Script for November 24th, 2003, QMH:

Jayne County - are you a boy or are you a girl? (1986, from "Private Oyster")

Welcome to Queer Voices on KPFT and this segment is called Queer Music Heritage. I'm JD Doyle and I'm here on the 4th Monday of each month to bring you an hour devoted to our culture's music. And that first song was a little bit of Jayne County doing "are you a boy or are you a girl?" This is going to be kind of a different edition of QMH because we're going to visit a genre of music I've not focused on before, the glam, glitter, punk rock music of the 70s & 80s, and of course I'm going to try to bring you the gay side of it. Jayne County was a big part of it, both here and in England, and I'm pleased to bring you a special interview with her in the second half of the show.

Glam rock was generally loud, gender bending, and theatrical. It was popular in the 70s, mostly in England, and was distinguished by the costumes and stage acts of the performers rather than their music. The performers often dressed androgynously, in make up and glittery, outrageous costumes. Which is why the term Glitter Rock is sometimes also used. The most famous example is David Bowie during his Ziggy Stardust phase. Sexual ambiguity became a game. Bowie told the press he was gay, simply for the publicity. Other examples of artists of this style in England were Roxy Music, Gary Glitter, and T-Rex, and in the United States there were the New York Dolls, Alice Cooper and Kiss. We've recently seen this era of music portrayed in the movie "Velvet Goldmine."

The New York club scene was central to the formation of many of these acts, and they performed at venues famous at that time such as Max's Kansas City. I'm lucky in that I've found a perfect tour guide to take us through that era, because he was part of that scene both in New York and in London. His name is Zecca Esquibel, and he was keyboardist for one of that time's female stars, Cherry Vanilla, and saw if not participated in much of the craziness of that period. Let's hear from Zecca.

My name is Zecca Esquibel. I was born in Brazil and came to this country when I was really little, when I was three years old, and I was such a hyperactive kid that my mom stuck me on a piano, which happened to be in the house where we lived. And, that's been my story ever since. I've been a piano player all my life, and it's taken me through some really amazing sub-cultural scenes, and formations of new cultures that are now part of the quilt that makes this gay world the way it is. And I'd just like to talk a little bit about some of the things I saw and was part of.

What's the first scene you want to describe?

When I first came to New York. Glitter, the glitter scene, the scene that's so well depicted in the movie "Velvet Goldmine," was just beginning to fade, because basically because we were going into a recession and people couldn't afford to live that way anymore. But there was a tremendous door opened by that scene. I think something that the movie makes very clear is that gay people were beginning to emerge in a new kind of visibility and the idea that was floating around at the time that "I'm gay because there's a feminine part of me. There's a female part of my personality that's expressing itself in my gayness" was something that people were very open about exploring. I think even straight men were beginning to look to see if they had a feminine side. I think David Bowie's a really good example of that.

What years are we talking about?

Well, I think we're talking about '73, '74, '75, glitter was already fading in '73, but the new world that these people had created where gays and straights were working together in bands, to make music together was continuing through the mid-70s when I got here.

And you see this first happening with the glitter scene?

Yeah, this whole business of exploring my feminine side was made really acceptable by Bowie. I think particularly by David Bowie…

Who was straight.

Who was, from everything I've read since then was putting on a very good act. All this business of going down on Mick Ronson's guitar on stage, which is often cut out of film, by the way, was all great theatre.

Was this the quote Ziggy Stardust period?

Yes, very much the Ziggy period and going just a little bit further than that, "The Man Who Sold The World," but the one I clearly remember was the song, "Queen Bitch," where Bowie, in his lyrics plays the role of a drag queen who is losing her john to another drag queen. This was shocking stuff at that time, you know.

David Bowie - queen bitch (1971, from "Hunky Dory")

That was a bit of "Queen Bitch" from David Bowie's 1971 album "Hunky Dory." Are there any other Bowie songs you'd like to point out?

Well, I love to point out "Jean Genie," because like the later songs of, let's say, Talking Heads' "Once in a Lifetime," this was a worldwide hit. This was a major blockbuster, top ten hit, where people sang along to the chorus and loved the groove and it packed every straight dance floor all over the world. And people didn't stop to listen to the lyrics, which are about a gay man who's arrived in New York to be a hairdresser and has suddenly felt all the chains fall away from him. All the limitations and things that had been holding him back from living the way he wants to live had been freed by being in New York. And that's what "Jean Genie" is, a celebration of that.

