The Gonz Show: Donna Summer

Back in town with her first album of new songs in 17 years, Boston's disco diva shares her Weltanschauung with John Gonzalez.

By John Gonzalez | Boston Magazine |
Photo provided

Photo provided

Why the layoff? Boston missed you. I was raising my kids, writing books, writing musicals. I’ve always been touring, but I had no desire to record a full album. I just wanted to do some other things with my life.

I love the title of your new album, Crayons. It’s appropriate for this space. A lot of readers think I actually write with Crayolas. [Laughs.] The girl I was working with, Danielle Brisebois, we were talking at one of the writing sessions and she said, “You know, we’re like crayons melting.” And I said, “That’s the name of the album!” This is perfect—each song is a different color.

Best Donna Summer song: “Last Dance,” “Hot Stuff,” or “She Works Hard for the Money”? For me, it’s “Last Dance.” Usually by the end of the show, that’s the song. So when I finish that song and I step off the stage, it means I’ve earned my living. It’s glee and joy.

I’m partial to “Hard for the Money.” I’m just a working gal, Donna. Me, too.

You speak fluent German. Can I hear some? Natürlich. Soll ich von einem Buch lesen? Oder soll ich meinen Namen sagen?

Uh, the Gonz Show doesn’t have the budget for a translator. Or lederhosen, for that matter. What did you say? “Would you like me to read from a book? Would you like me to say my name?”

You were a nominee for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this year. [Laughs.]
I was beaten out by Madonna.

Well, the Hall of Fame is in Cleveland, so you’re probably better off. Awards don’t affect me too much. I like to get them. But I don’t work for awards.

You’re also a painter, and some of your stuff has commanded as much as $20K. How about between $80,000 and $90,000?

Wow! For a writer, that’s about—hold on while I do the math—17 years’ salary. Do you have anything for, say, $2.75? [Laughs.] I sure do. I’ll get my crayons out.

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