by David Cohen
With a career spanning more than four decades, Olivia Newton-John is still a vibrant and creative individual that is adored by fans all across the world. Obviously, her appeal is timeless. Born in Cambridge, England in 1948, Olivia was the youngest child of Professor Brin Newton-John and Irene Born, daughter of Nobel Prize winning physicist Max Born. When Olivia was five, the Newton-John family moved to Melbourne,
Australia. By the age of 15, Olivia had formed an all-girl group called Sol Four, and later that year won a talent contest on the popular TV show Sing, Sing, Sing, which earned her a trip to London, England. By 1963, Olivia was appearing on local daytime TV shows and weekly pop music programs in Australia. In 1966, Olivia recorded her first single for Decca Records, a version of Jackie DeShannon’s "Till You Say You’ll Be Mine." In 1971, Olivia recorded a cover of Bob Dylan’s "If Not For You," co-produced by John Farrar, who she continues to collaborate with today.
Olivia’s U.S. album debut, Let Me Be There, produced her first top ten single of the same name. Olivia was also honored by the Academy of Country Music as Most Promising Female Vocalist, as well as a Grammy Award for Best Country Vocalist. These two prestigious awards marked the beginning of her very exciting career.
With over 100 million albums sold, Olivia’s successes include four Grammy Awards, numerous Country Music, American Music and People’s Choice Awards, ten #1 hits including “Physical,” which topped the charts for ten consecutive weeks, and over 15 Top 10 singles. In September 2008, Billboard Magazine listed “Physical” at #6 on their “Top 100 Songs of All Time” and in 2010 as “The Sexiest Song of All Time.”
In 1978, Olivia’s co-starring role with John Travolta in Grease catapulted her into super-stardom. Grease’s best-selling soundtrack features the still popular duets, "You’re the One That I Want" and "Summer Nights" with Travolta, as well as Olivia’s mega-hit, "Hopelessly Devoted to You." To date, Grease remains the most successful movie musical in history. Olivia’s other feature film credits include Toomorrow, Xanadu, Two of A Kind, It’s My Party, Sordid Lives, Score: A Hockey Musical, and A Few Best Men.
Olivia’s charmed life has not been without its share of challenges. In the early 1990’s, Olivia successfully overcame her own battle with breast cancer. This life changing battle inspired her to self-produce the album GAIA—an incredibly personal album reflecting upon her experiences with cancer. Her experience not only gave her the opportunity to gain greater self-awareness, but also to becoming a positive inspiration to millions of people who are also battling cancer. Olivia has become increasingly well known and respected for talking openly about her battle with breast cancer and for promoting public awareness of the importance of early detection. Her personal triumph over cancer led Olivia to announce a partnership with Austin Health in her hometown of Melbourne, Australia, along with the creation of the Olivia Newton-John Cancer and Wellness Centre (ONJCWC) on the Austin Campus. The ONJCWC not only provides a comprehensive range of services and facilities for cancer treatment, education, training and research, but also includes a wellness center for the mind, body and spirit.
After being absent from the U.S. Country charts for almost 20 years, Olivia released Back With A Heart in 1998. In 1999, she was awarded a Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Original Song – "Love Is A Gift" after being featured on the daytime serial As the World Turns. After a 17 year absence, Olivia once again began performing and touring in the United States.
The new millennium has once again brought Olivia international recognition that continues to grow. Among numerous other awards, Olivia received the Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006, presented by her long-time friend John Travolta at the G’Day L.A. Gala. Olivia’s 2007 holiday recording, Christmas Wish features both new and classic holiday favorites and duets with such Grammy winners as Barry Manilow, Michael McDonald, David Foster and Jon Secada, and was called one of the “Best Holiday CDs of 2007” by USA Today. In 2008, Olivia began co-hosting and co-producing the PBS series Healing Quest. In the series she reprised her film role of Bitsy Mae Harling from Sordid Lives to rave reviews. In 2010, Olivia also appeared as herself in two episodes of the hit series Glee, adding another Top 100 hit to her credits with a new version of “Physical” sung with Jane Lynch. In October 2010 Olivia starred in the breast cancer docudrama 1 A Minute and the Canadian film Score: A Hockey Musical. Her latest film A Few Best Men was released in January 2012, garnering her some of the best reviews of her film career.
