Sunday, May 25, 2014

Ode to New Jersey

things I like about New Jersey that I missed in California...close proximity to NYC, daffodils and irises



loudmouths, diners, 

 buildings made of bricks, 

no hipsters,

 change of the seasons, 

green grass with dandelions in it, 

the ravine,

old ladies who have their hair done just to run errands, 

Babe's taxi sign in Fort Lee NJ which reminds me of Babe Ruth and the yankees, small town political rivalries, 
Fort Lee, NJ Italian Saint Rocco parade

 the Mets logo on shirts, comic book shops with less emphasis on Tolkien and more on DC and Marvel, everyone walking their kids to school,

 driving across the George Washington Bridge, buying good sweaters in the thriftshops but window shopping at Henri Bendels and Bergdorf Goodmans and Trash and Vaudeville, 

nut vendors on Canal Street, old bars in Manhattan, Broadway casts - wait I'm talking about New York now

All photos c 2014 by Rebecca G. Wilson

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Lipstick Legend Angie Bowie! September 2012

Angie Bowie reading from her book Lipstick Legends photo by Rebecca G Wilson

I got to meet one of my alltime favorite style idols Angie Bowie!  I love her books and her insights into the music business from her years with David Bowie, her fashion style, wit, eye for detail, humor . . . I could go on and on about what an inspiration she is as a woman who inspired so much cultural sensation in the 1970s and she continues to inspire with her timeless beauty and lust for life!

I still remember pictures of her in my older sister's Creem rock music magazines, Angie with shaved eyebrows and wildly shorn hair alongside David Bowie in a Zorro hat and pantaloons.  Angie was always experimental yet sleek.

Deborah AP hosted the fun cocktail party for the Lipstick Legends reading at the 111 Minna gallery in San Francisco.  Dominique Leslie, legendary singer from S.F. punk band Animal Things was there along with underground luminaries Joe Donohoe from Specious Species magazine and Punk Globe roving reporter Gus Bernadicou.  Highlights from Angie's great reading included stories about Alice Cooper and Jayne County.  Angie's glamourous long, cream colored sequin dress was from Sparkle Moore's vintage shop The Girl Can't Help It.

From Bowie's muse and copilot in his skyrocket to stardust to captivating author, the sky IS the limit.  Now everyone go out and buy her new book Lipstick Legends!

An autographed copy can be purchased from the following link -

Angie Bowie and Rebecca G Wilson photo by Gus Bernadicou

Monday, May 19, 2014


This is an email interview I did with Ginger Baker and his daughter Ginette Baker in 2011 about his autobiography Hellraiser which was written with Ginette. Hellraiser is a great read about his wild life!


So your roots were more in jazz rather than skiffle bands?


Did you ever go see acts in those music halls that were popular in England up until the 1950s and if so, did these influence you musically?


I love the tales about characters like Sister Rosetta Thorpe.  How did the gospel and blues people mix or did they?  It sounds as though Sister Rosetta acted as though she were more like a blueswoman like Ma Rainey . . .


Did you ever meet Junior Wells or Slim Harpo?  Sonny Boy Williamson?  What was he like?  I heard some wild stories about him plucking a chicken in front of frightened Englishmen . .  Give us some anecdotes about blues guys in England!


What connection do you hear between African music and American blues music?  can you spot any traditional drumming patterns that maybe traveled from Africa to the U.S. when slaves were brought over?  Do you ever read or care for any of those blues theorists and folklorists like Luc Sante or Alan Lomax?


What do you see as the relationship between drumming and the spirit?  Do you have any interest in native african spiritual beliefs or religious practices? 


Are you proud of your son Kofi's renowned prowess as a drummer?


How is the situation for wildlife in Africa?  How do you feel about trophy hunters and poachers?  I loved books like Born Free, Jane Goodall's work and Gorillas in the Mists.


Did you ever read Chinua Achebe's book Things Fall Apart or Isac Dinesen's Out of Africa?


How is the situation in Zimbabwe?  How do you feel about the situation there in terms of how the colonists' descendants were kicked off of their farms?


Do you have any fave jazz musicians from the 50s/60s?  Which ones? Chet Baker?  Miles Davis?  John Coltrane?  Did you ever meet them?  What were they like and what did you like about their music or not?


