Karrissa Wade caught up with Blake McIver, the handsome man in Del Shores' newest film "A Very Sordid Wedding" who started as a child star in The Little Rascals and Full House.
Blake is all grown up now (obviously) and become a surprising, out activist. Karrissa Wade, our correspondent at large, interviews him for a candid look at his life since child stardom.
Karrissa Wade Hello?
Blake McIver It's Blake. How's it going?
Karrissa Wade Tell us about yourself.
Blake McIver Well, I am a L.A. native, a singer/songwriter. Started in entertainment at six years old when I won Junior Vocal Champion on "Star Search" and that kick-started my career. Then I worked fairly consistently on t.v. and film throughout my childhood and then transitioned into voiceovers. Did a little bit of that. Did some theater along the way and started music when I was about 19 years old and released my first album, "The Time Manipulator".
Karrissa Wade Great. Now, I just saw your latest video, Mr. McIver, and tell us about your marriage equality video.
Blake McIver Well, it's a song I just really wanted to write. I wanted to respond basically to the arguments in the Supreme Court as I was listening and reading the transcripts. I was very moved and I thought, "How can I weigh in on this in my own way?" And the best way for me to weigh in on something is to make music about it. So I sat down and wrote the song and I was very inspired. I wrote on the YouTube video I was very inspired by my grandfather when I wrote it. He was a big country music fan and that's why this song has a little more twang to it than some of my other recordings. But he was just an important influence on my life and always encouraged me to think for myself and be exactly who I am. So that's sort of where the title came from, "This is who we are."
Karrissa Wade Now I noticed in the video you had LGBT icon Del Shores. What's it like working with Del?
Blake McIver Amazing. He's a good friend and we had a blast shooting that video. He was a great help and a great support system the whole day.
Karrissa Wade Now I saw one of your other videos on YouTube that I absolutely love. It was called, "It Gets Better." Can you tell us a bit about that?
Blake McIver Absolutely. I wrote that song, actually, a few years ago when the Trevor Project started. The It Gets Better campaign after there had been tragically a string of LGBT teen suicide and I was very moved by the work that they were doing and I, sort of, instead of just writing a statement or a lot of people were just making videos telling their It Gets Better story, I thought, "I'm gonna put this in song." I've always been really-- I've always had a deep love and passion for gospel music. I don't always agree with all of the content of the lyrics, so I decided to make a LGBT affirming gospel song and so that's how "It Gets Better" came about.
Karrissa Wade It's a powerful song. Right now we're having powerful icons that are coming out such as Caitlyn Jenner. What do you think about her?
Blake McIver I'm so amazed by her journey and her bravery. I thought the speech at the ESPYs was just incredible. I think she's just doing an amazing job. I can't even imagine the difficulty of the past few years being so in the spotlight, but yet so lost and trapped inside and so alone. So it's really just great. I can't wait for the reality show to start on Sunday so we can actually see all of the journey.
Karrissa Wade Yeah, it's really sad to see how many of the nay-sayers are saying she's not a hero there's nothing special. They don't realize the bravery for a woman like that.
Yeah. I couldn't disagree more with the naysayers. I really think this is important. I have a very close trans friend and she also thinks that it's very important. I sort of just refer to her opinion [laughter] a lot about trans issues in the media. This is huge for the community so I'm thrilled.
Karrissa Wade Well, where can we see the wonderful Blake McIver now? Where's your next appearance?
Blake McIver Let's see. I do monthly show here in LA at Rockwell Table & Stage. We do a gospel brunch and it's extremely fun, where we just have mimosas and fabulous food, and we just sing gospel music. It's a blast.
Karrissa Wade Mimosas, gays, brunch, and gospel. Now that's a show.
Exactly. Exactly. Yes, it's church like no other [laughter].
Karrissa Wade Exactly. Now, as a childhood actor from The Little Rascals and of course Full House, do people still recognize you?
Blake McIver Yes, people do. And it always shocks me and amazes me [laughter] because I don't think I'm recognizable at all but apparently, I still am [laughter].
Karrissa Wade I know this is a corny question but do they ever ask you to sing the Yankee Doodle song because I know that's something you're super famous for when you were younger.
Blake McIver Constantly, constantly. And it used to drive me crazy so finally this year, I broke down and I posted on the fourth of July, on my YouTube channel, a video of me doing a new arrangement of Yankee Doodle Dandy cover at my piano, singing it like I wanted to sing it [laughter]. Now when anybody asks, "Will you sing it?" I just say, "I will send you the link and you can listen to it [laughter]."
Karrissa Wade There you go. Now, I know you were saying to pay for the album and stuff, you took a stint as a dancer, as a go-go dancer. Why do you think everyone made such a big deal about that?
Blake McIver Oh, I think because in our culture, in our society, we're still so puritanical about sex and body imagine and there's something fallacious about being a go-go dancer. I feel like in any other country, it wouldn't be newsworthy [laughter]. But in the states, apparently, it is.
