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Blues For Peace

Candye Kane

Candye Kane in Israel

When I told my friends and family I was going to Israel to sing the blues, they all said I was crazy. They were all convinced I would be killed in a suicide bombing. I'm a professional musician and I tour all over the world. I have been to Istanbul, Belfast, Madagascar, and East Germany. None of these scared my parents as much as my trip to Israel.

The fear was infectious. People in my audiences here in San Diego, Calif., gave me lingering "goodbyes" and said things like, "Hope to see you again safe and sound" and "Be very, very careful." My Jewish friends asked, "Why aren't you terrified? Don't you read the newspapers? Don't go anywhere alone." One friend even told me not to wear my Star of David necklace in public! This seemed particularly ominous. Still, I chose to ignore their well-intentioned prophesies of doom.

I know there is rampant terrorism in the Middle East. I also know that as an American, I had always felt safe and untouchable here in the sanctity of my little home with the white picket fence. Then airplanes were flown into the World Trade Center. I know now that terrorism can happen right here. If the people of Israel could live with the threat of terror every day, surely I could go to Israel to play music and live with the fear for a couple of weeks.

Sure, I was apprehensive. Before I left, I made certain my life insurance policy and Last Will and Testament were complete and in full force. I spoke to both my sons very seriously about my trip. "This isn't like my normal tours to the Midwest," I explained. "This is a war zone." At the 11th hour, my fiancee and manager, who was to accompany me, started to get cold feet, too. His panicked, conservative Jewish relatives asked him not to go. He was very close to canceling his reservation and I can't say I blamed him: He's the father of two young children, and it would have been irresponsible of me to insist he come along for such a risky ride. But his love for me and for Israel overpowered his fear, and together we boarded the flight for Tel Aviv.

From the moment I landed at Ben Gurion Airport, everything felt different. The security was so much better than anyplace I have ever been. They thoroughly checked our papers and questioned our reasons for visiting. When I told the customs agent that I was a blues musician and a guest of guitarist Ronnie Peterson, the agent smiled knowingly. I was surprised to find out how well known Ronnie is both in and out of Israel. He and his wife, Nili, are like cultural ambassadors. They have single-handedly kept the blues alive in Israel and educated countless people along the way. They have brought many blues musicians to Israel, including Sue Foley, Johnny Ferreira, and now me! The agent waved us through immigration and we were on our way.

Our hotel was situated one block from the beach in Tel Aviv. The view from our room was spectacular, and the sun was shining brightly on the white, sandy beach. Security guards were everywhere. Outside the mall, they checked our jackets, our pockets, our bodies. In the underground parking complex, they opened the trunk of the car and searched under the seats. It was amazing, and it made me feel much safer.

We made conscious choices about where we went. We didn't take bus trips. We didn't go into restaurants where security seemed lax. We paid attention to people who looked out of place or ill at ease. We checked exits and tried to stay alert and aware of our surroundings. In short, we learned in 10 days how to live like Israelis live.

The first show was in a beautiful jazz club in Herzelia. I fell in love with the Mediterranean architecture, and the palm trees made the area seem so much like the California coast I cherish. The musicians in Ronnie's blues band were top-notch, and they had meticulously learned all the arrangements on my CDs before my arrival. Playing with the band felt like being with a group of old friends. The show was packed, and the people were warm and gracious. The audience couldn't tell that we were all getting to know each other, onstage, in front of them.

After the show, I stood outside in the warm, starry evening under the watchful eye of the security guard, making conversation with people as I signed their CDs. They were grateful to me for coming, and I was humbled by their gratitude. "Thanks so much for coming here to share your music with us during this troubling time," said a gray-haired gentleman with a British accent. "You were very brave to come," added a dark-haired girl.

I guess it was brave - or foolish - but now that I was here, I didn't feel so courageous. The real heroes lived in this country in turmoil and loved it anyway.

We played shows in Haifa and at the Israeli Museum in Jerusalem. Driving between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, I had the sense that Israel is very much like America. There were typical homes where average families lived and worked. Neighborhoods and villages full of mothers and fathers and children. We hear so much about suicide bombings and tanks on a daily basis that I was surprised - and relieved - not to hear any gunfire or see any battles firsthand.

Unfortunately, I did see battle scars. Several parents came to me after the shows brandishing photos of children they had lost to suicide bombings and military actions. I cried right along with them.

Most encounters I had with people were happy ones. Merchants were helpful and happy to have us shopping, and we bought many treasures to bring back home. Restaurant owners were also grateful and went out of their way to give us great food and service. Many said, "Thank you so much for coming. It has been a long time since we had an American in the shop." I felt proud at those moments to have made the trip.

I was touched by the people's courage and surprised by their diversity. I met folks from England, Ethiopia, Australia, Egypt, and Hungary - all Israelis - and was surprised to find that many were not Jewish. They identified with Israel as a beautiful country full of rich history and were not necessarily defined by religion. It was educational to hear them debate politics, and I learned there are many ways to look at the current situation and no easy way to solve centuries of conflict.

