Thursday, May 17, 2012

Donna Summer Opens Disco in Heaven

As rude and incorrect as this sounds, I think the Great Beyond is sexier and more fun now (and our own world is less sexy and fun now) with the passing of Donna Summer.

She died today of lung cancer, according to TMZ.

I was in high school during the peak of Summer's popularity in the disco era. I lived in a backwater little town in Vermont. Summers was making Studio 54 and the New York disco scene sizzle like never before. The contrast could not have been more acute.

So to me, Summers was exotic. She was the siren singer of what seemed to me like unattainable, dangerous eroticism.

It wasn't really popular back in mid to late 1970s rural Vermont to admit you liked the kind of disco Donna dished out, but she was one of my guilty pleasures back then.

True, I couldn't express that publicly. Even now, I'd be locked up and put away if I strolled down the street sounding like a scary Donna Summer porn soundtrack: "UHHHHH!! Love to Love You Baybee!!!! OOOOOOHHH! Love to Love you Baby!!!!! "

But you have to admit Summer's "Love to Love You Baby" was hot in a low brow porn kind of way. Guilty pleasure indeed.

Summer seemed fascinated by the seamy, steamy sexy side of life. She was the voice for our horny sexual id, one that we would never dare say out loud. Not to this day, even now that we're older, and more, ahem, experienced:  "Lookin' for some hot stuff baby this evening. I need some hot stuff baby tonight."
Or, maybe a few of us might have secretly moaned along to "I Feel Love"::  "Oooooh, it's so good it's so good, it's so good it's soooooo good!"

Later in life, Summers became a born again Christian, and she toned down the sexuality. She continued to record big hits. But the dangerousness of her '70s heydey is long gone.

It's just as well. Remembering those sexy Summer hits always makes me laugh, but it was also a relief to learn, as I matured out of high school, that life was far more than a desire for quick, cheap sex. Instead, you find real love, commitment, respect, glorious shared experiences, a shared life with the one you really love. Happiness. The way my life is going right now, thank gawd.

I don't mean to sound like a lecturing prude. There's nothing wrong with sex and sensuality. It's all good. But it's only good if it's mixed with the real complexities of life.

I think Donna Summer showed us that path from adolescent horniness,  as she and her songs, progressed from hedonistic Studio 54 coke-spoon sex in the 1970s to her later songs portraying slices of life, real emotion, and a lot less unattainable and ultimately unwanted cheap sensuality.

I felt left out of the party while listening to Donna Summers' partying hotness when I was a rural Vermont teenager in the 1970s.

Little did I know the soooo much better party started as I matured into middle age. And I was invited to that one.   Even as I still love to love my partner, and soon-to-be husband, baby.

And RIP, Donna Summer.

(For old time sakes with Donna, listen, if you dare, to "Love to Love You Baby," below. It'll make you smile. )

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