Liza is back! The long-unavailable recording of Liza Minnelli's legendary Winter Garden concert in 1974 is available for the first time. The singer/actress, who charmingly still uses words like swell and grand, spoke to Billboard about "Live at the Winter Garden" and her lasting career, being a gay icon along with Lady Gaga, plus she takes issue with "End of the Rainbow," a new Broadway play about her mother, Judy Garland, that Backstage describes as a "tabloid view of Garland's final descent into despair and self-destruction."
"It amazes me that they can do anything they want and say anything they want that's not true," she told us about the show, which she has not seen. "It upsets all of us, but not to the point where you get really upset. It's more like, 'Oh please!'"
So, tell us about the new album.
It surprised me! I didn't know it was coming out. It's from a show that I won a Tony for and I remember how exciting that show was for me. I can tell because I'm talking so fast. I don't think anyone's spoken so fast. It came out and now they're bringing it out again. (Liza's assistant says something to her). Because of the 'Cabaret' movie and the whole resurgence of that. I guess they're using that but I'm thrilled.
You're performing quite a bit these days. (Next Up: May 12 at the Las Vegas Hotel & Casino)
Right now I'm doing a much smaller show. It's only six musicians and me so it's more intimate, it's off the cuff and it's getting very good reviews. Once every two months I give a party in the house, all my friends like Billy Stritch and people you don't know and it always ends up with people around the piano getting up and doing something so the show is sort of like that.
Everyone these days is writing a memoir. Will you?
I don't have time! I'll do it I guess when I retire.
Have you seen the Broadway show ("End of the Rainbow") about your mother? Tracie Bennett gives an amazing performance.
Does it amaze you that there's still so much interest in her?
It amazes me that they can do anything they want and say anything they want that's not true. It upsets all of us but not to the point where you get really upset. It's more like, 'Oh please!'
So why the continued fascination?
Because she was wonderful!
And she was just so larger than life.
Yes and I think that happened because of TCM (Turner Classic Movies). Nobody remembered the old movies and that brought everything back and I think that's great. I just watched "Bells Are Ringing" (directed by her father Vincente Minnelli) and it was great.
What music do you listen to?
All kinds of things. I like rock a lot. I like Brazilian music. I listen to Lady Gaga and Madonna who's a pal.
You met her last year...
Oh sure, she was wonderful to me. She told me, 'I do what I do because of you.' I was so surprised. I met her before her show because she asked me to come backstage and she was so complimentary. Then I watched the show and the section where she just played the piano and sang was grand.
Do you have a hard time relating to everyday people on the street? You've spent your entire life in show business.
No, not at all. I like what I do and I hang out with people who like what they do, whether they're lawyers or doctors or own a store, it doesn't matter. My friends aren't all in show biz. One of my best friends in the world works in an office and runs the finance department.
What would people be surprised to know about you?
I'm normal! I'm a great cook. I make a pot roast that will kill you dead. Any kind of Italian food, gazpacho, a wonderful chocolate soufflé.
You're part of an elite class of gay icons that includes your mom, Barbra Streisand, Madonna, Gaga...
I guess so. The way I always look at it and explain it to myself at least, is that I was different too and I made it.
Your mother set you up with your first husband, Peter Allen. Did you have an inkling he was gay?
I didn't know; when I found out I left.
But looking back, are you like, "Oh, of course he was."
No, I'm telling you at that point you wouldn't have known. He was so wonderful. When I did find out I said, 'Why didn't you say something?' Why didn't you tell me?' We had a wonderful love life. We always had fun and I said, 'You can't do this, you've got to live the way you want to live and I can't live with you if you live your life that way,' and we stayed good friends forever.
Ever think about getting married again?
Are you crazy? (Laughs) Nay, no, no, no. This ship has sailed.
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