Evening with Women


Linda Perry first impacted my life as the out frontwoman of 4 Non-Blondes, who gave us the timeless hit, “What’s Up.” When the band went their separate ways, Perry became a much sought-after songwriter and producer responsible for pop hits from Pink, Christina Aguilera, Gwen Stefani and countless others.

As someone who is not content with sitting still, Perry has recently channeled her energies into a new band, Deep Dark Robot, with friend Tony Tornay. Their debut album, 8 Songs About a Girl, is a far cry from the melodic, dance or otherwise categorized pop music of her past. What you can expect: raw, '60s style rock 'n roll dripping with sex appeal.

The band is currently on tour but Perry has somehow still found a way to put together the upcoming An Evening with Women. The annual event takes place April 16 and the talent lined up for this event makes me want to scrounge up whatever money I can to book a flight to L.A. pronto. Juliette Lewis, Cat Power, Sarah Silverman and Cyndi Lauper will all take the stage to raise money towards the incredible programs the center makes available to anyone who walks through its doors.

We spoke with Perry to get some background on the event and, of course, ask about the new band.

AfterEllen.com: Can you tell us a little bit about what made you get involved with An Evening with Women?

Linda Perry: I got involved because they needed help. It was kind of a no-brainer. I was going to their event — they had given me an award for being supportive and for creative achievement — and the following week I contacted them and told them if they want me to keep getting involved, I’d have to make some changes. So I got my assistant, Shannon, and we went into the center and we basically approached them with what we would like to do and how we would like to see the event run, and then just took it from there.

AE: As you go into your third year of the event, what have you learned from the past two years that you’ve been involved that will help make this the best one so far?

LP: Well, I think with everything, you learn how to make things smoother. Last year’s was definitely better than the year before. This year will be better because we’re more experienced, we have a more solid show, we have more support. It’s getting bigger and when things get bigger you’ve gotta get more focused. So this will definitely be better than last year?

AE: What are some of the services being provided by the LA Gay and Lesbian center that makes it so important to support? Do you think more of these events will need to start popping up since there’s a war going on against Planned Parenthood?

LP: The services are for the community. I know it’s the LA Gay and Lesbian Center but they’re not turning people away. They have an incredible clinic that I’ve been to and it’s amazing. It’s like a full-on operating clinic that looks like any fancy doctor’s office or hospital. They have a pay-as-you-can program; they have legal services; they have therapy for people who are dealing with problems; they have incredible senior programs. They have, what I’m really all about, my favorite program is the youth program for all the kids who are being thrown out of their homes for being gay — that are turning to prostitution and drugs to survive.Basically the center provides shelter, food, clothes, teaches them how to cook and clean. How to get jobs, how to save money. They get them therapy; they get them medical care; they take care of these kids — and they need help. The LGBT community is big and not enough people are — I don’t know — I just feel like it’s an incredible center because they’re also at the forefront of fighting for gay and lesbian rights. Lorri Jean is all over the place, she’s always traveling, going places to make sure gay rights are being fought for. She’s an incredible woman and a big powerhouse. LA is very small compared to the world. My goal would be that we get enough recognition to be able to have centers popping up in New York, Miami, Chicago, you know, all over. So people have somewhere to go. There are beautiful stories that are out there being told about people who were saved through the center. It’s an amazing place.

AE: The talent you’ve got performing at the event is just incredible – I’ve had the pleasure of seeing everyone but Juliette Lewis perform so far – how easy was it to get all of them on the bill for the night’s festivities? 
Well last year Heart was amazing. I asked them on a Tuesday and they got back on a Thursday. It was so great. I really thought because I’ve been on tour that it would be difficult, because it is a struggle to get people to commit. So, I knew this year I wanted the show to be a bit edgier.

AE: Well Sarah Silverman will definitely help with that. 
Yeah! So Juliette [Lewis] is a friend of mine and I called her up and said hey I want you to perform at my event – and she said absolutely! I’ve been trying to do something with Cat Power for the past few years abut she’s always been busy on tours. So this year I called her or emailed her and asked and she said yes. So I was like, “F--k yeah! Oh my God! Now who am I going to get as my headliner?” So I was thinking about who would be edgy but will basically cater to the older women who are a little more conservative – because that’s who the majority of the funding can come from.

So for me, there was no one else but Cyndi Lauper because she’s conservative but edgy, but very respectful and respected. She’s very giving and has a huge heart. She fights this battle as well with herTrue Colors program. So when I called up Lisa Barbarese, she already knew about the event, which was awesome to be able to now call people and have them know about the event already is a big score for us.

Last year I had to explain up the ying-yang to get people. Sarah Silverman has been a part of it both years and she’s doing it again. She’s so amazing, I love her for that. She had another commitment and she  just — you know, she’s just awesome. I can’t even — she’s just so funny. Kat Von D has been a massive supporter as well. She’s donated money to cover the cost of all the printing, which is a lot of money.  She buys tables and comes every year, she’s just really amazing. She auctioned off a tattoo last year, it’s pretty cool.

AE: The invite says cocktail chic. As a lesbian hipster who doesn’t know anything about fashion categories, can you explain to our masses what that means? You know, just so no one is embarrassed when they show up in their prom dress? 
That just basically means, don’t come all dorked out in black tie and dresses. It’s rock ‘n roll chic, class it up a little.  Just don’t show up in flannel and jeans.

AE: I’d be remiss if I didn’t ask about your new band Deep Dark Robot. Ypu recently spoke with one of our other columnists at AfterEllen.com and — first of all — I have to say even if it sucks for you, it’s refreshing to know that even Linda Perry has girl problems sometimes. It’s good to know that even our idols are humans, too. 
[Laughs] Yeah we are — very human.

AE: I’ve always kind of wondered, I’d imagine writing the songs on this album and maybe even performing them is a cathartic process – but when you do press about it, does it ever stir things up to a point where you get sick of talking about it?
Well, I knew going into this that it would be something of interest because it’s basically the subject matter at hand. I don’t have any weird feelings about it because it’s something that’s already done in the past. Performing it, do I get emotional? Yeah, of course I do. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t get emotional in the middle of a set. Love hurts and love feels good. You go through all these different types of emotions. Inside love there’s all these different types of emotions.

I feel good, I wrote a great album. Tony and I are an awesome band, and we’re playing great shows. So I can’t be upset about that. She ended up being a great muse.

AE: It’s been almost twenty years since “What’s Up” came out. How are you doing on that constant journey of getting up that hill of hope for a destination? 
Like right now I’m looking at it like if life is ten steps, I’m on my second one. It’s a constant journey it’s a constant struggle. I’m not a content person, I’m not someone who will just sit here and be content with my life. I like to move forward and just keep pushing. It’s in my nature to achieve things — like right now, I could be all cush and happy in my studio. I have a great life. It could be exteremely comfortable and content. I’m not driven by money, I’m driven by achievement. Now it’s like, OK, time to start all over.

Yes, I’ve been around and I have a name but it’s not helping. When we go out and play shows, nobody knows who Deep Dark Robot is and people don’t really know me as an artist. They know me as a producer and someone who has written songs. So now we’ll play shows where there are hardly any people there. And I’ve been down that road a long time ago, twenty years ago. It’s hard but it’s fun. I’m f--kin’ having a great time and I couldn’t imagine life any other way. My destination? I’m not too sure. If I knew what my destination was, I think the journey wouldn’t be as exciting. I didn’t plan on making an album or being in a band, the universe just threw it at me. I’m not going to plan anything, I’m just going to let the universe throw things at me and I’m gonna go with it.

An Evening WIth Women goes down in Los Angeles on April 16 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.

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