Entertainment » Music

Julie Brown smells the glamour

by Guy Welton
Friday Oct 15, 2010

Looking for something special to do on Halloween? Why not try Trannyshack's 4th Annual Halloween Bash hosted by Peaches Christ and Heklina and featuring performances by Cousin Wonderlette, Kim Burly, Elijah Minnelli, Bay Area Flash Mob, Sandra O'Noshidint, Raya Light, Syphilis Diller, and Exhibit Q.

One very good reason for attending is the appearance of special guest star Julie Brown, the pop culture icon who recently released a new album Smell the Glamour. Brown came to fame in the 1980s with the release of her first extended play CD Goddess in Progress, which she followed with her first full-length Trapped in the Body of a White Girl.

From there she went to her own MTV show and film roles (Earth Girls are Easy and Clueless). What she is best-remembered for was her parody of Madonna's documentary Truth or Dare, Medusa: Dare to be Truthful. Since then she's written the script to the Jonas Bros. movie Camp Rock and Since 2004, Brown has been a commentator on E! network specials, including 101 Reasons the '90s Ruled, 101 Most Starlicious Makeovers, 101 Most Awesome Moments in Entertainment, and 50 Most Outrageous TV Moments.

Brown is equally famous for her song parodies, which include 'Cause I'm a Blonde" and "The Homecoming Queen's Got a Gun." In the same vein her new CD features two singles: "Big Clown Pants" a play on Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance" and "Another Drunk Chick," a spoof on Ke$ha's"Tik Tok." EDGE recently spoke to Brown about her career, her gay fan base and what makes a good drag queen.


A crazy career

EDGE:What a career, show off a bit, talk about it, tell us about what you are really proud of.

Julie Brown: My career has been so crazy because I’ve gotten to act, sing, write, direct and produce. Probably just cause I’m soooo pushy! But people are always asking me if I could pick just one thing to do what would it be? But it’s impossible to answer that. If I had to, I would say that being able to write something, and then getting to act it out is the most amazing and fun thing I’ve gotten to do. But that involves all those things, right? Like "Medusa-Dare to be Truthful". I wrote the script with Charlie Coffey, then I got to record those parodies of Madonna and then be Medusa/Madonna and that was such a blast! Because there were no executives giving us notes, I got to decide pretty much everything. Plus, just getting to act like Madonna, I mean what drag queen hasn’t wanted to do that. (Yeah, I’m kind of a female drag queen!) I’m also really proud of Just Say Julie, because Charlie Coffey and I got to do everything on that too. We just did whatever we thought was funny. The only note MTV gave me was that we had to show 3 videos per show-but I could dance in them, make fun of them, whatever.

EDGE:You have had a strong LGBT fan following, how do you feel about this and is it intentional or just happened?

Julie Brown: I think I have a strong LGBT fan following because early on I just started having gay fans show up at my shows in San Francisco. I wasn’t sure why, but I loved them because they were so enthusiastic and it seemed like whatever I thought was funny, they thought was funny. Then when I moved back to LA and started working in straight clubs, like the Comedy Store and the Improv, the audiences seemed to be much stupider and slower (am I just a little biased?) They just didn’t get the jokes or references as fast, and everyone’s act was like something you’d see on the Tonight show with Johnny Carson. Pretty boring. That’s why I started doing music in the 80’s, because the music scene was way more interesting and experimental. And my gay fans loved the songs I did (The Homecoming Queen’s Got a Gun, I like e’m Big and Stupid, Cause I’m a Blonde) so at that point I deliberately decided to keep writing for the gay audience, because they got me better than anyone else.

EDGE:So you have a new CD called SMELL THE GLAMOUR? Tell us about it...

Julie Brown: My new CD is called Smell the Glamour and I’ve done a few parodies of my favorite current female singers...Ke$ha (even though she’s a little dopey) and Lady Gaga-who I’m just in love with. When I first saw her on Saturday Night Live, I was just blown away and I think she’s the biggest inspiration for this album. So I wrote "Big Clown Pants" which is a satire of "Bad Romance" because I thought, if Lady Gaga was doing comedy that’s what she would do. And I have some original songs like "Latin Boys" which is about how sexy Latin guys are, and how stupid it is that Arizona wants to kick out the hot guys. Plus there’s a song of mine that I’ve re-done called, "I want to be Gay". It’s about how I feel like a gay man trapped in a woman’s body. And I’ve also included a few songs from Medusa (since they’ve never been released) including an updated version of "Vague,"my satire of "Vogue."

EDGE:What do you think makes a good drag queen? Don’t be shy. (Heklina won’t read this until after it is completed---kidding!)

Julie Brown: I think a good drag queen is totally committed to being as beautiful as possible. It’s pretty much the same feeling most women have when they’re trying to look really good. Like you’ll try crazy stuff with your hair or squeeze yourself into some Spanx or whatever it takes to look like a hottie. Plus, a good drag queen adds that something extra to push it a little over the top even better, bigger, and sexier than your average woman!

EDGE:What inspires your creativity, your titles, roles are very creative, where does it come from? How can we get some of that?

Julie Brown: What inspires me is what inspires everyone else, I just think I’m very emotional and have strong reactions to things and somehow have to act them out. That may be why I identify with gays, they have strong emotions about everything too. And when I pick out someone to satirize, it’s because they jump out at me and I just have to play them, or write a sketch about them. I’ve been working so hard on this album and I’ve been wanting to make some Youtube videos about some of the women in the news. Like Christine O’Donnell-I mean give me a brown wig and let me be an idiot! Please! And Sarah Palin, I really want to do her plotting for her campaign in 2012-cause you know it’s coming. So I would say that if you have a strong reaction to anything, just get a wig and do something about it!

EDGE:Who are your idols, who do you look up to?

Julie Brown: There are so many people I look up to, here’s my partial list...

Lily Tomlin, Katherine O’Hara, Meryl Streep, Madeline Khan, Kathy Griffin, Steve Carrell, Cyndi Lauper, Madonna, Lady Gaga, Freddie Mercury, Tina Fey, Amy Pohler, John Waters, Bette Midler, Barbra Streisand, Will Ferrell, Barack Obama,

Heklina, Divine, Jackie Beat, Ann Margaret, David Bowie, Richard Pryor, Gilda Radner, Joan Rivers, Bill Murray, Dave Chappelle, Lucille Ball... oh my God, someone stop me! I could do this all day!

Halloween: A Party! Trannyshack’s 4th Annual Halloween Bash, with very special guest Julie Brown takes place on Sunday, October 31, 2010 at the DNA Lounge, 375 Eleventh St., 9:30pm-3am, 11pm show. $20, advance tickets available at dnalounge.com,


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