The soundtrack to A Few Best Men features dance remixes of classic hits such as “Sugar Sugar” and “Daydream Believer” recorded by Olivia and remixed by some of the hottest club remixers in the world. In addition, the soundtrack reunites Olivia with her longtime producer and songwriter John Farrar on the single “Weightless.”
Adding author to her already impressive list of accomplishments, Olivia's released a cookbook earlier this year entitled LivWise: Easy Recipes for a Healthy, Happy Life with all of the royalties benefiting her Olivia Newton-John Cancer and Wellness Centre in Melbourne, Australia. As a breast cancer “thriver,” Olivia is thrilled that the Centre opened its doors to patients on July 2, 2012 - almost 20 years to the day from her own cancer diagnosis. With her current ongoing projects and philanthropic endeavors, Olivia’s worldwide popularity is as strong as ever!
Olivia Newton-John will perform at the main stage at Northasted Market Days in Chicago, on Sunday, August 11, 2012 at 8 p.m. She will return to San Francisco for a rare one-night-only concert appearance on September 13 at the SHN Golden Gate Theatre. Produced by Rick Bartalini Presents, this will be Newton-John's only Northern California appearance and first performance in San Francisco in nearly a decade.
Are long distance relationships posssible? In a recent interview with Jared Labell and Seth PINK learned how the two hotties make it possible and still manage to have some fun.
PINK: How did you guys meet each other?
Jared: We met this year on Feb 18th about 2 am.
Seth: It was on Saint Ann St. in New Orleans, the Friday night of Mardi Gras.
Jared: Right. I had just finished working and was in the mood to go out despite being incredibly tired. As I was walking from work down St. Ann, I recognized Seth.
Seth: And I had just finished doing a Kettle One vodka promotion at a Mardi Gras ball. I was walking with my buddies toward the gay bar Good Friends as Jared was leaving. We crossed paths on the sidewalk.
Jared: I stopped and ventured a friendly "Hello, I'm Jared," and he warmly invited me to hang out with him and his friends.
PINK: Was it a love at first sight?
Jared: I don't really believe in “love at first sight,” but I know what you mean, and I don’t think it was. Of course, Seth is a stunning man with a captivating smile, but I had no intention of even flirting with him at first meeting for a few reasons. And red-heads weren’t really a “thing” for me anyway, but then we started talking. As it turned out, we had tons in common. We were both from Louisiana, dancers, had masters degrees in science, adventuresome, had similar ideas on relationships, and we both place value on simplicity, friendship, communication and travel. In one very distinct moment, I got an incredibly strong feeling that this guy was different, unlike so many other men I'd met in my life before.
Seth: At first sight, it was a simple hello, an exchange of glances and a smile. Rather than love at first sight, it was more a feeling of home and something familiar. We both live hundreds of miles away from our native Louisiana but ironically met very close to our roots. Like Jared said, we found we had much in common, and as the conversation progressed, a sexual chemistry arose. I had urges to kiss him as I watched his lips telling stories of his past. As we walked to Jared’s place, we held hands in the drizzling rain and the rest has been love in the air!
PINK: Where do you guys live?
Seth: I live in Raleigh NC. Jared: And I’m currently in Fort Lauderdale, FL.
PINK: We all know that long distance relationships don't work, how do you manage to make it work, and how often do you see each other?
Jared: I’ve often thought that long-distance relationships don't work, but then again, a lot of close-distance relationships don’t work either. But I have known people who have made it work, like Seth and I are doing. We also didn’t jump into it blindly. Coincidently, Seth had already planned two trips to South Florida before we met. Those trips allowed us to get to know each other better before starting a relationship. We both had a chance to meet several of each other’s friends, and chances to learn how we interact and deal with other people.