You discovered you were a drummer by accident but taught yourself music theory on your own, correct?


Do you care for any classical composers?


Any interest in contemporary or avant garde music composers . . .


Do you have any plans to play more Cream reunion shows with Eric Clapton and Jack Bruce?


 Is Hellraiser an import or published in the USA as an ebook? 


My friend William Winant, a world renowned percussionist and percussion teacher, is a huge fan of yours, he had two questions for you as well

What inspired you to write Toad (the first great rock drum solo recording)?


Ask him why he started to use double kick drums?  He was one of the first to so. Ask him if he was aware of jazz drummer Louie Bellson's use of double kick drums, and if that had any influence on him.


Lastly, do you listen to any contemporary music?  Which acts and why?


Do you have any plans to record more music?  Who are you playing music with nowadays?



Were you thrilled when you father approached you about co-authoring his autobiography Hellraiser?

A: Not 'thrilled'! I just thought 'about time', as he'd recently told me he had another guy ready to do it & I thought 'well that's nice seeing as I've got a degree & do journalism, I wonder if he's ever thought of helping one of his own children for a change!' But I kept quiet & one day he called up & asked me to do it! Then of course I thought 'Oh good this could make my name and some money! Wrong on both counts! ha ha

While reading the memoir I was amazed by your father's recollection for details.  Did he keep a journal over the years or did he recite those recollections to you at the time of your writing the book?
A: We are a family of constant drama so that gets recounted & becomes family 'myth'... he had written his memoir in the 80's 25,000 wds of which were still extant (The Graham Bond section). It was well written. But in the main these 'anecdotes' are a lot of them 'aural' history that keep fresh in the re-telling over dinner tables of the world...(this is how we get laughs & sympathy!) Other recollections were recited to me whilst I took notes & tapes prior to writing.. but I already knew the great majority of them & so was able to prompt further recollection.. i.e. 'What about such & such a place?' him 'I've never been there.' me 'Yes you have because I was with you' etc etc

I really liked the care you took into writing down people's names and crediting who played in what band and which artists did the artwork for his different projects.  Was it important to your father to give credit to where credit was due?

A: Not really, it was the publisher's who wanted that.... we scaled it right down in fact! He only wanted to give credit to those he truly admired!

Some of the passages about the underworld of 1950s London were disturbing but fascinating and on par with William Burroughs' writing in terms of stark honesty.  How did you decide to portray your father's observations and experiences in such a bold way?  Did Burroughs or the in your face punk rock ethos influence your writing style?

A: Ginger read William Burroughs extensively in the 60's & 70's.. junkies tend to enjoy his work. Personally having lived with two junkies (my now deceased husband was one also) I have no need to read about it.. I've lived it & it was awful! Burroughs in my opinion is vastly over-rated, so no, he has not influenced me... Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, Oscar Wilde, Douglas Adams, Jilly Cooper.... my sort of writers!

I enjoyed your father's poems and reading about his sculptural art work and graphic work.  Any plans to put a book of Ginger Baker's poetry with images of his art?  I am sure people would love to see pictures of his art.  I want to see the fiber glass sculpture with the motor in the middle he mentions in the book.

A: This is an idea we've been toying with for some time and I think it would be great. I 'd also like to put on an exhibition on of 60's art produced by those on the music scene. I have some stuff of Eric's & my mother (who designed the inside of the Airforce first album, the dragon, & is the granddaughter of one of the Belgian Impressionist painters) has some wonderful stuff. However, nobody is remotely interested in putting up the money & I have the ambition of a gnat!

After writing this book what new insights did you come away with about your father?  I was struck by the scene when he mentions being in a bar in Manhattan in the late 60s and hearing people scoff at Vietnam war protesters after which he yells at them they didn't know anything about war.  The first thing that came to mind is that your father lost his father at such a young age in WWII and that he carried this pain with him his whole life.

A: Yes he would have perhaps been a better person had his father lived! Who knows? Most kids who went through the Blitz have some sort of residual trauma..& of course this showed up in the 60's peace demonstrations. It was always talked about that my real Grand dad had died in ww11 & meeting the grandfather who had survived the Western Front in WW1 has perhaps kindled my First World War obsession. Ginger says his father is always with him, but don't forget this was a fate shared by many.

