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.

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.