Wendy & Lisa Interview: They don't sugarcoat nothing | Lipstick Alley
members Wendy and Lisa officially come out and talk about their relationship women, but you can't help but have all the other shit try and drag you down. May 13, Known from that point on as Wendy & Lisa, Melvoin and Coleman became key . So Prince knew the full extent of your relationship? with different women, but you can't help but have all the other sh*t try and drag you down. Jul 3, Keyboardist Lisa Coleman was 19 when she started working Jeez that lack of support is puzzling. He took things too When I first read about Wendy and Lisa's relationship, I thought they were more like sisters. They had.
So cheeseball," balks Wendy. Despite being deemed "too young" to join Waldorf Salad, Wendy and twin sister Susannah had their own ideas about their musical careers. In the US they had an ad campaign for the gum where they would only hire twins," explains Wendy. A few years later, Lisa joined Prince's band. He was looking for a replacement for Gayle Chapman, who'd left after deciding that a nightly routine of simulating fellatio during Head clashed with her religious beliefs.
Not only had he written a song for her the unreleased Lisahe was taking inspiration from her life. He slept in it one time and came up with Little Red Corvette All that changed when the extended Melvoin-Coleman clan went out to Manhattan to spend Christmas with Lisa, on the last leg of the tour.
It was really beautiful. By the time of the Purple Rain phenomenon Wendy and Lisa were playing pivotal roles. Despite guest appearances on Prince's recent albums and a "reunion" of sorts at the Brits intheir relationship is complicated.
He's like a brother to me. We did things that only happen in your dreams, they were some of the best times of my life. He's such a talented person, so creative. The duo performed at The Family Jamm! There was one notable absentee, however. And it's just a bummer that he has to make that kind of line in the sand. I imagine that your history with Prince has been both a blessing and a hindrance to getting TV and film work. How has that played out? A lot of people take meetings with us and the whole meeting will be, What was Prince like?
What is he doing now? So it opens a lot of doors, but it doesnt fill the room with anything substantial to do with us. Weve had to get on a soapbox every time a door gets opened and convince the world that were viable. Thats sort of been a pathology for us. Weve been composing for film and TV for almost 20 years now, and we just in the past maybe 10 years have gotten away from only being called to do black movies.
Now were working on a show thats run by all lesbians and were thrilled to be doing it. Why did the two of you decide to keep working together after you left the Revolution? We were married and I was her biggest fan. Everything that she played broke my heart and still does and I wanna own it and covet it and make it mine.
No, I love Wendy. Weve known each other our entire lives practically. Once she was finally hired into Princes band, it was like a dream for me. I had fallen in love with Wendy, my childhood friend, and suddenly we were looking at each other differently, but I had to leave on the road all the time.
It was always just torture. Finally Prince met Wendy and there was some trouble with the other guitar player [Dez Dickerson], and providence moved in such a way that Wendy ended up on the road with us. Was the image you projected in Purple Rain a function of who the two of you were together?
Or did it come from Prince, or the director? I dont think the director had anything to do with it. I think Prince saw us as the couple that we were and used that relationship to add more mystery to him. And I think Lisa and I were willing to go there because at that time we felt mysterious.
We were young and it was the thing, so we went with it, not knowing what the result of that would mean or imply later in life. We didnt think about it in those terms. We just thought, Wow, this is cool!
Before we continue, I have to ask: Have you come out before? Weve never done a Lets come out interview. Weve never been in the closet, but we never said, Lets get an interview with The Advocate. Lets get an interview with Out. I didnt want to be a lesbian musician. I felt really uncomfortable with that role. I was already fighting, being a guitar player in a mans world and to have that on top of it -- Lisa and I were so very married at the time, it just didnt seem like something I could handle.
With Prince and the Revolution, I think that it was just taken for granted that we were supposed to be the gay reps in the band. And people would say, Gee, do you think this lesbian thing is going to work for them?
It was just horseshit. And why dont you wear that lingerie like you used to? Which I never did. But you wore it in a very different way. Yeah, it was more punk, like a fuck-you thing, not, Im a sexy girl.
