AE: So you started out at such a young age, but you’re also still in the recording industry now. Has being so famous so young affected your career as an adult?
LG: Yeah, sure. Again, it’s a double-edged sword. “It’s My Party” will get me in the door but then I’ve gotta do it. You know, do you want to do that 42 years later? You take the good with the bad, and you make it work.
There is no point in me getting up on a stage and not doing “It’s My Party.” There’s no point.
AE: What do you mean by that?
LG: I’m saying there’s no reason why I shouldn’t do it. There’s every reason to do it. Where do you want to be: your career before or your career now? Well, they’re the same thing. It’s my career, it’s my life, it’s my work in progress. And I do “It’s My Party” ever since, and I’m just broadening my foundation a little.
When I get up on stage I do “It’s My Party,” I do “Sunshine Lollipops,” I do all the songs people expect me to do, and then hopefully I give them a little something extra.
AE: I think a lot of artists would outright refuse to do that so many years later.
LG: That’s what I meant about it being a double-edged sword.
Gore’s hit 1963 album
You’ve got to realize your task at hand. There’s no point in alienating your fan base. What I think you want to do is bring them along and then pick up a few more people along the way. So, can you be bitter and make that choice? Sure you can, but it’s not one that I feel comfortable with.
AE: I know “You Don’t Own Me” is a favorite, especially at gay pride celebrations.
LG: Exactly. Imagine me doing a show and not doing “You Don’t Own Me.” It’s not going to happen. I can’t imagine an audience not being really unhappy if I didn’t sing “It’s My Party.” And I’m not there to alienate. The idea is it’s entertainment; you’re supposed to make people happy.
AE: Are there any things about yourself, any misconceptions about you that you run up against online, in magazines and in daily life?
LG: Oh, absolutely. Very early on, when I was 16 my family and I were up in Detroit and we were doing a television show for WXYZ, sort of a lip-sync show — they were popular in almost every city in the ‘60s. We were staying at a Ramada hotel and there was a photographer following us around. So at one point my father was sitting in this large leather armchair and I stood next to him in front of a huge fireplace, four times taller than I am, and they snapped some pictures and then there was a limo that took us to the television station.
Well, needless to say, the mansion of the television station became my home. The photo in front of the fireplace, that was my fireplace at home. The huge limo was… So, I went, “Well, this isn’t true.” But it’s sort of the way publicity was done.
AE: And would you say it’s different now?
LG: No, I’d say it was pretty much the same, but I wasn’t prepared for out-and-out lies. I mean, could I live with them? Yeah, I could live with them. But as a result, people actually thought that I came from a wealthy family. And while I come from a very comfortable family, we were hardly wealthy.
So I think they were trying to push a poor-little-rich-girl syndrome, and they did, so I think that’s how some people think of me. It was kind of a forced PR, a push.
AE: Are there things that you come up against currently that are misconceptions about you or misinformation that’s out there?
LG: Well, there’s a lot of misinformation but that’s because there are so many websites. So I roll with the punches. I try not to get upset when I read things or feel as though something has been misperceived.
Again, everything in life, not just show business, is a double-edged sword. You know, if you’ve got a lot of money, you’ve got to figure out how to be a good person with it. So even when your dreams come true, you‘ve gotta watch out. You know.
I’ve been watching what the press is doing to Angelina Jolie, and I look at that and I’m really just happy to be me. People look at me and they wave, “Hi, Lesley.”
They know me in the neighborhood. It’s no big deal. I lead a pretty normal life now. I don’t know how many poor kids survive when the press is out there to get the worst possible shot of you and to exploit you on that level. I had to deal with it a lot. I had stalkers through my life.
Really you just gotta keep chugging along and keep a positive attitude and get through all the problems. You gotta face them, otherwise you don’t get through.