Joan Jett Set To Roar On Broadway
New York: First she was a Runaway, now she's with The Blackhearts. She's Joan Jett, a 40-year-old rocker who wears leather and is bald (for the moment) by choice.
Jett joined The Runaways when she was 16. It was the first all-girl teen rock 'n' roll band (the female version of The Ramones) to gain prominence, playing from 1976 through 1978.
She formed Joan Jett and the Blackhearts in 1980. I Love Rock 'n' Roll, the title song of the band's second album, became a huge hit two years later.
Jett and The Blackhearts are still together, so it won't be a stretch when she makes her Broadway debut playing a rocker named Columbia in a revival of The Rocky Horror Show at the Circle in the Square. The show is scheduled to open on November 15.
"I have solo parts in a couple of songs, and they're going to try to put in a rhythm guitar solo," she says.
The first time it was on Broadway, The Rocky Horror Show lasted 32 performances in 1975. The film version, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, became a cult classic.
"I'm a fan, very much so," Jett says, while taking a break from a dance rehearsal. "It (the film) came out right at the time of The Runaways. I'd say it was pretty instrumental in me figuring out who I was. It was a very formative time in my life."
Joan Jett and the Blackhearts' most recent album is 1999's Fetish on the Blackheart Records label.
1. Why rock 'n' roll?
Jett: I grew up in a world that told girls they couldn't play rock 'n' roll. My parents taught me I could be anything in the world I wanted to be. That made me confused. I figured out it was a social thing, what women were allowed to do. At a very young age, I decided I was not going to follow women's rules.
2. Did you audition for The Rocky Horror Show?
Jett: I read the scene where Columbia freaks out at Frank 'n' Furter, and they had me sing. They called me back and the choreographer showed me a couple of steps to see if I could follow direction. I've never danced. I'm a perfectionist. I expected to get the dance steps right the first time.
3. Will you wear leather?
Jett: My costume will probably be leather, latex and fishnet. Probably combat boots will be the heaviest thing I'll wear.
4. Why did you shave your head?
Jett: Shaving my head was a millennium ritual, to not let it pass as just another New Year's Eve. A lot has happened to me in the last couple of years, personally and spiritually. I wanted to mark it for myself. I'm concentrating on staying healthy, having peace, being happy, remembering what is important, taking in nature and animals, spending time reading, trying to understand the universe, where science and the spiritual meet.
5. How would you characterise yourself?
Jett: I think I was born strong-willed. That's not the kind of thing you can learn. The advantage is, you stick to what you believe in and rarely get pushed out of what you want to do. Then again, I wonder sometimes about being strong-headed. I'd like to just be a little bit more open to making mistakes and not worrying about it so much. Aggressive, tough and defiant may describe me, but that leaves the impression I'm mean and I'm not. People expect me to have fangs.
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