Saturday, February 13, 2010

And We Wonder Why Our Girl-Children Have Body Issues?

Katy Perry has tantalized us with this gem of her own body issues.

Now then, to start off with, I have no particular axe to grind against Ms Perry.  She seems a lovely girl, from a good deal of the press, PR, and some of my own contacts in the music industry, she is a quirky and fun entertainer, and charmingly self aware and self deprecating.  Especially when she and Zooey Deschanel seem to be lost twins.

Zooey, for comparison's sake, and because, after her duet in Elf, how can 
you NOT have some tiny shred of love in your heart for such an adorable gal?

Quirky, fun, none too serious, that seems to describe a gal who has 
actually worked a bit to carve out a niche in an industry that is fair 
competitive. Her introduction to the larger world beyond Island Def 
Jam Records came with what I like to think of as a homage to Jill 
Sobule's own I Kissed a Girl--I like to think that, because Jill is a 
heck of a gal, an amazing song writer, and about the most positive 
person that I've ever seen come through the doors at the Iron Horse 
Music Hall.

I was chef at the Iron Horse for several years. One of the oldest
music clubs in Western Mass, and a mainstay of the Northampton 
music scene, it is a club that saw rise to a fair number of folks, from 
The Pixies and The Smashing Pumpkins, and home to greats like 
Dave Brubeck, Wynton Marsalis, Fred Eaglesmith, Dick Dale, and 
so damn many others, that during my tenure there, I'll admit that I 
lost a lot of my ability to be impressed by musicians on reputation 
alone. Saw Buckwheat Zydeco act a'fool, and watched Chris 
Ardoin roll in, thirty years his junior and blow him away both with 
professionalism and just plain on stage verve. The years with The 
Iron Horse taught me a lot about the music industry--and it is an 
industry, and records and CDs are less the product, than the singers 
and acts themselves.  Acts are manufactured, packaged, and sold 
with frightening rapidity.  Skill and success are not intrinsically 
linked though.

Jill Sobule, had her own quirky tune. She started off a sort of Lorry 
Petty lookalike, and has a sort of breathy confessional quality to her 
music. She is frighteningly self aware, and an amazing performer in 
her own right, and the years at the Horse taught me, she is an 
amazing champion for other artists.  She is so supportive and decent 
to other artists, that it stands out--in a business where it is often seen 
as a great move to be nonplussed at the antics of your fellows as an 
inculcated "cool" factor.

Jill is still out there, she is amazing, and if you get a chance to check 
her out: do. Her song writing has only gotten better, her stage 
presence is honed and polished, and she's a heck of decent gal.

I had to get that tangent out of the way. Both to preface approaching 
Katy Perry in context of acknowledging her own ten year slog in the 
industry, her own tribulations with critics, with folks who tend to look
at her as product, interchangeable with a lovely actress who is having 
her own career as quirky, and to frame her in relation to Jill, who, 
let's face it, she ripped off pretty gottverdammt hard.

Her announcement that she was fine with her body should be a mom-
ent to congratulate her. Her lack of pressure to conform should be 
appreciated, right? Well, save that Katy is all of 25, still has a high 
metabolism, and her claim to fame as "voluptuous" is that she was 
blessed in the chesticles region, as opposed to being, say, London 
Andrews*who is one of my favorite modern pin-up models.

On one hand, it is refreshing to hear a gal in an industry where looks 
are constantly watched, say that she was less worried about working 
out, than just being good with the lifestyle and the on-the-roadness--
which for a performers like Perry is a bit different than being on the 
road, say for Maria Muldauer or Dar Williams--but on the other, you 
have to wonder at the level of awareness that a gal who isn't rail thin,
but hardly what I think most could call anything but "girl sized" 
could be thinking on calling herself voluptuous.

Big hooters isn't voluptuous. She's not exactly what you'd call zaftig--
certainly not a pochari-esque figure to borrow from my mother's 
homeland. She's a good sized girl. Not "good sized" in the large 
portions sense, but a well built gal, and maybe a trifle on the skinny 
side, but not frighteningly so--on another note: Kiera Knightly, you 
and your boyfriend NEED TO EAT MOAR!--and that should be a 
cause to celebrate. But to call her frame voluptuous sort of sends 
exactly the wrong message to the girls in the audience. Katy, she's 
a slender little thing, and that is part of her appeal, but it lends itself 
to simultaneously addressing body issues, and smacking folks in the 
face who might have them.

Katy, good on you for not worrying too much. Sensible attitude for 
a gal who runs around a lot. But we still have a long way to go to get 
this crazy yo-yo thing calibrated...

*London is a working model, and I don't want to steal bandwidth by 
linking her shots, so I suggest you go check her out. London is very 
much the voluptuous model, and good on her. Sessy, funny, and 

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