Let's hear a little of "Jean Genie."

David Bowie - Jean Genie (1973, from "Aladdin Sane")

I'd like to ask you about Jobriath. He's been called the first openly gay rock star, but he was really only a critical success as today he's almost unknown.

Jobriath is a very strange story. His impact was more cultural than it was musical. It was surprising how few people had actually heard the albums. What really knocked, especially New York City, flat was this incredibly openly-gay ad campaign. We had just discovered that you could put billboards on the sides of buses. Now this is something you see everywhere today, but at that time, someone had just thought of it. And Jobriath was one of the first people to take advantage of this big open wall, this billboard, on the side of a bus. And he had this fantastic…the image for his album was this nude torso, down to about the hips, where the body just suddenly sort of deteriorated into nothing, in a rather gay posture. I think he was on his stomach with his butt up in the air…the important thing was that he essentially announced to the world, like no other singer had announced, "I am gay, and I'm going to sing about it in my music." And even though the music itself didn't go so far, the stance he took, and his visibility was very important to us.

The album cover Zecca described, from Jobriath's first album, was used as an exact model in the movie Velvet Goldmine, to represent its star's album. You can see both on my site, but here's some music by Jobriath that's very hard to find. It was never released and was part of a concert at New York's Bottom Line that was broadcast on the radio in 1974. He announces the song as his new single, but it was never released. It was about male sex drive, with lines like "slippery rocket…I got it here in my pocket."

Jobriath - weightless (1974)

That was a little bit of "Weightless" by Jobriath. Zecca, who else would you want to mention from this period?

At this point, when Max's Kansas City was absolutely peaking, I would have to mention the Mumps, Lance Loud's band.

Now you've got to stop and tell us about Max's Kansas City.

Ah, Max's Kansas City was during the late 60s the capitol of Andy Warhol. It was the Vatican of Andy Warhol's empire, and the back room had become the Eden for people like Holly Woodlawn, and Warhol and all his artist friends, and if you went to Max's after about 1974, 1975 there was an added attraction in an upstairs room, where there was live music. I remember clearly seeing Iggy Pop there, and Alice Cooper. First place I ever saw Devo, a lot of bands would play this rather unknown room upstairs because of what was going on downstairs. Well, a man named Peter Crowley took over booking the upstairs room and began to pull in every kind of experimental punk and new wave band he could find, and created incredible evenings where you could see Blondie, Ramones and Talking Heads in one night. And, this is the era where I started going to Max's.

I particularly remember, being a gay man, the groups that touched me in their ability to be Out, and still put on great rock and roll shows, and two of those groups that really knocked me out were Jayne County and Lance Loud and the Mumps.

What do you remember about the Mumps?

Well, we all knew Lance as a person because we felt we had grown up with him in "The American Family" series, and remember how shocking it was to the whole nation that he came out on the air, told his mom that he was gay.

I think that was '73

I think it was, yeah. Lance continued this kind of openness in his band. Everyone knew he was gay, and he was like a poster boy for us. You know, here was this gay guy, not hiding the fact that he was gay, not pretending he was straight, and he had a great band.

And he looked good

And he looked very edible.

Mumps - muscleboys (1978)

That was "Muscleboys" by Lance Loud and the Mumps, from 1978. Lance Loud died two years ago, at age 50, of AIDS.

Who's next?

There was a band called the Fast, which were two gay brothers.

Okay, I want to pause in the interview. Zecca didn't comment any further about The Fast, but they are worth a couple footnotes in gay music history. The act was made up of three brothers, Paul, Miki and Armand Zone, two of whom were gay. In a recent interview Paul Zone commented, "I was the youngest kid on the scene back then, at Max's, and the Doll's shows. Since I was hanging around with such a wild crowd at my age, in such a diverse time of drugs, music, sexual freedom, and transgender fashion, it shaped me in a very open and strange way of existence. Here's part of a song by The Fast, called "Kids Just Wanna Dance."

The Fast - kids just wanna dance (1978)

Of the Zone brothers, Armand left the group to form his own band in 1977, but Paul and Miki, in a way, kept dancing. Flash forward to 1986, and they are now dressed in leather and called Man2Man and have a huge high NRG hit with a song called "Male Stripper." The finally achieved some sales success.

