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FAME costs Part II: Erica Gimpel talks love, life and loss

Actress and musician Erica Gimpel is one of our most popular conversations. The former Kids from Fame star returns for another chat.

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Crossfire Vault – FAME 35th anniversary: Erica Gimpel and Lee Curreri perform “I still believe in me”

In our first interview, the FAME, True Blood, Nikita, and Criminal Minds star touched on a variety of topics.

It’s been another busy year, including a July 28th concert in Pasadena, California. She returned to The Crossfire to talk about it.


Click here to read the first interview.


Erica Gimpel
Erica Gimpel.

MMA Crossfire: Welcome back Erica! It’s been roughly a year and change since we last spoke.

Erica Gimpel: I know! It feels like much longer in a way!

MMA Crossfire: So much has happened, I’m sure. Are you doing okay?

Erica Gimpel: Yeah, great!

MMA Crossfire: Good to hear. I was wondering if you recall any of the reaction to our first conversation.

Erica Gimpel: People that I heard really enjoyed it. They just thought it was so extensive, that they were like really blown away. I got a lot of positive reaction from it, actually.

MMA Crossfire: It seemed to make some kind of connection.

Erica Gimpel: I was wondering, because you mainly work with mixed martial arts. I was like, “Who’s going to connect to me doing this?” You know what I mean? I was kind of surprised. (Laughs)

MMA Crossfire: We’ve talked about it before about the crossover between sports and entertainment.

Erica Gimpel: That’s happening so much more.

MMA Crossfire: Let’s dig in. Last time we spoke about your next album, which at the time you tentatively titled, Believe in You. Is there an update to the status of the album?

Erica Gimpel: Yes. It’s funny. I started writing a lot more last year. What also ended up happening is I started working in a lot of different television shows and a couple of films so in terms of recording the record,  that had to be put on hold.  Because I was out of town, I was out of the country and I had to change a couple of things. What’s happened is new tunes were born and it’s so exciting (Laughs) that I’m not sure if the album is still going to be Believe in You at this point. Because things are now a little quieter, I’m going back in and looking at the tunes and how I really want to put them together at this point. So it’s still in process, I have to be very honest with you.

MMA Crossfire: Any tentative date?

Erica Gimpel: It will definitely be released next year (2014).

MMA Crossfire: You mentioned before one of the tracks was Freedom. Is that still on the list?

Erica Gimpel: That’s an instrumental, yeah. And I just wrote another instrumental that I really love last October and kind of brought that to the fore. It’s called Catching Waves. And this tune is so beautiful. That’s definitely going to be on the record. So there’s probably going to be two instrumentals on the record this time.

MMA Crossfire: I see.

Erica Gimpel: Because when you keep writing, new stuff happens and the band was like, “Oh, this is good!”  I’m like, “OK, cool.” (Laughs)

MMA Crossfire: You mentioned your work in TV took you away a little bit from the album. I noticed you were on The Cult 

Erica Gimpel: Yeah, yeah. And that actually has come to a close from what I hear.

MMA Crossfire: How did you get that?

Erica Gimpel: That was out of here, out of Los Angeles and a meeting, where they brought me in for the role. Met with them and some of my past work on the CW Network, I think that was part of it too.

MMA Crossfire: What were some of the other projects?

Erica Gimpel: I was so excited about True Blood, I’m not sure if you got to see it at all. I really liked that show.

MMA Crossfire: I didn’t, unfortunately.


Erica Gimpel: OK. It was just so much fun because of the role. I played an elder fairy. It was very unique because I was playing an eccentric character where I’m dancing and sort of able of talk and dance at the same time yet I’m also communicating through different frequencies. I’m operating at past, present and future at the same time. It was very unique in that way.

MMA Crossfire: Did you get to sing?

Erica Gimpel: I did not sing but I was dancing. So funny because it was such a small world that the choreographer on True Blood was one of the dancers on FAME …

MMA Crossfire: Really? Who?

