4 THE STAR / Dec. 9, 1983
U.S. Congress Lc
By Larry Bush
took up a variety of issues before their winter recess that have important implications for gay people, including hearing a
proposal that the Equal Rights Amendment legislation be amended to bar civil
rights for gays, a review of a Reagan proposal to subject nearly four million American workers to sporadic lie detector tests
about their reliability, a revamp of the
U.S. Civil Rights Commission, and efforts
to amend Administration proposals on
"acceptable" charities to which federal
workers may donate.
The House Judiciary Committee heard
testimony from anti-ERA crusader Phyllis Schafly of the Eagle Forum asking that
the proposed Equal Rights Amendment
include a new provision that would block
any court from extending civil rights to
lesbians and gay men. The ERA, which
died at the state level only three states
short of ratification in 1982, was reintroduced in the current congress to once
again wend its way through the process.
According to Schafly, the key reason for
blocking civil rights for gays at this time is
AIDS, and in her pitch she suggests that
P'rHne flttPnHsr'jf,g w^n-oi-a (/<n;.V-aJaiM* uu
Disque in Amsterdam to the Olympia
Music Hall in Paris. You've also appeared
in Coca-Cola commericals and even have
a bread named after the group of which
you are a part. Everyone knows you by
sight and sound.
What if amid this multi-million dollar
glamorous ego trip the problems became
as intense as the success? After becoming
accustomed to the smoothness, outsiders
make it difficult for you and your friends
to work together? What if the fun you
started becomes laborous work that you
are contracted to do? What if your record
company stopped supporting you emotionally, promotionally and financially?
This is Hot Wax's exclusive interview
with original Supremes member Mary
Wilson, who lived this storybook/soap
opera life. She gave us first crack at some
ofthe real truths to who she is today and to
who many of the Supremes really were.
.Let's start with a musical history lesson
"There were actually two fourth
members in the Primettes," Mary begins,
"the first one being Betty Travis. She was
in the group with Florence Ballard before
Diana Ross and I had joined.
"Betty is an outgoing person. I haven't
changes'in vears> though. She is a year or
j rt r than the rest of us. It was quite
Adminif,ng havin£ four People in the
this vear1 *act' '* was 9u^e 80°d, because
. jcally we could do a lot more
.With three we had to cut down our
thev°° nies- We went along with four for
That ie' tnen Betty, DemB older wanted to
,iarried, so she left the group.
t .hortly after, Barbara Martin came
■pv the group. Her singing is not that
.. »t, but she's a beautiful woman with a
. at personality! We went with her for a
jple of years until it came time to sign
contracts a Motown. She wasn't able
vSign because, her mothers wanted her to
„„ to college. It was then we decided we
tre having so much trouble with four
. is, we'd just go with three.
r"That's how the trio became so popular.
*ter that, all girl groups tried it. I saw
y-arbara at a Supremes reunion in Detroit
n 1976. She came down to the show, it was
-lice to see her again.
• "The early 60s were pretty good days for
the Primettes because we could do a lot of
record hops, which are called discos today.
We would go there and sing; the kids
would dance and the whole bit. The people
who had records out would sing to them.
At the time, we didn't have any records
and we only had a guitarist. We did the
hops on weekends and school during the
week. We became very popular in Detroit
and it was fun."
It was difficult for Mary to pinpoint just
one fantastic moment in her career that
topped the rest as she said, "There have
been so many things that have happened
to us that were spectacular. I don't think
there has been any one thing greater than
the other except our first record. Getting
out our first record release was the happiest I've ever been. Of all the things that
happened to us, I don't think any of them
could top that first moment hearing our
record on the radio. That was like 'Wow,'
this is it!
"Our very first record was called 'Pretty
Baby' on the Lupine label. Today, there
are very few copies around. 'I Want a Guy'
was our first record for Motown."
That was Mary Wilson 20 years ago.
What about the Mary Wilson today?
"The Mary Wilson of today is basically
the same Mary Wilson of the 60s and 70s
except that I have matured," muses Mary.
The changing Mary Wilson (clockwise from upper left) in 1963, 1968, 1972 and
c n souley it photo
Jeff Wilson and Mary Wilson seated beneath Richard Adkins artwork at
Orlando Gallery in Los Angeles
"I'm just as interested in music and entertaining as I have always been. Now, I am
more ready to pursue it as my number one
goal. Right now, all of the ground work I
have been laying for the past six years has
been toward my coming out as a star, a
"I say, 'star' because even though the
Supremes were stars and I was a part of
that, my 'Mary Wilson' becoming a star is
a totally different career. So, my goals are
making that happen.
"Touring in Europe, taking vocal lessons, acting classes and all those things
were to get me ready for what is happening now. It's moving so fast. My plan of
action is to get a record out. This is so the
public, the people will know that I am here
and I want to get my sound out there. This
is my first step, to make everyone aware
that I am around.
"Next, is to look into how I really want
to work my career, which direction. I know
I would like to do some acting, but I
haven't gotten to the point where it would
be better than singing. Singing is my
main love, so that is what I really want to
"I've been looking for a record company.
Nothing has come about, right? So, I figure like this, 'No one will record me, so I
might as well record myself?' I'm going to
record the record myself, which I am
happy to say, I feel good about. It gives me
more depth to do these things myself.
"The first time with the Supremes'
career was luck. The three ofthe four of us
getting together, was luck. The fact that
we clicked, was luck. This time I really
want to know that I'm doing it and not just
a fantasy, which it was the first time, I
didn't feel the Supremes had any real con
trol over it, even though I guess we did. It's
just a different route I would like to take,
"I started writing songs a couple of
years ago. I havn't really recorded any of
mine. I was speaking to Marvin Gaye
about producing me, so we might collaborate, but nothing is definite yet."
All of this news responsibility doesn't
stop at the career. Mary's now a single
parent with three children. So what's it
like? "Wonderful," bubbles a proud,
supreme mom. "It is a bit difficult because
the children's interests are split and
responsibilities are greater, but I enjoy
having that challenge, to give as much as
I can as if I were two people.
"I have a wonderful relationship with
my children. They know that I'm the parent, that I am the mother. They also have
this feeling with me, that I am one of them.
This they enjoy, because they have a certain amount of freedom. Sometimes when
they are not so good, rather than scolding
them, I make it a game and make sure they
are aware of, say, 'bad behavior.'"
Do Turkessa, 9, Pedrito, 6, and Rafael, 4,
know that mom is a celebrity?
"Yes they do," brags Mary jokingly,
"because they traveled on the road with
me from the time they were all born. Last
year was the first year they have actually
been home. Now that they are in school,
they want to come along with me. They
really weren't aware the mommy was a
big star. They thought this was the way
"They always had this excitment. Now
that they are back in school, they find that
mommy is something 'special.' In fact, my
daughter Turkessa said, 'How come everybody at school knows you?' That was
quite nice I thought."