Photo: Piotr Sikora for VH1
It's been over two decades since 4 Non Blondes landed on the scene with the hit single “What’s Up?” and, in that time, Linda Perry has transformed herself. No longer a front woman, she's become a hit songwriter for Christina Aguilera and Pink and now — with her latest incarnation as star of the new VH1 series, Make It or Break It: The Linda Perry Project — she's a mentor. Or as she puts it, “I’m great to be of service. I like to be of service to people.”
What hasn’t changed in her two decade-long career is proudly showcasing who she is. At times, she's literally worn her identity as a shield, like when she displayed the word “dyke” on her guitar during her 1994 Billboard Music Awards performance.
Fiercely unapologetic, her personality can be intense or seem brash in person, but it is just who she is. Especially now that she's married to her wife, Sara Gilbert. “I’m more out there than Sara. She’s quiet. Sara — you would not get this interview from her,” Perry says.
In a conversation with Out, she offered unfiltered thoughts on everything from Tom Cruise to the masculine appeal of her hats.
On what she wants next for herself:
I have a general idea of what I want: I want to be considered a legend. I want to win some major, incredible award, like a Nobel Peace Prize, or be inducted into the Hall of Fame — something major. And I know that I want to be able to look at everything I’ve done and be proud of it. And I know that when I walk down the streets of New York, Los Angeles, or whatever, somebody points at me and says: “That girl’s fucking cool.”
How the attention has shifted away from the music:
Lifestyle is the head of the game — before the art. Let’s face it; people are more interested in the lifestyle than they are the art. So the art really doesn’t mean anything. So should people be out and should that be helpful to their career? I don’t really think that makes a difference right now. Because right now, nobody’s focusing on anything important, they’re just focusing on the lifestyle.
How coming out doesn’t matter, unless you’re Tom Cruise:
Is it going to hurt Tom Cruise for him to tell everybody he’s gay when everybody knows he is? Is that going to hurt his career? Maybe Tom Cruise when he was hot. But it would actually help Tom Cruise to come out right now. If I were his PR person, I would say, “Dude, if you were going to come out today — right now is the time — because you’re a sinking ship that nobody wants to get on. So, use it. It would actually make you look kinda sexy. Right now — dude — go be queer. Go be out, be proud.”
On her relationship with wife Sara Gilbert:
Sara’s awesome. She’s popular — everybody knows her. I don’t think I’m as popular as her. But I think her and I together — we’re really cute, we’re really charming. We’re a powerful little couple because we’re not obvious.
And why they got married:
We’re so proud of who we are and anybody — it wasn’t a gay thing. It’s just that we’re in love. We got married because we’re two women in love.
What her hats mean to her:
Oh, I have a lot of hats. I have like three favorites right now, but I own a lot. You know, I’ve always been a hat person. I don’t know why. I think it’s because I’ve worn so many in my life. Maybe it’s my Linus blanket because I can hide under it and it makes me feel powerful. It makes me disappear. It makes me noticed. It makes me feel — I don’t know — masculine. There are so many things that it represents for me.
Make It or Break It: The Linda Perry Project premieres on July 16 at 10 pm EST on VH1.