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Gabriel Davis Interview with Dennis Hensley

Dennis Hensley Photo

By Gabriel Davis

With his debut CD, "The Water's Fine, writer Dennis Hensley explores his
first love, music.

When it comes to having scores of plates in the air at once, there are few more agile flatware jugglers around than L.A.'s Dennis Hensley.  In the last 18 months, he's published the best-selling novel Misadventures in the (213); recruited a group of actor pals to record the audio version which was just nominated for Audie award by the Audio Publishers Association; convinced Imagine TV to option the book for development as a series; written stories for such magazines as Cosmopolitan, Detour, Movieline, The Advocate, Us and TV Guide (that was his recent cover story on Will and Grace); and now he's unleashed his debut CD as a singer/songwriter,The Water's Fine, which was recently nominated for a GLAMA Award by Gay/Lesbian American Music Association.  We caught up with this Renaissance guy at his face favorite Burbank taco joint, Chevy's, for some chips, salsa and good old fashioned dish.

You just wrote a novel. Why on earth did you want to make a CD?
I had been writing and demoing songs with my producer, Norman Arnold, since '91 so when I got the book deal, I went to him and said, 'I might get a little heat off this book, why don't we take everything we've been doing to the next level and make a CD.'  Of course, when I said that, I had no idea what I was in for.

Where did you meet your producer?
Backstage at a Gloria Estefan concert in 1991.  He went to school in Miami so he new half of Gloria's band.  Actually, one of the guys who was playing with the Miami Sound Machine at that time, John Defaria, plays guitar on most of the songs on my record.  We would go into his studio to record the guitar parts and there's all these gold records on the wall and I'd stand there wondering if he'd miss one of them.

What would you call the musical stylings of "The Water's Fine."?
Hopefully they're pretty, catchy songs with smart, heartfelt words.  Lillith with nuts.  One reviewer said that it made Wilson Phillips sound like Hole.  That made me laugh.

Who are your musical heroes?
I have incredibly tacky bubble-gummy taste in music.  As a teenager I was all about Olivia Newton-John. Pat Benatar and Barry Manilow.  If I ever went on VH-1's The List and told the truth, I would get boo-ed off the stage.  My favorite voice of all time is probably Trisha Yearwood.

Who's groovier, Nine Inch Nails or 98 Degrees?
98 Degrees.  What I wonder is what the non-buff Degree does while the other three are at the gym.  Is he working on a screenplay?

If you could go on tour with any one artist, who'd it be and what would you
two do in the tour bus together after the shows?

Jann Arden, who's best known for the song "Insensitive."  I love her music and she seems like a good person and she's stand-up comic funny in concert.  In the tour bus, we'd play Mystery Date by Milton Bradley and I'd lose.

If you could only do one, and become extremely famous for it, which would you
choose: writing or singing?

Writing.  I think I'm better at it.  I don't have one of those God-given voices that just blows people away.  But I worked hard on my vocals for the record and I'm proud of them.   

Who is the song "Afterthoughts" written about?
Nobody specifically but there are people I think about when I sing it.  None of them really deserve a song though.  (Laughs)

The Titanic's sinking. Celine Dion, Cher and Britney Spears are on board. You can only save one of them. Who do you rescue?

Probably Celine because I got to interview her for Cosmo and she smiled and said, "Thank you," when I unloaded one of my demo tapes on her.  Plus, Cher and Britney are probably going to float on their own.

What's the difference between writing a celebrity interview and writing a song?
You don't have to deal with a publicist to write a song.

Do you have your own theme song (a la Ally McBeal)?
The Brand New Heavies called "You Are the Universe."  Not only is it empowering but it's fun to dance to, too.

What's your best groupie story?
One day I went into Book Soup and the clerk told me that Elton John was just in and that he had bought three copies of my novel. I was so thrilled because his Greatest Hits was the first album I ever bought.  In my fantasy he kept one book and gave the others to George Michael and Donatella Versace, because at the time, they could both use a few laughs.

What's next for you?
I'm starting my second novel, about my days as a cruise ship entertainer in the early 90's, possibly creating some internet comedy for a company called, and getting my record out there as much as possible.  I'm also hoping the TV version of Misadventures will get of the ground and that I'll be involved with that.  Or maybe I'll pull a Celine Dion and play hookey in Canada with a man three times my age. 

Interview by  Gabriel Davis

"The Water's Fine" is available at Different Light Bookstores and on-line at or 
For more info, contact or visit the website:

"The Water's Fine" CD Review

"Misadventures In The (213)" Review

SWS Interview

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