Prince Poppycock has to be my favorite contestant from all of the seasons of America’s Got Talent. I spoke with John Quale who is the flamboyant Prince Poppycock and found out a little more about this wonderful talent. The following interview is from 2011 after Prince Poppycock had completed the America’s Got Talent tour.
A: Today I’m talking with John Quale who became nationally known last year as a finalist on “America’s Got Talent” as Prince Poppycock.
Happy belated birthday!
JQ: Thank you very much!
A: I saw the outpouring of birthday wishes on your webpage.
JQ: I certainly got a lot of birthday wishes this year. It was very sweet of everyone. I had a very nice birthday.
A: It’s been about a year since I first saw you perform and became smitten with your character Prince Poppycock whom I think would’ve made Liberace himself stand up and cheer.
How did your time on “America’s Got Talent” change your life?
JQ: Well, it changed everything. I was working two jobs before the competition, and then I was able to leave those two jobs and just focus on performing and recording. I had amazing opportunities to perform both nationally and internationally. In March I went to Italy for Carnival and performed at Il Ballo Doge, which was an amazing experience.
A: Can this video be seen on your website?
JQ: It is on my YouTube site. I have not finished posting all of the footage from Italy. It is still being compiled.
A: Great! Something to look forward too!
Speaking of videos, it was your video of “It Gets Better” that made me want to interview you. I enjoyed your video and appreciate that you put that out there.
JQ: Thank you.
A: Would you please describe what your early school years were like?
JQ: I moved around quite a bit from school to school and I think that anyone’s who’s done that knows it’s difficult to fit in with groups of kids that have been together for years upon years. I did it repeatedly all the way until I dropped out of high school. So I always had a very difficult time trying to make new friends. By the time I entered junior high and high school I had basically given up on being friends with any of the popular kids. I was a theater geek. I hung out with all the math and science geeks. For the most part I was just a loner. I really didn’t have too many close friends during high school.
By the end of high school I was dying my hair all kinds of crazy colors, piercing my ears, my nose, my lip and my tongue. Just much more interested in locking myself away in my room or skipping school and then going into the city because I did receive a lot of hazing. I went to high school in New England. They called it hazing not bullying. To avoid that I tended to skip school a lot. I ended up dropping out when I was 17. I got my GED and went to college in Chicago. I did complete my bachelor’s.
A: Your bachelor’s is in what subject?
A: When did you go into entertainment?
JQ: I went into entertainment when I was about eight years old and never stopped. I was a vocal performance major, a composition major and I was an acting major at college as well. I switched four times and ended up receiving my bachelors in marketing with the concentration of public-relations.
When I graduated from college I came to Los Angeles to work in the record industry. That was my master plan: to come here and pursue a recording career. I wanted to record under my own name. I worked for Capitol records and EMI for about two years while recording a demo in my apartment. Some of those songs are on the “WorldvieW” album. Then I ended up getting downsized from their when the record industry collapsed I did the whole Hollywood thing: waiting tables, got an agent and did commercial auditions for about two years, but nothing really came of it. Then I worked for my good friend Michael Schmidt as an assistant stylist for some of the top bands and singers in the world. I’ve had my hands on pieces of clothing that we made for all of the biggest divas in the world: Madonna, Britney Spears, Janet Jackson, Fergie, Rihanna and the list goes on and on. I was also working as a shop clerk at a latex boutique. That is where I was before “America’s Got Talent” started.
A: regarding the organization “Rise up and Shout,” what was your experience like and what was your motivation for writing the song of the same name?
JQ: in 2006 I was part of “The Beastly Bombing” the hit musical here in LA. I was asked to be part of it (Rise up and Shout). I could do anything I wanted. They didn’t know that I was performing as the character Prince Poppycock, which I had just started. This was in the fall of 2006 and I started the character in January for the first time. I went and did that, and subsequently they filmed a documentary about it, which is showing on Sundance this month for the last time.
I got to meet a wonderful group of kids and elders through it. I just felt that the organization was something that was missing because of the need for encouragement of LGBT youth. Often times people feel very uncomfortable encouraging kids. Because of that, frankly, it’s now more of a twenty- something thing. When it first started it included high schoolers.
In this day and age it is still looked down upon to encourage gay youth to be okay with being gay. It is very frowned upon. It is considered if you will, part of the “gay agenda.” And the “gay agenda” is older gays making youth gay. It is ludicrous, but that’s kind of how it is seen. And so subsequently that’s how these kids grow up being told that there’s something wrong with them, or that they’re just going through a phase and they need to be fixed. So they grow up without healthy self-esteem and will frankly, self-hate. That is why they end up harming themselves. So I felt like it was important because it encouraged generational communication between gay elders and the up-and-coming generation. I just had a wonderful experience with.
I was asked to contribute a song for the closing credits, and I wrote that, but it was not used. I decided to release it on iTunes.
A: I have the lyrics to “Rise up and Shout” in front of me. What were they based on?
My blood I can’t even donate
No matter how clean
No matter what type
All you see is dirty faggot
Get out of the bloodlines
We don’t want your kind
We’d rather victims die
because your love’s a lie
Don’t want your tainted blood
you’re not even human
I can’t take anymore of this
I’ve got to
Rise up and Shout
JQ: It’s the law. Homosexual men are not allowed to donate their blood.
A: In California or nationally?
A: I was unaware. I didn’t even know that.