But let's get back to Zecca with our tour through the 70s.

There was a band called the Fast, which were to gay brothers. But the most stunning, I think, was Jayne County, because Jayne not only talked about being gay openly and directly, but talked about drag, about what it's like to be in drag, what it's like to try to walk around in drag and try to live that way, and she had a great song, "It Takes A Man Like Me To Be A Woman Like Me."

Was that type of song sort of freeing to you, because someone was voicing something so Out?

Yes, absolutely. The fact that Jayne, and Lance, too, had the courage to not cover up their gayness, in fact, go the opposite direction and discuss it, to make what the felt the subject of their songs gave all of the encouragement to talk about whatever we wanted to talk about in our music, made us very proud.

I believe the next logical act to talk about is Cherry Vanilla, so it's time to ask how did you get involved with the punk music scene?

Ah, I was touring, on a coliseum level with a black group on RCA, and I was very disillusioned with how plastic and calculated the shows were, and [what was their name?] I don't want to talk about them because I dislike them so much I never give them credit. But for your sake, it was the Jimmy Castor Bunch. You know them? You ever heard of them? [sings] Bump, bump, ba butta bump, ba bump bump bump, ba…"Bertha Butt Boogie" is probably their most famous. I was with a black funk act and very unhappy, felt a lot of prejudiced against being gay, and felt the shows were very calculated and synthetic. And Sean Delaney, who was the road manager of Kiss, got me the audition with Cherry Vanilla.

Cherry was an underground superstar, in the sense that not having a particular medium, or form of art that she's working with, she's just such an extraordinary personality that everybody knew who she was. And she got involved in underground plays, and eventually became director of publicity for David Bowie. At this point she decided to make some her own music. And David encouraged her, saying if you can write poems, you can write them into lyrics. I got an audition with her, and that was the point when punk was just beginning to bloom, and it suited her lyrics beautifully and we became a punk band.

So this was when you were still in New York?

This was here in New York in Max's Kansas City. In fact the first place we ever played was a gay club, The 82, which was a notorious drag club. And we went to Max's. We were seen by Miles Copeland, Stuart Copeland's brother, from The Police, and Miles said, "You have to come to London and be part of this punk scene that's going on." So we flew over to London. We had no bass player or drummer. It was just me, Cherry, and her boyfriend-guitar player. We got Sting and Stuart Copeland from The Police to play bass and drums for us, and we went out on the road, with Police as the opening act, Cherry Vanilla in the middle, and Johnny Thunder's Heartbreakers as the headliners, and we became part of the punk movement.

So what Cherry Vanilla songs should we talk about?

Well, Cherry's act was always a very sexual act. She's gorgeous woman, and known for her sexploits, so it was very easy for her to put into her to put into her show an occasional song about her attraction to women. Basically she's heterosexual, but she's had many…ah, I won't say many, I won't put words in her mouth. Cherry had had lesbian experiences with other women and was attracted to women, and occasionally she would sing about it, and ended up with one song on each album. "Foxy Bitch," which was, is about Linda Ronstadt, and "Amanda," on the second album. I can't claim that it's a reference to Amanda Lear, but I think it is, who is the famous sex change that appeared in a lot of Bowie's work.

Let's hear a bit of "Foxy Bitch" by Cherry Vanilla. Pay special listen for the keyboard solo by Zecca.

Cherry Vanilla - foxy bitch (1978, from "Bad Girl")

What brought you back to New York?

I came back to New York and created a band that I called Get Wet. I had a very shocking experience; I fell in love with a woman. It was very disturbing. I didn't know what to do in straight society when we went out together with straight friends. I was fine when we went out together with gay friends, but this was a whole new world for me, and being in love I wanted to write about it, and I created an album for her that I called "Get Wet," and she sang lead on all the songs. I basically would write them, about the experience of being with her and then flip the gender around so that she could sing them.

Well, there was one song that was pretty gay.

"Morton Street" is the very first song I wrote, and I guess it's, it's very, ah, it's very honest in the fact that the first song that I wrote, for Get Wet, was about wondering if I really should be with a woman, or if I'm going to go running back to the guys in any moment, and betray her and leave her alone, and it was definitely the signature song for our band, and it's basically girl-meets boy, boy-leaves-girl to go back to the boys.

