Bernadette Cooper is the founder of the all girl funk band Klymaxx. Their hits include the
classic songs “The Men All Pause,” “Meeting in The Ladies Room” and “I Miss You.” I had
the chance to meet her after a performance in Chicago last year. I was really taken with
how nice and personable she is. Bernadette has worked with many artists and continues
to write and produce new music. The Klymaxx resurrection began with a parody on
Saturday Night Live and an episode of VH1’s Bands Reunited. This won them a new
legion of fans. Bernadette is now at work on a brand new Klymaxx album. She took the
time to answer my questions about her future plans.
Klymaxx stands alone just for being a successful all female funk band. Why do you
think it seems this hasn’t been done since?
I believe it is very difficult to gather females. It is also difficult to convince them to actually
stay together as a unit. “Ride or die” no matter what. It is also my goal to create a unit of
girls that are talented and shine. It is also important finding a record company who
believes in that unit by signing and supporting that band.
Can you tell me a little bit about the new members of Klymaxx?
KLYMAXX will always consist of the original members. That will never change. The new
girls who are currently touring with us are hired. The originals Lorena and Lynn don’t
desire to tour anymore. The new girls we have are outstanding. We have Portia on guitar,
Regina and Maureen on keyboards, Sheryl and Cookie on drums and of course Joyce and
I. They are some of the best musicians I have come across in a very long time.
Does Klymaxx plan to tour again soon?
Yes we are touring now. Klymaxx is a great live show like no other. I hope to be like Mick
Jagger of The Rolling Stones. Rock star ‘till I die!
We have spoken about Klymaxx’s possible participation in Chicago’s North Halsted
Market Days. This festival draws a largely gay audience, what does that mean to you?
I enjoy performing in front of a lively, fabulous crowd and that often includes the gay
community. Klymaxx has been supported by LGBTs from the beginning of our career. I
recognize and admit to shaping the music to please all the fab boys, because that is who I
mostly hang around with. I am inspired and enlightened by their energy and zest for life
and most of the fine boys are gay. So, participation in Chicago’s North Halsted Market Days
would be an honor. I would work them into frenzy!
Which elements of your music do you think can account for your appeal with a gay fan
I believe the appeal is the fabulousness and positivity of the music, the freedom, all the
attitude and of course the vanity. “I knew I was looking good…”
You still look good. What’s your secret?
Wow. Thank you. I eat well, take wheatgrass, workout and get lots of rest. This helps
maintain a healthy and positive attitude. I stay creative by surrounding myself with youth
and technology. I love learning and am quite silly. These elements create a happy innerself
awareness which oozes out of me. That’s why I look so good!
Did you have any influence from gay men in your early career? Did any of them help you
in becoming the diva you are today?
Yes, of course! I was inspired by the glamour of Little Richard. I always wondered as I
heard my parents whisper about Johnny Mathis and constantly questioning Prince. I had a
crazy fascination with this guy who called himself Mr. Aretha Franklin. He would perform at
the neighborhood clubs in my area. I attended every performance I could. He sounded
exactly like Aretha Franklin, and I was a huge Aretha fan. I think I had a crush and became
sort of a stalker at his shows. When I finally met him he let me know he was more
interested in my brother. I was a huge Sylvester fan. He contacted me shortly before his
death to produce an album for him. There is also my best friend who recently passed. I
became his mold and he created styles for me. These included the hairstyle over the eye
and suggesting I get a nose job. He was a mirror. So the answer is yes, I am drawn to the
What was it like to work with Teena Marie?
Fantastic. Teena is a legend and I really respect her. I am always honored to work with
her. We are friends therefore it was a little weird producing her. I wish I could produce her
entire next CD. I know exactly what to write and what type of songs I would produce.
However, it is difficult for an artist of her caliber to take a back seat and let someone else
drive. I have major respect for her.
Diva is a word that’s really thrown around these days. People are called “Diva” when
they are really not. What do you think it takes to be a diva? I believe it is a combination
of style and substance, you definitely embody both.
