The "Têtu" Interview
You can find below the english translation of the Sharleen interview in the french gay & lesbian magazine "Tétu", n°21, February 98.
The singer of Texas, who made giddy the radio stations with her pop-rock "Say What You Want", stands by her first success "I Don't Want A Lover". She still don't wear a wedding ring, and is more than discreet about her private life. Good for the sensible girls who haunt backstage areas and go down on her bad androgynous kid look. Sharleen is an lesbian icon and for a long time.
Tétu : You are quite secret about your private life, why ?
Sharleen : I'm not secret , I simply protect my private life. I think that concerns nobody, I don't imagine why to know more about my personal life should be interesting. And I don't know why I'd tell someone I know since hardly half an hour and I'll never seen again all the genealogy of my love life. It's not because I'm a public personality that all my life must be too. I'm very protectress towards the person I live with. I chose to be a pop star, I chose to appear on cover magazines, to do interviews. Not necessarily the person I live with. And I respect this choice.
T : You appeared in the "Ellen" sitcom. Is it her who contacted you ?
S : She called me because she wanted to use an old Texas song for the credits. Then she offered me a role.
T : What do you think about her public "coming-out" which shaked the U.S.A. last year ?
S : It's very good if she done it, but I'm still astonished why it causes so much reactions and paranoia. I don't mind knowing if people are gays, heteros or anything else. It concerns nobody and it's a personal choice. The true shame is that people might be indignant with saying "Ah la la she did her coming-out. It may ruin her career !". I think she had to do it for her own poise. She showed the way but it isn't such important.
T : Did she told you about her wish to disclose everything ?
S : No, but why had she done that ? I'm not a coming-out consultant. It was a personal choice I hadn't to influence.
T : You're told to be very close...
S : She's not really a close friend. It's a girl I appreciate a lot, she's pretty, she's cool. But we're not enough intimate for her to ask me to advise her.
T : You're adored by the lesbians, how do you explain that ?
S : I don't know, I don't really know. Is it me ? Is it the image I send back ?
T : Are you flattered ?
S : But yes, of course. It's an enormous compliment, I'm very flattered being admired by men and women, but maybe more by women, in fact. Because I'm a woman and women are perhaps better judges.
T : You're so liked by them, perhaps because you're pretty ?
S : But wait, I'm not pretty.
T : Stop, you're pretty !
S : I don't correspond with the image of the perfect woman of the 90's, I'm not a phantasm, I don't look like a doll...
T : Why do you systematically refuse to be a sex-symbol ?
S : See me as a sex-symbol if it gives you great pleasure. I just find the idea very funny. When I was younger, nobody were looking at me, all the guys were saying me "Eh, your friend is beautiful". But it was never about me; nobody wanted to go out with me.
T : Your new album received an excellent welcome. Are you satisfied with it ?
S : Yes, I'm really very happy. Its a huge success all over the world.
T : You've worked with Dave Stewart...
S : But stop it ! I did only one track with him. It's a god for all the French or what ?
T : You don't like Eurythmics ?
S : Yes I love Eurythmics. Of course I love them. They're really brilliant and Annie Lennox is a super girl.
T : You just collaborated with the Wu Tang Clan, why such a meeting ?
S : My manager was in New York and he met the Wu Tang Clan manager entirely by accident. It's like that he was told that the band was totally crazy with "Say What You Want". They thought gradually about a collaboration and Method Man and ODB worked again on the song.
T : Which differs really from the original...
S : Yes, it's the least it can be said. Method Man has a very different vision of the title, the sound is harder. They kept some parts of "Say What You Want" they mixed with their own compositions.
T : Do you like it ?
S : Yes, really. It will be released in spring et people will be amazed : Texas working with the Wu Tang Clan, unbelievable !
T : Is it a way to get more credibility ?
S : I don't think we need credibility. We sell two millions albums, we don't have to question ourself about our talent...
T : The Spice Girls sell millions of albums too !
S : Yes, that's right. I respect them extremly for their work, because I think it's very easy to make fun of them. They work hard, they do their thing, and they do it correctly. Of course it's totally different from my conception of the music. I'm clearly more involved in the band, I wrote lyrics, music. I don't care being credible or not. The essential thing is what I believe in. I want to be happy, the rest bores me.
T : Isn't the rap world too much misogynous for a little girl like you ?
S : It's very funny, all these guys always howling "Fuck you bitch". When I was hearing that, I fixed their eyes and said "OK, come and say it in front of me !". And these big machos collapsed like dogs. There is the rap world which terrorize the hole planet.
T : Is it more difficult to be a girl in the rock world or in the rap world ?
S : It depends. The musical business is a male world managed by white males. When you're a woman, you've got to prove yourself constantly.
T : Did you take some strong rock personalities, like Chryssie Hynde, Patti Smith, Nico, as model ?
S : I'm telling you a rather funny and disconcerting story. Recently I was invited at the "Q" Awards and Patti Smith was the principal guest. I always extremely respected her, I always thought she had a perfect attitude and played a great part in valorizing the image of women in rock'n'roll. In fact it was the bloodiest idiot and the stupidest woman. She went on stage and PJ Harvey, who gave her the trophy, did a touching speech. Patti only answered "Fuck off". If I had been PJ Harvey, I would have punched her !
T : What do you answer people who nickname you the brown Blondie ?
S : At first I adore Blondie. And what am I expected to answer ? I'm told unbelievable things, and I'm expected to say "Oh no, I don't really want to be like her" stamping with rage. What's the use discussing ? I'm not upset, I've always been a huge fan of Debbie Harry.
T : Are you still considered as a strong woman ?
S : Do you really think I'm a strong woman ? I really distrust preconceptions about such an opinion. Am I strong in so far as an human being or a woman ? Do you see the difference ? It's strange but as soon as a woman has a clearcut opinion, you can hear "What a character !".
T : Talk us about this deal with Calvin Klein.
S : (Surprised) But it's still secret...How do you know about it ? Actually we didn't still choose the form of our collaboration. A point is sure, I don't want to be a model. Calvin Klein is very influential in the States, but I have to feel comfortable, otherwise I won't do anything. A lot of money is at stake, but I don't care about it.
T : Do you really take care of your image ?
S : Yes, I hate surprise photos and I always choose the photographer I work with, the clothes I wear. Some weeks ago, I did pictures for a german magazine which wanted me on cover. The stylist brings me some clothes but none appealed me. I say her "I don't like these clothes you brought me, I have my own clothes, they'll do". I don't know what happened, she got excited, she was sighing. I got in a rage "I asked you nothing. I'm wasting my time doing pictures for your magazine. I do you a favour, so don't bore me with your dirty behaviour !". I don't want to be disguised, I'm not a model who's said "slip on that, be pretty and shut up". It's not my job.
T : Who are your favourite designers ?
S : Helmut Lang, Prada, Miu Miu, Anne Demeulesteer, Calvin Klein. I like very simple clothes which last long. The kind of stuff you can wear ten years after you bought them without being oldfashioned or washed-out.
T : It seems that you speak better French when you're drunk...
S : Yes. I think that when I drunk a lot, I don't care making mistakes or not any more.
Interview by Patrick Thévenin. Reach Tétu.
Translation by Bruno Alcaraz.