Tag Archive: Dolly Parton

Dollywood or Bust

Located in the heart of Tennessee, Pigeon Forge to be exact, just a hop, skip and a jump from Nashville, lies a theme park with one bigger than life theme. Dollywood opened in 1986 while I was still in high school in a suburb of Nashville. I tell you what, I would have been intimidated with my interview of Dolly Parton last year had I visited the park first. It was a mix of my first job at Opryland and my recent visit to Six Flags Great America.

The roots of the place trace back to the Rebel Railroad, the location that the park is built on top of. The Smoky Mountains surround Dollywood with Gatlinburg’s its neighbor and tons of shopping and attractions to keep any tourist busy. There are campgrounds and Dolly has her own cabins on the property to pop a squat in.

Dollywood brings in about two million visitors annually. I kept thinking, “Where is Cher World or Madonna’s Monastery?” No one has had a successful park about themselves. Why didn’t Michael Jackson opens his to the general public. You would think Ms. Parton has the biggest ego in the world but after meeting her I don’t think so. She has managed to stay down home and friendly. So was the service here at every turn. Country is not even the word for the staff here. Everyone drops what they are doing to answer a question.

Upon arrival I headed to the tour bus to take a gander of how Dolly lived on the road for so many years. There was even an early wig to gawk at and surprisingly very small compared to nowadays. Dolly’s Closet is right across the street from it with but nothing scandalous was inside like I hoped for.

After a quick bite at the diner it was time to ride some roller coasters. New this year is the Wild Eagle. It is a double wing coaster much like X-Flight at Great American but it has it’s own unique style and the most thrilling ride at the park. Unfortunately the Mystery Mine was closed for the day but the Tennessee Tornado was a hoot and very fast. Thunderhead really shook me up but lasted a good long time.

There are lots of water rides such as the Mountain Sidewinder where I thought we might flip upside down since it is basically a mat on a water slide. The Smoky Mountain Rive Rampage guaranteed people to get wet on a hot day.

There were shows throughout the day with even members of Dolly’s family singing and performing. Her museum was really spectacular tons of pictures with celebrities (see I’m not the only one that likes a picture with Carol Burnett) and an attic full of relics and memorabilia to check out.

It was easy to spend a day strolling around and that is not even hitting her Splash Country water park next door. Book your trip at www.dollywood.com. Now when are we having a gay day there? Bring your own wig!

Don’t miss Out in the Park at Six Flags on September 8 to benefit TPAN. Tickets are $35 with details at www.GaySixFlagsChicago.com.

Dolly Parton 2

Dolly Parton the “Queen of Country Music” is reigning on our gay parade with a new album and new tour. She is tied with Reba McEntire in having four country number one singles in four consecutive decades.

Her movie career has been a hoot to watch over the years from The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas followed by Steel Magnolias and has a new movie called Joyful Noise.

She kept us chuckling with multiple television appearances and singing with a hit musical version of her 1980 flick Nine to Five.

From her humble roots in Tennessee our “Backwoods Barbie” has continued to be our doll. Sit a spell as she takes us behind the scenes beneath the makeup and glitter with this down home interview. Dolly Audio

Hello, Dolly! The last time I saw you was at the 9 to 5 Musical debut in Chicago.

Dolly Parton: Oh my! That was on the road tour. Well, good to talk to you again.

We made it Dolly Parton Day in the city.

DP: That’s right you did. That was a really fun time. I even took off from the movie I was doing in Atlanta because it was a real important thing for us to come to Chicago.

Well, thank you for coming.

DP: Well, thank you for having Dolly Day! (both laugh)
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Dolly Parton

The legendary Dolly Parton is one of the most successful country artists of all time. She has won seven Grammys with an astounding 42 nominations. The “Backwoods Barbie” recently brought her musical version of her hit movie 9 to 5 to town for a national tour. Nunn on the Run was able to talk to the Tennessee singer briefly before the show started. Backwoods Barbie

Jerry Nunn: Hello, Dolly. Thanks for coming out on your birthday.

Dolly Parton: You bet. I am so happy to be here with you tonight.

JN: You have been to Chicago many times before this on concert tours and even filmed a movie here.

DP: Yes, I did Straight Talk here before and had a chance to be here for about sixth months for the preparation and the filming of it. I had one of the best times of my life. It is a great city. Even when it’s cold, the people are still warm. It is cold isn’t it?

JN: Yes it is. Did you come up from the south?
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Diana DeGarmo

Diana DeGarmo broke into the spotlight with the third season of American Idol. She performs on the national tour with the role of Doralee Rhodes working 9 to 5 on the musical version of the hit. Don t Cry Out Loud

Jerry Nunn: Hey, Diana. Last time we talked we were at Taste of Chicago this past summer where you performed the musical Hair.

Diana DeGarmo: Oh yes, small world right?

JN: I didn’t realize you are a southern person like me. I grew up in Tennessee.

DD: Heck yeah! Where in Tennessee?

JN: Close to Nashville.
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Jake Shears

The Scissor Sisters are a fun disco pop band that have to be seen live to be believed. Their third album Night Work came out this past year and now continue on to the new year as openers for Lady Gaga. 2011 sounds like heaven for  Jake Shears and the group! Fire With Fire

Jerry Nunn: Hey, Jake. You guys are always on tour. Aren’t you exhausted?

Jake Shears: Yeah totally, I’m just kind of chilling out and resting.

JN: I saw you guys last time when you were playing at the Riviera. It was a great crowd. The energy was just incredible.

JS: The show is even better now and is really off the hook.

JN:  Describe a Scissors Sisters show for people that don’t know or have not been to one.
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Carol Channing

Carol Channing has been in our hearts for decades. The recipient of three Tony Awards will always be remembered for her role in Hello, Dolly. The voice of Channing continues to delight as she spoke Nunn on One.

Jerry Nunn: Hello, Carol.

Carol Channing: Jerry Nunn, how are you?

JN: Great. It is surreal to hear you speak my name with that voice.  I heard you were busy last week.

CC: I was doing a benefit in San Francisco for AIDS. I feel deeply about it. I was exhausted by the time we got through doing it. It was a huge auditorium.
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Nate Berkus

Interior designer Nate Berkus is leaving Oprah behind and starting his own show in The Big Apple: New York City. Windy City Times spoke to him before his series debut about his new endeavor and reminded the decorator to not forget his roots.

Jerry Nunn: Hello, Nate. I was wondering with Oprah leaving Chicago, why did you decide to film the show in New York and not in the Windy City?

Nate Berkus: The truth is it just made sense business-wise for me right now. From the studio space to where my staff and where all the resumes were coming in from, the staff that I needed to hire were all in New York.

And ultimately, Jerry, you know, Oprah is in her 25th year and I’m launching a daily syndicated show. Oprah has one control room over there on Carpenter Street so I didn’t want to be the guy that said, “Yeah, just give me another 10 minutes. I’ll be out of here for you.”
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