Joan Jett and The Blackhearts Bad Reputation Nation

Jett-Setter: An Interview With Joan Jett

Joan Jett, former Runaway, leather clad style icon, and Queen of Noise for all time, has proven that her domain extends much further than the CD player.

Jett has traveled to India, reads weighty texts like Conversations With God, and last year she mounted a tour of army bases in the Balkans during the skirmish in the former Yugoslavia--at her own expense.

Jett, currently on tour with Def Leppard, is also finishing up her next studio album and just celebrated the twentieth anniversary of Blackheart Records, the label she founded with musical partner Kenny Laguna in 1980 to distribute her albums when no one else would. How did she mark the day (and the dawn of the new millennium)? By shaving all her hair off - and to hear her tell it, no one noticed! phoned Joan to talk about Britney, baldness, and personal beliefs. Do you really have a tattoo on the back of your neck, like on the Fetish cover?
Joan Jett: I have eight of them now. There's one on my neck, there's one on my hip, one on my lower back, three on my arm, and one on my ankle. I think that's it. How do you stay young in this business?
JJ: I'm much more conscious now of taking care of myself on the road - getting enough sleep, taking vitamins, eating well. I'm a vegetarian. I don't smoke or drink. I used to drink and I just stopped completely about a year-and-a-half ago. I've been lucky because I've got this sort of arrested adolescence thing. I got in a band when I was 15 and just went on and never really had to grow up in the same way that a lot of other people did, [getting] a regular job and all that stuff. So I think I've been blessed. Maybe it's not so good in other ways, because I haven't been able to grow up. It's all relative. I always feel like I'm 16. I just feel wiser. What do you think about girls like Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera representing "women in rock"?
JJ: I'd be a lot happier if the press would call it what it is and stop attaching the word "rock" to Britney Spears. I mean, I'm ready to have a heart attack when I hear stuff like that. Any woman who sings or has a guitar in her hand or does anything is a "rocker." It's an exciting noun to attach to everybody, but it's not real. It gives people the misconception that there are women in rock and there aren't. I just don't get it. You underwent a change not that long ago, cutting all your hair off and going blond. Is it still short and blond?
JJ: It was until New Year's Eve. I shaved it off. I'm bald to the skin. I had been planning it for six months, figuring if I shaved my head on the millennium, I'll sit and contemplate my life, and what it means to be alive during this time, and my hopes for the future, for humanity, for the earth, and just to really be present in that. So that was all attached to this head shaving. When this tour came up, I wanted everyone to know I was not going to change my ritual for this. I get tired of augmenting myself for other things. I didn't want to do that again, so I just figured come hell or high water, I'm shaving my head. So I did, and I love it. How often do you shave it?
JJ: I shave it every day. Now that [the hair] is gone, I'm obsessive about it. I don't want to feel any fuzz. I just want to feel smooth skin. It feels great and I think it looks great. But no one said a word. About my blond hair, they said, "Oh, your hair looks great," or "I like your hair blond." But [this time] no one said a word--not the Def Leppard guys, not the fans, my friends. Nobody said anything. Do you wear a lot of hats now?
JJ: Yeah, and it's fun. I never wore hats before because it would mess up my hair. I would definitely recommend shaving your head if you've thought about it. It's fun. I think I would look way too butch.
JJ: That's what I thought, but it doesn't. If anything, it makes you much more androgynous. I think it's a feminine thing. How would you sum up your personal beliefs?
JJ: I think I'm a very spiritual person, but I don't really consider myself religious in that sense. To me, that brings up rules and regulations. I absolutely believe in God or Goddess or Universe, or collective consciousness - some energy and intelligence that's bigger than us. It's a paradox to talk about it. It's bigger than us, but it is us.

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