Erica Gimpel: Her name is Marguerite Derricks, who is now a huge choreographer here in Los Angeles. She’s doing Broadway and videos and directing. She’s won awards in choreography in many videos. So she was the person who was a part of choreographing the scenes, so it was such a cool small world come around after many worlds.

MMA Crossfire: There you go, small world (Laughs) I was curious too, because I took a good look at your work on Criminal Minds. I looked closely at all the episodes you were in. What experiences did you take away from the show?


Erica Gimpel: Well, it’s kind of a little unfortunate, because there was a larger scene that happened at the beginning of the show that they ended up cutting down, because they were running over and I was like, “No! The scene got cut!” I was kind of bummed out about that. But what I really appreciate about the people on that show is how committed they are to the work. I just feel I appreciated that so whenever I’ve come on the show, there’s just been this appreciation for what I’m going to bring. I really loved at the end the montage, of all of us hugging each other, and the importance of family. I just felt there was a lot of beauty in that.


MMA Crossfire: I remember that scene from the episode Profiler, Profiled.

Erica Gimpel: Yeah. And I really liked how that was filmed, and how it was just about family. Coming together and … I just liked how that was shot, the sensitivity of that. I’ve appreciated just the commitment to doing it; from everybody, the director to the other actors … Everybody was committed to coming in and bringing something, which I really liked.

MMA Crossfire: Talk about your brother on the show Shemar Moore.

Erica Gimpel
Erica Gimpel on the set of Criminal Minds. Courtesy Erica Gimpel.

Erica Gimpel:  Shemar is always so … He’s very warm with me and we found a way to find this brother-sister relationship, which is really cool. We talked about it and how it would play out, so that was really nice. He just treats us all like we’re family to him. Making sure we’re there OK, we’re good, wanting us to be comfortable and that we’re being take care of. I really appreciate that. (Editor’s Note: Moore recently talked to the Regina Leader-Post’s Melissa Hank about the season finale.)


MMA Crossfire: Are you guys both Young and the Restless alumni?

Erica Gimpel: Well, I’ve done the show, yeah. I guess we would be then, yeah. It was never put that way but yeah …

MMA Crossfire: I just realized that. Watching the episodes, I got the sense the chemistry between the entire family was good. The show is still ongoing correct?

Erica Gimpel: It is still ongoing.

MMA Crossfire: So there is the chance to recur.

Erica Gimpel: Yes, absolutely. Absolutely. And it was interesting because I happened to catch an episode recently where … In the first episode I did where it was kind of revealing his character being sexually abused by his coach. They ended up bringing the same story back in another story that had to do with young men. It recently aired and I just thought, “They’re really raising the question what happens to young men when they’ve been sexually abused,” and how that plays out in their life when they don’t deal with it or get help or support around it. And they brought that character back from the first episode. I thought that was good how they continue to weave things forward. So saying that, I’m also enhancing what you’re saying in that there’s always a large chance of coming back.

MMA Crossfire: So much has happened in the year. Let’s clear up everything that you’ve done. You did The Cult. And some theatre work?

Erica Gimpel:  Two wonderful things really happened. I did a film called Tio Papi, it’s a Latino film. It’s going to open in September and it’s another film about family, which is very interesting. I’m playing a detective in it and have a turning point in the film, but I recently saw it. I hadn’t seen it and they had a screening out here in L.A. It’s really beautiful because it’s a film again about family. It’s called Tio Papi, which means “Uncle Daddy.” A really reluctant uncle who doesn’t want to commit to marriage and family. I don’t want to give it away because hopefully people will see it, but it really is about the power of family and what happens when he has to – based on some circumstances – take in some of his family members and he really transforms through it.

Erica Gimpel: But there’s a certain magical part of it too, but what was so interesting at the screening and the feedback we were hearing was how powerful it was to see a Latino film where no one was a drug dealer or a murderer, or a kind of wild violence. It was really about family and humor. They were kind of taken aback by that. There’s something very refreshing and I was very surprised because I hadn’t seen it.  Something very beautiful about it. And I feel proud to be apart of it.