There must have been long stretches of time when you didn't see your father when you were growing up while he was traveling in Africa and other places.  How did this affect you and your siblings?

A: It was fantastic when he was away, for these reasons, firstly, there was a rest from the constant violent conflict which was the sole dynamic of my parent's relationship and secondly we were free to establish some of our own identity away from an often violent, always egotistical & highly dominating parent to whom giving praise was an anathema! So yes 'hooray he's gone away, the longer the better!' Apart from meeting the stars etc, he was useful for some good social life!!!!

So you have a university degree and a master's degree in literature?  What was your area of concentration and which authors from that era do you love?

A: I have a 'first' BA, and a post grad MA in which I studied 'writing & society 1710-1820' .. this is basically 18th century popular culture. I love modern popular culture & read very widely fact & fiction on all manner of subjects from astro-physics to Tolstoy to anthroplogical studies to war biographies etc etc.....

What contemporary fiction do you read?

A: Contemporary fiction I find to be generally of a very poor standard.. I read some I'm given as gifts etc.. I would say I admire the early work of Jilly Cooper tho' academics would die at me putting her in the canon! Sixties writers such as Nell Dunn and Alan Sillitoe ( Saturday Night & Sunday Morning) were cooking.. I don't really like reading fiction set in the 'now'.. its not escapism!

What are your dad's current music plans?

A: He is very desperate to gat some money. Before that he said he had 'retired' but now he's spent all the re-union cash (Eric wonders 'how'??) he's asking for work. However nobody has so far been willing and/or able to put up the cash or make the arrangements required because he is so difficult to deal with and wife 4 had made this a million times worse! Its more rock n roll than ever at his house!

So, when did you get into punk rock?

A: No my own memoir (I can send you some) tells how I was mixing with members of the Royal Family in 1977 & not 'against' them.. I became a punk in 1985.. when it was long over!

Did you know Poly Styrene?  What do you have to say of her passing?  I loved her singing.  What were some of your favorite bands from the 70s and 80s?

A: I did not know Poly, but Zillah Minx was a close friend of hers & so I was aware she was about to pass away etc etc... many people speak very highly of her contribution especially lyrically. 

What did your father think of your interest in punk rock?  Did he ever care for any punk rock music?

A: He hated punk, he hates anyone who 'can't play their instruments' & that included The Beatles & The Stones!!! We were highly amused when he worked on Lydon's PIL album. Lydon also had said 'Never trust a hippy'.... hypocrites abound when cash speaks!

Which of the kids play music?  Do you or your sister play music?  Tell us about your brother Kofi's drumming career.

A: Do keep up with Leda baker who designed our web-site. A hugely talented guitar and bassist who played with Ginger (at my instigation) at his 2009 Jazz Cafe gig in London (this can be googled) She is also a a writer of computer software living in Amsterdam. Kofi is better technically than his Dad & is on tour in Europe. I do not play any musical instrument at all.    

Saturday, May 10, 2014

John Doe of X - the Average Man Interview 2012

John Doe performing at Amoeba Records in San Francisco, CA photo by RGWilson

John Doe from X - the Average Man Interview

May 2012

I recently caught the Amoeba records in-store concert of John Doe and Exene Cervenka from the legendary punk band X. They were on tour promoting their CD "Singing and Playing" which included some fabulous new tunes and some folky covers of edgy classics like Because I Do and See How We Are. A couple of weeks later John Doe was gracious enough to do a phone interview with me about his music and film acting.

RGW: What inspired you to go west when you were a young man?

John Doe: I was tired of the East Coast. The east coast was too old and too humid in the summer and I hated the weather and there was something musically happening everywhere which wasn't really reported but I knew that it was happening. New York was already kind of locked in. It already had its scene and I loved the movies and Nathaniel West and other west coast L.A. artists, authors and . . . Charles Bukowski and . . . anything can happen in the west!

RGW: How did you get your name John Doe?

