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Thursday, April 5, 2018

Daily Boom Exclusive Interview: Betty Dee of Sweet Sensation

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(Photo: Sweet Sensation's Official Facebook)

So, there was this one Saturday WAY back in 1989 that I can remember like it was yesterday, because I had perfect timing (a rarity). I had arrived for a taping of Dance Party USA and the energy was crazy because one of the guests for that days' taping was Sweet Sensation. I loved them. I mean, we ALL loved them. If you were even slightly a freestyle fan than the opening to "Take It While It's Hot" probably made your heart race. Betty Dee put on one hell of a show even then. Sure she was all sparkles, leather, ripped jeans and big hair but even more so, she was a performer.

When DAilyBOOM first launched in the summer of 2015, I had a bucket list of people that I wanted to interview and Betty was on it. At the time Sweet Sensation was on hiatus but as luck would have it, they returned to the stage by summers' end. In the last few years the ladies have criss-crossed the country, performing for freestyle fans that still know all of the lyrics to their string of hits.

I finally had a chance to chat with Betty this week and the only thing bigger than her laugh is her heart. I wish that everyone could experience a bit of time with her because Betty is one of those rarities that leaves people better than she first finds them. Well, unless she's really mad then you better start running! Seriously though, Betty is equal parts crazy, outgoing Latina and introverted cat lady. She is also ALL parts love, joy, positivity and acceptance. The woman you see on stage is exactly who she really is, and that's a gift to all of us.

Image may contain: 3 people, including Betty Dee, people smiling, people standing and text
(Photo: Sweet Sensation's Official Facebook)

Cate Meighan: Can you believe that Sweet Sensation has been around for more than thirty years?

Betty DeeSweet Sensation has obviously had personnel changes through the years. Since 1991 it has been me, Jenae Colon and Belle Ritter. I've jumped in and out of the group a few times. The last time that we faded into the music background my dad was really sick and I was dealing with a bunch of other personal things. So I decided to step away from the spotlight and just live my life. In August of 2015, we got back together. I received a call from K7 of TKA, my work husband (laughing) asking me to come back. He said that we needed to return to the stage and start doing shows again. I couldn't believe there was interest but he has been my best friend for thirty years, and so I listened to him. I called the girls and just like that, we got back together. The first thing we did was meet for rehearsals and I can remember thinking, oh my god, I'm going to have to go and by lashes again (laughing)!

CM: How do the logistics work now that you're all older and juggling other responsibilities?

Betty Dee: We all live in different parts of the country. I work a crazy, very demanding, but fulfilling day job during the week and then on weekends, I get to perform. My week is busy. I'm a mom to my kitties and my dog and I do the things that I need to do at home. Then on the weekend, I get to put on lashes, make my hair shiny (laughing) and then hop on stage and perform with my friends. I mix the two lifestyles and they're easy for me to balance because I'm a good multitasker. I need to be busy and performing is something that I really love to do.

If we are in NY for a show then we travel into the city and gather atone location for a quick rehearsal. We'll get ready there, do the show and on Sunday we'll go our separate ways again until the next weekend. If we go out of town and have to really travel then it becomes more work but I love it and I wouldn't have it any other way.

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CM.: How was it coming back this time around?

Betty Dee: Coming back this time has been so different. We're older and we appreciate things more. I feel better now at 50 than I did at 30 (laughing). I'm more energized and I want to keep giving the fans more. I mean, there's a mortality thing of- okay how much longer can we really keep doing this? If I'm going to do it now then I'm going to give 1000% and I've got to give it my absolute all. I think other freestyle artists think the same way.


CM: Freestyle fans are like no other. No matter where the venue is, it really is like a family at the shows.

Betty Dee: The fans are the fuel. They're the gasoline that lights the fire for us. If we went out there and didn't have the support it would be totally different because that's what drives us. I speak for my work husband, my work wives and all of the people that we do shows with. We see each other so often that we really are a family and we really do get together and talk about how amazing it is that we can still do this thing that we love so much. It's valuable to me and not just as an artist. I listen to them perform and it takes me back- like thirty years!


I remember what I was doing when Noel's "Silent Morning" came on KTU in NYC! We sang about love and dancing and heartbreak. I can't find a freestyle song that's not about one of those things (laughing). It's all about love and tears and that music created a bond 30 years ago and it's still there now. We all share that same bond now and I'm humbled by it. Understanding the genre and growing up with the people that listened to it, I totally get it. We hold on to this music and the time in our lives that it takes us back to until it's ingrained in our DNA. It's literally who we are.

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CM: You look like you're in the best shape of your life right now and I've gotta ask, what's your secret?

Betty Dee: I had spent years depriving myself of calories and running around like crazy until my metabolism slowed down. It was in starvation mode and so I was gaining weight instead of losing it. I was trying to stay in shape and I wasn't eating fatty foods and it just wasn't working so I decided to experiment and cut out leafy greens. I would eat more meat and some cheese instead. I also started to work out differently. Instead of being on the elliptical for like, ten hours a day, I started lifting weights and dancing. I was doing that and eating full meals throughout the day because the food was giving me fuel.

Image may contain: 3 people, people smiling, people standing
(Photo: Sweet Sensation's Official Facebook)

Once I started switching things around and feeding my body, it did me the service of getting really lean. So no more measuring and weighing food for nothing. Now I eat everything in moderation, including the healthy stuff. I have more energy and I don't feel sick every day. Here's the thing, you have to figure out what works best for you because there's not one set cure-all program

CM: You're one of the happiest people that I think I've ever met. Where does the joy come from?

Betty Dee: We're on borrowed time and we all end up in the same place so don't take life too seriously. Do the things that make you happy and do them 1000%. Life is short and at some point, we lose each other so make the most of it. Be happy and make others happy too. That's where I'm at in my life and if that means going out on stage wearing sparkles and singing songs, then it's what I'm going to do.

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