A Go-Go's Surreal Life
By Bob Merrick
Bi babe Jane Wiedlin sat down with us to talk about her life as a Go-Go, working with Paris Hilton, and her surprising turn on the new season of The Surreal Life (Sundays at 9 p.m. on VH1).
So word on the street is that you are in the studio working on the new Paris Hilton album. How did that come about?
I was at a party and I ran into Rob Cavallo [a producer from Warner Bros. Records] and he said he was working with Paris. She told him she wanted to make a record that sounds like a cross between Blondie and the Go-Go's. So we had some meetings, but the stuff I was writing wasn't what they were imagining. But they needed someone to help out producing the vocals, because that is a huge, time-consuming part of the process, so I told them I could do that in my sleep since I have been producing my own albums for years. So I am like the associate producer and it has been really great learning from Rob because he is so super successful and I am learning a lot.
And how is it working with Paris?
She's fun. She's a lot like you'd imagine. She jokes about herself, she's not prissy or diva-ish or anything. She likes people around her to have fun.
How's her voice?
I think her voice is sounding good. The first time she sang she was super nervous and she just didn't really have experience singing. And one of the main things I did was kind of guide her through the vocals. And as she is getting more and more comfortable in the studio, she is just getting better and better. I think people are going to be really surprised when they hear the record. It's going to be good.
So here is my biggest question for you. 1985. Why did you leave the Go-Go's?
It was a hundred reasons. The biggies were one, that I had stopped doing drugs. I was just over it and I was surrounded by people who definitely weren't. And second, I thought that I was a big star and that I didn't need them. I definitely had a healthy ego about it. I remember thinking [her voice gets very dramatic a la Norma Desmond], 'I would rather fail as a solo artist than continue to succeed as a Go-Go.' I was so fucking dramatic. Now I think, 'Oh, God. Whatever.'
So did they try and replace you after you left?
They got a girl to play bass because Kathy wanted to play lead and they went down to Rio for a concert called 'Rock in Rio.' And then they broke up. But I guess Rio was legendary.
That show was? Why?
They actually got kicked out of Ozzy Osbourne's dressing room. That's how out of control it was. Can you imagine?
[Laughs] How bad do you have to be to get kicked out of Ozzy's dressing room? It was pretty fucking funny.
Which brings us to The Surreal Life. How did you decide to commit to that? [For the record, housemates on this season's WB show, which has notable personalities live together, include former wrestler Joanie (Chynna) Laurer, Christopher Knight (The Brady Bunch), Verne Troyer (the Austin Powers sequels), former Out cover guy Marcus Schenkenberg, rapper Da Brat, and America's Next Top Model's Adrianne Curry.]
They just called my manager. The timing was very odd. I had never seen the show because I had been out of the country for the last two years. I had just finished doing some shows with the Go-Go's and I was watching TV with some friends and the third season came on and it was Brigitte [Nielsen] and Flavor [Flav] and Charo and I fell in love right away. I swear to God, a couple of days later, they called and asked me about doing the fourth season. I think if I hadn't seen those episodes, I would have just said no way because I wouldn't have known what I was getting myself into. Basically, it is a show for supposed has-beens.
Who was the most difficult in the house?
Well, Verne [Troyer] was difficult because he didn't ever want to do anything. He kind of had a negative attitude and you couldn't tell a lot of times when he was complaining if it really was because he has physical problems, or he was just being a diva. So he was hard. And Chynna was hard because she was very crazy and she talked all of the time. You couldn't have a conversation with her because she would never let you speak.
And do you have proof that she's not a man?
Well, I saw her naked with a tampon string hanging out. But I don't know if that's proof. I don't think she's a man. I swear it never occurred to me and then the second to last day, Brat said something to me when we were discussing the Sally Jessy Raphael part of the show called 'Dirty Laundry,' and she told me the only thing bad she thought she had said was that she thought Chynna was a man. And I tell ya', I am totally naive, cause I was like, 'Whaaa? Really?'
The upcoming preview for the Sally Jessy episode looks out of control between you and Da Brat. Is it really that bad? Does she ever loosen up and get off her high horse?
She did, it was weird. I thought we were friends and we had all of these fun moments together. But then when we did the Sally show, they showed all of these clips of her saying really nasty things about everyone, and she said that I was a has-been. I was fine with that because it was an interview from the first or second day and she didn't know me. But then at the end of the two weeks when they replayed the clips and Sally asked her, 'So, Brat, what do you have to say now?' and she said, 'Oh, I stand by my opinion,' and at that point, I was like, 'Fuck you.' Because it is one thing to say that about someone you don't even know, but I felt like we had been in the trenches together and had befriended each other. That is where I felt hurt.
Did you get to hook up with anyone in the house?
The last night at dinner we each had these cards on the table from the producers, which had our final task we had to do. And Adrianne's said that she and I had to make out on camera, because she and I were doing it the entire time off camera and mocking the camera crew because they kept missing it. So they finally made us do it for the camera and we were rolling on the floor and it was just silly and fun.
So, you made out with first ever America's Next Top Model on the show. Was that really just for silly fun?
Yeah, I mean, you know, I pretty much consider myself bisexual since I have had sex with both men and women and that is pretty much the definition of it. But I don't really go around chasing anyone, male or female, because I am married. My husband, God bless him, I love him to death. He thinks it's cute that I like girls.
Don't most heterosexual men?
Yeah, hetero men think it's hot. It's not why I enjoy kissing girls, I just like doing it because I think girls are hot, but I wouldn't do it because men think it's hot, it's just an added bonus that my husband thinks it's hot. I get crushes on girls, but as far as romance, I have always fallen for men.
I saw you at Kathy Griffin's Christmas party talking to Ryan Starr [from American Idoland the third season of The Surreal Life]. Were you sharing war stories?
I walked up to her and introduced myself and the first thing she said was, 'Oh, my God, I heard someone got naked the first day.' And I am thinking in the back of my mind, 'Well, I did.' And she follows with, 'What a slut she must've been.' So I just didn't say anything and moved on as soon as I could. It made for a good laugh.
Why do you think the Go-Go's have always been so popular with the gays?
Well, I think because we are basically a bunch of fag hags. At least I know I am.
What have been the best lessons you've learned as you've gotten older?
As time goes on, we get more and more like ourselves on stage. It's gotten kind of ridiculous. We were in Japan, and Belinda and I just sat down on the drum riser in the middle of the set and we were drinking wine, smoking cigarettes, gossiping. Literally like we were at a bar, completely ignoring the audience. We were like, what the fuck, we're just the opening act. They don't care anyway. It was so fun and so liberating to just not care.
At that moment, almost as if she had been listening to our conversation, Jane's phone rang. It was Belinda Carlisle calling after a show in London. It was my cue to wrap up my things and get out the door. Hearing them gossip made me feel like a teen again.