By Jason Lamphier
Speaking of Madonna, "UR So Gay" received a big stamp of approval from her, which you admit has helped boost your career. What have you learned from her? Is there anything you'd do differently with your career?
You know, I wasn't raised with the option of seeing all of her changes, so now is the time I'm getting caught up with everything. I respect her so much, more now than I ever did. The woman is going on the Golden Age, and she looks better than me. She's doing it with thought and attention. She seems to keep most of her private life private, which is really cool. She's involved in things beyond her "Material Girl" ways.
Is there any territory she explored that you wouldn't delve into as a performance artist?
I don't think I'll ever get too S&M like she did. I'm a bit more of a tease. I'm not going to put out because I'm a little shy. I talk a big game, but I'm shy at the core. And I know some of my stuff is taboo and cheeky and sassy and fun, but there's no hidden motive. It's just me. If you hung out with me for a day, I think you'd understand that is 100% me. I'm very, very sassy and probably a smartass most of the time.
You must have gotten flak for having released two blatantly gay-themed songs. Has anyone confronted you, claiming that you're simply trying to market yourself to the gays?
It's definitely not a marketing ploy. I remember when we were talking about options for the first single, and I was like, "Let's go with what is obviously the catchiest song, 'I Kissed a Girl.'" I know people are going to be like, "That's the only theme you know how to sing about," but I think in due time people will see I have a couple of more cards in my deck. I'm excited to make a more energetic video for "Hot N Cold," probably the next single. I'm very involved in my career -- too involved. The MySpacing is the biggest problem in my life right now. People think it's not me, but it's really me, and it takes four fucking hours to approve all of these comments! I love my fans so much, but I'm going to die! I'm really involved. People that think that I walked into some major label naked and came out with a set of American Apparel clothes and a shaggy haircut are totally wrong. I've been playing guitar for 10 years and gone through three labels. There's no silver-platter status.
You've said you're not in the music business to be a role model, but your music has major appeal to young listeners -- the, dare I say it, Avril Lavigne set.
All of my songs are written from my perspective. They're my stories about my life. I understand that music is influential. I mean, sometimes I take songs off [Alanis Morissette's] Jagged Little Pill and adapt them to my life, but these songs are definitely my diary, and I've always said I'm not here to necessarily be a role model. I'm in the business of rock n' roll. I don't have a whole lot of apologies. I know I'm gonna make mistakes in the public eye. I'm going to try to do everything I can with integrity and character, but I'm human. I think people sometimes make the mistake of trying to be a role model and therefore flawless, and it comes back to bite them in the ass. Miley Cyrus can be the role model.
We had very mixed responses to the interview we ran with you back last November, when "UR So Gay" was surfacing. One of our readers said, "I honestly think that her debut will work to desensitize the masses to such 'taboo' words, topics, and communities." Others had a very negative reaction. One said: "Using the term gay as a put-down in any way is just plain offensive, and while Katy might do this amongst her clique, reinforcing this phrase for the masses only makes it OK for people to continue to associate being gay with something negative, or at the very least, to be laughed at. Katy is no darling of the gay community, and displays this by referring to her 'main gay' [Markus] as if he's some kind of pet. This song perpetuates prejudice, and so does Katy."
I didn't mean 'main gay' in a negative way. Markus is my main best friend. It doesn't matter what orientation he is. I think people don't understand the background and story of the song. The fact of the matter is it's a real subject. Girls date very metrosexual guys this day and age. The song is about this guy, who was probably gay in another lifetime but not this one. He just happens to turn out as my boyfriend. I don't mean it as a negative connotation at all. It's like if a gay guy went into a bar and met another guy and thought he was gay and he wasn't, but he was giving off a gay vibe. It's like, "That's not fair! You're teasing me and flirting with me, but you're not gay." That's all the song is supposed to say.
When I asked you if you were concerned about reinforcing gay stereotypes, you replied, "No, I think gay people have a wonderful sense of humor." A reader said that you even answered that question with a stereotype.
Well, I'd hope that anybody would have a good sense of humor, especially the people I hang out with. I might be a little bit politically incorrect, but anybody can take words and make an ad-lib game out of them. It's very easy to do if you don't understand, but I'm not running for president. I'm just telling my story -- about the ex-boyfriend, being dumped, heartache, love, and fun times. If people take it the wrong way, that's unfortunate.