, her big hit "Paper Roses" was covered by Marie Osmond, who still sings wholesome music and religious music to big audiences.

And if you think you got rid of the problem by blacklisting Anita Bryant, and you'll never see a beauty queen win over a crowd with bizarre conservative views, I have just two words for you: SARAH PALIN.

Frozen out of show biz, living in Oklahoma somewhere, is Anita Bryant. But here she is doing what she really did best. A neat companion to Gogi Grant's "Restless Wind," here's Anita Bryant and her "Cold Cold Winter.
ANITA BRYANT COLD COLD WINTER Instant download, no pop ups or porn ads or captcha codes.


Anonymous said...

Well said. I'm as gay as can be, but own almost all of Anita's albums and enjoy the hell out of them. The woman could would have been interesting to see what she could have done with some better arrangers and material. Such a waste...

62mel1946 said...

Mar. 2008: At a meeting of national leaders in New Orleans this weekend, Anita Bryant received an award and a standing ovation that lasted nearly 10 minutes.

She wasn't saying anything that isn't supported in the Bible which means that God (and Jesus since they are both the same as part of the Trinity) are both against homosexual activities (not the homosexual themselves but what they do). I could give you the usual scripture references in both the old and new Testament but you know they are there.

alphonsegaston said...

Great piece--I couldn't agree more. She's a fabulous singer. But popular music is all politics, like everything else media. Vocal ability? Performer appeal? Chart positions? Irrelevant considerations, all.

Poor Anita. She should relentlessly make fun of gays, a la Jay Leno and SNL, and she'd still be part of the club.

alphonsegaston said...

Oops. It appears I'm not signed in as me. This is Lee Hartsfeld of MY(P)WHAE. (Apologies to Alphonse.)

Anonymous said...

The song you refer to as "restless wind" is "The Wayward Wind" recorded by numerous artists. I appreciated your article.

Ill Folks said...

Good Lord, that was a wind-blown blip! Thanks for the proofreading. Of course, "Wayward Wind" not "Restless Wind." Jeez, how gauche of me. Of course I knew that...why I wrote "Restless" is something only a post-autopsy brain surgeon could figure out. Error corrected!