Another film is called Hill and Gully, which is actually more of a Jamaican West-Indies flavor is going to Cannes and one of my tunes Spread Your Wings and Fly – I’m so excited about this – is the centrepiece of the film! So that’s very exciting and it’s a beautiful story about three generational people – mother, daughter, and grandmother. Really it’s about self-image when a family passes down a really distorted self-image or even an internal self-hatred, how that can tear people apart, but when you start healing and addressing those things, how people can transform and my song Spread Your Wings – which is my anthem to women – becomes the moment in the film where the women transform and the healing that occurs. So I felt like, Yay! So excited my song is there.

MMA Crossfire: That’s what they call killing two birds with one stone for lack of a better term. (Laughs)

Erica Gimpel: Yes. You can say it that way (Laughs).

MMA Crossfire:  It seems like a lot of your roles are maternal.

Erica Gimpel: I wasn’t acting in the last movie, to be clear. Just my song is in it. I’m just so happy that my tune is in it because I think it’s such a special film. In the other film I’m playing a detective, so I’m a little tougher on the lead character, but I also play a real pivotal moment where there’s a turnaround in the film which is a surprise, but I don’t want to give it away …

MMA Crossfire:  I see.  You also played a detective in The Young and the Restless..

Erica Gimpel: Right.

MMA Crossfire: It’s obviously been a busy and successful year then.

Erica Gimpel: It really has been. Now it’s kind of slowing down a bit so that’s why I’m saying I’ve been refocusing back to the music and the next steps for bringing that back. It’s just interesting, the ebb and flow of it all. It’s a dance.

MMA Crossfire: It’s always a dance. Did they call you about doing something for the 30th anniversary of FAME last year?

Erica Gimpel: There was kind of a lot of online stuff, but no, there wasn’t anything official that happened. It was also looking at the movie, and they had a screening last year for the film, but they didn’t put anything together.

MMA Crossfire: Did any of you get together?

Erica Gimpel: No, no.

MMA Crossfire: You haven’t spoken to the gang in awhile.

Erica Gimpel: I actually talked to Lee Curreri yesterday, which is interesting.

MMA Crossfire: You did?

Erica Gimpel: Yes, he called me yesterday. It’s funny that you ask that.

MMA Crossfire: I see Lee is doing it big with the movie soundtracks and the composing.

Erica Gimpel: Yeah.

MMA Crossfire: He’s doing well. It’s good to hear that.

Erica Gimpel: Yes.

MMA Crossfire: You recently had the chance to attend the John Singleton tribute event in L.A. Tell us about that.

Erica Gimpel: The biggest thing that struck me about everyone who honoured John that night was how much of a mentor he has been to so many people over the course of their careers, and his ability to see the potential in actors and encourage them to go places they didn’t even think possible. He’s able to incite confidence and courage in actors, directors and writers to take risks in their work and reveal something they didn’t even know they possessed.

It was wonderful how the evening was presented. Each artist got up and spoke about the significance John had made in their lives. The stories were great!

Ice Cube talked about meeting John backstage of the Arsenio Hall show back in the day, and how this small guy with glasses who looked like an intern came up to him saying, “I’m gonna put you in my movie, man. I’m gonna put you in my movie.” And Ice Cube was looking at him like what is this kid talking about? So he asked John who he was and John said, “I’m a junior at USC right now but I’m gonna put you in my movie.” And Cube was thinking, okay right … Then Cube saw him a year later and John said the same thing to him. Cube said, “I didn’t know why but I liked this kid and found myself driving him back to his dorm.” Then a third year passed and Ice Cube’s manager gets a script and it was Boyz ‘n the Hood, asking for Cube to audition.

