Gioia Bruno made a name for herself as one third of Exposé, a top female singing group of the late '80s and early '90s whose numerous hits included “Point of No Return,” “Seasons Change,” and “Let Me Be the One.” After Exposé, Gioia (pronounced “joy-ah”) sang with the band Wet, worked solo, and even opened the West Broward Performing Arts Academy in Florida. But in late November, Bruno will reunite with Exposé after more than a decade apart, and a tour is planned for 2007.
Last January, the 43-year-old singer, mom to an 18-year-old daughter, revealed that she is bisexual. AfterEllen recently talked with her about the highs and lows of Exposé fame, her bisexuality, queer fans and how she dealt with a throat tumor on her vocal chords.
AfterEllen.com: I was in high school when Exposé was big, so everyone my age I told I was interviewing you was pretty psyched.
Gioia Bruno: It’s pretty amazing how many people remember, and it freaks me out because there are so many markets. Honestly, I think everybody came out of the closet — at least mostly the boys — to Exposé. If they didn’t, then at recent shows I’ve seen all the faces that I remember from before, and they’re finally out. I’m like, “I so knew you were gay.” I could just tell. I love the people that support me so much, let me tell you. Anybody I knew back then, we’re in contact now. Most of my friends are people that I met back then. And all of them are gay or bisexual or transgender or lesbian.
AE: Part of why I’m interviewing you is that you’ve recently begun talking about being bisexual.
GB: Yeah, well, I talked about it my whole life, but nobody talked to me about it in an interview. I really only opened up to that for myself in my life when I was in my 30s. It’s tough to figure out what does bi mean. … I thought about it in my 20s and being raised Catholic Italian … and I always loved men. I love men and women. The thing is I made some relationships in my 20s and 30s with people, women in my life, that I’ll never forget and that will never end.
AE: What’s your longest relationship with a woman?
GB: Probably about three years.
AE: Did you live together?
GB: We couldn’t 'cause of work but you know, [we] got together all the time. But she — actually it’s pretty hard to talk about who she is — but I respect that. It kind of started out as a threesome, and that’s how I was introduced to women.
AE: To have been in a band that had more than one hit is kind of a miracle. When you were at the height of it, did you enjoy it?
GB: You know they kept us so down, they kept us down.
AE: The management?
GB: Everybody, the whole entire bunch of them.
AE: Were you created? Because you came after there was already an Exposé.
GB: Yeah, there was a three-girl group and they put out the first version of “Point of No Return,” and after they gave the deal to the producers of the group, they said, “Great music, but we want new girls.” And they came in and they found me at a club in North Miami.
AE: Were you dancing?
GB: I was singing. North Miami had just brought me up from New York — I’m a rock singer. I was a rocker, R&B singer, and they needed somebody with a little more of a soulful voice for songs like “Let Me Be the One.” And they came at me and for eight months straight I was not interested. I didn’t know what dance music was, I didn’t want to know about it. And then, of course, it got under my skin and now I’ve got a Junior Vasquez remix, a track for me called “From the Inside,” and that went out on Queer As Folk and got on their CD, and then different little things started happening.
And my whole world is gay. If I have one friend out of 10 — and I have a lot of friends — [one] out of every 10 is straight, it’s a lot. And I wouldn’t be who I was if it wasn’t for the people in my life. And they’re gay and they’re straight and they’re transgender and they’re completely switched over, and I love that about my life. And for me to not be able to say it, you know, that’s who I am and what I’ve done.
AE: So did you actually get to enjoy Exposé when you were at the height of your fame?
GB: You know what? Honestly, there were times that it was great. For me, the memory that always sticks in my head is the sound of the audience when certain songs would start, like “Point of No Return,” and just the amount of screaming, say at the Boston Garden. … And I can get chills just thinking about it now, that it was just so amazing that so many people loved it so much. But it was pretty tough shows. It was like nine shows a week and we were getting paid 200 bucks a show! Some of it was the worst!