Seth: And true love really isn’t about being inseparable; it’s about two people being true to each other even when they are separated. The physical distance apart of 700 miles is not a distance in my heart. Jared and I are able to interact and share our daily lives through texts, phone calls, e-mails, personal letters, facebook, and skype.
Jared: Very true. We communicate very well--probably better than many living in the same house--and I think that’s key. Our first “Skype date” was very special. We each made dinner for ourselves, had a glass of wine, and set a time to “meet up.” Seth sent me a cute message informing me that the “restaurant was able to seat us a few minutes early” because he was ready before me. Three hours later into our date, I knew it was something special.
Seth: It was! Jared is the first person I think about when I wake up and the last person I talk to before I go to sleep. We are both very effective communicators and work hard “first to understand, then to be understood.”
Jared: I love that quote! Another reason we work well is that neither of us is the “jealous type.” If one of us goes out in our respective cities, it doesn’t bother us that the other wasn’t there. Of course, we’d rather be with each other, but it doesn’t negatively affect us. We genuinely want each other to have a limitless life experience.
Seth: We also plan trips to each other’s homes and to destinations we both want to visit. We see each other in person about 3 times a month for 3 to 5 days each time. For example, this past July we saw each other 14 days total. Not bad!
Jared: I’d say that’s pretty damn good, babe! We also do lots of little sentimental things. I named a stuffed tiger I caught at Mardi Gras after him. For his birthday, I bought him a teddy named “Jare-Bear” so we’d each have one. We spray them with cologne at the end of each trip, and we always travel with them. It’s the little things keep us in each other’s lives when we're apart.
PINK: Do you ever want to live at the same city or same apartment?
Jared: Yes, we do eventually. Although, living in separate cities adds intensity to our dates. It's like Christmas morning a couple times per month! But, living in the same city or the same apartment/house is ideal.
Seth: Agreed. Every time we spend days together I think how nice it would be to snuggle up with Jared every night, go to the gym with him, cook supper together and have the opportunity to do daily tasks that some take for granted. I would like to surprise him at work, randomly take him to a movie on a weeknight, watch our favorite shows, or wake him up with breakfast in bed. I hope that in the future, we can figure out how to make that possible. When it happens, I want it to be in a city where we both desire to live and a home that we create together.
PINK: You guys perform as dancers and singers, how do you get your bookings?
Seth: Our bookings come from our own networks. Before Jared and I met, we were both getting booked by our own hardworking nature, reliability and talent. As a couple, we have doubled our network of contacts, and have many opportunities to work together.
Jared: Yep. So far, we’ve been freelancing it and helping each other. Recently, I was hired by the Live Free Be Strong Foundation, to work on a new national campaign against bullying, for which I wrote the song “Live Free Be Strong.” (Music video available online.) I will be performing, and promoting their message with people of all ages, especially with young gay youth, encouraging them to stand up against intolerance.
PINK: How do your regular jobs work with all the travel you do?
Jared: As a part time science educator, I can work on many projects, including travel.
Seth: I’m a full-time chemist for the USDA. So, I’m able to accrue annual leave, which allows me to take Fridays or Mondays off periodically. This way, I can have a long weekend for dancing too. It actually doesn’t take a substantial cut out of my normal workweek.
PINK: You guys do a lot of volunteer work, why?
Jared: I’ve done some. I’ve worked with gay rights organizations such as HRC before. It’s always important to learn about what is going on in the political sphere that effects us all. Last year, I choreographed and directed a number for “Broward Bares It” to benefit the Broward House in Fort Lauderdale, and I regularly give to Foundation Beyond Belief because I love their message of giving strictly for humanitarian purposes.
Seth: Over the last 5 years, I have been heavily involved with North Carolina Pride, and for the previous 2 years I served as a volunteer chair. I did it because it serves a large community and creates a family festival style Pride March every fall. Due to all the recent travel, I took off this year.