JQ: Most people are unaware. It’s not just homosexuals. It is also people that have had tattoos in the past six months and people that have done certain things out of the country. One of the most glaring injustices is that if you have had homosexual sex in the past 15 years you are ineligible to donate blood.
They recently came up to revise the law but it did not pass. It stayed that way. The Red Cross, their guidelines, their choice. Often times people tend to donate without disclosing, which some people call “blood terrorism”, but I will forever demure from donating blood until they change the rules.
A: After that, I am kind of speechless. I did not know that. Makes me want to rise up and shout!
Part 2 ot the interview has Prince Poppycock fielding questions from his fans.
Part two: questions from fans
1) From J.M.
What advice do you have for people being taunted or bullied just for being themselves?
PP: I would give them the advice that I personally try to give myself every time I start to feel sorry for myself. Life in and of itself is an absolute miracle. It is and always will be the greatest, most magical thing you will ever experience. The simple fact that we get a chance to be alive is basically like winning the lottery. Think about the infinite number of possible lives that could come into existence that will never get a chance to be. But you are! That’s pretty mind-boggling to me and I don’t think that it will ever stop being that way. It’s fairly humbling and it makes me grateful for every moment and every breath of my life.
Don’t let anyone else tell you how you should feel about yourself. Your moods are like magnets, and while it may not seem like it, you have the choice of how you feel at any time. The hardest lesson to learn is that we are in control of our reactions to events in our lives. We can be victims or we can be heroes. I would encourage any kid growing up today who is dealing with injustice to (like Gandhi said) be the change that they want to see in the world. We can make a better world one kid at a time who believes that each and every one of us is equal and has the right to live out our dreams.
2) From J.C.
How have you dealt with discrimination that you have faced in your life?
PP: Discrimination that I faced in my life has made me stronger. Rather than being motivated by my ego, I’m inspired every day to add my tiny little effort to create a world where egalitarianism and justice prevail.
3) From C.R.
Does His Royal Highness have any advice for young people wanting to pursue the arts as a career?
PP: I would encourage you to focus on the reasons why you are pursuing the career that you chose. Hold onto those reasons, no matter what. Forget about lifestyle, or trappings, or glamorous things. Grow a thick skin and become resilient. Each and every time you encounter a setback get back up on your feet as quickly as you can (but don’t beat yourself up if it takes you longer than you would like sometimes). Cherish the mentors that come in your life. Develop a thirst for learning that isn’t attached to any kind of outcome. And always, always, always follow your heart.
4) From S.D.
What are the pros and cons of being an independent artist given the state of both the economy and the music business?
PP: When I first moved to Los Angeles my goal was to work in the record industry while pursuing my own creative goals. I got to witness first hand as the record industry crumbled from the inside out. It’s akin to the downfall of the old Hollywood studio system in the 50s. As a result there are positives and negatives for artists. Unfortunately, people are no longer willing to take risks on untested talent for a record contract. They only are willing to roll the dice if they know that the album will turn a profit. On the plus side, however, an independent artist gains an awful lot more creative control and freedom. They are no longer controlled and told what to do. So while I would not turn down a major label contract, I very much enjoy being my own boss at the moment.
5) From C. D.
How is your home recording studio project coming along?
PP: I am very passionate about recording. I started using computer recording technology when I was about 12 years old, basically when consumer software allowed home users to be able to rudimentarily edit audio. I then got my first four track, and first synthesizer not long after that. I wrote and self produced (if you could call it that) all through high school, and started in on learning MIDI editing when I was in college. While I love it, it also tends to be a bit of a curse, because what I want to achieve is always a bit too ambitious for me to achieve just by myself. Mixes can become tangled webs that are easy to become lost in, technical problems can plague projects, and there always seems to be something just out of reach. While I wouldn’t give up what I’ve learned for the world, I am looking forward to the day where I can record in a studio, with other musicians and a proper producer. That said, the productions that I’m working on now are moving forward. And I’m confident in saying that they are my best works to date.
6) From C.D.
Just curious — How do you manage to store and deal with so many fantastical costumes, props, etc. when not using them?
PP: Luckily, I live in a lovely old house here in LA. Because of this we have a detached garage, a spooky old seller, and I have a large closet. The dining room is home to several eight-foot tall champagne bottles, as well as all the unbroken ceramics from the “Bohemian Rhapsody” performance. The basement is filled to the brim with props, shoes and odds and ends. The garage has the Pagliacci cape and the Nessun Dorma Helmet, all the diapers from the Caesar’s Palace New Year’s Eve show, sitting next to the lawn mower and garden tools. My bedroom is filled to capacity with wigs and costumes. The only place left to go is up now! We may have to start storing things in the unfinished attic!
7) From rumorville
Is the rumor true that you will be on “X-Factor?”
8) From P.H.H.
Will the Prince not found a country where we can all move?
PP: I believe that Poppyopolis already exists in my heart and inside the heart of everyone that has supported and believed in me over the last year. I think it’s a place that we can all go to for comfort and fun and frivolity any time we want!
Thank you Prince Poppycock for sharing part of your life with all of your “Poppies.”
If you missed part one of the interview here is the link: http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/8123711/prince_poppycock_is_alive_and_kicking.html?cat=49
“In my carefree poverty I squander rhymes and love songs like a lord. When it comes to dreams and castles in the air, I’ve the soul of a millionaire.” Prince Poppycock