Taken By The Throat
By Noah Michelson
There are a few fans who are writing books about Tori Amos fan culture, there is another fan who is shooting a documentary -- someone is even compiling a book of fans' dreams about you. What is it about you that inspires this?
Well, yes, and then there are some people who will come to the shows and listen to the music and that's the extent of their involvement, and that's OK too. There are those people who don't go online but they might want to come to a show. And they're always welcomed. That's the idea -- this is not a closed party. The door is open and there isn't the idea of the velvet rope. I don't agree with that. People can drop in and drop out and drop by, and there's always going to be a fire ceremony going on and the circle will widen to let you in. The songs are very much about me being a container -- and yes, I have my opinions about what they're about. But they also go out and have relationships with people. What I do contains a lot of archetypal reference. And I think ultimately, people are trying to decipher what archetypes they carry. In some ways, you can say we carry all of them if we want to -- if we want to explore them -- but I would say at different times you carry a different ratio. That was the whole idea of American Doll Posse -- some of the key players are from the Greek pantheon -- for the women. You could do it for the men as well. You could pull the main players of the male side of this and you yourself could start investigating how much Apollo, how much Zeus, how much Dionysius you have, given where you are in your life. And I find that mythology is something that can be current. Joseph Campbell was always saying that the myths are always alive in us, but religion has repressed this. So the myth that we have been forced to adhere to is the Christian myth and where is the homosexuality in the Christian myth? And where -- for women -- is the woman who has her sexuality and has her spirituality in the Christian myth? The Gnostics believe that all this was in Christ's teachings and yet, it got edited out when it was taken over by the patriarchy. So, therefore, mythology is something that we're starving for. These are our stories -- this is in our DNA.
And you see the doll concept as a vehicle to express yourself? I think there were some fans who weren't entirely happy with the direction you went -- a kind of chorus of 'We want Tori Amos. We don't want Tori Amos dressed up in a wig as a doll or as a persona,' sprang up. Do you think they misunderstood where you were coming from?
They're all Tori.
And this was a framework to explore your different sides? Is that fair to say?
If you think about what we just talked about, that each woman or each man carries a character type within in them from a pantheon -- some people say, 'You are an Athena.' Well I would say, "Let's look at these as modern stereotypes that Tori is one way." No. She expresses herself in one way. But there are other sides to the woman that maybe don't fit into the popular image. There are other facets that are true and real and exist.
It reminds me of Sex and the City and the theory that if you put the four characters in that show together Voltron-style you'd get a 'complete' woman. Is what you're talking about similar?
But based around an archetypal strategy opposed to a modern stereotypical definition.
Which is something you've always been interested in. I think the archetypes have always been there -- Boys for Pele was filled with them.
Yes, but to say, 'Hang on a minute.' You can get trapped in an image. And people can trap you in an image. Think of -- whoever you are, reading this article -- think of your friends that turn around and say, 'I don't like you this way. I don't like this look on you.' Well, fuck you! If you're a real friend, why would you stifle your friend's exploration? But a lot of times we like our friends a certain way. And instead of them maybe finding that confrontational streak -- not that they become a bitch, because I don't see Pip [one of Amos' personas from American Doll Posse] as a bitch -- I see that she has no problem being a warrior. And she has no problem discussing things that other people would shudder from. And she's not looking for a man. Or a woman. She's not looking for an other. Knowledge is what she's married to and she doesn't think that she's defined by a soul mate. She carries Athena. And that fascinated me -- working with that energy -- because she doesn't need everybody to like her. That's what I liked about her and she can talk about things that will upset people. Ultimately Tori as an essence -- as an image -- tries to make things OK. And you can't always make things OK -- certain things are not going to be OK. So, whether you see these characters taken to their full expression, which was taking it all the way into the physicality -- not just the sonic -- those women live in here now forever.
Will they show up again? When you perform in Belgium later this summer will they be there?
No. That will be Tori as a one-woman show. But will they show up again? We're making a DVD -- we filmed that. And there is a lot to their life that happened off stage. It's hard to know in life how a story chooses to end itself. All good stories have to end, but sometimes there needs to be a yearbook if you will.
I know Perez Hilton is a big fan of yours -- is the feeling mutual? Do you think he and his cohorts work for the forces of good or the forces of evil?
I don't go on the website all the time because I'd never get anything done if I did, and he knows that. But when the lights are off and you're just sitting and talking to him he's a wonderful force.
So you two are friends?
We're acquaintances. We've met. I think he can have a very sharp blade -- there's no question about that. And there's a persona there -- that's why somebody like that becomes bigger than life by talking about what other people are doing. That is his art form -- talking about what other people are doing. Now when you do that, you can't always be complimentary or it's not sustainable. There is no career there. So if you're one of the sacrifices along the way, it can't feel good. It just can't. But I think that if he weren't doing it somebody else would be doing it. There's always going to be somebody who's commenting on celebrities.
And there's something about his particular brand of panache or style that you can get behind?
I think he's funny, but more than that, he's very smart. He's scary smart. And that's why this is occurring -- because he's extremely intelligent. No different than Brian -- Marilyn Manson. I don't know him personally but I know people who've worked with him. A highly intelligent individual that created Marilyn Manson, a very smart person. Sometimes people forget that when they talk about the panache -- that sometimes really distracts, intentionally, and masks you from the mastermind. But there is a huge mastermind that lives in Perez. And some people would find that very calculating, but then anybody that's really good with concepts has to know that the concept is airtight. And if you have a good concept, you'll inspire hate as well as ecstasy. Because if it's just OK, nobody gets hard. It's just one of those things -- it can occur while you're at the dentist -- it doesn't matter. But if it pushes those buttons in some way, then you have to know it's a fucking great concept but it might not be what the public wants all the time. That doesn't mean they're right. When it comes to art, the public isn't always right. The public likes what they like for all kinds of reasons. And sometimes it's, 'It's just because I want it this way!' But that doesn't mean it's the most exciting choice.