Now, Cube never auditioned before, so he just took the page out of the script and went to the audition and read off the paper.  He was so funny telling this part of the story because he said out loud,  “I sucked.” So John came up to him after the audition and said, “Did you even read the script?” Cube let him know he didn’t, then John said to read it because he knew he could do it.  So Cube went back and read the script, came back and did a lot better. He ended up getting the role that actually changed his life. Again, it was an example of John having such belief in someone’s ability. Cube went on to share how John mentored him in writing his own scripts, but John was brutally honest with his first two tries and then on the third script John acknowledged he had something there and that was the script Friday! Cube really paid tribute and great respect to John for the impact he made on his life.

The other story that really moved me was this.

John produced and mentored Craig Brewer, who wrote and directed Hustle and Flow. Craig told a great story about how when John gets excited he starts punching you in the arm. It was the last shot of the film and it was at night, and they only had a few hours left before the sun was about to come up. They weren’t sure they were going to get the shot in time.  Craig really wanted to go for his vision which was an elaborate shot with no cuts and John said, “Go ahead, but I can’t stop the sun from coming up.”  So they went for it and Craig called action and as they were watching the shot on the monitor, it was all going smoothly and John whispered to Craig, “I think you’re going to get your shot man,” and started punching him in the arm.  They kept watching and finally as the shot was coming to an end, Craig called cut and John and everyone on the crew were so happy.

Craig said he had never been so  supported like that in his life and he would always remember that night as one of the highlights in his life. Lastly, John talked about the importance of telling your story in film and not giving a f*** about what other people think and how important it is to be steadfast and laser sharp in your vision.

Another speaker said in honour of the film and John, “Aspire to inspire before you expire.” I wrote that one down. (Laughs)

MMA Crossfire: The Trayvon Martin verdict recently went down also. We touched it on it last time so what are your thoughts on the verdict and the case? And so much has happened socially Erica such as the Trayvon Martin case, which is still going on. What are your thoughts now with the recent events?

Erica Gimpel: The verdict was very disturbing and disheartening to me in that a young person was killed, a young precious life was taken … that is the fact! And in spite of all the legal jargon of which side presented a better case …  what remains is the cold hard fact a young man was killed! Again, it speaks to racial profiling in terms of what someone is wearing, and just the whole stand your ground concept is very disturbing to me … I heard a lawyer from Florida speaking about the case and when he was delving into Stand Your Ground. He was saying that aggressive behavior is a last resort … firing a weapon is a last resort and if you can de-escalate the situation or even retreat from the conflict that is the best course of action … and then along with the Martin case, there was another case with an African-American woman in Florida (Marissa Alexander) who was sentenced to 20 years for firing warning shots and not killing the person … that just seemed so strange.

The Trayvon Martin case brought to the surface how much work still needs to be done here in America …  and how we must get beyond what divides us being the color of our skin, how we dress, and the rampant fear of the other, and to see to that it is in our diversity that is our true strength as a nation. Until we can learn from each other and see what great gifts each culture brings and have a sense of respect for one another… this illness will continue and these brutal acts of violence will continue … and I feel these laws like Stand Your Ground will continue to be used to justify these horrid acts of violence!

I was driving two days ago and saw four young African-American boys walking with skateboards in hand and this protective feeling welled up out of my life … and then this thought came … Who has the right to judge another person’s worth? No one …  The sad truth is that America still struggles with racism, and as it continues to rear its ugly head. It lets us know that there is still much so work to be done. A woman who breaks this illness of racism down is Dr. Joy DeGruy …  going back to pre-slavery and up to the present …she uses a term “post traumatic slave syndrome” that delves into the traumas that were experienced and how that reverberates to this very day… yet also looking at the immense strength as a people not to be broken by such a barbaric system … but now is the time to get to work to make real change that can promote healing, so that we can thrive as human race.

MMA Crossfire: So far, there has been a general calm in the streets. Are you surprised? Why do you think that is?

Erica Gimpel: I think the calm is out of respect for Trayvon’s parents …  and also it’s about organizing in a different way.  I know there is going to be a march in Washington in late August, there were marches around the American people in Florida are organizing… I saw something a friend and colleague posted on Facebook this really spoke to me … A Love Letter to Trayvon Martin entitled – Little Black Boy Wonder – Written and produced by Omari Hardwick.

