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PrideFest 2018 is going to be all about the party, and one of the headliners this year is house vocalist Crystal Waters. But not only does Waters know how to sing, make music, and party, she also knows how to honor the Prides that came before.

When she first started playing Pride events, there were still protests lining the streets during parades, and her fellow musicians wouldn’t perform for fear of stigmatizing their careers, or even contracting AIDS. But Waters wanted to perform for the queer community, and they wanted her—so much so that they helped her do her makeup and gave her places to perform.

Now, the Pride looks very different, and Waters is right there by our side. OUT FRONT called her up to ask her a few questions about the big event and her love for the queer community.

What have you been up to lately with music? What are you working on?

I just released a song in February called “I am House;” it just went to number one on the Billboard dance chart.

I’ve had a number one hit every year for the last five years; I’ve been touring; I’m working on an album; I also launched a skincare line for men called Boyface, so I’m actually getting ready for a big trade show in July, where I will be pitching to buyers. That’s going to be something new for me, so I’m trying to get ready for it.

That’s amazing! What exactly is Boyface?

It’s a cream, a plant-based product. We make an exfoliating daily cleanser, vitamin C serum, which firms and brightens your skin, a daily moisturizer. We also have a cool little eye firming serum to help you depuff, and it comes in a little roller ball, so guys don’t have to dip fingers in cream.

The last thing is a foaming beard mouse, which actually cleanses and shines the beard. I’m also developing Girlface. I did Boyface first, because I have a large male fanbase, but now I’m working with chemists on Girlface.

You broke into the music world from behind the scenes, which is pretty unheard of. How did you find so much success, and do you have advice for others who are chasing their dreams?

What I did was actually, to make a long story short, I had a demo; at the time I mostly wanted to be a songwriter, and me and my partner went to a group called Modern Art. We went to a music conference in Washington D.C., and last minute we snuck in, handed the cassette to them, and that night they called me.

They loved my songwriting, and wanted to sign me for the songwriting; that’s when I wrote two songs, including the first dance songs that I wrote. They gave it to another artist, but they really liked my voice on it better, so they put those songs on my demo. I also got my start before that doing background vocals.

You’ve always found the time to get involved in things like AIDS benefits and other charity work. Why is this kind of thing important to you?

You have to remember, back in the 90s, it wasn’t so cool to be gay.

Today I do all these Prides and everybody thinks it’s all about the party, and it’s like, you have to remember how this all started. People were getting killed for being gay; AIDS was a big epidemic; I remember reading that if the ambulance attendees found out you were gay, they wouldn’t even come into your house, and I thought that was the most horrible thing.

I would do all these Prides, especially in New York, and the streets would be lined with protesters. People wouldn’t do the Prides; I was one of the artists who would. When I first got to New York and got signed, the gay community took me in. At the House of Milan, I learned a lot about performing. A drag queen taught me how to do my makeup.

Ten years later, I remember doing New York Pride again, and there was like one protester left. We laughed so hard to see how far it had come!

What can people expect from your performance this year at Pride?

There is going to be a lot of engagement with the crowd. I’ll have my dancers with me, and I always try and give them more than what I’m asked for. Expect to have fun!

Have you played in Denver before? What do you like about the city?

I’ve been on the road for 25 years, so trust me I’ve been everywhere! I always like meeting the people; it’s the personalities that stick with me more than anything. I love meeting new people, and if I have time, also exploring the city.

What do you think the LGBTQ community should be reflecting on this year DURING Pride? What struggles are they facing?

I think they should reflect on voting.

Not only the big presidential elections, but all the little tiny ones. It’s all about coming together, making sure everyone gets to the voting booth, no matter what kind of election it is. I don’t think people realize that they have a voice.

Call your congressman, write a letter. They listen. It’s time to take a stand.