home / interviews


Boyz (UK)
September 15, 2001



KOOKY SINGER-SONGSTRESS TORI AMOS' LATEST OFFERING, STRANGE LITTLE GIRLS, IS A COLLECTION OF SONGS WRITTEN BY MEN THROUGH WHICH SHE WANTED TO TALK ABOUT MEN. HEY, WHO WERE WE NOT TO OBLIGE HER..?

Do you think men get women? Heterosexual men? I was going to give you a) straight men, b) gay men.

This is a tricky, tricky, tricky thing. There are some straight men that I think have a great sense of humour about it and don't exploit the madness when we walk into our mad cow disease. However, I've been a little worried about straight men lately - some of them are like, bonding together to subjugate women and gay men. What is the power in this bitch/faggot thing? If people want to play the power sex thing, the fetish thing, whatever... that's been going on with erotica and porno for a long time, but I'm talking about the malice, the degradation and the wanting to harm. The meanness.

Don't you think men just feel more threatened now because women and gay men...

Are becoming very successful. Economically. Yes, I do.

And they have more fun.

And there's a little glam in their lives. Don't you think the definition of power is different? I've said being a heterosexual man is a great challenge. Their roles have never been questioned like they are now. The alpha male... well, now you've got to deal with the alpha female. Before, it was all about being the provider, it was clear.

So do gay men get women better?

I think that there's a safeness. With my gay friends anyway - I don't want to knock them down and they don't want to knock me down either. I think that sometimes when you're with men you could be involved with, there's a different smell, a different scent, a different hunt.

You've always done the gay press, haven't you?

Gay guys taught me how to be a woman. I was working in the clubs when I was 14, 15, 16, which is when I ran into Joey McDonald and Ray, and they'd try to teach me how to not give it away for free: 'Where's your dignity as a woman?' And they'd check my beliefs. 'What kind of woman do you want to be like?' And I'd say 'I'd want to be a rock god.' 'No, no, you really don't want to be that.' Then I thought I wanted to be Sammy Jo from Dynasty and they'd say 'You don't want to be that either.' Joey saw another path for me, 'Where you're not dependent on men for your power. I'm not bringing you up to be discarded.'

What did you look like that back then?

I was a little bit frumpy, by accident. I had to do the long dress at the piano at these places, but they taught me how to get the references right.

Coming from a religious family, what were you like back then?

I had the weirdest set of rules in my head. Like, I was OK with doing some stuff, but not others. It doesn't hold water now, but if you dissect it, you could see I didn't want to be anybody's guinea pig sexually. I was like, practise on someone else. And the whole thing with being with an older man, I guess I did have a period of that, I was with a guy who was 11 years older than me when I was 21 in LA and before that I was with a failed cat burglar. And sexually, they were both definitely not practising on me, which was good. But I'm not a sexual creature.

Really?

No, I guess when I play the music, yes. But before I'd have to become all these people to even entertain pleasure, what with the guilt and the shame. I've been struggling my whole life to bring the two Marys into the same body, the Magdalen and the Mother Mary.

Is that easier now you're married?

It's not about the marriage, it's about the man I'm with. There's been a time in my life when you're exploring some of the hidden parts of yourself, it does excite you and you're driven to certain fantasies. But in my mind I had to work through certain things that were scary - like being the young girl. That can get really dangerous if someone doesn't know how to deal with that. And my husband isn't interested, he's like, 'If you need to go into your little girl thing, we need to go and have an ice cream. I'll go and have an ice cream with you, but I'm not playing this out. You need to call your shrink and it'll all be OK.'

So how's mumhood?

It's great being a mum. I don't have time for just nonsense thinking, so crawling on the floor and playing gumba, gumba, gumba is really important, and if something's going to take me away from that, it's got to be just as important.

Are you relishing the prospect of Toy Story entering your life?

I'm more interested in Winnie The Pooh.

Are you scared how she might turn out?

Great. I'm cool with whatever she becomes, I just want her to have a good sense of self respect.

The album, Strange Little Girls, is out on 17 September, and the single, 'Strange Little Girls', is released on 8 October.


t o r i p h o r i a
the World of Tori Amos
www.yessaid.com