Pop icon and longtime LGBT ally Kylie Minogue releases Kylie Christmas, her first Christmas album, Friday. It’s full of yuletide classics done in orchestral arrangements as well as fresh covers, with several outside-the-box duet partners like punk legend Iggy Pop, Late Late Show host James Corden, even the late crooner Frank Sinatra. On the album's deluxe version, you'll also hear a new holiday original, the disco-tinged "100 Degrees," recorded with Kylie's sister, Dannii Minogue.
From her home in London, the 47-year-old Aussie singer catches us up on her life.
The Advocate: On the surface, Kylie Christmas sounds very traditional. But on closer listen, there's you and Iggy Pop covering the New Wave-era gem "Christmas Wrapping" by the Waitresses and other exciting twists.
Kylie Minogue: The weird thing is, I wasn't familiar with that song. But I loved it when I heard it. The original is so incredible in its kind of punky, junky way. ... Iggy is the sweet spot for me. The fact that he's on my Christmas album is mind-blowing. I just love his vibe. We wanted something similar to my duet with Nick Cave ["Where the Wild Roses Grow"], that kind of beauty and the beast thing.
You include nonholiday covers that somehow work for Christmas, like Yaz's "Only You."
That was James [Corden]'s suggestion. It's really great inviting someone to collaborate on an album because it's like, "What works for you?"... "Only You" is by no means a traditional Christmas song, but there are certain songs that can become synonymous with Christmas. I think James did such a beautiful, earnest job.
You're a huge Christmas fan, aren't you?
I'm really into it. I'm a sucker for fairy lights at any time of the year, but at Christmas, it's a lot. The tree — well, it depends where I am, but I definitely love to decorate. I love wrapping presents. Even as a kid, I was like, "Please let me do it!" I feel like I’m Miss Christmas this year, so I’m ready to go all out.
You've been such an ally to the LGBT community for so long. Now that same-sex marriage is legal in the U.S., we're very "in." We suddenly see same-sex couples in TV commercials —
You’re trendy now!
Exactly! And, every famous person under the sun is now our ally, but you've been with us for decades. Do you ever feel like, "Hey, I was there before it was the popular thing to do"?
I hadn't thought of it that way, but I guess that's because my relationship with my gay audience has just always been there, really. The best way I can say this in order for people to comprehend is, they have what’s called the "Pink Pound" [in th U.K.] now — it's marketing geared toward gay people — and that didn’t even exist back when they were doing Kylie shows down at the drag club.
But anyway, yes, it seems very different now. Not that [celebrities supporting the LGBT community] is not genuine, but yes, it somehow seemed more charming back in the old days when it wasn’t about getting on a bandwagon. It was just a genuine, burgeoning relationship.
You mention drag queens portraying you. What that's like?
One time I was in Melbourne and I'd just been to a Lemonheads concert — which really couldn’t be further from a gay bar. I had my hippie look on — just crazy curly hair and no makeup and a tan suede miniskirt and some kind of platforms, and — this is making it sound terrible, but it did look very cute — a kind of crocheted top. Very '90s.
Someone said, "There’s this drag show. It would be great if you came down." So I went and — there’s a picture of it somewhere floating around — and I felt the least like Kylie out of any of us! [Laughs] Of course, when they do a drag performance, it’s like — well, I almost have to get in drag to get that look! It’s a show look. But yeah, it was funny. I thought, If there’s a lineup to choose the real Kylie, it won't be me.
You have a special relationship with [Scissor Sisters front man] Jake Shears.
He’s really one of my besties. He’s just adorable. From the moment we met, from the very first day, he was like some long lost brother of mine. With us both being performers, he can unload things to me and I can do the same to him. From where I stand, it makes me feel slightly less alone. I know he’d do anything for me and I just absolutely love him.
You’ve been close to so many handsome gay men over the years. Have you ever had a crush on one of them and wished things could be different?
Oh, yeah! I won’t name any names, but yeah, you definitely go, God, if only. Sure. Of course.
The British tabloids tell us you've got a handsome someone to kiss under the mistletoe this year. Are you and (27-year-old Galavant star) Joshua Sasse now out of the closet with your relationship?
[Laughs] Yeah, we are. We didn't really think about how we would do that, but we went to the final of the Rugby World Cup and that was that. It's our first Christmas together. It's exciting.
Kylie Christmas is available on iTunes and everywhere else. A special deluxe edition contains a six-song DVD.