Taylor Dayne has been an icon to the gay community ever since her career kicked off with her breakout single, "Tell It to My Heart," in 1987. That was quickly followed by a string of hits including "Prove Your Love," "Don’t Rush Me," and the ballad "Love Will Bring You Back."
In the ‘80s, everything about Dayne, who was born Leslie Wunderman, was bigger than life — the voice, the hair, the personality. LGBT fans loved her and she loved them back. The bond is still strong, with Dayne performing at plenty of Pride celebrations over the years, and recording "Facing a Miracle," the official song for the 2010 Gay Games in Cologne, Germany, which she performed at the event's opening ceremony. More recently, Dayne released the funky single "Dreaming."
Taking a break from her current tour, Dayne, now 53, who lives in Los Angeles with her 13-year-old twins, Levi and Astaria, talks to The Advocate about her career, marriage rights, and how she enjoyed being the subject of a now-legendary Tig Notaro comedy routine. Here are some highlights.
The Advocate: Everyone I’ve told about this interview is jealous I get to chat with you. Gay guys, lesbians, straight people. It’s like Taylor Dayne is all things to all people.
Taylor Dayne: [Laughs] I love it! Well, listen, I live my life that way. It’s like my music. It’s so difficult to categorize. I remember sitting in the offices of Arista and they go, "You sing pop so believably, and dance and adult contemporary and R&B." It’s so difficult for me to stay in one corner. I hate putting baby in the corner.
You’ve always made it clear that you loved your gay fans.
Oh, yeah. Being in this industry and performing at Prides for the past 25 years — talk about a Pride 25 years ago! I watched this community grow to be what a Pride can be today. Now you’re watching families. You’re seeing brothers, aunts, uncles, sisters, mothers, grandmothers — babies are at Pride now! It’s taking the shame out of everything and opening up. It’s a community. That's why I don’t do White Parties. I do Prides. That’s my thing. That’s the celebration.
What were your thoughts when the Supreme Court rule in favor of same-sex marriage?
It all comes down to personal relationships. For example, the friends I’ve had who’ve gone through the struggle of just trying to be parents. That’s when I really started to get it. Because when I started trying to be a parent, you know, I did it very differently, like my gay friends. I hired a surrogate, and it was difficult because I was going to be a single parent. A lot of agencies won’t let you do it. Anyway, my friends in the gay community, (a) they weren’t married, clearly, and (b) I wasn’t married. So I really started to understand the struggle. My advocacy came through my own personal experience because I was thinking, Wow, if I can’t have this because I’m a single parent, then gay couples can’t either.
Any marriage — it’s more than love. It’s bonds. You’ve trying to protect bonds. It’s that agreement, you know? And it makes families with children stronger and safer. That’s what I understood.
The comedian Tig Notaro tells a now-legendary story in her act about being a huge fan of yours only to have you snub her every time she comes up to you in public. How did you first learn of the routine?
I heard it through friends, what, are you kidding me? They were like, "Girlfriend, you need to check out this comedian. You need to go on YouTube. This thing’s blowing up. She’s doing this whole shtick on meeting you, and we know half of it is fucking so true!"
So the story's true?
I can be like that, sure. I can see me doing that, like, after a couple martinis.
You two have since become friends and performed together. You must have liked the routine?
Yeah, I thought, This chick’s just un-fucking-believable.
There’s such nostalgia for the 1980s. What was the decade like for you?
The '80s to me, I was growing up. My first record came out in 1987. To me, the '80s were like the struggle, girl. Trying to get the record deal, trying to get heard. It was all about becoming Taylor Dayne. There were many no’s — many, many no’s — and then finally a yes.
Many fans saw you on Millionaire Matchmaker. What ever happened with hunky Midwesterner Joel?
We dated for a while. We’re friendly. But, I don’t know. That’s that unwritten chapter [in my life] that remains so open. I want it, but I guess I don’t want to settle. And also I have my own demons, obviously, things I’ve had to work at over the years, issues with trust and the male image — the trust thing — and opening my heart and being more vulnerable. Those are my big issues.
You must be hounded by reality TV producers. You have such a big personality.
Oh, yeah. Of course — well, I’ll just put this out there to you. My show will be airing soon. How do you like that?
There's a show happening? That’s great.
Yeah. Well, you know it had to be the right thing. But yes, there have been numerous things, but I think I’m finally in bed with the right people.