Greg Louganis on Jodie Foster, celebrity ‘outings’ and his Palm Springs visit

Greg Louganis

Two days after actress Jodie Foster declared on “The Golden Globes” awards show that she isn’t reality TV sensation Honey Boo Boo and that she came out of the closet years ago, fans and curious onlookers are still debating whether Foster’s acceptance speech was a moving confirmation that she’s a lesbian or a confusing lament on the loss of privacy in Hollywood.

I was reading an interesting article about it just before my interview with Olympic diving legend Greg Louganis today, so I asked him what he thought about her speech. Louganis, who won gold medals for diving in the 1984 and 1988 Olympics, attended Globes activities during the weekend as one of several past and present Olympic stars. He clearly empathized with Foster. “It was very emotional for her,” he said.

Louganis — who revealed his sexual orientation in the mid-’90s in the public arena, including in the pages of his autobiography “Breaking the Surface” and as an Oprah show guest — also echoed Foster’s sentiment that it wasn’t as much of a secret as many thought.

“I was out to my family and friends for many years,” he said. “It was just my policy not to discuss my private life with members of the media. Even though a lot of members of the media knew, they were respectful. They talked around stuff.”

But Louganis said he has no regrets about coming out.

“It’s a process. Being a public figure, a lot of times it’s not entirely up to you. It’s up to you ultimately, but a lot of time you have a lot of influences — agents, managers, publicists.”

Today, a good deal of Louganis’ focus is on his work. He’s writing a third book, awaiting the spring release of his “Back on Board” documentary, and preparing to judge celebrity dives in an ABC-TV reality show set to air mid-March, among other things. On Feb. 9, Louganis will appear in Palm Springs at Desert AIDS Project’s Steve Chase Humanitarian Awards Gala (www.desertaidsproject.org) to present an award to actor Mario Lopez, who portrayed Louganis in the 1996 Showtime movie, “Breaking the Surface: The Greg Louganis Story.”

One of the things he’s looking forward to doing in Palm Springs is eating. “They have some pretty good restaurants there,” he said.

Read the full interview, including Louganis’ favorite memories of working with Mario Lopez on the film and what else he likes to do in the desert, in the next issue of Desert Outlook magazine (www.desertoutlook.com ), due out Feb. 7.

‘X Factor’ alum Jason Brock to rock Palm Springs audience at Skylark Hotel

Jason Brock

From the first moment Jason Brock appeared on screen for “The X Factor” auditions, it was endearingly obvious that he was unlike any other contestant.

His glam-goth outfit and jet-black coif, wide smile, and amusingly incessant nervous chatter practically screamed I’m an original! The judges got it as soon as he started belting out a rafters-rocking version of Billy Joel’s “New York State of Mind.” They loved the performance and performer.

Brock, a technical support associate from San Francisco, relished the glowing feedback and exclaimed on camera, “I’m going to win.”

Other performances followed. While the judges continued to be impressed by Brock as a singer and a personality, his wardrobe and the songs selected by his coach, LA Reid, got low marks. He was eliminated from the competition in the second week of live shows.

Spurred on by the experience and his love of music, Brock continues to entertain audiences. He will perform Friday in Palm Springs during a party at Skylark Hotel, the newly restored property once known as Camp Palm Springs (see event details below).

Prior to his first visit to the desert city, Brock shares with Desert Outlook what he learned from performing on television, getting grabby with co-host Mario Lopez and pursuing his dream as an openly gay musician.

What did you learn about being a performer from your experience on the show?

I learned that even when you think you’re doing fantastic, some people (Simon Cowell) won’t like it. But I also learned a lot more about how to perform on television — like looking at cameras and staging. I knew nothing about making a TV show like “The X-Factor” before, even though I have had plenty of theater and performance experience.

From your first appearance on the show, you made it known you were gay by mentioning your boyfriend. What was the reaction to your being openly gay?
Well, the Advocate wanted to interview me pretty quickly — that was cool. Many people compared me to Adam Lambert, which I think had to do with being gay in part. But there was never a negative reaction –oh, except on my YouTube videos. People said mean things about my sexuality there all the time — still do probably.
How will you know you’ve made it as “Mr. Entertainment” (nickname on the show)?
Well, I’ll know I’ve made it when I have a Grammy, a Tony, an Emmy and an Oscar. Yes, that’s my goal.
Who is your favorite diva?
Tina Turner, Anita Baker and Patti LaBelle are three of my favorites. It would be hard to say who is best and I idolize many other divas, too.
It was funny when after a performance you asked co-host Mario Lopez if you could pinch his butt. What, if anything, did he say to you about it later?
He said off-stage that he loved it. He is a good sport and nearly a friend. I’ve been a guest on his radio show and he tweets me fairly regularly. Oh, and I met his wife last week and apologized for harassing her husband. She just said “I love it!” And for that I love her — and Mario. They are totally chill people.
What have your former tech support co-workers said about your appearance on the show?
They are so happy for me. Everyone has been cheering me on, and I really appreciate the support. In fact, I have a New Year’s Eve cabaret at 7 p.m. in San Francisco and the CEO of my former employer is coming with his wife.
What will you perform at the Skylark Hotel event?
I’m going to do a couple of songs that I did on the show — including the most famous one I did, “New York State of Mind.” And you must hear my rendition of Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance with Somebody.” You’ll never forget it.
Aside from performing, what are you looking forward to doing or seeing in Palm Springs?
I’m probably going to see my friend, Tom Orr, who’s doing his show, “Dirty Little Showtunes,” in town. Also, I keep hearing that as soon as I get off the plane that I’m going to feel an almost magical sense of relaxation. I can’t wait. Seriously, every gay guy I talk to tells me that Palm Springs is like their favorite city. So, I can’t wait to fall in love with it, sit by a pool and have a cocktail.
IF YOU GO
What: Skylark Hotel restoration party, featuring Jason Brock, Raja Gemini and more. Refreshments provided by The Crazy Coconut and hosted bar by Stoli Vodka.
When: 5-9 p.m. Friday, Dec. 28
Where: Skylark Hotel, 1466 N. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs
Price: Free