September 11, 2003
We’re not in Kansas anymore! Josh Jabcuga talks with Ms. Tammy Faye Starlite about her album, Used Country Female, doing time on GUIDING LIGHT, her love of beastiality, and why she thinks Faith Hill is easy. Warning: You may be offended.
The following interview was conducted on August 25, 2003. This is the first in a series of interviews conducted with the women of alt. country by Joshua Jabcuga and Squib Central. More interviews will follow in the upcoming weeks.
Joshua Jabcuga: Your album, Used Country Female, was released in 2002 on Diesel Only Records. One of your label mates is Laura Cantrell. You’re both considered by many to be “alt.country,” but you’re very much polar opposites. How would you describe your sound to those who may be unaware of what you do?
Tammy Faye Starlite: Oh my. I suppose I would describe my sound as an amalgam of a synthesis of a fusion of Joseph Arthur, Michael Feinstein, and a little bit of Anne Murray thrown in – bless her heart, the Snowbird, she’s so troubled, she has a very acute problem in her nether regions – the lips stick together, a result of too much bulgur wheat. But a dear friend, bless her heart.
Joshua Jabcuga: Are there any similarities between you and Ms. Cantrell, or between you and the Shania Twains and Faith Hills of the world?
Tammy Faye Starlite: Well, Faith is easy – and I do mean that – we’ve both had Tim McGraw, I did him last week, and we’ve both ridden atop Alan Jackson, though I did not bear his child, as Faith did. Shania – well, I guess because we’re both Canadian, though she hails from Timmins, Ontario, and I’m from Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Oh – and one time when we were both stuck at a Shoney’s in Dublin, Virgina, during a hailstorm, well, there’s only one way to circulate the blood, you know, but we’re really just good friends. And Laura – bless her heart – she is an angel. Much more righteous than Miss Amy Grant, who’s a skanky-holed hag.
Joshua Jabcuga: The L.A.TIMES once called you the most subversive, bigoted performer they’d ever seen. I’d imagine that’s a pretty good compliment. What were your thoughts when you read what the TIMES said?
Tammy Faye Starlite: I know the writer, Natalie Nichols – I believe that was her name – we’re good friends, we belong to the same Klan faction. I felt very warmed by her laudations.
Joshua Jabcuga: You were an actress on soaps like GUIDING LIGHT. Did the creation of Tammy Faye Starlite rise out of this experience? Where exactly did she come from?
Tammy Faye Starlite: GUIDING LIGHT was a great time. I got to work with the totally wonderful Allison Janney, now C.J. on THE WEST WING. But Tammy Faye mainly came about because my name is Tammy, and I liked the song, “Stand by Your Man,” but I felt it lacked a monologue about being happily gang-raped, so I inserted that right between the two choruses, and Tammy Faye Starlite was born, for better or worse, though most, I believe, would say the latter.
Joshua Jabcuga: How much of Tammy Lang is in your alter ego, Tammy Faye Starlite, and vice versa?
Tammy Faye Starlite: Oh my my . . . well, Tammy Faye Starlite is an ultra-right-wing Christian proselytizing racist nymphomaniacal incest-loving country-music singer – so far that describes me too – but she’s very sweet, and alas, therein lies the difference.
Joshua Jabcuga: Here’s a smattering of song titles from the Tammy Faye Starlite catalogue: “Ride the Cotton Pony,” “We Don’t Smoke Crack but We Sure like Fucking Pigs,” and “Highway 69.” Do you face a lot of opposition from people who “don’t get it,” especially in these times following 9/11 when many artists, labels, and studios are being overly cautious with what they are producing, trying not to offend anyone?
Things seem to have let up a little, but your album came out in 2002 when things were still sketchy. I imagine that it wasn’t exactly a walk in the park trying to spread the good word of TFS.
