When Belinda Carlisle described the effects of Quaaludes and made fun of Janis Ian during our recent interview, I felt like an innocent freshman in the girls' bathroom in high school, listening to a cool senior talking about her crazy weekend.
We all know how that ended: After a decade-long crazy weekend, Belinda cleaned up her act, had a successful solo career, and is now living happily in France with her husband and 15-year-old son. She still tours with the Go-Gos, but her new album, "Voila" -- her first solo effort in over 10 years -- is a polished, sexy redux of all-French pop classics. And it's actually pretty great...
By the end of the interview, I felt like I had run into the same dangerously cool senior in the supermarket 25 years later -- glad to learn she had become a well-adjusted mom, but slightly disappointed she wasn't still dangerous...
But she's amazingly frank with her sex-drugs-and-rock-and-roll stories; her Valley Girl lilt remains unchanged, and she's even more beautiful than she was in her heyday. Oh -- and she was fully game to play "Who Would You Rather Sleep With." Read the full interview after the jump.
Well, I pretty much have been living in France for 14 years, and I've become really familiar with the French chansons and the French pop and French artists. I could never see myself making another pop album. And then I was approached at a music conference about two years ago about making another album and I said, I'm not interested, but that if I was ever going to be doing another album I'd like to do an album of French chansons. And they thought it was a great idea, but I didn't even know whether or I could do it or not, to be honest. It took me about two years to really complete it, and it was great because there was a lot of researching, a lot of listening and a lot of buying and I just had a blast.
BELINDA ANSWERS THE GAY QUESTIONS
OK, now I'm going onto the lesbian questions: Are you ready?
Why do you think lesbians were so into you and the Go-Gos?
You know, I think maybe because the Go-Gos were such a girls' club, and that's when it all got started, and I think that's empowering to a lot of different people and in a lot of different ways and not just to gays and lesbians. But I also think of course that there's that idea of five women working together and playing together and just growing up together, and maybe it was also the success we had that factored in. And, of course, I think the music was really good too.
Over the years, there have always been stories about lesbian groupies around the Go-Gos, but I've yet to read one concrete story that goes into detail. Can you tell me about the lesbian groupies? And frankly, I'm curious to know how they would act -- how they would hit on you guys.
The idea of groupies always appealed to us. We never had any boy groupies, they were all lesbians. [Laughs] It was all girls, all these girls, all the time! And if you want to know the truth, for the most part, it's always girls and lesbians even now. I remember being in New Orleans just a few years ago and being taken aback by the aggressiveness of some of the women there. I've had quite a few pretty strong come-ons. See, in my own personality, I've never been aggressive like that, so it's always one of those things where, because its so opposite of how you are that you find the behavior fascinating, you know?
Oh, well, yeah -- that's happened quite a few times through the years. And not just to me, but to all the girls in the Go-Gos. And come on, it's always flattering, I mean, I'd rather have it from someone attractive than from someone ugly.
Can you go into more detail? I'd love to know the process of how a lesbian would try to pick up Belinda Carlisle after a show. A pickup line that sticks out in your head?
[Thinks]. Hmm. It's hard to remember one specific pickup line right now -- oh! I remember this one time I was at a gig watching a show and all of a sudden I felt this woman rubbing herself against me. [Laughing] I was like, "Oh, my God!" And whether it's male or female, that's still strange!
Have you ever had a nonsexual crush on a woman?
Oh yeah, well, Debbie Harry was my first big crush. You know something? Believe me -- I've been there and I've done it all. Let's just put it that way.
Wait a minute. What do you mean by that?
Well, without going into too much detail . . . I think all of us in the band, we've all had . . . we've all seen the experience you are probably wondering about. And, yeah, like I said, without going into too much detail, we've all been there and done that.
Well, it's true. And you know, my son is always online and stuff like that, so without going into too much detail ... yeah.
If you were lesbian for one weekend, which celebrity would you want to go on a date with?
[Quickly] Scarlett Johannsen. Oh, I think she's gorgeous. I think she's complete eye candy, and I think she's smart and cool, too.
BELINDA ON HER DRUG DAYS
As I was doing the research for this, I read so many stories about your partying days back in the '80s. There were so many stories and I know this is a cliché, but what was your rock-bottom moment?
