A Quickie With Joan Jett

Out rocker Joan Jett has been called the original riot grrl, the godmother of punk and the hottest woman in rock and roll. She took time out of her busy schedule to talk to AfterEllen.com about music, cars and Carmen Electra.

AfterEllen.com: You were the first woman in rock and roll to own her own record label, Blackheart Records. How involved are you in finding new bands?
Joan Jett:
I’m pretty involved in it, but I don’t actually find the band. The people that work for Blackheart have great ears. [But] I certainly hear what it is before we make a move. [New] bands like the Vacancies and the Eyeliners are bands I got turned onto because we played with them.

AE: Blackheart has one band, Girl in a Coma, that’s comprised of three young women. Do girl rockers remind you of your Runaways days?
JJ:
Yeah, definitely. [Girl in a Coma] are very sweet and seemingly innocent. That reminds me of the Runaways vibe — being really intense rock-and-roll girls but also having this level of innocence, and I mean this only in the best way, this naiveté.

AE: You’ve come a long way. You recently did a Cadillac ad.
JJ: Well, yeah, we got involved with Cadillac because they wanted people’s Cadillac stories. When I started out with the Blackhearts after the Runaways and I moved to New York, my producer and songwriting partner, Kenny Laguna, he had a big old Cadillac. When we printed up the first versions of Bad Reputation, we’d sell them out of the trunk of our car. So [that car] really was our first Blackheart Records office. [Cadillac] really liked that story.

AE: How many Cadillacs do you own?
JJ:
Just one.

AE: What color is it?
JJ:
It’s black on black.

AE: Of course it is.
JJ:
Actually, there is a print ad of me leaning up against a car with sunglasses on. That was my car.

AE: I’ve seen that ad. Your car looked hot, but you looked even hotter. Why do you look so good after all these years?
JJ:
Thanks. I’ve taken care of myself for years. After the Runaways, I never smoked, and I became a vegetarian at least 16 years ago. What I do is very physical. I stay out of the sun, or if I [am] in the sun, I put on a lot of sunscreen. I think those things definitely have a cumulative effect.

AE: Do you have any guilty pleasures?
JJ:
Not really.

AE: Do you have any guilty music pleasures? I mean, is there a genre you listen to that’s completely unexpected for Joan Jett, like opera or country?
JJ: Not anymore. You know, when I was a kid I used to listen to Broadway. Because I was in drama class, I knew a lot of those show tunes.

AE: Show tunes! What’s your favorite musical?
JJ:
Cabaret. We did it in school.

AE: I love Cabaret too.
JJ:
I met and eventually became friends with Liza Minnelli. We’re still friends today.

AE: Your friend Carmen Electra is in your "A.C.D.C." video. In one scene, she’s emerging from a subway station. I find it hard to believe that Carmen takes the subway anywhere.
JJ:
It was the wonder of film.

AE: There’s a rumor you’re dating her.
JJ:
Well, I can tell you we met on the "A.C.D.C." video, and we became great friends after that. She’s a great person. I love Carmen. She’s beautiful and a wonderful woman.

AE: Are you just friends or friends with benefits?
JJ:
We’re good friends.

AE: OK. Are you dating anyone at all?
JJ:
No. You know, music is my life. I’m on the road so much, it’s not really fair.

AE: Is the road still fun after all these years?
JJ:
Definitely.

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