golden on CBC / 1
BARBARA GOLDEN on CBC in Montreal, Canada 8/8/90 interviewed by Dave Bidini, Brave New Waves
DAVE: She's a transplanted Montrealer, she's now a San Franciscan and she's standing by to talk with us: Her name is Barbara Golden. First let us get acquainted with her music. This is a song called "Flaming Toast," a 1981 recording.
Welcome back to Brave New Waves, Barbara.
When we called you to ask you to come and do this interview, you said it would be a great opportunity to get out of the house. I was just wondering, is it nice to come back home, can you in fact come back home?
In certain ways you can't, just like Thomas Wolfe said. But its nice to see my folks, and my son. I have a son who is twenty-two.
How often do you come back?
I used to come here about every six months, I had a boyfriend in New York. Actually I had one in New York and one in Woodstock whose names will remain unknown for now. So I used to make more pilgrimages then. But now I have a boyfriend in California so I stay home more often.
Do you ever run into folks that you used to know from the old neighborhood who ask you, What have you been up to Barbara?
Well yes. And there are so many rumors about me, because I write so many songs that are kind of raunchy. I think sometimes the press about me is worse than I actually am. Really I'm a homebody and I like to cook.
Do you have a reputation then in your old neighborhood?
Possibly. Yes, I think I do have a reputation. Except for the people who know me and they know I like to read books and cook.
There is so much I want to talk to you about because you have done so much over the last fifteen years. One thing I want to ask first is, if you had to decide between doing one thing _ be it being a radio host, doing performance art, music, poetry, or painting _ is there one thing you enjoy most over all the others?
I really think there are two: I just couldn't give up being a radio host. I love the control, and I'm my own board operator. That's really fun. I take call-ins and if I'm bored by the answers I'm really mean, you know I'm just so busy with my board. So that's really a blast and I can do it pretty easily, you know if you have ??it you have it on that level. But the thing I think I would keep on doing always is to keep on playing piano and singing. I have strayed from it quite a bit to make movies and videos and I think they are OK and I love them and one of them especially has been real successful, that is, "Take Me Out to the Ballgame." I want to try to concentrate more on writing songs, playing piano, and singing. That's what I did when I started out.
Let's go back a bit and have you tell us about these radio programs you do.
Well, I live in the Bay Area and there is wonderful listener-sponsored radio there, it's called KPFA, it's "Pacifica Radio," and it's like WBAI in New York. It is their sister station and there is one in LA and one in DC. They are wonderful stations. Charles Amirkhanian is the music director there, you may have played some of his compositions. So, I went to Mills College in 1979 to study music composition. I studied with Robert Ashley and Terry Riley there and I got to know a lot of people. I think Charles saw me one day at a concert talking very animatedly to Bob Ashley and I got a call from him the next day asking me if I wanted to do a radio show. We've got a wonderful slot for you _ 3 am to 7 am. How do you start? You know, you start in the cellar . . .
Prime time, right.
I called it "Crack o' Dawn" and in those days you could say whatever you wanted especially at that hour. I was very frank. The concept was really party time, but with a lot of New Music. I was eclectic then but I had a hell of a lot of computer music, performance music, minimalism, and such. Paul Dresher came on the show and did about five hours of live mix with his reverse cassettes. I did a seven hour Bob Ashley special from midnight till seven A. M.. I just did a program on Fred Rzewski [?], and William Winant came into the studio and did a live flowerpot piece that Frederick had just written for him. I interviewed by telephone from his hotel room in San Francisco. I also interviewed Laurie Anderson and Leonard Cohen in their respective motel and hotel rooms for the program. (In person, not by telephone!!) Also an interview with Diamanda Galas at the beach one gray cold Thanksgiving Day.
How much of your own music do you play?
Oh, not a hell of a lot. You know what it's like to be a host. You can't be too much of egomaniac. Once in a while I play my own music. But I'm going to be on "Over the Edge" soon. My band, the WIG band, will be on Don Joyce's program, you know the leader of Negativland? Well he was on before me on KPFA, and so I got to know him, so he invited my band to be on his show.
Did the Negativeland Jam Con '84 come out of the program he does before you? That type of radio is so progressive?
Yes. I was just talking to my boyfriend last night and he said he was on Negativeland last night, he said, I cranked up the computer, the TVs, the radios, and did some loops and stuff. He said he was on for quite a while and he was very excited.