Karrissa Wade Well, you do have a body like a young Greek god though, so how do you keep that body maintained?
Blake McIver I workout fairly regularly. I try and eat fairly healthy [laughter] and sort of stay in shape. But really, that's ore for me than anybody else. It really took me a long time to sort of be comfortable in my body. And for me, it was sort of part of my coming out process, to own my sexuality and my body as a part of that. That was a step along my journey, my process to sort of being comfortable and saying, "Oh, yeah. This is what I got and I'm going to work on it, maintain it, and be happy about it."
Karrissa Wade Yeah, I think body image is a big factor in a lot of the LGBT people's lives. I do think a lot of people aren't secure with themselves in their body image.
Blake McIver Totally. And well, we're inundated with imagery that is often times unattainable. Photoshops to the nth degree and we're looking at these images of these perfect bodies all the time in gay media and it seems impossible to live up to, so it's always about finding a balance of just being healthy and being happy with what you've got.
Karrissa Wade Now, will you be showing your body off on your next video because remember, skin sells [laughter].
Blake McIver Indeed it does. I'm not sure what-- we haven't decided what the next video is yet. I've got four songs finished off this new album that needs to go into the studio. And so we will figure out-- it will depend on if it supports the content of the song. But there's some fun, cheeky tunes on this new album, so [laughter] perhaps.
Karrissa Wade And where can they find your music?
Well, the new single is the first thing off the album and it is already available on iTunes and Amazon, and you can stream it on Spotify. It's all over the place. You can get that and then I'll be releasing in the fall probably the second single off the album.
Karrissa Wade The Internet seems to be really blowing up with the video. People are really responding to it wonderfully.
Blake McIver It's been amazing. I was really thrilled. I don't have a label or a big marketing machine behind me so it was really all just friends and supporters that shared it and reposted it. We got over 100,000 views in less than a week, which was amazing for someone who's not really a YouTube celebrity [laughter].
Karrissa Wade Wow, that is amazing. Now, we'll get a little personal. Is there a Mr. Blake in your life [laughter]?
Blake McIver Not at the moment [laughter].
Karrissa Wade Well, are you looking for Mr. Blake I guess is the question.
Blake McIver Actually not right now. It's been a busy, busy year of just sort of making music and staying focused. I really haven't had time for that side of my life but one day [laughter] [crosstalk].
Karrissa Wade Now, who is the most famous guy you've dated?
Blake McIver Oh gosh. I don't think I've dated anyone famous, actually.
Karrissa Wade You're the famous one in the date then [laughter].
Blake McIver That's a really interesting question and nobody's ever asked me that before.
Blake McIver But yeah, no. I really haven't dated anybody famous. I've dated some behind the scenes people. I've dated some writers [laughter] and directors.
Karrissa Wade Right. Well, I just assume you being a famous actor as well as a famous musician, that you would have a famous boyfriend or girlfriend throughout the years.
Blake McIver No [laughter]. No.
Karrissa Wade All right. And the final question for you. What is next for you? What do you see in your future?
Blake McIver I mean, my ultimate goal is I just want to be able to continue making music and taking music to people. So my hope is that that materializes into a tour next year. Hopefully, once this album gets finished, we can take it out on tour. And that's my favorite thing in the world to do is perform live for people. And the more that I can do that, the happier that I am, so. That is the immediate goal. I just want to be making music and sharing it with the people that want to hear it.
Karrissa Wade Now if anyone was to ask any question about you, is there anything you would want them to know about you that we haven't asked today?
Blake McIver Oh gosh. You've been quite thorough [laughter]. I guess a common misconception about me is that, for some reason and it always comes up when I release something new, people think that I take myself really seriously and that I'm like this brooding artist. And it's just not true [laughter]. I love to just be silly and stupid and laugh with my friends, and I think because I make a lot of message music and because I do want to encourage people through my music that they sort of-- a lot of people see that as, "Oh, he must think he's just so brooding and so furious." But I'm really not [laughter].
Karrissa Wade Well, Mr. Blake McIver, it's been a pleasure working with you and talking to you today. And we look forward to seeing so much more from you.
Blake McIver Thank you so much. I appreciate it.
Karrissa Wade Have a great day.
Thank you. You, too.
Karrissa T. Wade is a wickedly funny, highly involved community activist for LGBTQI issues. She has been a regular contributor for print and digital media nationwide, and we are proud to have her here at the Celebrity Cafe.
A title holding pageant figure, she is known for her witty, over the top comedic performances and extensive charity work across the US. A consumate performer, she is an active television figure, (appearing as guest, anchor and lead roles) Karrissa has also been involved in the Cabaret community for the past 25 years, touring the country.
As a charity fundraiser, she has helped raised hundreds of thousands of dollars every year, and has been involved in HIV awareness and outreach since the early 90s.
"We have two hands: One for helping ourselves, and the other for helping others. Do your part."