How did the process of asserting your own identity as a duo conflict with the record companys perception of your marketability based on the Revolution? To be honest with you, it kind of manifested itself in every aspect of our career at the time. From the songs we were writing to the pictures we were taking to the videos that we wanted to do to the places we wanted to perform to the print that we wanted to give interviews to, it was all in constant contrast to what the business wanted from us.
It was extremely frustrating because we were in such a minority as musicians and as young women. We werent even considering coming out because we were already dealing with so much adversity coming away from Prince. That on top of it just seemed insurmountable.
I dont think either one of us were prepared at that age to have that be the ultimate battle. Were the record companies aware that you were lesbians and in a relationship together? Theyd never talk to us about it. I think everybody knew, but nobody said to us, But youre a lesbian couple. We could work the Lilith Fair angle.
We could work the Olivia Records angle. No one used that kind of language with us. We were so hung up on the fact that these people wanted us to be Prince.
It didnt matter what our sexuality was. After we would leave the record company offices, I remember one of our managers mentioning that the art department people would comment on the way Wendy and I would talk to each other.
LIke I would say, Yes, dear, and they would be all like whisper-whisper after we would leave the room. Theyre gay, arent they? Theyre like an old married couple. At that point, we had already been a couple for 10 years. It was very normal for us and very precious.
Were Wendy & Lisa lovers?
I saw a lot of other women coming out at the time and I didnt want that on my plate. I wanted my life with Lisa to be so much more private and so much more conventional than that.
You know, Wendy, I dont know if youll mind me saying this, but we did slightly differ on our consciousness about it. We would do interviews together and people would ask us questions like, What is it like living in LA? And Id start talking about living in a house together and literally get a kick from Wendy under the table like, Youre going too far.
Lisa, at the time we were talking to bullshit magazines. I just didnt want the judgment from people who didnt know about us or the struggle it takes for gays to fucking live a normal life.
I know, but I felt that you had to teach by example instead of making some statement. I disagreed at the time. You can hear it still. Lisa and I are so much on the same page as older women, but at the time it was like, Fuck that!
Im not gonna go there. I want more control of this. I just simply do. I lead the way for Lisa and I to be closeted. You were dealing with this during the Reagan years when the AIDS crisis was exploding and the progressive attitude regarding gays started reversing. It mustve been hard to contend with that while the music industry pushed you to be the next Mary Jane Girls.
Lisa Coleman (musician)
Wendy and Lisa, nearly in unison: Thats exactly what they wanted. We couldnt have been more opposite of that. We were just geeky musicians. We did a record 10, 11 years ago with Trevor Horn that was never released. We were hoping that we would have the next fucking Grace Jones Slave to the Rhythm extravaganza.
We thought, This is going to be genius! Were going to be musician freaks and experiment. And he, honest to god, wanted us to be the Spice Girls. My heart was broken. Not only that, but he was so homophobic.
I hate to say it, but he wouldnt even let us eat off of his silverware on Friday because he was Jewish. It turned into this nightmare. He and his wife, oh God, I dont want to talk disparagingly about anybody, but it made us very uncomfortable. Our homosexuality became quite an issue for them. He would come in and start talking, Well, I asked my rabbi about homosexuality and my rabbi said its comparable to being born a mass murderer. You can be born a mass murderer, but if you practice mass murder its sinful.
I was like, Okay, you can be born gay, but if you practice being gay, you might as well be a mass murderer? Lets record this song now.
That mustve been a shock after what youd experienced in the Revolution. How conscious was Prince of assembling for the Revolution that racial and sexuality rainbow you described?
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He was incredibly conscious of it. Look at the way he looked during Dirty Mind and Controversy and He was so androgynous. He didnt care if you were [paraphrasing Princes Uptown lyric] black, white, straight, gay, Puerto Rican, just a freakin. That guy wanted fans. So anyway he could get them -- and a more interesting way he could do it -- appealed to him. Ill give you an example. We had a photo shoot for the Purple Rain poster.
We were all in our different positions and he at one point walked over to me and Wendy and lifted my arm up and put my hand around Wendys waist and said, There. And that is the poster.