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November 6, 1999
Venus Envy - The Parallel Universe of Tori Amos
Boyz meets Tori Amos
VOTE TORI - she may have sold millions of records, appealed to every loon out there and been dismissed as a ginger nut, but who knew Tori Amos could be such fun? Here she talks to Eric James about Cuntishness, the smell of fire, and tasting her own juices.
photos by Mark O'Flaherty
"I get everyone except the pedophiles. I think Britney Spears gets all those."
Tori Amos is slumped on a settee in a South London photographic studio, stroking the studio cat, speaking from deep inside a massive Prada coat, with her vertiginous Demeulemeester stillies up on the coffee table in front of us. Over an hour late, due to a stop-off to buy everyone cakes from a swishy patisserie, she's far from in a hurry as we - in her words - have a little snuggle on the sofa. She takes time with her answers, leaving big silences and toying with the toggle on my sweatshirt as she goes.
Boyz: Nice ring. Is that wedding-related?
Tori: No, this is the wedding ring. This was the 'I like you' ring. This came first.
Boyz: The 'I like you' ring is bigger. What should we read into that? Are you still hot for this guy?
Tori: We're in a sizzle-in-an-iron-skillet kind of realm
Boyz: He was your soundman. You shouldn't be fucking the staff.
Tori: Yeah, I know. It's rule one.
Boyz: What's he got that attracted you?
Tori: You know, I would only tell this to you guys. Cosmo tried to get this out of me, and I told 'em to fuck off. [silence] I'm thinking.
Boyz: There must have been an initial, 'hmmmmm, nice arse....'
Tori: Nice calves. First of all, I've always liked tech-heads, It's that mental, sexy thing. I think in a sense, we come from very different backgrounds. He's a Brit, I'm an American, some things don't translate. For example, in the States, if a waitress is a cunt, you deal with it. Here, you don't want to cause a stir, there is this kind of downtrodden thing. I address stuff. I said to this girl in Waterstones once, 'Baby, what are you making? Four quid an hour?' and she went 'Why?' and I said 'cause you're NEVER going to make any more.' She was horrible.
Boyz: Are you a bit of a cunt then?
Tori: No, I'm vicious but fair. Cunts are cunts 'cause they're bitter.
Boyz: where does it come from, your cuntishness?
Tori: But I'm not a cunt. I'm direct.
Boyz: which can be the same thing in certain lights...
Tori: There's no redeeming justice behind being a cunt. Cunts are usually mad at the world... I went to a store, she agreed to work at the store for this money, and she's angry about it. Well, it's not my fault that you took the gig. Go give blow-jobs for a hundred and twenty-five quid. You have that option. A lot of cunts are projecting outward.
Boyz: Cunts projecting outward? This is in Thailand, right? It's a ping-pong thing?
Tori: It's a she-male thing.
Boyz: Why have you got matches if you don't smoke?
Tori: Because I like to light them.
Tori: Don't you like it? Fire? It cleanses. It definitely purifies… don't you love that smell?
Boyz: Is there a religious flavour to you, 'cause you had the minister father and all?
Tori: When you're brought up with it like that, it's really part of your fabric.
Boyz: But you don't think like that at 14. You just think, 'you won't let me do what I want, so shove all that up your arse.'
Tori: I did, but I was still buddies with Jesus. I always thought Jesus was not such a bad guy, and a bit more conniving than people think. I bit busier too.
Boyz: I like that little evil look in your eye. What was your father thinking of, taking you to gay bars to perform?
Tori: I was kind of circling the drain for a year, a year and a half when I was 11, 12. I was at the piano every day, doing my own interpretations of things, composing, and he said, 'What do you want to do?' and I said, 'This kind of stuff.'
Boyz: What kind of stuff? 'Cause gay bars tend to want a bit of...
Tori: Musical theatre. That was really kind of heart-warming, but there were nights when people were really drinking, and you know when they take the mike and do their 'Send In The Clowns' rendition, and it's all a bit flat. Then you'd get the guy who'd walk up and sing 'Hello Dolly' perfectly.
Boyz: So, what were you doing there?
Tori: [sings] 'The first time ever I saw your face....' Alone at a piano in a gay bar, it's not a bad option. [to the photo studio] Somebody, can I borrow some lip gloss? Desperately!
Boyz: Do you attract weirdy people? Don't you get these really intense fans who want you to menstruate on them?
Tori: I get everyone except the pedophiles, I think Britney Spears gets all those. That's her area. The ones that are dealing with their guilt and their shame, and is it lust and S&M? And the self-loathing and the I-should-be-in-Berlin and Henry-should-have-lost-his-scrotum-instead-of-me-losing-my-head. Yeah, they show up. I usually don't attract the right-wing. They don't show up, except to threaten, which is all in a days work.
Boyz: Ever had lesbian sex?
Tori: No. I don't munch rug. I taste my own juice, but it's not my thing. I adore and love women, but I buy them flowers and tell 'em what I'd do if I were six-foot four - and you know I'd be six-foot four.
Boyz: What's the wildest sex you've had?
Tori: I will tell you something that almost happened. I was in this bar in LA in the 80s, and these two beautiful guys, underwear models, gorgeous, come up to me and said, 'Do you want to come home with us?' And I said, 'Obviously, I'm worried you've got a butcher knife and you're going to chop me up into 17 pieces. And I can't be tortured again. And they said, 'that's the chance you take.' And I really couldn't go back. I think they were dicking with me.
Boyz: Were they gay?
Tori: I think they were swinging. I do wonder if they would have been violent... if a guy hits me, I will literally grab hold of his throat, put my teeth into it and rip until he is dead.
Boyz: We should stop now.
Tori: Did we have fun?
Boyz: We did.
Tori Amos' album, To Venus And Back, and the single 'Glory of the Eighties', are both out now.
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