I was happy to read that you were one of the first radio announcers in America to get The Shags started on college radio. Do you like The Shags?
Oh yeah, I love The Shags. I have my consultants, you know. A guy named Marc Weinstein is one of my big consultants. He runs a record store and he's a great percussionist. I just talk to everyone I know and I raid their record collections. If I don't know I want to know: What's the latest thing happening, or what's the funkiest thing? You know, what's really happening?
Does that lend itself to the composition of your music _ hearing so much from so many people.
Sure. It gives me ideas. I know what I like. I always knew what emotion I wanted to get somehow . . . I love making people laugh. I really now would like to make people cry too. I'd like to start writing more soulful stuff. I'm lazy. I thought when I started out I'd be writing string quartets and symphonies and instead I'm writing "Tampon Rag." and things like that. But "Pink Pleasure" is a little more serious, so that's fine.
Did you have a sort of epiphany that made you want to start writing sad songs as opposed to happy ones.
Not really. I'm not sure. I like the idea of range, and laughter and tears are very close anyway. I want some strong emotion.
Let's talk for a while about cooking. The book you released called Home Cooking was a collection of musical scores, illustrations and recipes. Were these your recipes or were they collected from musicians in the area?
They're my recipes. I throw huge parties and make a lot of dinners. I always kept journals with poems and I'd write down the lyrics to my songs and there were scores and music and there were watercolors, it was all jumbled up. So the three people who founded Burning Books, Melody Sumner, Michael Sumner, and Kathleen Burch, said Barbie has to write a cookbook. They were the ones who said we will publish it, get your recipes together. They're all my recipes, and a few of my mothers. My Mum makes her own cheese blintzes from my cookbook because the print is better.
What are some of the recipes in the book?
Well, the one that everyone makes is just plain roasted chicken with potatoes. Mum's apple crisp. That's real easy. My favorite, and I used to do it with veal but veal is really politically incorrect these days (I guess every type of thing that was alive is) so I make it with chicken now, is cordon bleu with a butter-lemon anchovy sauce. Alexander Cockburn named my book as one of his favorite cookbooks. He's a columnist, you know, he's a really great one, and he made a list for House & Garden magazine. I think it was '86 or '87 and he made a list of cookbooks. It's in a cookbook collection, and it's just about sold out. We have to go into the second printing with it so that's nice. People are ordering it from Korea and Japan.
What did House & Garden say about the book, what did they make of the musical scores and everything?
They said "la vie boheme," you know, "raunchy," that kind of thing. They said something about a cookbook that could be banned in Boston. The songs are pretty bad. I always say that it has tasty recipes and tasteless songs: songs like "Boner Boys," which is all about the Pope doing things with his bishops and cardinals and stuff like that.
Yes, one song I always blush at . . . . Now, the readership of this book extended far beyond just the avant-garde audience. You were getting letters from truckers, and chefs, and butchers. Does that surprise you?
I really like having a range of acquaintances and friends. I would hate to think that I'd only go to a yuppie bar to drink. My favorite bar is a Mexican taqueria in Oakland on East Fourteenth, that's where I am a regular. I like the gamut, I like to talk to all kinds of people. If I had to hang out with artists all the time I'd kill myself, but if I had to hang out with schoolteachers all the time I'd be equally stultified and dismal.
Who was the butcher?
Well you see we collected most of those comments. Sometimes people tell me they don't use the book much but they love reading that sheet of comments. My publisher said to the butcher: "What do you think of Barbara?" and the butcher said, "She buys a lot of chicken." It wasn't as if it was a very pithy remark. What are some of the other comments: Oh, stuff like, "Barb would bring Harper Valley to a boil," and "she's a born-again artist." Terry Riley said to me, "What are you doing at Mills College? You should be on the Mike Douglas show."
Is cooking a cathartic experience for you?
To me it's like meditation. I wrote this in the preface of the book: I don't want a food processor at all. I sit there at the table and I watch a soap opera or I crank up a good tape and I just chop and chop. I also swim laps _ its the same idea, I swim really slowly, for about an hour and a quarter every other day at least. It just sort of blots out everything else. And then, with cooking people like it so much, including myself. I'm a little chubby right now.
People can't see you over the radio.
We won't discuss that. I've had naked people on the show sometimes, I say "Oh they're naked now."
No one believes you on radio.
