The Revolution Will Be Harmonized
By Barry Walters
Prince certainly played up the ambiguity of his sexuality, and yet many straight men have a certain kind of relationship with lesbians that a gay man doesn't have: It's a turn-on for them. Did you feel at any point as though you were being exploited to assert Prince's heterosexuality?
Wendy: Yes. Towards the very end of our relationship together as a working triumvirate, yes. It felt more like he had used up all he needed from us and he was going on to something else.
Lisa: But do you think that was connected to sexuality?
Wendy: Well, it might've been because he got Cat the dancer and Sheila E. to be in the band and be more sexually irreverent on stage with him, and that kind of played to his heterosexual side. Because as a lesbian couple, we weren't playing that sexuality with him specifically, and I think that maybe he needed more of that playfulness, and that probably came from him wanting to exploit his heterosexual side more. Maybe it was unconscious, but yeah, for sure.
All the women on Prince's record label, Paisley Park, were really attractive. And as time went on, it became more of an issue whether or not they were picked for their musical talent.
Wendy: Prince liked to be your savior. He liked to promise the world to you and he liked to be the guy who could deliver that to you and make you feel bigger than life. And I think he continues to do that with certain artists who would never be signed to a regular label and would never be played on radio and could never sell a record. I think that he actually believes that the women were all worthy musicians in his eyes, but I do probably think that there was a sexual component to it. That's just my psychology and I could be dead wrong, I don't know.
Regardless of what you went through and what came after, I'm sure there is a generation of women who saw you two in Purple Rain and went, 'Huh, maybe this is what I am.'
Wendy: I remember getting a lot of letters from young girls: 'I wanna play guitar just like you,' and you could tell in some of the writing that they were little young lesbians and their parents were freaked. And I would write back and just be like, 'Just go for it. Live it. You'll work it out.' It doesn't come our way much anymore except from people who are just a few years younger than us. You know, 'You made such a difference to me growing up and I wanted to be just like you. A lot of straight girls are like, 'You're the only gay girls who I'd wanna screw.'
How does your musical partnership sustain your relationship and challenge it?
Wendy: We're so merged that we can either function incredibly high or really fuckin' low and not get shit done. So we do our best now because we're both mothers with different women, but you can't help but have all the other shit try and drag you down. We fight everyday, so it's hard to answer that question.
Lisa: [Nervously giggling at Wendy's admission] There was so much of it that was so incredible. To be able to share that with the person that you're in love with, to be on stage and play music that you wrote together and look over at each other and be like 'Wow, look how cool this is!' We had our sisters in the band and our brothers on the road with us in the crew or helping out in the studio. We had this great life and a big house. We didn't lock the door for 15 years. People were in and out of the house and it was really utopian in a lot of ways. At the same time, it's really difficult, not having enough privacy sometimes.
Wendy: We started to need different things as far as intimacy [goes] and we knew each other our whole lives. So we decided that it was best to be our higher selves and be where we're at now.
Lisa: Our marriage ended, but our soul relationship will never end. We're a couple of sick puppies, basically.
Are you hitting a point in your career where things are finally turning around for you?
Lisa: Now it's kinda just fun. I actually find myself enjoying my memories more.
Wendy: But we'll end up getting more calls from Prince because he can't stand when we talk about him.
Lisa: He's always like, 'Could you just err on the side of privacy?' Well, it was our life too, pal! Whatever. It's okay.
Wendy: Trust me, Barry. He will read this article and we will get a phone call and he'll be pissed. Somewhere in this article he'll find something to be pissed about.
Won't he be proud of you too?
Wendy: No. No. No.
Lisa: He's not very generous like that.
Well, I'll do my best.
Lisa: Make it crazy! I don't care.
Wendy: Holy shit, Lisa. I don't wanna get that call.
Lisa: I'll take the call.
White Flags of Winter Chimneys is now available from major digital outlets and from Wendy & Lisa's web site, www.wendyandlisa.com. Wendy & Lisa's score to Heroes will be released April 21.