StoneWall Society LOGO Dennis Hensley Interview

SWS Interview with Dennis Hensley   He dances, sings, writes his songs, interviews the stars, and talks to us!

StoneWall Society Interview with Dennis

"Be Happy Now"

Multi-talented is certainly one way to describe Dennis Hensley. I hope to bring you some of Dennis, the man as well. Sensitive and deeply appreciative of his followers, an observer rather than judge, Hensley's message is one we all need. One of self awareness and acceptance.

Not without a sense of humor, as seen in his mischevious face, and well documented in "Misadventures in the (213)". It seems his humor along with a strong understanding of himself and his goals keep Dennis focused. I believe it is this focus which allows him the ability to challenge, accept, and drive forward, while obviously learning from his experiences.

A delight to work with and interview, I hope you enjoy meeting Dennis Hensley as much as I have.

SWS: Dancer, writer, vocalist, I assume some acting. Did I leave anything out? LOL. Where or in what direction is Dennis headed now?
Dennis: I'm spending the summer making my living as a journalist, working on various writing projects and trying to get my music out there.  And I've just started watching Survivor.  I love how Rich, the gay guy, is the best fisherman.  I wonder if he was a Boy Scout.   

SWS: What is your favorite CD "fan" story?
Dennis: To be honest, I haven't had a lot of feedback from people I don't already know.  That's why doing this interview is such a thrill.  It's awesome somebody I don't know actually gives a damn.  I actually have one friend, Robert, who says he listens to it quite a lot and knows all the words and that means a lot to me. 

SWS: Cut two on the "The Water's Fine" CD is a song called "Against The Grain". Is there a particular message you are conveying? A beautiful song by the way.
Dennis: Thanks.  That was written years ago when I was working on a cruise ship as an entertainer.  It just sort of poured out in one night and I remember writing the lyrics down on poster-board with a big magic marker because that's all I could find.  At the time, I was feeling a bit persecuted for wanting to be more creative that my environment on the ship would allow.  Silly, I know, but it lead to a song.  "Against the Grain" also reminds me of when I was a senior in high school.  I was a Varsity letterman because I was on the golf team (I totally sucked, by the way).  I remember being at the Letterman's banquet at the end of the year and feeling so out of place with all the jocks and my drama teacher, who was also the cheerleading sponsor, said to me, "Never be ashamed because you don't fit in with the crowd.  You're not a stereotype.  Someday you'll appreciate that."  And she was right.   

SWS: Our members have sent in a few questions of their own. You OK with that? <grin>
Dennis: Totally.  The fact that they sent in is now my new favorite CD fan story.

OK First SWS member question. "Were your songs influenced by a breakup?"-bboy
Dennis: No.  I had never really had a big break-up until recently, after the album was already done.  But I've had a lot of romantic entanglements that inspired me; a lot of unrequited loves or short-lived things that just didn't endure for whatever reason.  The great thing is, even though you may not have a full-on love affair with someone, it only takes one, beautiful, rich, unforgettable moment to make a song.   You just have to blow it out of proportion. 

2nd SWS Member question: "Are you in a relationship?"- AustinMike SWS: You knew it was coming right Dennis?
Dennis: No, I'm single and thanks for asking.  I used to joke that my book was a 300 page personal ad.  I was just at Outfest, the 11-day LA Gay film festival which I adore and it was a boy pourri but I think I had that available stink about me which is so much less compelling that the unavailable stink.

3rd SWS Member question: "Your music is very sensitive. Are you? What do you look for in a potential relationship?"- deltadyke  SWS: Prying minds want to know Dennis.
Dennis: I like to think that I'm pretty sensitive.  I feel like I pick up on a lot of what's around me and I like to think that I have good instincts.  As for what I look for in a relationship.I think it's key that the person like themselves, has a conscience and is tapped into the joy of life as opposed to all the hardship.  I also  find that I'm too wholesome for a lot of guys; I don't drink or do drugs or trick around so there goes two-thirds of West Hollywood, right there.   

4th and last SWS Member question: "Don't you think "Afterthoughts" would make a great last song at bar closings? Might make the next day's afterthoughts better?"-TedBeary
Dennis: I would be thrilled if anyone would play any of my songs anywhere.  In fact, I think "The Water's Fine" should be pumped into bathhouses.  Why not?  Anyway, I think "Afterthoughts" would make an interesting last call song because it's about someone who's spent his first night with someone and he wants it to be more but he doesn't know where the other person stands.  But then again, it might be a bit of a wet blanket because I would think if it's late at night in a bar and you're sexed up, the last thing you want to feel is vulnerable. 