They believe me. People phone up and ask, What does Barbara look like? And sometimes the guests are really ridiculous.
You know Augusta Lapaix [?] from doing interviews here before. She told me once that she received a letter from a couple in Minneapolis who like to make love to her voice and wrote her and invited her to Minneapolis anytime if she wanted to participate. Do you get that sort of response from your listeners?
Yes, I do. And mostly I like it. It's not too freaky, it's very nice. Some people say they are dozing when the music is on because it gets so late, but then they wake up when they hear my voice because they like it so much. Someone phoned the show and they said there should be a 24-hour Barb show. I told Charles Amirkhanian and he really rolled his eyes. I don't quite think he concurred.
A Federal organization came down on you one time didn't they?
They didn't come down on me but they came down on our sister station in Los Angeles. They were doing a serious program about AIDS and they used a word which I won't say but its a word that begins with fist then an f and it ends in an r. And it wasn't to be salacious or anything because it was about AIDS and it was really serious but the Feds came down on them. I never got called up. Once we got the letters that said cool your jets, I did, right away.
Was it difficult for you to change?
Yes. People who don't understand me say I'm doing things to shock people but I say I'm not, its funny. For one thing its all a part of life. You know you're not allowed to talk about making love _ use the slang words for making love _ and you're not allowed to use the slang words for excreting, not that I really want to all that much. You know what I mean, those types of words are basic to your home life and yet you are not allowed to talk about them. So at first it really cramped my style. But I'm a walking thesaurus. I read a lot, so my vocabulary isn't too bad. You have to be smart, you can get around it.
What do make of the latest ragings by the PMRC and the whole controversy with the 2 Live Crew band and threats to sticker rock albums?
I think it's just ridiculous. People have a choice not to listen to it. I have heard and read a lot of the lyrics and some of them aren't great, they are anti-women and I don't like them particularly, but I think that all that the controversy accomplished was to inflame people to buy the records, and sales have never been better. I think censorship is wrong, no matter what. I heard Whoopi Goldberg on the Arsenio Hall show [?] and he asked her the same question and she said (I loved her answer), "Well right now they don't like 2 Live Crew but soon they'll say if you wear a certain shirt or your hair is a certain way or you are a certain religion they really don't like that." It's insidious. Censorship is wrong. It sucks. Ulysses wouldn't make it into print now.
[begin My Pleasure]
That was My Pleasure composed and performed by Barbara Golden [from the text by M. Sumner Carnahan.] I am sitting talking with Barbara. I wanted to ask you about your origins in Montreal. You had a husband and a son and you decided one day to pursue other interests. How did that come about?
I knew that I was bored with being a schoolteacher. I would be out on trips staring at people who were on their own. I wanted to run off with them. I really admired people who wrote books, I knew some novelists and poets. Leonard Cohen was a contemporary, I didn't know him personally but I knew people who did. (Now I do know him, I've interviewed him for my show by the way.) I knew I wanted something different. So what I did was (its a classic) I enrolled in a few music courses at Concordia, it was Loyola then, at 2140 Bishop. I just wanted to take some music analysis courses and I thought: Oh, I'll be an historian, I'll teach music history then. And Phil Cohen who was the head of the Music Department at the time said to me you've got to take theory, you've got to take composition, and I thought theory, composition, oh that's so boring. But my teacher for those classes was Kevin Austin and it was like a bolt of fire. He made the whole class go to the SMCQ (Societe Musique Contemporain du Quebec) concerts and for the first time I started hearing Berio and hearing Cathy Berberian do Berio live and hearing Ligeti pieces and contemporary music, and I went insane. I wanted to be a composer. It was an immediate love affair. I started playing with Metamusic which was Kevin's group at the time.
What did you play?
It was great because there were all these people who had synthesizers at the time, this was '76, '77. And there were all kinds of tape delay systems set up, but we were playing acoustic instruments like violas, violins, percussion, piano, banging on the radiators, you name it. It was all very amplified, with tape delay, processing so it sounded totally terrific and we were able to improvise and go crazy. And I went off the deep end. I was so excited. I would forget to go home and make dinner for my family. It was the most thrilling period of my life. So that's what happened. I wanted to be a composer and musician. I started very early on writing songs. I always liked to sing. I can't sing but I sing. You can just do it if you want to, who is going to stop you. You are your own boss. I started to change though I was quaking a bit. My son was smart, he was just ten, but he knew I was getting really wild. It was the end of the hippie movement but I was just becoming a hippie in full force. And he said, "Mum, when parents separate does the kid always have to go with the Mother?" and I said "No. Not really." And his Dad was great, so he stayed with his Dad. But boy did my family give it to me _ not my parents they were really supportive _ but the cousins and such they said, "Wow, she's so selfish, she's really sick, blah blah." Now I've settled down a bit so they think I'm pretty much OK except my dresses are a little tight and low cut and too short.