Tammy Faye Starlite: Indeed ‘tis so, mon cher ami. Actually, I was scheduled to perform here in NYC about a month after 9/11, and several friends said something to me like, “You’re…not going to do any…you’re not going to cross the line too much, are you?” I said no, of course not, I understand it’s still a very sensitive topic, to say the least, but come show time, I ended up asking a guy in the audience who was wearing an FDNY shirt if he was really a fireman or it he just wore it to get pussy. I can’t keep my mouth shut, though I guess, some guys like that about a woman. And yes, I do ingest. But I’m surprised you know about the pig-fucking song – I haven’t sung that in ages! It’s not on any CD – oh baby, are you a beastialitarian too? I hope so. I know some great farms we can visit together. Just me, you, and ewe.
Joshua Jabcuga: Are you trying to make any political statements or is Tammy Faye Starlite simply a means to have some fun and vent, as well as let the audience have a collective catharsis?
Tammy Faye Starlite: The latter, most definitely. Heck, baby, I’m no Steve Earle. I love the death penalty, and I’m very pro-landmine.
Joshua Jabcuga: If someone asked me to classify Tammy Faye Starlite’s sound, I’d say it was a blend of early Howard Stern, Andy Kaufman, and Loretta Lynn…and I’d still probably be off by a hundred miles. Who exactly are your influences?
Tammy Faye Starlite: For sure those three you mentioned, especially Loretta. I actually sang with her once. I was at a show of hers, which took place at her ranch – Hurricane Mills – and I was in the second row, and she was singing, “You Ain’t Woman Enough To Take My Man,” and I was singing right along with her – and she stopped, and pointed at me, and said, “That little girl knows how to sing this song. Whyn’t you come up here and sing this song!” I walked to the stage and I felt like I was crossing Jordan. The band started up, and I sang, and as I held the last note Loretta whispered to me, “Say ‘Yeah’ at the end.” So I did. It was an ethereal experience. I met her once later on, too – I was almost going to be signed to her label, Audium, but that fell through when the head of the label heard about the Amy Grant comments I was making onstage. But I heavily digress. My influences – Mick Jagger, Linda Ronstadt, Maria McKee, Nico, Goldie Hawn, Fawn Hall, Jackie Collins and Steve Reich.
Joshua Jabcuga: Lately it seems like a lot of artists are returning to the roots of country. You’ve got Bob Dylan with his Love and Theft, Wilco with their countrified Pet Sounds in Yankee Foxtrot Hotel,
Johnny Cash being nominated for numerous MTV Video Music Awards, even current critics’ darlings the White Stripes dedicating one of their albums to Loretta Lynn. Why do you think there is this trend over the last few years to return to some of the fundamental elements of rock?
Tammy Faye Starlite: Two words: Henry Winkler.
Joshua Jabcuga: Your cover of Cheap Trick’s “Surrender” is interesting. Any word on if the band has heard your “spiritual” take on the song and what they thought?
Tammy Faye Starlite: I don’t know, actually, though my drummer, Kenny Coomer, did play for a while with the very lovely Mr. Tom Peterson, who is still so hot. I would surrender to that Danelectro, most definitely.
Joshua Jabcuga: I imagine your concerts must be quite the experience. I’d love to see the show. I bet it’s a cross between a pro wrestling event and a sermon. Are there ever any “innocent bystanders” who have no clue what to expect and are totally sucked in to the show? Is there anyone totally appalled who look like they’ve just witnessed a murder?
Tammy Faye Starlite: Oh yes – I’ve been called anti-Christian, anti-Semitic, anti-country music, Auntie Mame, everything. But that’s OK by me. I kinda like it. Makes me feel like my shtick is less shticky. Though truth be told, it is pretty sticky down there.
Joshua Jabcuga: What’s next for you? Touring in support of “Used Country Female” or working on new songs already?
Tammy Faye Starlite: I think just reorganizing my little messy life, doing a few shows, working on a larger TFS project, and recovering – I suffer from the same ailment as Mr. Dennis DeYoung of Styx – light sensitivity. It’s a very serious problem, and I’ve started my own Starlite Foundation to help combat this silent menace.
Thanks to Bob Gruen for the photo
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