SWS: Thanks Dennis I know our members appreciate you taking the time to answer their questions. Now back to mine. :-) What has been the most exciting thing/time/event about making your CD?

Dennis: I was nominated for a Gay and Lesbian American Music Award (GLAMA) this spring and I got to go to New York and go to the ceremony.  The best part was when they read the nominees; they played a clip of my song "The Water's Fine" and had a big screen where the album cover slid in and then a graphic appeared with my name.  Seeing that was my favorite part.  I got to live out my award show fantasy.  And then I lost.gracefully.

SWS: If you could deliver just one message to the GLBT community through song, what would that message be?
Dennis: To be okay on who you are and that it's okay to long for more than superficial connections with other people.  That it's not passe or uncool to want romance and tenderness.  It's easy to become jaded in the gay dating scene when there's so much objectification going on.

SWS: Tell us a little about Dennis, hobbies, interests, and.... What is your concept of a relationship as close to perfect as possible?
Dennis: I'm lucky in that most of the things I love to do; writing, performing, dancing, I've been able to shape into some sort of career thing.  Apart from those things, I like photography, taking dance and spin classes, going to plays and movies and hitting thrift stores and flea markets and watching Once and Again, Sex and the City, Queer as Folk and The West Wing.  As for a perfect relationship, who the hell knows.  I want to experience incredibly physical chemistry with someone who is both fabulous and noble.  I'm sure I'm asking for trouble here, but I want someone really formidable, with big dreams of their own, that I can hook into on those days when I need a break from my own.

SWS: Have you found being an "Out" performer has hindered your available opportunities?
Dennis: No.  In fact, it's the opposite.  Most of the press and performing opportunities I've gotten have been from gay organizations.  It's been great.  I never had any interest in trying to be something I wasn't, like who would I fool?  I know I'm not the greatest singer or songwriter or novelist, but I figured if I tell the truth, then there's a chance I'll connect with people.

SWS: Got to ask....What advice would you give to a younger person seeking the same professional experiences as you?
Dennis: Don't be afraid of failure.  Learn to embrace it. You learn so much more from failure than you do from success.  Plus, my idea of failure is different than many people's.  In my mind, it's not a failure to me, if I made a CD and no one buys it.  I would have failed if I had dreamed of recording a CD and didn't go after it.  Believe in yourself, trust your instincts, don't wait for other people to discover you and tell you can you do your thing, just do it.  And treat everyone kindly.  It makes the world a nice place and you never know when someone's path may intersect with yours in a way that can be mutually beneficial.

SWS: What do you think is the largest problem the GLBT community faces today?

Dennis: That's tough.  Complacency about AIDS scares me.  George W. Bush possibly becoming president and appointing Supreme Court justices scares me.  But I think, on a more community level, we just need to be kind to each other.  I also think it's important for gay young people to see that there are many ways to be gay.  Partying your life away is but one of the options.  That said, I think it's amazing the strides we've taken in the last few years in terms of exposure and images in the media.  All you have to do is watch MTV to see that subsequent generations are far more accepting than their parents are. 

SWS: Do you feel we as a community are responsible for any of our social condition, and if so in what way.
Dennis: I think in general, people do the best they can.  I tend not to criticize the actions of other people, particularly our leaders and activists, unless I'm prepared to go in and do better. 

SWS: Tell us what is happening for you with regard to your writing career?
Dennis: I've just started writing my second novel and I've made a deal with Imagine TV to develop my first, Misadventures in the (213), into a TV series.  We have a whole team together and we'll be going to the networks to try to sell them on it in the next few weeks.  Also, I'm writing a film that will star my friend Jack Plotnick (He played the interviewer in Gods and Monsters) and Miss Coco Peru (from the movie Trick).  It's in the early stages but we're all excited about it. 

SWS: And last but certainly not least. Now tell us what you want to say, no prompts, just what is on Dennis Hensley's mind.

Dennis: Lately, I've tried to focus on enjoying the moment and balancing that with going after my goals and moving forward.  I don't want to think, 'I'll be happy when I'm rich and famous' or 'I'll be happy when I have a boyfriend,' or 'I'll be happy when I lose 10 pounds.'  I'm trying to think more along the lines of, 'Why not just be happy now.'

"Misadventures In The (213)" Review

"The Water's Fine" CD Review

Gabriel Davis Interview

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