PINK: How do you find time to do everything and still be in love?
Jared: Interesting question! I don't really feel it is an issue. We include each other in our daily lives constantly.
Seth: We do! And we do everything IN LOVE! When you go through life being totally yourself and having passion for the things you love doing; someone will come along and fall in love with you for being you.
Jared: Yes! I love hearing about all the things Seth does, especially when he gets excited about them. Plus, we plan almost all our travel together. We both were already in the habit of traveling before we met and now we have fun with it! And work trips usually pay for themselves, taking pressure off travel expenses, which I think is something that haunts a lot of long-distance relationships.
Seth: We are both extremely active people: physically, socially and creatively. We chose to embrace our activities and travel both together and separate. We use them as building blocks to develop our love. Falling in love with someone is not a choice, but staying in love is. Anyone can come into your life and say how much they love you. It takes someone very special to stay in your life, and show you their love.
PINK: You guys work all the time, do you have any time for fun just for the two of you?
Seth: For us, fun is not determined by what’s happening around us, but rather what’s happening inside us. Fun and happiness come from within.
Jared: Right. Most of the work we do that requires us to be apart gets done in our respective cities. When we are working together on a trip, that is time that I value getting to spend with him as much as our time alone. It's fun to watch him in action. But of course, we also make time for just the two of us.
Seth: I have had amazing moments with Jared in the midst of insanely busy venues. We can be in crowds of thousands of people, and I can look in his eyes and feel like it’s just us. When we work weekend events, we usually have lots of other hours in the day to explore cities, shop, go to shows, or hit the gym together. We make the most of our time!
PINK: Where do you see yourself in 5 or 10 years from now?
Jared: I’ve never liked this particular question. It’s always been hard for me to say, but based on where I’ve been so far, I’m sure it will be somewhere fun and interesting. I’ve always happy with the simple things in life, and stay open to the opportunities that present themselves. I love my work with Live Free Be Strong as a singer/songwriter, and would love to see that do well, and I have few more
surprises along the way.
Seth: I see myself as a business owner. I enjoy being a chemist, and I definitely feel that lab work is temporary. My life ambition is to own a bed and breakfast. On the dancing front, I most likely will not be dancing in 10 years. However, I do see myself managing dancers for festivals and circuit parties. I have an incredible knack for organization, which is a quality that is lacking in the dancer world. I always appreciate a dance manager who gets the ball rolling, and lets me know what to expect ahead of time. I will do more volunteer and organization for events and use my amazing festival network to develop in this arena.
PINK: Is there anything you would like to say, add?… or to say to anyone gay on the planet?
Jared: For anyone working through a relationship or about to start one, I'd say one thing––communication is incredibly important. Don't make assumptions. Ask your partner what they mean, and listen to them. Make sure you understand what they are saying before you start talking. So many people talk at each other instead of talking to each other. Sometimes two people hearing the exact same words will understand it differently because of the meanings they assign to words based on their own past experiences. When you really listen to someone, it shows that you care.
Seth: If someone wants to be part of your life, they will make an obvious effort to do so. Value your heart and think before reserving a space in it for a person that does not make an effort to stay. Don’t lose yourself in the process of loving someone; remember that you are very special too! Don’t worry about choosing a partner who is beautiful to the world; fall in love with the partner that makes your world beautiful! Be honest, stay open, and talk about your feelings. Being a student as well as a teacher in a relationship will make it strong and lasting. Be romantic, burn the candles, write letters and cards, blow kisses, and have inside jokes. Don’t save the special things for special occasions––today is special! As the song goes, “Love is not a gimme gimme, if you’re really with me, gotta show me show me!” So SHOW each other the LOVE!
To stay in touch with Jared and Seth go to:
Jared: www.facebook.com/jbradford.leblanc. • Seth: www.facebook.com/SethFornea1.
Photos by: Isauro Cairo • Dennis Dean • Andy Katz • Denis Largeron