Get Wet - Morton Street (1981, from "Get Wet")

Zecca, in Get Wet days

Zecca PR pic from Get Wet days

That was "Morton Street" by Get Wet, with Sherri Beachfront on lead vocals. The album came out in 1981. It's interesting that Morton Street is never mentioned in the lyrics, but that was the area near where Christopher Street met the pier, where the West Village gay guys hung out at that time. How did you meet Jayne County?

Jayne and I became really good personal friends after I'd been a fan of hers for a long time. We were part of the expatriate community that was living in London; particularly Johnny Thunders, the Heartbreakers, which was sort of remnants of what was left of the New York Dolls, Jayne County, Cherry Vanilla and our band, and occasionally the Ramones. And we were there in the absolute peak of the punk movement. We were there in '77 and '78, when it really was a creative knot of a couple hundred people, and several dozen clubs in cities sprinkled all over the world. And we were missionaries, we jumped in our little vans and went from town to town to town to town, all over England, convincing people that there was this new kind of music. And Jayne was one of, already one of my idols for the stuff he'd been doing, she'd been doing in the '70s. So it was natural for Jayne to follow the movement of music into punk.

There was a wonderful night at the Roxy Club in London where Jayne made an announcement that she was seriously considering having a sex change, and felt that it was no longer appropriate for her to be in drag on stage, since she was going to be a real woman. So the club was absolutely sardined with people who were dying to find out what Jayne would come up with next. Well, since she was looking toward possible surgery she came out with her face totally covered with huge stitches, sort of like a Frankenstein kind of look…

Stitches, make up?

Yeah, make up, not real stitches. But this was typical of Jayne's ability to see absolutely no boundaries on stage. Jayne could leap out into places where nobody had been before on stage. And the punk movement was just the perfect venue for her to do that.

Do you have any special memories of her act?

Ah, I remember some incredible songs like "Toilet Love," in which she came on stage with a toilet, and ate dog food out of the toilet while she was singing. Can you imagine the reaction of the audience who had just come expecting to see a rock band, the shock of seeing this on stage.

Tell us about your music career since London.

Well, I had a very bad experience with the way the record industry treated Get Wet. I felt very much manipulated and taken advantage of and had a very bitter feeling. So when I came back to New York I became involved in experimental theatre instead. I'd spent, you know, ten years on the rock & roll stage and I felt it was time to try something different, and was lucky enough to meet some extraordinary artists, such as John Kelly, and begin my work with him. I've been working with John since '94. We'll be on tour in the West Coast this year with our show, "Shiny Hot Nights: More Songs of Joni Mitchell," in which John plays Joni Mitchell, to the hilt.

And who do you play?

I'm the keyboard player. I play an 85-year old Georgia O'Keiffe; I totter on stage with a cane. I like to think of it as an illusion concert. It's the illusion of a Joni Mitchell concert. So we present a very serious of Joni's music

And you've also been touring with Garland Jeffreys.

I'm currently on tour with Garland Jeffreys, who is having a tremendous revival right now, and I just keep busy with many New York local artists and keep my foot in experimental theatre, which I really really love.

You've just heard Zecca Esquibel take us through 70s and 80s glam/punk scenes, from a gay perspective, and he also helped me get the interview with Jayne County, which is coming up next.

Jayne County - transgender rock & roll (wrap around show ID) (1995, from "Deviation")
This is a good time to remind you to be sure to listen to After Hours with Jimmy Carper, every Saturday night from midnight to 4 am, on KPFT, it's Queer Radio, with attitude. Also, I invite you to check out my website, at www.queermusicheritage.com where you can view the playlist and see photos of the artists and recordings, and listen to the show anytime. Wrapped around this show ID is Jayne County's "Transgender Rock & Roll."

Okay, how do I introduce an interview with Jayne County, formerly known as Wayne County, especially for those listeners not familiar with her. Well, I guess as good a place as any is from the jacket of her book, "Man Enough To Be A Woman." It says, "Wayne County was the weirdest, fiercest vision ever to appear on a rock & roll stage. As early as 1972, this dragged-up Lenny Bruce was astonishing New York's blasé rock scene with her filthy lyrics and demented stage antics. Andy Warhol and David Bowie paid court to her, and for the emergent punk generation she was an inspiration. When it came to attitude, nobody could beat Wayne County."

Well, in the book she takes us from rural Georgia, to New York, London and Berlin, and on the journey from Wayne to Jayne.

