Saturday, May 7, 2011

Happy Birthday Darren Hayes!

A couple months ago, I retired the Smoking Nun's regimen of Happy Birthday starfucker posts, displaying meese in self-gratifying grab-and-grin shots with notables I had the pleasure of interviewing during my career at Billboard magazine. But this is a special occasion for a very rare individual. Darren Hayes is one of a handful of artists I believe I've gotten to know over the past 15+ years. I feel I can call him a friend.

Last November, Darren was in New York and made time to meet after reading a confessional Nun post, "Life On the 'D' List." We spent two hours on a comfy couch at his Soho hotel, sipping coffee and talking about parallel experiences, albeit in different leagues: from the rise and peak of our chosen careers to having the rug unceremoniously pulled out... mourning and subsequently, with time and effort, ultimately moving forward.

For the third year in a row, I wish dear Darren... a birthday filled with all the joy he deserves.

Click below to read (a rehash of) the tale of how Darren proved what a gracious gentleman he is, amid a journalist's worst nightmare... and what remains the most embarrassing moment of my career!

It was the quintessential journalist's worst nightmare. I was at Sony Studios in midtown interviewing Darren Hayes—and after a good 45 minutes, I discovered that the batteries on my hand-held recorder had about as much juice as a 10-year-old orange. There was simply nothing there but an undetectable blur of conversation. In one of the most gracious displays of pure professionalism I ever experienced, Darren smiled and said, "Well, I guess we're starting over." He had an engineer at the facility hook up a mic and tape and we re-recorded the entire damn interview.

The experience was horrifying and embarrassing, for sure, but Darren waved it off and we got the job done. I never forgot it. Beginning with his first hit with Savage Garden, "I Want You," in 1996, I wrote numerous columns for Billboard on the group as the hits kept coming: "To the Moon and Back," "The Animal Song" and of course, "Truly Madly Deeply" and "I Knew I Loved You." In fact, in those first couple years, I tallied that I had written more about the Aussie duo than any other act.

When Darren went solo in 2002, I maintained a relationship with him and had the opportunity to see him live countless times (also forging a friendship with his one-time background singer Anna Maria La Spina, a stunningly talented solo artist now). By the time he performed to a sold-out crowd at Joe's Pub last year, Darren had come out of the closet and married his partner Richard. What a wondrous full circle.