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White Party Week: Singing star Kristine W knows the power of music

BY STEVE ROTHAUS, srothaus@MiamiHerald.com

kristine w 1 Singing star Kristine W strongly believes in The Power of Music. It's the name of her latest album, but also represents much more.

``Music brings people together in ways nothing else can,'' says the one-time beauty queen once known as Kristine Weitz, who performs Sunday at White Party Week's Noche Blanca dance event at Dolce Ultralounge, 1500 Ocean Dr., Miami Beach. ``With music, there seems to be no agenda. It's very freeing. People can listen to a song and express emotions they can't say.''

Kristine, who has a huge gay following, says she looks forward to appearing at the annual big AIDS fundraiser.

``I performed last at the White Party the year I was getting sick,'' says Kristine, 46, diagnosed in 2002 with acute leukemia. ``This is going to be fun.''

Kristine grew up in conservative Washington. She represented the state in the 1982 Miss America pageant, winning a talent award and a preliminary swimsuit competition.

``I was always very liberal. I was accepting of everyone,'' she says, adding that in parts of Washington state, it's still hard for gay people to be out.

``It's more cowboyish,'' she says. ``Brokeback Mountain.''

From the beginning of her singing career, Kristine nurtured her gay following. ``It was hard 12 years ago when I started in the music business. ``It was hard to embrace the gays at the record labels.''

Everyone warned her: ``That's career suicide. You need to be mainstream, mainstream.''

Times apparently have changed. ``Now, Lady Gaga is all about working it,'' Kristine says.

During her illness, at the height of Queer As Folk's TV popularity, Kristine filmed a music video featuring the series' cast.

``I was really sick at that time. I had a stem-cell transplant. You wouldn't have known it, but I had to lay down on the floor in the back. I was bald then, so I had all those wigs. The Queer As Folk cast didn't know at the time,'' she says. ``I was living it every day and this was my chance to have fun and not think about it. That was how I coped.''

Kristine lives in Las Vegas with son J.R., 9, daughter Elizabeth, 10, and the children's father, a farmer.

Last spring, Kristine took the kids to the Miss USA beauty pageant, where judge Perez Hilton famously asked Miss California, Carrie Prejean, about her stand on gay marriage.

``I thought the question was so inappropriate for a pageant. . . . My kids were there and they have 4,000 gay uncles. But they're all classy and they don't talk about sex in front of kids,'' she says. ``[Hilton] seemed like an evil queen. I thought, `Oh no, America's going to think all my guys are evil queens.' ''

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