I first interviewed the award winning Billboard Top 10 recording artist Sir Ari Gold in 2009 just as he was releasing his third album "Transport Systems." Since that time Sir Ari Gold has traveled around the country in support of the album, been knighted by the Imperial Court of New York (one of the longest standing human rights organizations), released his fourth studio album "Between The Spirit and The Flesh," and is now premiering his one-man show "Bashert" in the 2012 New York Theatre Musical Festival.
"Bashert" tells Sir Ari Gold's story of growing up in the Bronx, circa the 1980's, religious, closeted, and thrust into show-biz at age five after singing at his brother's bar mitzvah. The real life Ari Gold comes out and comes of age - becoming America's first openly gay pop star. With an eclectic, stellar group of mentors including Diana Ross, Jem and the Holograms, and his principle guide, his Jewish grandmother "Fairygodbubbe," Ari searches for his "bashert" - what's "meant to be" - in this electro-pop beehind-the-musical adventure of identity, sex, religion, family, and show business.
1. Last time we spoke you were just releasing "Transport Systems." Since that time you have traveled around the country in support of the album, starred in the Off-Broadway show "The Hole," released your fourth studio album "Between The Spirit and The Flesh," and now you have your own one-man show "Bashert" in the 2012 NYMF festival. What made you want to expand your career from music to theatre? I have always been a not-so-secret musical theater queen. I grew up on musicals from my parents—especially my Dad who after going to his first musical when he was 18 tried to go to every musical that ever opened whether it played for 3 years or 3 performances. There’s nothing like live theater and for me being able to tell my story and perform my music in the context of theater allows me to explore the themes I’ve always been interested in that sometimes can’t be fully explained in a 4 minute pop song or even video.
2. Your new show "Bashert" is your story about growing up religious, in show business, coming out and of age, becoming the first openly gay pop star in America, all the while trying to find "what is meant to be, Bashert." What made you want to bring your story to the stage? What do you hope audiences come away with after seeing the show? I want people to feel inspired, for them to feel like their lives make sense and that no matter what challenges we face, we can move forward. I want my audience to realize that life is full of mystery and questions that don’t always have answers but that’s part of the ride and beauty of it. But there’s always something meant to be about all of it. For me, that is at the core of my most fundamental belief system.
3. What made now the right time to premiere "Bashert"? What excites you about bringing this show to the stage? I submitted to NYMF on a last minute lark, and it got accepted. I thought it was a good opportunity for me to continue to develop the show and the concept here in New York before I may take it out of town. I feel like there was still some New York development that it needed cause there’s nothing like the New York theater community.
4. What was your favorite part of the creative process in putting "Bashert" together? Just the writing. I am most at peace in front of words on a page (even if its on my computer).
5. What was it like to go back through your life while creating "Bashert"? Did you discover anything now about you that you didn't realize while you were going through it? I discovered a lot. I actually interviewed my parents--some of which is included in the show. I found out a lot about their own history and struggle and even about things I didn’t know that my mom had to deal with me being a gay child at, as early as, 3/4 years old. My mother thought I was special and different but that there was nothing wrong with me until another mother told my mother she did not want her child to play with me because she thought I was gay. This freaked my mom out and I never knew about any of it. This story did not make it into the show, but it was a revelation and just showed me how much our parents go through in trying to raise us as best as they can. It’s kind of heartbreaking actually.
6. Was your writing process different for "Bashert" than for your music? There are similarities but also vast differences. This is a much larger arch than a song. A song is usually one story, one emotion expressed. This is an entire journey. My whole life until this point and it has to make sense to the audience and has to have a structure that works narratively. It is very challenging.
7. What do you get from your theatrical endeavors that you don't get from your music? I get to go into greater detail. I get to explore other characters. The show still has my music in it so its my music but so much more.
8. What have you learned about yourself from being a performer? Lately, just how much of a calling this really is for me. I believe I was called to do this in that religious sense even if I’m not really a religious person. I don’t think I chose this life or vocation. It chose me. And how I deal with that and what I make of it I guess is where choice comes in. It's where the idea of destiny and "bashert" get tricky. I think it looks a lot easier from the outside which is why a lot of people are attracted to doing it but at the end of the day its not for the weak at heart. I’m not curing cancer or anything, but I do believe art heals and hopefully it will heal the audience and even heal myself.
9. Favorite way to spend your day off? Eating and going to movies or theater with friends and family or being in bed catching up on my favorite TV shows—especially some marathon of a serial TV show.
10. If you could dream about anyone while you sleep, who would it be? I have 3 people who recur in my dreams almost every night. Madonna, Oprah and one of my oldest and best friends Victoria. I don’t know why, it just is.
11. Growing up, you were part of two of my favorite cartoons: "Jem and the Holograms" and "The Cabbage Patch Kids." Looking back, what did you enjoy about being part of these two shows? So much! I loved them both too—I was a huge fan of both already before being called on the job...but I also loved that I got to play girl voices. It gave me a chance to surpass rigid gender roles without judgment. They are both in the show.
12. You have also performed with some of music biggest names such as Diana Ross, Cyndi Lauper, Debbie Harry, and Chaka Kahn. What was the best part about performing with these legendary artists and what did you learn from working with them? I am a fan before anything else, so the thrill of performing with legends that I’ve been such a fan of and that have influenced and inspire me never gets old. But its also always great to see their humanity and remind myself that we really are not that different from each other.
13. If you could have any super power, which one would you choose? To be able to jump into other peoples minds. I think I may already have that superpower though!
Great fucking questions! I feel like I wasn’t just saying the same old same old. Thanks for that! -Ari