MMA Crossfire: And yet there was a story that George Zimmerman recently helped save the lives of a family involved in a car crash.

And then the tragic death of Glee star Cory Monteith shocked everyone. You are one of the people would could relate to what the cast, crew and family might be going through.

Erica Gimpel: It’s very sad about Cory’s passing, especially someone so young. You just never know what a person is wrestling with in their private lives. Loss is a hard one to deal with. On FAME we lost a cast member Michael Thoma.

I was very young at the time and truly didn’t know how to deal with it … I had actually gone back to New York from Los Angeles (where we were shooting) to graduate from High School, so it was a bit of a blur. I think there are no words that describe a feeling of unexpected loss and everyone walks through it their own way. I had a friend pass away unexpectedly and he was wrestling with a lot of things I didn’t even know about until sitting at his memorial as people shared and it spurred me to write this song Why:


Erica Gimpel: I also think death is a great awakener in that it awakens us to what is really important to us and in our lives. When I had my first experience with death in terms of a close family member passing away, it led me to seek out answers about life, which led me to my Buddhist practice. I want to share some words from Buddhist philosopher Daisaku Ikeda on death.

In the Buddhist view, that bonds that link people are not a matter of this lifetime alone. And because those who have died in a sense live on within us, our happiness is naturally shared with those who have passed away. So, the important thing is for those of us who are alive at this moment to live with hope and strive to become happy.

An awareness of death enables us to live each day- each moment – filled with appreciation for the unique opportunity we have to create something of our time on Earth. I believe that in order to enjoy true happiness, we should live each moment as if it were our last. Today will never return. We may speak of the past or of the future, but the only reality we have is that of this present instant. And confronting the reality of death actually enables us to bring unlimited creativity, courage, and joy into each instant of our lives.

MMA Crossfire: What is Lea Michele probably going through specifically do you think?

Erica Gimpel: I can only guess, because how we go through loss is specific so who we are. I can only  hope Lea is surrounded by people who love her and will be with her to nurture her while she walks through this process.

MMA Crossfire: What advice would you give to the Glee cast?

Erica Gimpel: I think in moments like this you are made aware of how important it is to say what you feel about a person in the living because we never know how much time we all have … but as the cast gathers together and share together about this loss they will help each other heal. It takes time and sensitivity, but they are lucky to have each other because I think in moments of loss we can tend to want to isolate and that is natural,  but to have a community that you can share about the loss is really helpful and healing!

MMA Crossfire: I’m sure Lea and the gang would be comforted with your thoughts here. From someone who has also been down the road.

Erica Gimpel: Yeah. I don’t know if you saw the film called A Mighty Heart or read the book.

MMA Crossfire: No, I haven’t.

Erica Gimpel: A very powerful book. There was a film too that Angela Jolie and Brad Pitt did. It was about Daniel Pearl, the abducted U.S. journalist and unfortunately murdered in a really violent way on the Internet. It went viral, but his wife who is so… just when she delivered her response, was pregnant with their child and she said I’m  not going to allow this hatred to stop my belief in humanity after she witnessed this horrific thing to her husband. It’s that kind of response out of that kind of action is so profound to me. You know what I mean? That even that doesn’t even rob you of your beliefs and there is goodness and you can’t stop believing in humanity even something that horrific occurred.

And I had an opportunity to meet Daniel Pearl’s parents in Los Angeles. Every year in America and worldwide, they have the Daniel Pearl concerts honouring his life – because he was also a musician. And his parents came to the organization … I think I told you that I practice Buddhism and we were having a big celebration in his honour. I was kind of hosting them at the event. Making sure that they were comfortable and everything. I was blown away by their commitment. I think they’re both Jewish, but she was born in Iraq, his mother. What was so profound was that they had committed to creating inter-dialogue between Jewish and Muslim journalists so that to create bridges so that the prejudice and the pre-judging and the violence could begin to … to just have more of an exchange and to dispel some of the false beliefs and preconceived opinions. It was powerful being in their presence. Because of how they took that kind of tragedy and turned it into an opportunity to create dialogue and create an organization that’s completely about making bridges between the Muslim and Jewish worlds. And I just thought, OK, that’s pretty profound. (Laughs).