John Doe: Well, my given last name starts with D, Ducach, and I also loved the Gary Cooper movie Meet John Doe. I thought that that was poignant about the people fighting against the bosses and people getting organizations that are grassroots and in that way having unity in power. Having been acquainted with John Waters, and Andy Warhol being a hero of mine, it came within that realm of taking on a persona. It's also easy to spell.

RGW: How have you and Exene Cervenka managed to successfully sustain a productive, creative partnership for the past thirty years?

John Doe: I guess we like each other first, alot of mutual respect and admiration and care, the love that we feel for each other -

RGW: So X, is still playing once in a while, right? And what is your current line-up?

John Doe: X plays all the time and our current line up is the original lineup, and has been since '99 I think, Billy Zoom, DJ Bonebrake, Exene and me. Last year I think we played probably 75 or 80 dates, this year we'll probably play 40 or 50.

RGW: Do you have any plans to record a full length X record?

John Doe: No, not right now. We're trying to work on getting everyone to agree to do that.

RGW: So it's a maybe?

John Doe: It's a maybe. Not a very optimistic maybe but a maybe nonetheless.

RGW: There seems to be a lot of interest in the late '70s early '80s Los Angeles punk scene, books about the Masque club, the Runaways, Rodney Bingenheimer, etc. Have you ever thought of writing your autobiography about the L.A. punk scene?

John Doe: I thought about it, yeah, I've talked about it with a friend, but I haven't set aside the time or made the effort to to do it yet, it's kind of low on my list of priorities actually. I think people are interested in it because it was a time that was sort of under reported and the reportage that has been done, like many histories, is sort of myopic and self serving. I don't know if I would be able to stay away from that myself.

RGW: George Jones is the Possum, Willie Nelson is the Red Headed Stranger, Kris Kristofferson is the Pilgrim, Waylon Jennings is the Outlaw and John Doe is the . . .

John Doe: (laughs) the kitchen help, I don't know.

RGW: The dishwasher?

John Doe: To those guys, yeah! I'd be the guy sweeping up after . . .

RGW: I think you've reached iconic status, I think you're ready for a one word nickname. so maybe one of these days someone will come up with one that sticks.

John Doe: John C. Reilly told me a very funny story, that he decided one day in high school, that he wanted to be called rooster, and he tried to get all of his friends to do it, and none of them did and then he realized that you can't give yourself a nickname, you can't say I'm gonna be "the something".

RGW: Well if you could give yourself a nickname what would it be?

John Doe: Well, I think I have, by being John Doe then I'm sort of like the Average Man, you know?

RGW: You recorded with music legend Ray Manzarek of the Doors. Who are some of the legendary filmmakers you would like to work with given the opportunity with your acting?

John Doe: Well, number one on the list would be the Cohen brothers, that'd be number one. I would have loved to have worked John Cassavetes, although I probably would have hated him afterwards. Lina Wertmuller was another person I would have loved to have worked with, Richard Linklater, and hopefully someday Allison Anders and I'll work together again.

RGW: Didn't you make Border Radio with her?

John Doe: Yeah, Border Radio and a movie called Sugartown.

RGW: If you could work with a great filmmakers from the past who would it be?

John Doe: Well probably number one would be . . . It's on the tip of my tongue, who did the Wild Bunch, Sam Peckinpah. I would hopefully be able to say,"Sam, don't be so mean to the ladies, don't be such a dick." Just because it's a very twisted iconic thing, you know, I don't know, you caught me unguarded, I don't know . . . Arthur Penn, of course, who wouldn't want to work with Martin Scorsese, but that's not in my power, that's not in my cards, I don't think, I don't think that's in my ability, not in my skill set, but we'll see. Maybe someday John Waters will make another movie and say,"Oh, I remember that guy from Baltimore!"

RGW: That would be cool to see you in a John Waters film!

John Doe: I think John nowadays, just has a good time and makes enough money to do what he wants by lecturing.

RGW: Do you record in analog or digital when making solo records, music with X and other collaborations?

John Doe: Digital but we don't use the digital format for any trickery, it's just easier.

RGW: Everything doesn't have to be from 1955 when you record?

