Elton John Plays $1M Private Gig... At Rush Limbaugh’s Wedding
Openly gay pop entertainer Elton John sparked criticism and controversy by playing at Rush Limbaugh’s wedding for half of his usual reported fee.
The performance was seen as unusual in a number of ways. Limbaugh, a conservative talk radio host, is viewed as anti-gay, though he has indicated support for civil unions for gay and lesbian families in the past, noted U.K. newspaper the Guardian in a June 8 article on the wedding concert. Limbaugh has also downplayed the severity of the AIDS crisis in Africa, saying that the epidemic has been "hyped" because it brings foreign aid money to the continent, the Guardian reported.
The 59-year-old Limbaugh married Kathryn Rogers, who is 33, in Palm Beach, Florida on June 5. The wedding marked the fourth time that Limbaugh has wed. John’s fee, which reportedly is usually doubt the $1 million he received for the Limbaugh wedding performance, went to the singer’s AIDS charity.
Comment from gay pundits and the political left was critical of Elton John having performed at the wedding. Michael Musto, a columnist for the Village Voice, lambasted the pop singer as a "whore" during an appearance on Keith Olbermann’s news program on MSNBC, according to a June 8 article at Advocate.com.
"Elton’s actually a pretty good gay and he’s done a lot for the causes, but this is kind of gross," Musto said during his appearance on Countdown with Keith Olbermann. "I was waiting for the transformation where he was going to sprinkle fairy dust on Rush and he would either come out of the closet or be gay positive. That hasn’t happened, so Elton’s just a whore."
In his June 7 Village Voice column, Musto wrote about the wedding performance. "Our out gay pal--who does so much for our cause when he’s thinking, um, straight--pocketed a cool million to help validate the twisted family values of a man who’s done even more to fuck with gay rights than he’s done to help Mexican production of OxyContin," Musto wrote of Elton John’s performance. "Why, Elton, why?
"Wasn’t it enough that you duetted with verbal gay basher Eminem at the Grammys that time, making it OK for him to keep making a lucrative sport out of kicking us in the groin and calling it poetry?" Musto’s column added. "Please stop pocketing blood money to further the devil’s cause."
GLBT online publication Queerty also condemned the performance. "There are reasonable things the LGBT community can do to disavow support for people who make a career out of gay baiting, and there are unreasonable things," a June 6 Queerty story read. "The former category could include refusing to go to an Buju Banton concert, no matter how much you like his beats, because he calls for the murder of our people," the story continued.
"And that’s where Elton’s flaw is," the article continued. "It will be Rush who writes out the check to Elton for the seven-figure sum; money that, let’s all face, Elton doesn’t really need. And even if his intention was to donate the cash to a LGBT youth group, it’s already bloody money, and tainted." The article went on, "We don’t need to revisit Rush’s entire history to remind you how he’s used his radio show to taunt queer public officials, public citizens, and even families."
Palm Beach Daily news blogger Shannon Donnelly’s June 7 posting surveyed online responses to the performance, culling outraged remarks and expressions of bitter disappointment from commentators, noting that angry fans were calling Elton John "everything from a ’hypocrite’ to a ’whore’ for entertaining at the fourth wedding of Limbaugh, who toes the conservative line that marriage is between one man and one woman."
Donnelly quoted one fan, who posted, ""E.J. are you not aware that your fan base and Rush Limbaugh go together like a candle and the wind? You know, I (along with 100K others) would have gladly paid you $10 NOT to ingratiate a world-class bigot. So next time... say when Sean Hannity calls to request your presence at his anniversary party... hit us up for the money. We’ll prop you up when your integrity fails you."
Other commentators slammed both Elton John and Rush Limbaugh for "hypocrisy," with Limbaugh being targeted for everything from his fourth marriage despite his family values" stances to his past addiction to the painkiller OxyContin.
Blogger John Grooms posted a June 7 column at The Clog on the wedding and the musical appearance, in which he noted, "Both men, of course, have every right to do what they did, so that’s not the question. The questions are: 1. Does consistency of one’s beliefs and actions count for anything anymore? And, 2. Do either of these guys live in anything resembling the real world? The answer is pretty obviously ’No.’ "
Grooms went on to recount that Gawker.com had run a contest for what message to put on an airplane streamer and fly above the event. The posting listed several entries that did not win the contest, including "Many Happy Returns (to the Altar," "May Allah Bless your Marriage," "Prescribing You Many Happy Years Together," and "Congrats on #4 from Those of Us Who Can’t Have #1."
Megyn Kelly of Fox News was at the wedding, noted Mediaite on June 7, and reported on the occasion with a swipe at The View’s Joy Behar, who speculated that Elton John was at the wedding for the money. Said Kelly, "Joy Behar wasn’t there, I was. And I can tell you that Elton John had nothing but nice things to say about Rush Limbaugh and the happy couple."