MMA Crossfire: That’s a major accomplishment.

Erica Gimpel: Oh my gosh. And their spirit … having had such a loss and to be around … especially his Dad, who was singing and has this beautiful voice himself.  He didn’t get up and do a song, but he wrote and shared this poem at the event.  I don’t remember it verbatim but it was like Some people come into this world and are like a star that burns so bright and they burn out but yet they’re remembered. That’s what he felt his son was to him. Their lifespan may not be long  but they burned so strongly; it was just very inspiring and I felt really honoured. I mean when you talk about the resilience of people bouncing back or what happened at that game, I think that’s the beauty of when I still have hope for humanity. How we take something out of an horrific event and out of that event something can come out of it that will be a bridge like what happened in Sandy Hook. A lot of intense things are happening and maybe they’ve always been happening.

But I feel like they’re bringing light to … There’s a suffering going on that we have to address … The violence is really a response to something and it’s getting to that root because …

How do we always get into these intense conversations? (Laughs)

MMA Crossfire: I don’t know (Laughs).

Erica Gimpel: I’m not trying to laugh it off, but you ask a question and it opens the door for me.

MMA Crossfire: I don’t know, but I will keep opening the door because it’s very interesting what you’re saying. I’ve always wondered myself … Maybe there’s the online element these days that shine a light a lot quicker compared to the conventional news to back in the day. With things like Twitter you get the reaction almost instantly, which kind of gives you a different perspective on those kind of events.

Erica Gimpel: Yeah.

MMA Crossfire: And it never stops and it’s 24-7. I think you nailed it. Until the root causes are addressed, we’re always going to be on the periphery and reacting.

Erica Gimpel: Anything happen like that in Toronto or in Canada that’s similar to what we’ve been talking about? Something similar that’s affected you this year?

MMA Crossfire: I can’t think of anything offhand. Our mayor ran into a camera, which made Jimmy Kimmel Live. (Editor’s Note:  Our mayor was really popular recently for other reasons.)

Erica Gimpel: (Laughs). He was very embarrassed.

MMA Crossfire: We all laughed it off. They was an increased level of security at events, but nothing really on that scale.

Last time we talked some MMA. This time, you took the bold leap of watching your first MMA show UFC 159: Jones vs Sonnen and checking out our live blog! What did you think of the fights?

Erica Gimpel: Listen  … I got to see some of the highlights from the match and wow, what an intense sport MMA is! Seeing it in action is very intense. (Jon) Jones is very powerful. What physical endurance and mental endurance too. A very short match. I wonder if a lot of the fans were expecting that or more of a fight?

MMA Crossfire: We and most fans predicted a short fight, but the thing about MMA is that anything can happen, when you least expect it.

Erica Gimpel: It’s so funny how MMA is such a fiercely strong sport. My energy is definitely more yoga, hiking and a gentler physical expression, but here you are interviewing me for your blog dedicated to MMA. It’s funny how we have great discussions overall, it struck me as interesting after finally seeing a bit of what MMA actually entails.

MMA Crossfire: Maybe we should you call you a mixed martial actress.

Erica Gimpel: (Laughs). You are too kind.

MMA Crossfire: We’re almost out of time so I want ask you about something important I forgot earlier. 2013  is the tenth anniversary of your friend and FAME co-star Gene Anthony Ray’s passing. Any thoughts? What was he like away from the camera?

Gene Anthony Ray
Gene Anthony Ray with Laura Dean.

Erica Gimpel:  He was wild, spontaneous, and fearless in certain ways. Outspoken, didn’t give a f*** what other people thought. However, he cared deeply and fiercely for the people he loved.  He could create a wild energy wherever he went, and he would travel with a group of people with him a lot of the time…

MMA Crossfire: When was the last you time you saw him physically besides the 2003 BBC Fame reunion documentary?