Oh, my God, there were so many times. I mean, I had so many rock-bottom moments. But I think the one that really did change my life was the one time where I had been on a bender for about three days. And I heard this voice. And whether it was a real voice or not a voice, or just a voice in my head or whatever -- but the voice said, "Um -- you're going to be found dead in a hotel room." And that was hard, that was it, and that is when it changed. So that was really my "rock bottom," but you know what else? I had found myself in like, so many shameful situations over the years, you know? It was just . . . enough. But I do feel like it takes one really scary moment to bring it all home, and the voice in the hotel room was it for me.
[Laughs] Oh, I have lots of fun drug memories in general. I've had some really funny acid memories. But you know, I've had lots of really great parties and lots of really bad parties, so let's just put it that way . .
You referred to what was maybe a bad party once as a result of "too much cocaine, Quaaludes and boredom." Totally random -- do you remember the number that was on a Qaaulude pill?
Yup -- seven-fourteen.
[Laughs] That's scary, huh? But I used to love them.
What happened to them? Why did they stop making Quaaludes?
Well, because they were too good, that's why. [Laughs] They were just too good. I mean, I used to love the whole sort thing where you know, you'd get them, and then you'd take one. And then you'd just sort of wait for your fingers to get numb, and then your mouth would go numb, and then everything would just sort of get all . . . pear-shaped, basically.
What do you think would have happened to the Go-Gos if you all had been able to control the partying?
Hmmm. Well it wasn't all just the partying, although that was a big factor. There was the whole thing about the lead singer, which is not the case now. There was also the publishing issues -- well, there were a whole lot of other things that would have broken up the band besides the partying. I mean, we probably would have had a few more years left in us and then would have broken up over these other things.
In your opinion, who is the hottest rock star of all time?
In my opinion, the hottest rock star of all time was Elvis. I mean, I was Elvis-damaged from a young age, and I always like boys with quaffs and slicked-back hair -- and I still do! I mean, even though I'm too old for this, I saw two little hot-rod guys at a Go-Gos show and I was just like, "Oh, my God. Those boys are soo cute." I've always liked that look.
You were a big part of the late-1970s L.A. punk scene and hung out with bands like X, the Germs, Black Flag, etc. But were you a secret fan of the mega-California '70s bands like Journey or REO Speedwagon?
No, never! I really didn't like that kind of music. But -- if anything, I have always been a huge Bee Gees fan. They were always my guilty pleasure back then and even now. I was always was a Bee Gees fan, and always will be a Bee Gees fan. Huge.
BELINDA PLAYS "WHO WOULD YOU RATHER SLEEP WITH?"
Would you be willing to play "Who would you rather sleep with?" I chose some female rock stars from the '80s, and you tell me which one you'd rather sleep with -- and why.
I'll play; it sounds funny.
OK -- Debbie Harry or Pat Benatar?
Debbie Harry. I mean, from what I said before and also because I wanted to be Debbie Harry when I was 17.
Joan Jett or Stevie Nicks?
[Thinks] Ummm . . . hmmm. Oh, Joan Jett! 'Cuz she's cute.
Susanna Hoffs or Chrissie Hynde?
Chrissie Hynde. Definitely. Because she has a very cool voice, and I always thought she was just . . . totally cool. And I love Susanna, but she's a friend of mine, and that would be bizarre!
[Laughs hard] Janis IAN? Oh, my God, that's so scary! I'd say Joan Baez.
[Laughing] But why?
Well 'cuz she's more attractive! [Still laughing].
Exene (from the punk band X) or Phranc the lesbian folk singer?
[Laughing] Oh, my God, that's slim pickin's right there! Hmmm. Well, I think I'd have to go with Phranc the lesbian folk singer.
Well, good for Phranc. OK, Johnny Depp or Viggo . . .
[Quickly] Johnny Depp. Hands down. I love Johnny Depp.
OK, last one. Madonna or Cyndi Lauper?
Oh, I'd definitely go with Madonna. Just so I could say "I've been with Madonna."
Interview by Jenny Stewart, originally published on PlanetOut.com and Gay.com, 2008. Read Jenny's most recent interview with Belinda by clicking here.