I'm glad I made the journey and didn't give in to my own fear or the worries of family and friends. Is it dangerous? Yes. It's also dangerous on the streets of Los Angeles, where I grew up, and in every large city in the United States. It's dangerous to drive on the freeways and we do that every single day. But going to Israel was a once-in-a-lifetime chance to be a part of history and to learn up close what the controversy is about. And as a musician, you can't beat the sold-out, accepting, enthusiastic crowds that await. Would I go again? In a heartbeat.

This above article on Candye Kane appeared in Blues Revue. copyright © 2004 Visionation. Ltd.

Candye Kane - "Pnai Plus" Interview

The Blues Singer Candye Kane managed to become a "hammer and kinky" porn star, have sex with a threesome, discover she's bi-sexual and become a convert.

An unusual and extraordinary Blues Singer, Candye Kane that accompanied Ronnie Peterson at performances with his blues band, among them the Blues Festival at the Givatayim Theater, shares with each performance her life story - in the past she was a stripper, film star and porno writer to earn money and succeed as a singer. Since then, she has appeared with BB King, Ray Charles, Van Morissen and Jerry Lee Lewis, and also puts on her own show. Today, she is successful and well established and performs concert tours around the world to which she brings her children.

Kane was born in a poor neighborhood in Los Angeles. Her parents were divorced when she was a baby, her mother taught her to steal when she was nine years old while her father served a sentence in prison. She did not find a role model in all her surroundings. At age fifteen, she met a boy, became pregnant and at age 16 gave birth to her first son that today plays drums in her band. From a young age, she dreamed of becoming a singer, but she didn't stand a chance.

Is that the reason you wound into porno films?" I was in the business between the years 1980-85, and during this time I appeared on the covers of hundreds of leading sex magazines like "Hustler". I participated in eight porno films and was a stripper in the United States. If I had not done this, I would still be living in East L. A. with ten children. I wanted to get out of the ghetto, crime and poverty and this was my entrance ticket to public awareness.

"Didn't working in the sex industry ruin your soul?" I would not recommend any woman that wants to be a singer or actress to work in the field. In most cases, it's a dangerous place for a girl, but I was lucky and got off cheap. The path I took actually helped build my confidence. As a girl that never flew in her life, I received a plane ticket to appear as a stripper throughout the USA, received marriage proposals and had my own fan club. I felt sexy, talented and appreciated. When I saw myself on the cover of a porno magazine that was on newsstand next to the "Time" magazine, I thought maybe someday, I will also appear on the cover of "Time".

"Do you set "red lines" in the porno movies?" "Because I wasn't skinny or blond, I was type cast in the hammer and kinky movie category. They do with any voluptuous woman. I did not agree to do everything. I did not participate in orgies. But I did photo shoots with two men and with women.

"How was it to make love with a woman?"
It must have been fate because it led me to discover I am bi-sexual. In my eyes, women are beautiful and sexy. But overall, I prefer men and most of my relationships were with men, with the exception of one woman with whom I had an on-going love affair.

"When did you stop filming?" In 1986, I signed a contract with CBS and left the field. They discovered me as a singer, I had money to build a career and was concerned my son would discover my occupation.

"How has your past affected your relationships with men?"
I was disappointed by men that just used me and never thought of any serious relationship because I worked in the sex industry. They remind me of that. For instance, Ronnie Peterson's drummer asked me where my porno videos are available. That interested him more than my voice. Whenever I performed along side a well known singer, he would ask me where to get my films.

"You had the privilege of watching yourself have sex. How did you feel?"
I never watched myself having sex. I was concerned that if I observed myself I would be full of criticism or discover I was fat or my legs aren't pretty. I was afraid all of my self confidence would vanish.

Candye, who is engaged to a television producer, was married for fourteen years and gave birth to her second son who is fifteen years old and here with her in Israel. "He goes to a Jewish school and because of him I converted to Judaism. He watched the movie "Fiddler on the Roof", got into the Jewish people and and began to ask questions. We went to Synagogue and took classes at the university. I held a Bar Mitzvah for him and studied with a Rabbi that gave me many books to read. But the effort was worth it. I feel that thanks to Judaism I am doing Tikun Olam and helping women. At every performance, I tell people to never to let go of their dreams, even if the path is winding and difficult because the alternative is to wake up with a feeling of missing out. I don't recommend my path, but try to encourage people to follow their dreams.

"Don't you get tired of sharing your porno story with the crowd?"
No, I'm here because of my past. Today, I do what I love, take my children all over the world, perform often and enjoy life.

"If you were reborn would you choose the same path?"
I would do it all over again. It was the only right path for me.

"Where do you draw such optimism?"
I believe that each of us is the driver in our life, and if sometimes the car goes off the road, it's up to you to always get back on your path."

Visit Candye Kane's Website

"Pnai Plus" is a leading Israeli woman's entertainment magazine.

© 1998-2009 Blues for Peace Corporation. All rights reserved.

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