Jayne, thank you for making the time for this interview. First, for someone who's never heard it, how would you describe your music?

Ah, in a lot of ways my music is quite traditional, cause I was raised in the south, on R&B and black music and gospel music and all that stuff, so a lot of my music does have that sort of R&B framework. The fact that I did the music and I wrote most of the songs myself, and the fact that I am transgender that the music's pioneering, I think, pioneering, yeah. And musically it's not like maybe didn't break a lot of new ground musically but the fact that I was doing it, you know, and I wasn't out there miming to like Barbra Streisand or something was quite a revelation to a lot of people, because I am a rock & roller and I love rock & roll, I love to rock.

Tell me about becoming a DJ at Max's

Oh, God, being a DJ at max's. Well, I was hanging out in there anyway with you know Jackie Curtis and Holly Woodlawn and Candy Darling and all those Warhol drag queens, and so we were kind of rock & roll drag queens in a lot of ways. And actually the DJ had quit, at Max's had quit and I said to Mickey Ruskin, who was the original owner, I had mentioned it to him that I could DJ, and I never had DJ-ed before and you know one night he just came over to me and said, "So you think you can DJ, huh?" I said, "Yeah." He said, "Okay, well go on up and DJ." So I did and that was it really. Mickey Ruskin gave me my first DJ gig, and I still DJ to this day. I mean, DJ-ing is still, is still actually my first love. There's just something about being in that booth and playing music for people and knowing they like what you're playing and slipping in some stuff that they would be surprised to hear. Just do a little, give 'em what they want mostly, but give 'em a little education on top of that. You know I love doing that, putting something on and then looking at people's faces. You know you're doing a good job as a DJ if people come up and go "what is this and who is this and what is this, and what," you know you're doing a good job.

And speaking of Max's Kansas City, here's her song by that name. It's from 1976 and was billed at that time as being by Wayne County and the Back Street Boys

Wayne County & the Back Street Boys - Max's Kansas City (1976)

How did you get the name Wayne County?

Well, when I first came to New York I was Wayne, Wayne Rogers, the new gay boy in town, and then of course when I met Lee Childress of Christopher Street I started hanging out with Candy Darling and all those people, and then I started doing plays with Jackie Curtis, I said, well I can't call myself Wayne Rogers, I got this part in Jackie Curtis' play, "Femme Fatale," and I played a psychotic lesbian in prison who ate flies…my big debut on the New York stage. And, ah, what was the question again?

How did you get the name Wayne County?

I was going to do the play, and people were going, well how do you want to be billed? Who are you? I mean, are you Wayne Rogers? Wayne Rogers, he's on "Mash," and Wayne is such a butch name, anyway, I said from now on I'll call myself Wayne County because Detroit, Michigan, is in Wayne County and I was in love with the Stooges, and MC5 and all the great music coming out of Detroit, so I'll be Wayne County, because there was a sign, right before you go into Wayne County, and it said, "You Are Now Entering Wayne County," so we cut that out and we used it for some publicity, you are now entering Wayne County, so I thought, "that's me, I'm Wayne County." That's how I got my name.

When did you or when did you change your name to Jayne?

Well I changed my name to Jayne when I grew my tits, and started looking more like a woman and started taking a transgender identity as opposed to the gay guy identity. I went from the gay guy identity to the transgender identity because the gay guy identity just wasn't enough for me anymore and I wanted to let my feminine side really bloom. So when I started growing my tits and everything and looking like…I couldn't keep calling myself Wayne. So I was at this club in London and I was hanging out with these girls and they came over to talk to me, cause I went in wearing white go go boots and white sailor outfit with a big blond wig, and they were like who is this! They said "what's your name?" I said, "Wayne." They said "we can't call you Wayne, you're Jayne, you're Jayne now." So then I was Jayne, Jayne County

Were there people who had trouble with the switch from Wayne to Jayne?

