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Harvey Clarke teaching assistant dons flamboyant personality for local shows

    Summer kicks off in style with an outdoor, cabaret-style performance from Forest Grove’s own Big Mama Gayle and her Sugar Daddies at McMenamins Grand Lodge Thursday night.

Big Mama Gayle heads up this flamboyant group of musicians and go-go dancers — and promises to deliver a rollicking good time for everyone in the audience.”

Our band is different because the whole thing is about going out and having fun,” she said. “It’s more like an event. You don’t just sit and watch us.”

Big Mama Gayle is Gayle Hayden, a special education teaching assistant at Harvey Clarke Elementary School in Forest Grove. At 15, she performed in an all-girl rock n’ roll band, and moved on to perform on Broadway in New York City and as a go-go dancer around the world.

Once she dons her Carmen Miranda outfit these days — complete with fruit headgear and a ruffled yellow satin dress — the show is on.

All of Big Mama Gayle’s costumes are made by her mother, 93-year-old Carol Homfeld. They took an outing to see the drag queens at Darcelle’s in Portland so Homfeld could get the look just right, Big Mama Gayle said.

by: NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: MAUREEN ZOEBELEIN - Big Mama Gayle's 93-year-old mother is the force behind the singers cabaret-style costumes.She’ll change costumes several times during the course of the show and roam the audience, helping the inhibited shake off their hesitations and get their boogie on. “After the show is over, nobody can say they didn’t have fun,” she said.

Two go-go dancers help keep the energy high, and at 63, Hayden sets the pace — even though she admits it might hurt a little the next morning.”It’s all about the audience. That’s what makes it really fun,” she said.

The group aims to entertain kids and adults alike, giving audience members a chance to sing and even bringing out big bouncy toys for children to play with.

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