Storm Large is blowing into Norfolk Saturday and will be bringing her cabaret act that showcases her singing talent and razor sharp wit to help launch the 2019 Virginia Arts Festival.
Since bursting on the national scene in 2006 as a finalist on the CBS reality show Rock Star: Supernova, Large has performed a wide range of material, released three studio albums, authored a best-selling book Crazy Enough that she turned into a one woman show, has performed with symphonies around the world and with musical legends such as Liza Minelli and k.d. lang.
During her career, Large has developed a bit of a cult following of dedicated fans – especially among members of the LGBTQ community. OutWire was lucky to spend some time on the phone with Large to talk about her about her show, music and her appeal among the LGBTQ community.
Speaking with Large was the most fun I have ever had alone with a woman and if her show on Saturday is anything like our honest, opinionated, funny and rollicking conversation, Norfolk is in for a fun and ribald good time Saturday night.
At six feet tall, blonde, statuesque, Large is an imposing figure that is attractive to both men and women but she feels her appeal to the queer community is much more than the physical.
“Being homosexual, bisexual, transexual is not all about sex. It’s identity and about being your true self and the spirit that your container is carrying around. I don’t misrepresent myself, nor do I take myself very seriously. I take my work very seriously, but I don’t take myself very seriously on stage…I think it’s kind of freeing for the audience.”
Large describes herself as ‘sexually omnivorous’ and does not like society’s penchant for labels.
“Sexuality – you can’t quantify it. It’s very, very personal…different things turn me on. I am monogamous with a man right now, but that doesn’t make me hetero or straight. If you want to call yourself queer – fucking do it! That’s who you are!”
Although Large can be loud, brash and opinionated, she is surprisingly modest when it comes to describing her singing talent, something she developed at an early age by imitating sounds such as birds, car horns, accents and things she heard on TV she thought was funny, including entire scenes from Monty Python movies before starting to imitate songs and singing.
“I remember when I was really little, listening to (The Beatles) Abbey Road. I could sing all of Paul McCartney’s parts, then I would sing all of John Lennon’s parts, then I could sing all of the harmony parts, guitar parts and knew all of the drum breaks in front of the eight-track stereo. I sort of taught myself how to sing.”
Almost by accident, Large realized that performing made her feel less lonely one night when she was invited to sing with a band in San Francisco.
“I was always very loud, brash and wanting attention because I was lonely and that is how I finally got into performing. I thought ‘if I do this, I will probably never be famous’ because I was fat, wasn’t pretty and wasn’t cool at all. I just sang one song with my friend’s band and a bunch of guys perked up and I was like ‘Oh my God, I am gonna get laid tonight, #1 and #2 – everybody just went apeshit at my performance and were screaming ‘I love you’ and ‘more, more!’ I realized then that I may never make a dime but I’ll make friends, have people screaming that they love me and there’s beer, so I’m good.”
Ten years ago, Large wrote Crazy Enough, her autobiographical coming of age story complete with mental illness, drugs and sex that was named an official Oprah Book Club selection. She adapted Crazy Enough into her acclaimed one-woman show and is in the process of editing and re-writing the show for a short run in Portland. She is considering adding an epilogue about her experiences during the past ten years.
“It’s ten years later and the problems that were problems then are still problems. But, there’s been so much success under my belt. Crazy victories and things I never in my wildest fantasies I could have imagined – singing at Carnegie Hall three times, the Kennedy Center – incredible successes, but the shadow is still there. This is great, but what if?”
Large has persevered – from growing up with a mother suffering from mental illness, to drug use and homelessness. Like most artists, she channeled her experiences into her craft while developing a strong ‘Spidey sense’ and has this advice.
“What I’ve done with those feelings is I’ve always maintained authenticity. I can’t do something that feels fake or wrong or phony. It’s so trite to say ‘be yourself’, so what I’ve started to say is ‘know who you are not’.”
She will employ her well-honed ‘Spidey sense’ in Saturday’s show as she does not have a planned set list.
“I take the temperature of the room and see what people are feeling like. I don’t get political onstage, because everybody is just oversaturated with fear and ire and despair and constant trauma,” Large said.
Large performs at Norfolk’s Granby Theater on Saturday, April 13 at 9 p.m. You may purchase tickets HERE.