And of leopard skin I might add.
I love leopard skin. I should have brought you something. I was on the cover of a magazine called Crack Magazine and I'm wearing a full-length leopard leotard; its kind of a back shot and I'm looking over my shoulder. It's pretty funky.
Whose idea was it for you to attend Mills College?
Well, I was separated from my husband by then and I had got a BFA from Concordia in Music and I didn't know what to do. I was living in a house on Pierce Street right near St. Catherine Street (Montreal), and it was all splitting up, people were getting their masters and going off to Holland or whatever. I said to one of the guys, what shall I do? (there were two guys named Brian that Karen and I lived with) and he said "get an MA." So I looked in all the catalogs from every music school and the ones that seemed reasonable and human and kind of "inter-media" were York University, Wesleyan, and Mills College. I thought well, Terry Riley is there and Bob Ashley and David Behrman and Blue Gene Tyranny. And then it turned out David Rosenboom had just moved there and he became my piano teacher for three years. So I got private lessons free, I got a little scholarship. That was good. Mills was pretty pro-women, they're a women's college, so I thought this will be fun. That was '79 to '81.
It sounds like it was an incredible community of musicians.
Yes. There are about fifteen of us. The people that were there around '81 in Flaming Toast are still collaborating to this day on pieces. Jay Cloidt, John Bischoff and Mark Trayle, these are people who are in a computer network group called "the Hub," and they were the League of Automatic Music composers. Sam Ashley, Ben Azarm, myself, K. Atchley. I think I was the only woman, I didn't feel like it though, they didn't really treat me like a woman. I was a person, it was great.
You roomed with Sam Ashley?
Yeah, with Sam Ashley and Bob Weir but not the one from the Grateful Dead, we were always getting calls for him. My gamelan group did a benefit for the Grateful Dead, so I finally met Bob Weir and Jerry Garcia. I was busy banging on my aunklung [?] instrument in the gamelan . . . it was a party, and these people were paying $50-100 dollars at this benefit concert for saving the Pacific rain forests. I didn't really know what Jerry Garcia and Bob Weir looked like but then I missed a note because somebody told be it was them. You know cherry garcia ice cream, you know Ben & Jerry's ice cream?
I'm sorry I don't. It must be a California thing.
No they have it here. It's really good ice cream. They had these ice cream bars, no it was ice cream on a stick with chocolate around it, and I was eating a cherry garcia on a stick a few feet away from Jerry Garcia!!!
That's like a babe ruth candy bar.
You've got it.
Now, was the first musical event that you staged the M.U.S.I.C. event?
Yes. I did it with my publisher, my soon to be publisher. I don't know why we did it. Oh, I know what it was, I had this backer, he'd seen me perform and said I want to back you on something, a cafe or an event or something. Now I would just take the money and run. So instead of doing a record, we did a music festival. M.U.S.I.C. stands for Marvelous Unlimited Sounds in Concert. We had T-shirts and everything. We got on the phone and called everybody and they said they'd came. Joan La Barbara and Bob Ashley and all. We'd say to people, "so and so said they're doing it," but really nobody had said anything yet but that's how you have to start. George Lewis flew in from Paris, Diamanda Galas, John Giorno, the Residents.
Did you get a chance to meet the Residents?
Yeah. I know a few of them.
They're human right.?
Yeah they are really human. One has a lot of hair in his ears. We met one. It wasn't really a few. I think it was "H." We met him in a bar. We wanted him to buy nuts to hand out as treats for the patrons who came to M.U.S.I.C. but he wouldn't do it.
What kind of nuts?
Oh, cashews, but he wouldn't do it. Don Buchla, Rhys Chatham, Chris Brown, Blue Gene Tyranny, 32 performers, all our friends.
Will you do it again?
Well I would but I don't think Melody would. Well I don't know if I would do it either. I think I'd rather just take the money and spend it on myself. I need a facelift.