Oh, boy, you are not kidding. Some of them my friends. I had a friend, who's dead now, who refused. He was going, "I am not going to call Wayne Jayne." And some other friends screamed at him, " and said, "you know what, you're supposed to be Jayne's friend, and if Wayne wants to call herself "Stick it in me pickle juice" you should respect her. I mean, what's the problem? You know, if another friend of yours said "I'm not Chuck anymore, call me Chuckie," you wouldn't blink, and why do you have a problem wanting to call Wayne Jayne? Cause a lot of my friends, a lot of…when I was a gay boy and a lot of my gay friends were really upset with me because they lost their gay buddy, their gay let's-go-to-the-gay-bar hang-out buddy. And I became Jayne and some people…I don't know, I don't know what the psychological explanation for that was. But some people were…and surprisingly people who were close to me, a lot of people were really upset, and famous people, too, people like Patti Smith. Oh my God, Patti Smith every time she'd see me when my tits started growing she would just, she was so transphobic, she was like, she would get real nervous and look at my tits and like didn't know what to say, and I thought, "Oh this is the great liberal, fabulous speed-freak Patti Smith and she's upset because I'm growing tits?" You wouldn't believe the reactions.

One of your more known songs, "Man Enough To Be a Woman," dates back to your early days. Can you tell us about that song?

It goes way back, I wrote that in '75, called "Man Enough To Be A Woman," well, I'd heard that expression a lot cause it was an old, old drag queen expression really, that I'd even heard in the South. You know sometimes somebody dished you or put you down, somebody say something like, "Yeah, honey, well I'm man enough to be a woman" you know, or another expression was, I had another song, too, it was called, "It Takes a Man Like Me to Be a Woman Like Me," cause there was another expression, and you'd go, "Honey, I'm more of a woman than you'd ever be able to get and more of a man than you will ever be," and so the "man enough to be a woman" thing just sounded better in the song. And also, here's a little tidbit for you. Me and Jobriath used to throw that back all the time at each other, me and Jobriath would sit at a table at Max's and we were always going, "Yeah, I'm man enough to be a woman," It was like Jobriath was saying it all the time. So I told Jo, I'm going to write a song called "Man Enough To Be A Woman," And he would say, "That's a great idea," so I did it, with Jobriath's blessing.

Wayne County & the Electric Chairs - man enough to be a woman (1978, from "Storm the Gates of Heaven")

Of what song are you the most proud?

Oh, God, whoa, wow. Um, I'm very proud of "Man Enough To Be A Woman" because it was top ten on a serious side, a lot of people like Lou Reed was trying to dismiss me as being nothing but a silly drag queen, and the nerve of him, after he came out with "Walk On The Wild Side." But, ah, what was the question?

Of what song are you the most proud?

Oh, probably "Man Enough To Be A Woman." I would probably say "Man Enough To Be A Woman," and also my theme song…

Okay, I had to stop the tape right here, because in the title of the other song she's most proud of is a word I certainly can't air on the radio, so she started her answer over using "beep" instead of that word

Oh, and also, if you may not want to "beep" me baby, "beep" off, that one I guess. That became kind of an anthem for a lot of people, most of my gay following identify with that. Queens of course love that song. They all scream with I do it.

Do you think your relationship to some of your earlier songs has changed over the years?

Um hmm, they certainly have. Yes, certainly have. You know when you get older you do get a little milder on stuff. I'm not as mean and kind of ornery and grouchy as I used to be. I've calmed down a lot. Some of the songs I wrote with a certain attitude, that my attitude now has changed on that particular subject, you know, for instance sex, you know, I'm not as grouchy about sex anymore. Now I'm like, who cares? Oh, you're not into me, well I don't care. You know, blah blah blah, who cares anyway? I'm happy being an old maid. "Man Enough To Be a Woman,"…my relationship has changed more in the way that…I do that more live now because it gets a real hush when people…awed by that song, and so my relationship has changed in the way that it's become sort of in a lot of ways even more of an anthem than the one about sex, you know, the hard core sex songs.

Tell me about the song "Man I feel like A Woman?"

{sings} Man, I feel like a woman. Oh my God, have you heard that, have you heard the dance version? [yes] oh it's awful, awful, I just don't….why did I let Lolumya talk me into doing that? Now I wanted to do that song funny. I wanted to do a parody of it. I wanted to really change the lyrics and make it kind of really, really over the top outrageous, and I wish I had done it my way, but never mind.

Jayne County - man I feel like a woman (2001)

Would you talk a little about your transsexual identity?

