Hello! Thanks for checking out my website dedicated to Dusty Springfield.

This site was launched on August 7, 1997. It was the second site established on the internet to focus on Dusty Springfield -- the first being the excellent A Girl Called Dusty established in April 1997 by Grant Whittingham. Since Dusty's death in March 1999, two other major sites dedicated to the life and musical legacy of Dusty Springfield have been established -- Dusty Devotedly by her close friend Simon Bell, and The Great White Lady of Soul by Andy Robinson. All of these are very informative and creative sites and can be accessed via the Links section of Woman of Repute.

Well, if you're interested in learning a bit about me and what inspired the creation of this web-site, then I invite you to read on . . .

I am an Australian currently living and working in Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S.A., with interests in film and theology, photography, and social activism.

My interest in Dusty Springfield began on New Year's Day 1991 -- at about 7:00 in the morning to be exact! I was with a group of friends at a Queensland beach house recovering from the previous night's festivities. The T.V. had been left on and as we began to stir I noticed that Rage, an all-night music program on Australian national public television, was playing. At some point early that morning, Rage featured a segment on Dusty Springfield which entailed the playing of the video clips from her then latest album.

Although the reception was woeful and my head still groggy from the previous night's festivities, I found myself drawn to the image of this woman who up until then, had resided in my subconscious as a shadowy, almost archetypal figure from the far off 1960s.

Watching the 1990s Dusty as a 26-year-old closeted gay man, I was compellingly drawn to an obvious survivor; to a woman who despite the obstacles of a male-dominated, youth-oriented music industry, could transcend the hits of the past and risk attempting to produce a more relevant and contemporary sound.

Yet there was something else, something deeper that kept me awake and focused on the flickering screen. Before me was a woman who, with a dismissive flick of the wrist, sang knowingly of the societal forces that seek to prevent such transcendance and in so doing, attempt to smother that which is most creative, trusting and true within an individual:

They don't want the real you
They're gonna steal you
They're gonna take my dreams away
Well you try, you look for a way of keeping your face
But the reputation isn't worth the patience
Who cares what they're thinking?
Who cares what they're whispering?

That particular song, I discovered later, was entitled "Reputation," and served as the title track for Dusty's 1990 album which, in Europe at least, consolidated her return to the critical mainstream -- a "return" set in motion by her 1987 collaboration with The Pet Shop Boys.

I soon acquired Reputation and with a mixture of surprise, dismay and relief, discovered that the album's thematic undercurrents not only acknowledged and explored the intense feelings of regret experienced when leading a closeted and inauthentic life, but also the absolute necessity of transcending such experiences through self-awareness, acceptance and ultimately, risk-taking.

The cover art of "Reputation" - the single.
For album cover art see Reputation chapter in Biography section.

In recognizing such thematic undercurrents I was experiencing what writer Charles Taylor identified as pop music's ability to offer "a distilled and transcendent version of experience -- [one] that can seem both shared and startingly personal." Indeed, when Dusty sang on the album's outtake "Getting It Right," that Hey boy, it's alright / Someone understands . . . I had the unnerving yet exhilarating sense that she was singing directly to me.

Taylor also observes that the version of experience offered by great pop music is capable of propelling us to question the assumptions that underline "official" culture. And true enough, Dusty's "songs of experience," as one critic labeled the music of Reputation, impelled me to question all the more my closeted existence and to realize that it really wasn't worth the patience. My discernment of the album's underlying themes thus played a fundamental role in my coming out process and served as a springboard into the thirty-plus year career of a woman whose artistry inspires me to this day.

The genesis of the Woman of Repute website was a feature article I wrote in November 1993 for a local newspaper in Goulburn, New South Wales, Australia. The article was an attempt to draw attention to Dusty's 30th anniversary as a solo vocalist. To help promote the article I was interviewed on a local community radio program about Dusty's career. I also created a display for the window of a local record store which acknowledged and celebrated Dusty's thirty years in music.

Six months later I was living in Minneapolis, U.S.A., embarking on a new life. I had brought with me a copy of the article along with a photo of the display, and decided to send them to Dusty. Two months later I received a letter from Pat Rhodes, Dusty's secretary in London, who informed me that Dusty had read and enjoyed my article. The photo had been returned and signed "To Michael, love Dusty." It was a wonderful surprise, as I had assumed Dusty would keep the photo.

Not long after, I heard the news that Dusty had been diagnosed with cancer a few months previously (March 1994). My article and photo would have arrived when she was first dealing with this crisis in her life. The fact that Dusty had taken the time to respond in such a personal way despite all she was going through, will always impress me.

Currently, I'm working as the Executice Coordinator of the Catholic Pastoral Committee on Sexual Minorities (CPCSM), a Twin Cities-based, independent coalition. I'm a teacher by training -- having taught primary (elementary) school in Australia from 1988 to 1993. More recently, I was an adjunct professor at the College of St. Catherine-Minneapolis from 1997 to 1999. Classes I taught at St. Catherine's included Human Religious Experience, Spirituality and Social Justice, Jesus: Teacher and Healer, Interdisciplinary Problem Solving, and Global Studies: U.S. Foreign Policy, Latin America and Human Rights Abuses.

I obtained my Masters in Theology from the college's St. Paul campus in May 1996. My thesis defined (from theological, mythological and psychological perspectives) the coming out process of gay men in terms of spiritual journey. It also comprised a visual/performance arts component entitled In the Footsteps of Spring, which incorporates art, photography, prose, ritual and music (including Dusty Springfield's 1968 recording, No Stranger Am I).

In 2003 I graduated from United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities with a second masters -- this one in Theology and the Arts. The focus of my studies at UTS was film and theology and my thesis comprised writing a screenplay.

Since moving to the States in 1994 I've been fortunate in becoming involved with the justice and peace movement. In particular, I've worked with others in identifying and addressing dysfunctional aspects of U.S. foreign policy stemming from the reliance on U.S. militarism in securing and expanding U.S. corporate interests abroad. The people and issues I've encountered through such activism are documented in an online photographic exhibit entitled Faces of Resistance.

As well as my interest and involvement in issues of peace, social justice and church reform, I also attempt to maintain an interest in contemporary culture, especially in the areas of film and music. Along with Dusty Springfield, I enjoy the music of Kate Bush, Ben Harper, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Jeff Buckley, Jenny Morris, Pixies, Imperial Teen, Marianne Faithfull, Nick Drake, The Church, Suede, Ana Christensen, Rosanne Cash, Rufus Wainwright, Bobbie Gentry, Emmylou Harris and Loreena McKennitt.

In the area of film, I admire the work of directors John Sayles, David Lynch, Wong Kar-Wai, Gillian Armstrong, and Jane Campion, and actors Judy Davis, Hans Matheson, Vanessa Redgrave, and Jake Gyllenhaal.

I consider this website to be a "work in progress." I hope to be continually adding to them and improving on them. I welcome any comments and/or suggestions, and can be reached via e-mail at hangingrock@hotmail.com

Michael J. Bayly
October 2005


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