Wow, I really don’t take it that seriously. Of course I absolutely love myself. I am secure,
positive, quite motivated and passionate. I think these are great components of a Diva. I
am just extremely comfortable in my own skin. Oh, I forgot… thank you for the lovely
Can you list some of your favorite Divas?
A few that come to mind are:
Aretha Franklin… I love her. She has a major vocal instrument that shaped my musical
Who was your favorite girl group of the 80’s?
Vanity 6 because they were raw, they worked that concept! In fact, I am forming a similar
group as we speak of sexy girls who know how to sell it. Nothing difficult, no over the top
singing, just making people feel it!
I was really struck by the song “The Agency Sent Me” on your solo album. What
inspired the writing of that? It was quite a departure from your usual subject matter.
Two issues that are close to my heart are children and animals. I am a huge advocate of
their safety and rights. I definitely have an alter ego. There are so many sides to my writing.
There is so much inside of me. This is the reason why I’d like to produce Teena. Her
vocals are such a great instrument for the stories I would love to tell. “The Agency Sent Me”
is definitely a reflection of how I feel about child abuse.
I think it’s a great time to bring Klymaxx back. You are such an entertainer and belong
on the stage. What led to this decision?
You know, I have so many passions in my life. There are so many vintage stores to
conquer. There are so many mountains to climb. Joyce “Fenderella” Irby reintroduced me
to the thought of touring. I started to realize that sometimes you have to go back to the
beginning, or where you came from to to excel in the rest of your life. KLYMAXX is where
people know me best. KLYMAXX is much bigger than I will ever be. It is such a beautiful
brand name I helped create. I humbled myself. We are now touring and working on our
Why didn’t Lorena” Lungs” Hardimon or Lynn Malsby participate?
Lorena has retired from touring. She has dedicated her life to a higher consciousness.
Lynn Malsby, wrote the biggest KLYMAXX song ever…”I Miss You.” She is an executive at
Macintosh and not able to pursue touring on a regular basis.
Do you still own your boutique? That seems like a lot of fun. It suits you after a song like
I loved that store. It did quite well. I love fashion and individuality. The store encompassed
both. However, my mother fell ill. So, I sold the store and moved back to Los Angeles to
take care of her. Now I am assisting my mother and my grandmother. Two generations of
DIVAS. This is a welcome sacrifice. I’m tired… but it’s a welcome sacrifice.
How do you feel about gay marriage and Prop 8?
I feel that whatever a person wants to do with their 15 minutes of fame on this earth they
should be able to do. No one should have the right to dictate another person’s destiny or
force their personal beliefs on another. I am all for love in any form…. I agree with gay
What did you think of Halle Berry’s Saturday Night Live parody of Klymaxx?
I thought it was absolutely amazing. I was very honored on so many levels. It viewed on
“Saturday Night Live” at a time when we were contemplating touring again. It was a turning
point in my decision.
What is the status of the new Klymaxx album?
It is a work in progress. I am such a perfectionist and a crazy artist. This album has been
rewritten 3 times already. I’m sure Joyce‘s patience is running out with me. However,
everything happens in its own divine time. I do believe it is almost finished. It is amazing
and well thought out. I am planning a work of art. The new album will be something
beautiful, fun and thought provoking. We are a Legacy band, the first female band of such
notoriety. This is my Alpha and my Omega. The new album is titled… “REAL DIVAS NEVER
DIE!” The new KLYMAXX album is coming out in 2009 and we do have a song featuring Ru
Bernadette Cooper is a true diva, a multi-faceted, talented and lovely person. At a time
when there are so many destructive influences and personalities in the media, it is nice to
know that there are still people like Bernadette. Klymaxx has accomplished a lot in their
career and will continue to do so. Klymaxx is dedicated to their GLBT audience and
providing a great live show. There is a compilation called “20th Century Masters” that
serves as a great introduction to their music. I look forward to them being a part of the
Market Days bill and hope everyone comes out to see them.