Adele Bertei’s is truly a Cinderella story. She grew up poor. Her mother was schizophrenic and her macho, heavy gambling father was bisexual. Neither had much interest in raising a family. She and her brothers became wards of the state and were separated. Adele was shuffled between foster homes and reformatories. Coming of age in the heat of the early ’70s music and gay scenes in Cleveland, Bertei was inspired by art photographer Nan Goldin, who she connected with while Goldin was in town photographing members of the local gay community. Soon afterward she was also mentored by the brilliantly talented, alcohol-fueled, gun-toting, guitarist Peter Laughner, the founder of Pere Ubu, an influential band hailing from the city. Bertei dove deep into the art world, establishing herself as a multi-disciplinary creative soul — a musician, performance artist, film director and writer. During a career filled with music, chaos and success on the road less traveled, she was signed by two major music labels and performed and/or collaborated with the likes of Brian Eno, Thomas Dolby and Tears For Fears. Beyond music, Bertei authored two books: Peter and The Wolves is about her brief, but intense, friendship with Laughner, who died at 24 due to alcoholism; and Why LaBelle Matters, the story of LaBelle, the all-girl trio made up of Patti LaBelle, Nona Hendryx and Sarah Dash which served as a model for girl groups like En Vogue and Destiny’s Child as well as being stalwarts of the LGTBQ+ community and Afrofuturism. Bertei is currently at work on a memoir of her childhood set to be published in 2023.
Her story takes us from Cleveland to New York City, from London to points beyond and finally, to Los Angeles, her current home.
Proud to say Adele Bertei’s rich journey all started from Ohio.