John Doe: I'm definitely not a purist, I don't have new guitars because I don't think they're made as well or I can't afford them, also recording on analog tape is expensive. With the Sadies I think did we use tape. I'm not a purist, you can make analog tape sound shitty just as easily as digital. I will add one thing, what we do is, if you want to get a little technical, it's not terribly- you take all the digital files and you put them on the mixes on a half inch tape, and then you master from that tape. That's one thing we do so you have a little more of that infinite sound that you get on tape.

RGW: That makes sense. What do you think of the renewed interest in vinyl releases. Are any of your solo or band projects being released or re -released on vinyl?

John Doe: X has the second, third and fourth records on vinyl already and we're putting out a boxed set of the first four records. I think it's in June, and my last two solo records with the one with the Sadies and this most recent one called Keeper, those are both on vinyl. I think it's great I have a, not a big, but a very well kept vinyl collection. I mean it's not all classics or anything, but it's shit that we find at, you know, yard sales. My sweetheart found a few records at this humane society thrift store and she said, you know, there's some really good records here. And she picked out all the best ones and I went back there were still ten or twelve really great jazz records and folk and blues records that had been in somebodies collection.

RGW: What music does John Doe listen to while he's relaxing?

John Doe: Like a lot of people, I have a computer that I put on shuffle and just whatever comes up. It goes from new stuff to old stuff. I do like a lot of roots type music. One of the best songs of that whole collection, was there was a lot of dixieland in these records that we just found. If it's the real deal, if it's the recordings from New Orleans and stuff like that it's really good. There was a version of What a Difference a Day Makes by Lonnie Johnson, who's a blues singer, and I thought 'cause everyone remembers it as the disco version, at least of our era, I looked it up and that song is from 1934.

RGW: You mentioned that you listen to some new acts. What new artists do you enjoy listening to?

John Doe: I don't know if they're new records, I really liked Gillian Welch's last record, Gillian Welch and David Rollins, Laura Veirs, I like her a lot. We got P.J. Harvey's last record. I haven't really made sense of that one yet, that was strange! There's a band in L.A. called the Americans, which are pretty good. What else, there's a lot of bands that I like but none that have really changed my world. There's tons of bands that are really, you think of as indie bands that are not really indie bands anymore like the Black Keys, and stuff like that so it's hard to say. I'm going to my computer right now 'cause people ask those questions and you immediately freeze up and go I don't remember. I did download some Al Jolson and it's really embarrassing cause he's in blackface on the cover. I got a Ben Kweller record a few years ago, that was a country record of his that was pretty good. He's been around for a while. I dunno, just whatever's good, and unfortunately nowadays there's a lotta stuff that is sort of surprisingly mediocre, and you wonder who the hell is the booking agent on Saturday Night Live? There was band on there a few weeks ago called Sleigh Bells, and I heard their name before, I heard of them, and we watched them and they were fucking terrible! They were like a joke and I don't know, it's just surprising.

RGW: Have you heard of Neil Young's idea for this new digital mp3 format that is going to rival vinyl sounds?

John Doe: No, but I think that Amoeba the records store is trying to do that as well, tell me more.

RGW: I was just reading that Neil Young has poured a lot of money into it, to develop this big technology that is going to be the highest grade mp3 possible, better than the ones you can listen to now. It's kind of music nerd stuff. I'm not really a music nerd, I don't really understand it but I try. JD- You and me both. I think there's a law of diminishing returns where your speakers are only good enough to handle a certain amount and then after that it's all numbers and it doesn't really matter. I also got M. Ward's last record and I think M. Ward is a real talent.

RGW: Is that a man or a woman?

John Doe: M. Ward is a man. I think his real name is Matt Ward but there was some Christian guy who already had the name Matt Ward so, he had to . . . He's from Portland, he's really good.

RGW: On your new CD "Singing and Playing", you and Exene, your voices have never sounded better. Exene's voice sounds really melodious and sweet. Do you feel your voices have matured?