Erica Gimpel: During the 2003 BBC special. He really touched my heart when he said to me, “You’re gonna be alright! I always knew you were gonna be alright!” That really touched me because I truly admired him when I was younger and first saw the film FAME, and then working with him, I admired his gift as a dancer and his ability to be totally spontaneous. There was a raw talent that Gene had that was so strong and powerful. When he would dance, an electric energy would come through him, plus his fearlessness really inspired me.

One time we were on stage in London at the Royal Albert Hall and the fans were going crazy calling out to him and reaching their hands up to the stage and Gene leapt into the audience fearlessly. I never forgot that. He was truly going with the moment, trusting.

MMA Crossfire: We had NBA player Jason Collins come out as a gay player. What do you think he would think of that?

Erica Gimpel: I think Gene would be shouting with joy and praising what Jason did. Saying something like, “You better be fierce!”

MMA Crossfire: Gene had his problems, which are well documented. How much did it hurt you and the gang wanting to help him out, but not knowing how or being able to?

Erica Gimpel: See, I was the youngest of the cast so sometimes I didn’t know the full extent of things that were going on, and I think instinctually,  I was protective of him so when people would ask questions and I knew they were digging for dirt about him, I would talk about his strengths rather then his weaknesses. But what I respected is that Gene got really honest in the 2003 documentary and said  how some people were supplying him with the drug of his choice just so he would keep working. And it was almost like he raised a question: if they had really cared about him – not Gene the dancer, the actor, but him the person – maybe they would have made a different choice.

Erica Gimpel: But it’s complicated, because on the other hand I know people tried to help him. Debbie (Allen) loved him so deeply and he and Carlo (Imperato) were so tight like brothers, but the hard thing is that a person has to get to the place where they want to be helped and most importantly want to help themselves. (From what he shared on documentary)It seemed like he had gotten to an honest place with himself toward the end of his life. I can only pray that he made peace with himself, because all us have to walk our road and make peace with the road we’ve walked.

MMA Crossfire: Give the readers a sense of why he should be remembered and how he helped pave the way for male black dancers.

Erica Gimpel: Gene had a masculinity, strength and raw sensuality that came through when he danced. He inspired so many people around the world to follow their dream of dance. Men of color around the world, young men from inner cities could feel like it was cool to dance, that there was nothing weak in it at all! His look was unique, his visceral, volatile energy that got translated into something creative and dynamic and beautiful … just that by itself is an incredible message to youth … because I think youth is a time of incredible ranges of volcanic emotions pulsing through one’s veins and having a way to channel that energy and express it in a way that is artistic, beautiful and powerful. His example of that was and is an incredible contribution.

MMA Crossfire: I think we covered a lot of ground Erica. Anything you wanted to discuss before we go?

Erica Gimpel:  I want to thank you, because I just think you have a kind demeanor. Even though we’ve never met, I just really appreciate your calmness, that way you conducted this interview. I really appreciated it.

MMA Crossfire: Thanks! I think I can speak on behalf of the readers when I say I appreciate your openness. Your first conversation is currently the most popular. It’s helped us branch out to the point where we now have a celebrity expert now on our team as well.

Erica Gimpel: Really? Who did you get on your blog?

MMA Crossfire: Patrick Muldoon.

Erica Gimpel: Oh, Patrick Muldoon! I’m cool with Patrick!

MMA Crossfire: Your cool? Really?

Erica Gimpel: Yes.

Erica Gimpel: We worked together on this TV show called Boyfriend for Christmas many years ago (2004). Yes, we worked together. That is so funny! He’s a sweetheart.

MMA Crossfire: And a big boxing fan too.

Erica Gimpel: Yeah. I really liked him.

MMA Crossfire: He’s awesome. I’ll let him know you said hello.

Erica Gimpel: Great! Thanks Kenai!


Kenai is a former Postmedia Network online news and sports editor. He is the Editor-in-Chief for MMA Crossfire.

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