Barbara doesn't need a facelift, she's just kidding.
Did the WIG band follow soon after the M.U.S.I.C. festival?
Well, this visual artist, Johanna Poethig, had seen me sing. She came up to me, she's a fabulous woman, about six feet tall, she was blonde at the time, now she's got red hair and it looks great, and she said "let's perform together sometime." There was a series called "Working Live" at the Art Institute and we knew the people who were organizing it and they told us to put in a proposal so we did. Johanna is a visual artist so she makes all our props. We've got these big spears called Penis Spears, and we bang them on the floor and talk about Neanderthal behavior. There are always a few men who walk out. With the first song they're right out the door. We have a nice little following in the San Francisco Bay area. We do a show once a year. We have a little movie and we have videotapes and songs.
Because of your reputation did you have more women go to see you originally?
No, its always been men too. I have a lot of men friends. They've always seen the humor in what I do and they don't give a damn. We have a really nice mixed following. When I do things here in Canada I guess its mostly women. I think the men are all afraid, I don't care.
We have a lot to learn.
We're not rabidly feminist _ we wear corsets and spike heels to perform in.
Is that your burlesque quotient?
Exactly. It's that cabaret/burlesque quotient. We want to laugh, but we definitely have axes to grind. The new show we're doing is called "filth, or the new prohibition." We're incensed about censorship. We've got a song called the seven bad words. I got the list from KPFA, which I definitely won't say because we're on radio. You can't believe what the words are, I mean one is this: breast. YOU CAN'T SAY TITS!! But I mean that other word for breast you can't say in America anyway, I don't think its the same in Canada. But anyway it's ridiculous. The visuals will have those words, see. And we're going to have them coming out of Jesse Helms mouth. And the songs: we're wearing grass skirts and we're singing this Hawaiian dance and singing about real body parts, words like "buttocks, and thighs" and making it sound lascivious. We're singing about every possible body part using the real words but not the slang. Meanwhile the visuals will be a bombardment of the forbidden seven words.
Because you do so many different things: I wonder if there are fans of your chamber music who can't understand why you do things like the WIG band?
Yes. Like my Dad used to say, this chamber music is so beautiful and so calm, why do you have to do that other stuff?. Some people like some things I do and don't like others. It's the same with your dresses and such. I just feel that since I have an eclectic range, I'm going to go for it. These songs come to me and I do them. Though as I said the songs we've written lately are more thoughtful and we are thinking more about what is going on with the world and trying to change things. Still they are pretty raunched out as far as the lyrics go. We have this bad habit of loving nasty words. It makes us laugh. So we present the political stuff in a palatable way and we hope it reaches a lot of people. For example, we did a song called "Liposuction," and it's all about sucking that fat right out of my thighs, suck that fat, suck that fat and suck me dry. And "collagen," you know its "shoot me doctor give me some pride," and "love me darling but not too hard." We think its such a crock that people are selling women all this cosmetic surgery. You ask any woman and she will say she is ten to twenty pounds overweight even if she weighs ninety-eight pounds. And she'll say she doesn't like her nose and she doesn't like her chin. I don't like every part of me but I'm certainly not about to change it all. It's a crock, especially since men don't have to do it much, they're not fed that kind of baloney. In WIG band we're venting our spleen. Johanna and I write most of the lyrics.
Is there a carryover from the WIG band music to the music that you compose for films? There have been two films: Tia and Take me Out to the Ballgame. First let's talk about Tia, where did that music come from?
Tia, a film by Helen Prince, takes place in Mexico in 1906. A friend of mine Todd Manley, who is a percussionist, has a lot of records from that era and from Latin American, and even from that region _ San Luis Petosi [?] where the film was to be shot. However we're doing most of it around Napa. I'm writing some original music and that will be based on the style, and then we're actually transcribing some of the old records and Todd is going to lay down some marimba tracks, probably about five or six.
Is this style of music new to you?
Yes. We're shooting the film now, and about four of us are working with Helen, and we're giving her sound as she shoots new footage. We're taking some wild sound (field recordings) too but its not really sync sound. Mostly its silent with voice-overs and narration. Its a blast. We're filming up in on the Russian River, and we're filming in an old adobe, which is like a museum, in Petaluma. The state is cooperating wonderfully with us.
You'll be around whenever the cameras are rolling?