John Doe: Yes, we're just trying to get them to be more immature. We're trying to go backwards. Exene and I have a way of singing together that is kind of a sixth sense and we kind of know where each other is going before we get there. And that just has come with familiarity, but not the contemptible part, not the familiarity that breeds contempt. I think that Exene is a better singer on her last solo record the Excitement of Maybe. We sound good together and that was just an afternoon, that was on digital and we did it basically live. The only advantage of doing digital instead of analog is that you can fix smaller things that you know are gonna bug you, and the difference is people used to spend six months in the studio cleaning up all that stuff or you just said screw it, that's fine and those were usually the better records. That's what happened in the seventies. That's where punk rock has a great debt to people like Boston and Bob Seeger and the Eagles and stuff like that, 'cause they manicured the shit out of their records and they ended up sounding sterile. So punk rock said that's dumb, bleed is a good thing. Nowadays, even the really so called alternative bands like Arcade Fire or the Decemberists or U2, everyone records the same way nowadays because they realize the value of it. They realize the value of how many other people sitting in a room and being able to hear each other and having the microphone pick up bleed from other instruments because that's what makes it sound like it's glued together.

RGW: So nowadays most people record all at once, it's not like they lay down separate tracks, is that what you mean?

John Doe: Yeah, which is what they ended up doing in the seventies and into the eighties. And that's when records really started sounding bad, because they were all close-miked and people weren't in the same room at the same time.

RGW: Good point.

John Doe: Let me just say, the thing that pisses me off is that then you get some self righteous mother fucker nowadays going like,"Oh no, man you know like we just get in the room you know, we like to set up we just do our thing, man," and then some dipshit from NPR's going like oh my god, that's so radical, and you're thinking like, you know what? People have been doing that for years, and it's not like you're on some fucking cutting edge because even, you know, ten years ago people started doing that again, but whatever.

RGW: Nothing new under the sun, right?

John Doe: Well, yeah, nothing new under the sun. Some people never lost that and don't starting getting self righteous about how cool you are because you just do things naturally. That's bullshit. We knew that when we first started recording and many people like Neil Young or Bob Dylan or people like that never lost it either.

RGW: Why did you move from southern California to northern California? You're such an L.A. punk icon.

John Doe: The truth is that I moved from Los Angeles in 1989 and I lived up on the grapevine for about twenty years and then I moved from there to Bakersfield for about four years and I loved the kind of literary quality that the central valley has but I really couldn't stand the weather or the conservative attitude. I'd much rather be with people who are open minded and progressive. I honestly can't picture myself living in a city anymore and going to Los Angeles is one of the more difficult physical situations you can be in, sitting in traffic, it's a completely unnavigatable city, if that's a word. It's a city that you cannot navigate without becoming enraged or having to go into some sort of Zen coma.

RGW: I keep hearing about these late '70s early '80s days in L.A. and your shows at the Whiskey that people say were legendary and amazing. What are your memories of those days?

John Doe: Well I think they were memorable and they were sort of beautifully naive because we didn't know any better but it was the right kind of music for the right size club which is something I realized after hearing David Byrne talk about it. Punk rock was envisioned or became real because of the size of the club that it was being played in and there were a lot of different styles of punk rock back then. Punk rock was anything that wasn't mainstream so there were sort of art influenced and dada influenced bands and then there were bands that were more hard rock there were bands that were more rockabilly and there were ones that were more hardcore. It didn't really start splitting up into the different factions until '81 or '82, something like that. And then I would also credit that there was no real money to be made. That's an advantage when there's nothing to be exploited financially, then art has a way of being better and I don't know if it's purer but it's certainly being done for the right reasons. Being done because you believe it, and you care about it, you love it. It comes from an honest and sort of soulful place.

RGW: I read somewhere that your Knitters band mate Dave Alvin calls himself a Roosevelt Democrat. How do you combine a love of Americana, western wear and roots music with being liberal? Do you like to watch a John Wayne film but hate that he was in the John Birch society?

John Doe: I just don't think about it. I don't try to reconcile it. That's become my style and hippies don't own the moon either. Even though there's a lot of moon references and imagery in the hippie world. Hippies don't own either the sun or the moon. Unfortunately, I have to admit that nowadays I have a difficult time reconciling what is and isn't America. And I'm not a - I don't know if I'm a card carrying American anymore especially with, you know, civil liberties being what they are.

RGW: Tell me about your acting in a short film called the Spanish Kitchen Restaurant by Hudson Marquez?

