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‘Screaming gay liberal’ talk show host Karel sings a softer tune

LONG BEACH — Radio host Charles “Karel” Bouley admits he’s been a “screaming gay liberal” for more than a decade, but he’s turning down the volume and singing a different tune.

For the first time in more than 15 years, the Long Beach-based multi-hyphenate entertainer has released the song “Stronger Together,” an uplifting anthem about uniting in times of need.

The song is an ensemble of four unique voices:

  • Karel
  • Dance music icon Thea Austin ( Snap!’s “Rhythm Is a Dancer” and Pusaka’s “You’re the Worst Thing For Me”)
  • Opera singer Daniel Charleston
  • Singer-songwriter Morgan Mallory

It’s taken Bouley 15 years to return to the recording studio because he’s been working in other studios and media.

Bouley broadcasts his various radio shows, including his own Karel Cast, from his 144-square-foot home studio in Rose Park.

For three seasons, Bouley has hosted “Life in Segments,” a “reality talk show” on Free Speech TV, that combines the traditional talk-studio setting with newsmagazine-lifestyle segments that are recorded at various Long Beach locations. For example, past episodes have featured Bouley legally medicating himself at a marijuana dispensary and discussing how to survive the holidays with problem relatives or after the loss of a loved one.

If Bouley can raise the funds, a fourth season of “Life in Segments” will become a reality.

In an interview with Q Voice News, Bouley, 54, talks “Stronger Together,” recording in a Tuff Shed and being like Barbra Streisand.

Here are some excerpts.

“Stronger Together” coming together

“Stronger Together” is a song of our times,” Bouley said. “The words are from Hillary’s campaign, Michelle’s speeches, and Obama’s comments. It’s a song about all the things I cover on air, and how we simply cannot get through them alone.

“I wanted to do it for Hillary’s win, and then the unthinkable happened,” Bouley said. “The shock made me put it on a shelf. But then as the country became worse and worse, more polarized, divided, as hatred began to flow everywhere just unashamed ignorance and bigotry, I thought, we need this more now than ever.

“Stronger Together” video shows people united

“I decided that the video would be a testament to huge battles of the past where we conquered them together, with grace and love, and yes, turbulence. It also would include the fights of the present, the Women’s March, Standing Rock, and more,” Bouley said. “We will not survive as a nation unless we pull together. Otherwise, California might as well secede.”

The Tuff Shed is a recording studio with a diverse group of singers

“A diverse group indeed, the big gay diva, the million-selling dance icon, the opera singer and the up-and-coming powerhouse,” Bouley said. “Straight, gay, in between, there we were, in my 12-feet-by-12-feet Tuff Shed in the back yard singing about bringing a nation together at 8 p.m. on a Thursday night.”

A radio talk-show host who also sings or a singer who also is a radio host?

“I consider myself an artist, and real artists don’t have creative boundaries,” Bouley said. “Many of my idols wrote songs, or wrote books and sang and act and direct and juggle if they need to because that’s our business.

“I love communicating in all forms with people of all types,” he said. “You see, there would be no talk radio without the album, the music.”

Just like Barbra

“I always thought it was so odd for people to ask Streisand if she’s a singer who acts or an actress who sings, so thank you for asking and fulfilling a secret wish of mine to be her,” Bouley said. “But again, I’m an entertainer. I’m not a talk show host. I’m not a radio host. I’m an entertainer.

“If more of us, meaning people like (Fox News host Sean) Hannity or (former Fox News commentator Bill) O’Reilly or others, realized we are entertainers,” Bouley said, “it would be a nicer world.”

About the author

Phillip Zonkel

Award-winning journalist Phillip Zonkel spent 17 years at Long Beach's Press-Telegram, where he was the first reporter in the paper's history to have a beat covering the city's vibrant LGBTQ. He also created and ran the popular and innovative LGBTQ news blog, Out in the 562.

He won two awards and received a nomination for his reporting on the local LGBTQ community, including a two-part investigation that exposed anti-gay bullying of local high school students and the school districts' failure to implement state mandated protections for LGBTQ students.

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