Yes, but I've left now for a week or so but when I get home my boyfriend and I are taking his van and going up to British Columbia, to try to get to the Queen Charlottes. So I am missing out on the end of the filming.
Find out if they listen to "Brave New Waves" in the Queen Charlotte Islands.
I will! You know, I was doing my own show and I was bored and I asked people to call me up and someone called me from Vancouver and he says what is this and I said this is KPFA Berkeley and I'm Barbara Golden, and he said I've heard you on "Brave New Waves."
I guess we know where Barbara Golden stands: that was called "Ode to Ollie," before that "Just Say Yes," and "Michael Jackson." Let's talk now about Take Me Out to the Ballgame, that's your first film I believe.
Yes. I had been in Berlin summer of '85 and I got back to the San Francisco airport and my friend Paul Haverty whisked me off to Candlestick Park to see the SF Giants.. So I started thinking about Kennedy in Berlin _ I went to that big square where he said he was a Berliner with Willie Brandt by his side. Then I thought about baseball, how weird America is but baseball still seems OK, aside from a few scandals. And I thought oh God _ baseball and assassination in America with JFK throwing out the first ball as a link, and the soundtrack will be all these different versions of "Take Me Out to the Ballgame," we'll commission people to make versions of the song and collage/gather them together. We got the Tubes to do it. Helen Prince who made the film with me, her brother is Prairie Prince of the Tubes.
One of the best drummers in the world.
And one of the nicest guys you'll ever meet. He worked on the movie too, by the way, doing anything we wanted him to do. You know, we'd say, "Prairie, do this, Prairie get that."
Featured on the ZTC album "skylarking" he does monumental drumming.
Oh yeah, he does a lot of things with Tod Rundgren and I think he's in a trio with the bass player from Journey and the keyboard player from Yes or vice versa. They go to Japan and they are called the Go-Men in Japan. So they did a great version for us, and they do it now whenever they perform, such as they are. And Brenda Hutchinson had an orchestral piece so we took a snippet of that. George Brooks who plays saxophone with Terry Riley regularly, he recorded most of it for us. We told him we wanted it sad, and happy, and to overdub and harmonize with himself. We used a little bit of Harpo Marx. We stole some stuff from the movie with Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra. We had an old piano roll. Amy Neuberg did a computer version for us. Larry Polansky did a mandolin version. I just spliced them together in the right places how I wanted it.
What were the visuals exactly?
Its about the light and dark side of the American soul. Baseball being the metaphor for goodness and light and purity, and political assassination being the bad things, and the link was Kennedy. We were trying to show the American public how we all watched the wars on TV, we watch the Olympic games on TV, the sports, and we watched Kennedy die on TV, we watched Lee Harvey Oswald die on television. We have these families watching it all interspersed with the baseball. Then at the end we have a montage of Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, John Kennedy, Bobby Kennedy, John Lennon. Prairie drew green laurel leaves around their faces and "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" is played like a dirge. Then it ends with a dancer on point on a tombstone in a cemetery. The most graphic part is that we got hold of the Zapruder film, we got a lot of old Kennedy footage.
How difficult was that to obtain, the Kennedy footage?
Someone had done a piece on the sixties before us and he had a lot of stuff off TV so I asked if we could have some of it. We watched twelve hours of his footage and then we chose what we wanted. I'll tell you what blew us away _ we couldn't get over how beautiful the rhetoric of the speeches was in those days. The level of intelligence of the common person, the man in the street, seemed to be much higher than it is now. We can't talk anymore. We were weeping because the level was so much higher.
Don't you think that pop music is the new literacy?
Yes I do. I think that pop music is phenomenal. That's why I love writing songs and I love being in that tradition. I was watching Much Music here [like MTV], and I said to my Mum, she was watching with me, and I said, see that's where the art is now.
Do you like mainstream pop?
Sure I do. I like some of it. I like Hammer. Heavy metal. I love Madonna because she's funky, I think she's really smart.
Have you ever made a video for any of these songs?
Yes. We've made one for "Trashy Girls." Its hysterical. We made one of "Lap Pool." We made a video called, "Lifestyles of the Poor and Shameless," but that wasn't one of the songs. And we are doing one for "Clit Envy." "Clit Envy" is a brand new song. I just got the tape in the mail, its a rough unmixed cut. It's a riot. First of all there is the singing, of course, interspersed. Then we made a videotape in which I sent out postcards to fifty men and I had them come over to my house for martinis and I asked them, Do you have clit envy? and we taped their answers. Most men were happy with what they had. Their answers were fabulous. So in the instrumental breaks in the song we have the best people giving the best answers. Some of our girlfriends posed for muff shots. And then we are going to have the WIG band girls bowling. We'll be bowling strikes and the boys are bowling gutters.