John Doe: That's one of those moments that you're completely unprepared, but you say sure, what could happen? And then you turn in some mediocre performance because you didn't realize what you were supposed to have prepared for. It was a great learning experience and it was fun to hang out with T Bone Burnett for a week. It was a short film, the Legend of the Spanish Kitchen, which was a great legend, a great story, in L.A. There was a place called the Spanish Kitchen, which may be open again, but it was shuttered and you could look inside of the deteriorating venetian blinds, and it was all set up to open but it had been twenty five or thirty years since it had been closed.

RGW: Anymore plans for the Knitters?

John Doe: The Knitters are an ongoing, you know, you never know about the Knitters, we could surface at any moment. We don't have any plans but I am sure that we will be doing probably some touring next year but we don't have anything on the books right now.

RGW: My last question is do you have any acting plans?

John Doe: As a matter of fact, I do. There's an indie film tentatively titled Pleased to Meet Me from the Replacements title. It's kind of a music movie, where I'm sort of playing a musician but not actually doing much singing or playing. It's going to be shot in Louisville. Hopefully we'll be including some other indie musicians but I don't want to jinx it. I do actually have a sort of leading role that is in the works.

Photo by Rebecca G. Wilson

Gossip Goddess Janet Charlton interview 2011

Gossip Goddess Janet Charlton


with Rebecca G. Wilson


I first read Janet Charlton's gossip column in the Star years ago and became a big fan of her writing and observations of the Hollywood showbiz scene.  I caught up with her recently and asked her some questions.

My enquiring mind wanted to know!

RGW: What do you think of National Enquirer finally getting some respect after having broken the John Edwards' mistress scandal story last year?

Janet Charlton: I've always loved the National Enquirer because they dig up stories we'd never hear about, if it weren't for them. They've brought down more than one politician and John Edwards really deserved it. What would we DO without tabloids?

RGW: I noticed that you are the first reporter to mention the link between David Carradine and Scientology. Why do you think other media outlets ignored this important tidbit?

Janet Charlton: I leap on every opportunity to make Scientology look bad - I have a lot of contempt for cults.

RGW:  When you first moved to Los Angeles, was it to act or be in showbiz yourself?

Janet Charlton: I moved to LA to open an ultrahip clothing store on Sunset Strip called The Garment District. That's how I met a lot of celebrities and started writing. Fashion was my life.

RGW: Did you study journalism and or writing at college?

Janet Charlton: I studied journalism and advertising at Northwestern Graduate School. I got a bachelor's degree in psychology.

RGW: Psychologists are finally saying gossip serves a purpose in keeping society functioning smoothly. Do you think gossip is like a good joke in that it helps let off steam? What do you think of people who hate gossip and think it's sinful? I guess what I'm saying is what is the difference between good and bad gossip to you?

Janet Charlton: I've always believed gossip is very healthy - it's a basic and necessary way for people to communicate. The word gossip has a bad reputation but it can actually be quite positive.

RGW: Which actors and actresses come to mind that look simply amazing in person (even better than on camera?)

Janet Charlton: I think Charlize Theron is amazing, Jennifer Aniston is really cute - I'd like to see Rob Pattinson in person.

RGW: I love that you owned a boutique. Who are some of your fave past and present designers? Betsey Johnson? Do you watch the Fashion Show with Isaac Mizrahi and Kelly Rowland? I LOVE it!

Janet Charlton: Designers: Certainly Betsey Johnson, Gaultier, Margiela, Comme Des Garcons, Undercover (Japan). Currently I'm totally into Japanese fashion. I love all the reality design shows, and I think Isaac Mizrahi is really fun, but I don't consider Kelly Rowland a fashion expert in any way.

RGW: What did you think of Hollywood gossip columnists of yesteryear -- Hedda Hopper and Louella Parsons?

Janet Charlton: Hedda and Louella were fabulous! Everybody in Hollywood buttered them up with lavish gifts at Christmas. They lived like queens. But I felt they were a little too judgmental.

RGW: What do you think of people complaining about aggressive papparazzi all the time? Are they really that bad or just photograpers trying to make a living in tough times?

Janet Charlton: I love the paparazzi but I know a few of them can be rude and spoil it for the rest. Most of them are hardworking decent people. Gossip writers couldn't live without them! Granted, there are more of them than ever before, but putting up with them is part of being a star.