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New York Post (US)
January 17, 1997

Amos Lets Voice Be Heard

by Lisa Robinson

As a victim of rape -- she wrote a controversial song about it, "Me and a Gun" -- singer-songwriter Tori Amos is passionate about her work with the non-profit organization RAINN -- Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network -- and its free hotline for survivors of sexual abuse. On Thursday, with sponsorship from cK Calvin Klein and Lifetime Television's "The Place", Amos performs at a benefit for RAINN at the Madison Square Garden.

All this is part of a global effort to help raise $ 500,000 -- from this concert as well as extensive retail promotions involving Calvin Klein. "The work that RAINN does in supporting victims of abuse and assault and raising awareness of this issue is vital," says Klein. "We're very proud to support such an important organization."

In this interview, Amos, the 32 year-old North Carolinian whose platinum albums --"Little Earthquakes", "Under the Pink" and "Boys For Pele" -- have garnered her a massive cult following, talks about her work with RAINN, her image and her fans....

Lisa: How did this partnership with Calvin Klein come about?

Tori: RAINN was in trouble , and I just let people know that we existed. Calvin Klein called and said they wanted to be involved with RAINN, but it wasn't as if I was knocking on their doors saying, "Hi, my name is Tori, can I have a couple of million dollars?" I really was worried RAINN was going to close down, so I was going to do a concert on my own, but I didn't think anyone would come to the party. Originally, Atlantic Records and Warner's kicked in a bit to get us going. NARAS ( National Association of Recording Arts and Sciences) stepped in and helped when times were bad, and MCI chose not to close us down. But nobody stepped to the table in a major way. When you're running a toll - free phone line, it doesn't just run on good will. We really needed more help.

Lisa: As a musician, how hard is it to get money for things? Usually people ask you to do benefits.

Tori: Charity's a very difficult thing. You really can't go hat in hand to people, and it's not my way to ask for things like that. I just wanted to put calls out there and if people responded because it struck a chord, then they'd know we existed. When we got the call from Calvin, I just thought they would want to contribute something -- which we were grateful for -- but when they said they wanted to do a year's campaign, I just had to sit down. I said, "Repeat that to me one more time."

Lisa: How does the 24 hour hotline work?

Tori: It's like an emergency room. It's where you go to get references on where to rehabilitate. They have trained people who deal with people who call wanting legal advice. Like someone might call and say, "I'm thirteen years old and my mother beats me every day of my life. How can I get out?" Or, "What are my legal rights?" Do I need to have proof of my bruises, or proof of my sexual abuse? Unless you know what you're talking about, you won't necessarily have the right answers.

Lisa: How do people react to your involvement with this?

Tori: Well, when people go "Tori, this is so depressing," My response is, "Look, if it happens to you or your daughter, you'll shut up, your whole life will change. You might be uncomfortable dealing with this, but if your daughter needs help, there is a place where people can go. At least they can advise your daughter or your son where they need to go if they've had a problem that you can't deal with." You'd be surprised just how many parents just don't want to talk about this. Somebody said that Howard Stern said sarcastically that I was a "real party." But you know, rape isn't about a party. If something like that happened to somebody he loved, he better hope I'm not about a party when that moment happens and they need help. I'm really doing this so that people can go to a party. I'm doing this so that people who feel that at 21 their lives are over, or they don't know how to have an intimate physical relationship, that they can be beautiful people again.

Lisa: How disturbing is it to hear these stories over and over again from your fans at shows?

Tori: We've had kids who've come to the show and said that two of their friends just walked in front of a train because they couldn't face it anymore. Night after night you hear these stories. And when you know that you can do something to at least put people who need information and understanding together with people who have it, how can you wake up with yourself in the morning if you don't do it?

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