And do you expect that it will be played on MTV?
Of course. As soon as I get back we are doing our bowling scene. We just laid down those tracks.
Was there video in your latest installation piece shown at Cal. State?
Yes, that was "Pink Pleasure." I think that will be my big opus now. Through doing it I met my boyfriend, who just moved in about a month ago. In '86 I got the idea that I wanted to collect a series of photographs of women duplicating the Goya "maya" pose. I wanted a hundred photographs. I wanted a ten-minute piece, and I wanted a hundred themes based on a ten-note scale. So I devised my original ten-note scale and I had about thirty-five portraits, they were beautiful, taken by Patrick Sumner. And I put pink gel on the slide projector and it was called "Pink Pleasure."
So the piece always stayed with me. I wanted to do more with it. So Mark Trayle said, do an interactive video installation with it. I phoned an acquaintance, the friend of a mutual friend whom I hardly new, Bill Thibault, and I said I had this idea for a piece and do you want to work on it with me: it involves a hundred naked women. And he said, Ahhh, yeah. I tease him mercilessly now. And he says he wanted to get to know me anyway, but I twisted his arm a bit with that. Are the phone numbers included, he asked?
Anyway, its an interactive piece. And the ultimate expression of it would be that you walk into a gallery, sit down on a sofa in a darkened area of the gallery, and you'd have a Macintosh or another user-friendly computer. And you summon a menu with a hundred names, you pick a name, and when you see the woman floating _ its an odalisque, very tasteful and gorgeous _ then you choose from three properties based on the Hindu properties called gunas: satva, tamas, and rajas which are the head, the center, and the feet. The head represents inspiration and the mental life. The center is the very sensual and erotic. And the feet is activity and productivity. We assigned a color to each of those three properties and we assigned a specific melody pattern using those ten notes. The head, inspiration ones, go in forward motion, the feet go retrograde, and the center ones spew out from the center of the scale. The video backgrounds are all different. The head is air. The center is water. And the bottom is fire, volcanoes and lava.
This is all on a personal computer?
We used the ones at Cal State Hayward. But you can do it on a personal computer. MacroMind Director. Hypertext and Hypercard. Bill has been working with me. And the best part is the text from my diaries, it taken from twenty years of my diaries, and we have classified the entries into these three categories which will eventually be data-based, like if you click on purse there will be twenty years of my diaries where the word purse was used and you can read them all. It's pretty erotic, but its tasteful. We showed it at Cal State Hayward. It's not an installation yet so we tossed coins and got fifty-six thirty second events and we staged a performance of it with music. We had William Winant on percussion and Toyoji Tomita on trombone, Scot Gresham -Lancaster on synthesizer. I've got the music with me on tape but the vocals were nearly inaudible. The audience was reading the words on the screen.
About your diaries, did you edit them much?
I did definitely for "Pink Pleasure." There were some things that, well you know Bill teaches there so there were some of his deans and heads of departments so he said you can't say that. It's very tasteful, there isn't one four letter word.
There isn't one four-letter word in your diaries?
Oh, are you kidding, my diaries are outrageous! But for the performance aspect of it and on the screen it was extremely tasteful. Although really sensuous shall we say.
One thing I want our listeners to know before we end this interview is that you, Barbara Golden, made it into Encyclopedia Britannica.
It was the Encyclopedia Britannica Film Corporation, and they are definitely part of Encyclopedia Britannica. They picked up "Take Me Out to the Ball Game." They thought it was a quirky view of the sixties. We are in a study guide. What is metaphor, etc. etc. We are in history.
Do they pay well for that?
They pay very nicely. I got myself to Indonesia for two months and I studied bamboo marimbas there. For one month I took four lessons a week, bought bamboo marimbas, went to Java, fooled around a lot. Went to Lombok, snorkled, etc.
Next time you come up you'll have to buy cases for these instruments and play them on the radio.
Oh yeah, I'd love to.
Now we're going to hear music by San Francisco Giants fan, and composer, Barbara Golden, "Pink Pleasure." And we'll say goodnight.