Um, hmm. My identity is transsexual. I prefer transgender. Ah, well, transgender also is more of a broader scope. I look at transgender as it takes in a lot of the different, more of the male to…more of the sexual identities. I basically feel that we're all male and female inside, whether you have a gay identity or a transsexual identity or lesbian identity or whatever. Everyone's got the components of male and female and some people have to let one side out more than the other, you know. I was at this stage I had to let the female come out as much as possible because I just wasn't happy being a guy, didn't want to be a guy, didn't like it. I like having the transgender identity because I like it…it makes me feel good to be called she, and it makes me feel good when I'm out shopping for groceries and this man will open the door for me and I just turn red and grin like a school girl, it makes me feel good, you know, it make me feel good.

The gay guy identity worked for me when I was a lot younger and everything and I tried, cause I tried to be a man, I grew a beard, I did all this stuff but I was just unhappy. I didn't feel like I was really a guy, a guy, I didn't want to be a guy. I wasn't a straight man, and then I felt, well, I didn't really want to be what people would stereotype me as a gay man either, so being gay just wasn't enough for me. I wanted to be more. I wanted to be able to wear the make-up and to be pretty, I wanted to be pretty. I had my nose done, I wanted to be pretty, I wanted people to say, "oh, you're such a pretty girl," yeah, because when I was a little boy and I played with my girlfriend and we played hopscotch and I had my dolls. I never had a little boyhood, I had a little girlhood. When I grew up and started becoming male it upset me. I was psychologically wrecked, I did not want to be a boy, a man. I never have felt like one and I never wanted to be. And I don't think anybody, even all the doctors or you or me or anyone, is ever really going to figure out what that's totally about. You hear people talk about space being the last frontier. I've got news for you. Sex and gender are the last frontier.

Your book ends around 1994, and I've read it several times. What's been happening with your career since then?

Yeah, I need to write, I need to write a part two of that. Well I retired for a while, I got so fed up playing and everything, but I'm back out of retirement again. I just did some gigs in Canada, and they were a smash. I'm gigging more and I'm going back to the stage again more. I'm also going in to record some new material soon. I'm just doing what I've always done, playing, doing live shows, deejaying and recording, just keeping on trying to keep Jayne County going the best she can in this era of Brittany and all the others, keep the old girl out there.

Jayne's going to tell us about her new album. But first I want to thank you all for tuning into the show, and I want to thank Zecca Esquibel and Jayne County for their wonderful interviews. I wouldn't have broached the subject without them. If you have questions or comments about any of the music I've featured, please write me. And again, my website, with information about all the songs you've heard is logically enough at www.queermusicheritage.com. This is JD Doyle for Queer Voices on KPFT in Houston, and I'll be back on the fourth Monday of next month with another installment of Queer Music Heritage. That will be my annual queer Christmas show, with Christmas music I promise you won't be sick of by then.

You've got a new album out, right?

It's coming out soon.

It's called "So New York"?

recent shot of Jayne, live

Hmm, hmm, and it's a mish mash of stuff. It's not like every song is straight ahead ah ah ah ah rock, it shows some in depth to it, it shows some soft sides of me. I do some acoustic stuff with Lisa Jackson. I do some really raunchy stuff. It's got some old demos I thought was lost, we found them, and we want to get them out. It's got live stuff from the Squeeze Box, it's got live stuff from Wigstock. It's just got such a collection of material on there that shows so many different sides of me. I hope that people will listen to the album and appreciate the fact that there's many different sides to me. I'm not just a rough, crazy drag queen going ahhhhhhh, you know, not that either. I have a soft side as well, and I'm not just a dumb blond.

It almost sounds like it's career retrospective album.

In a way it is, in a lot of ways it is, it is. It's got some pretty outrageous stuff on it, let me tell you, and there's some pretty soft stuff. And it's both ends of the spectrum, and I'm very proud of this album.

I've heard the acoustic track, "Man Enough To Be A Woman," I quite like it.

Oh, isn't it great, with Lisa Jackson playing the guitar and everything, I love the acoustic version. The acoustic version is great because the song, the song holds up on its own. I mean, I could sing the a cappella and people would like it.

It doesn't need a driving force to make the point.

It doesn't, no, uh, huh, not at all. Is that the one you're going to play? [Yeah] Do play that.

So, to close the show, here's Jayne County doing an acoustic version of one of her signature songs, "Man Enough To Be A Woman."

Jayne County - man enough to be a woman (2003, acoustic)

   

The 2001 movie "Velvet Goldmine" was inspired by the queer glam scene