Julie Brown: Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery

[ 1 ] January 14, 2011 |
by tim parks
If imitation is truly the sincerest form of flattery, then celebrities such as Madonna, Lady GaGa and Ke$ha certainly owe comedienne Julie Brown a big ole thank you. Why even Sarah Palin could drop the red-headed spitfire a thank you card, if she’s not too busy clubbing a fish to death on her TV show. Oh wait, I said celebrities should offer up their gratitude, my bad.  
Anyhoo, the novelty singer/songwriter has once again taken her hilarious dead aim approach at the current crop of pop personalities (and the lady who can see Russia from her house), and has effectively pulled the trigger on their success in the entertainment world. The end result is a comedic bullseye, Smell The Glamour, Brown’s latest CD.
The Rage Monthly caught up with the very affable (that’s a fancy word for friendly, I’ll assume you already know what very means) funny lady and we shot the breeze about her return to recording, her days as an MTV staple, a semi-close encounter of the Material Girl kind, and why Earth Girls Are Easy.
The 52-year-old gave us her take on why the time was right for her to unleash a new set of hilarious songs into the wilds of pop culture territory, that are right on par with her signature ’80s tunes “The Homecoming Queen’s Got A Gun,” “’Cause I’m A Blonde,” “Trapped in the Body of a White Girl,” and “I Like ’em Big and Stupid.”
“There were two things that happened,” she explained. “My son turned 16 and I realized I could do crazy stuff again; he was formed, he’s like a person. Because up until then I was going, ‘I have to be super present to be a good mom.’ And then I realized that, ‘God, he’s going to be an adult really soon.’ So that opened my mind that I could do some of the crazier stuff that’s been in my head that I really haven’t been able to do.”
And what of the second factor of the two-part epiphany? Don’t get your panties in a bunch! Brown gave us the lowdown on her other muse.
“And then I also saw Lady GaGa on Saturday Night Live, and I just completely fell in love with her! I think she’s here now forever, and completely iconic,” Brown said. “It’s almost comedic, some of her costumes – could you imagine what her VMA meat dress felt like when she was putting it on? And I wanted to be her, do her. So I thought, ‘O.K. I have to do music again.’ And right then, my life opened up again.”
With her creative channels going full force, Brown penned “Big Clown Pants” in honor – and in the vein – of GaGa’s “Bad Romance.” However, Brown was not only inspired by the reigning Lady of music, but by another newbie of the rhythm method, as well. You know the one who has a dollar sign in her name and, would apparently throw a guy to the curb for not looking like Mick Jagger. Really, Ke$ha, really?
Brown concurred with me that the aforementioned lyric about the Rolling Stones frontman was a wee bit of a stretch from the “Tik Tok” singer.
“No, I don’t think she would kick anyone to the curb, per se,” she answered with a laugh. “I think Ke$ha is playing a character who is like, ‘Oh, I’m such a party hard girl.’ And I don’t suspect she’s really that girl. Her song is so catchy, and that’s why I wanted to do a satire of it. And she is so dopey in the video. Plus, it gave me the idea that there’s no real anthem for drunk girls.” 
Well there is now; thanks to Brown’s hilarious “Another Drunk Chick” song and video. But, there are other celebrities caught in her comedic crosshairs on Smell The Glamour. “There’s a song about plastic surgery called ‘Angelina’s Lips,’” she quipped.  
You would think that these homages (remember kids, the h is silent) would lead to her having to watch her back. Surprisingly, this hasn’t been the case. Well, there was the one time when Madonna sent her a half drank bottle of champagne, after she lampooned the diva’s 1991 documentary Truth or Dare with her own version called Medusa: Dare To Be Truthful.
Brown went all out and was in fine parody form, revamping the singer’s roster of hits, including “Express Yourself” into “Expose Yourself,” “Like A Prayer” became “Party In My Pants,” and “Vogue” morphed into “Vague” and focused on boring celebs (she has updated the latter song for Smell to include today’s ho-hum stars, and the ones who think they are and don’t know it).
Madonna, who is not really a jokester, unless you count her thinking that her role as a prim missionary in Shanghai Surprise would be taken seriously, left Brown wondering if   the champagne was meant as a gag.
“When I first got it, I didn’t know if she was trying to be funny or if it was completely insulting,” Brown remarked. “But since I’ve had time to think about it, I think she was trying to be funny. Because one of the things I always suspect about Madonna is some of her weird stuff is her trying to be funny. She doesn’t have a great sense of humor, and she’s trying to be funny more often than people think."
“She knew I was doing a comedy, and she was trying to be funny. But, at the moment I didn’t get it.” And did she drink it? “God, no!” She exclaimed. “That would be like a petri dish in there; who knew what was in there?!”  
Brown did shudder to think what Ke$ha might send her way, but was also curious as to what the “gift” might be. “I hope to God that she does send me something, that would be so awesome,” she said. “I would love it if Ke$ha would do something.”     
Speaking of something that Ke$ha would do, well if she had entered the music scene during the ’80s when MTV actually played videos (no, really, they did!), is be someone for Brown to poke fun at during her TV series for the network, Just Say Julie
The format of the series combined razor sharp wit comments from Brown, while she played music videos, when it aired from 1989 to 1992. So, what was it like for her to be on the network, not only when they, gasp, played videos, but when there was the “other Julie Brown.” Nope, it wasn’t her evil twin (although she played that role on Just Say Julie), just a VJ who was into the street scene a lot, (I’m assuming) as her nickname was “Downtown” Julie Brown.
“It was just so coincidental,” she said. “It was perfectly fine, I mean, I didn’t have a real problem with her. The weird thing is that I have people all the time who look at me and go, ‘Downtown Julie Brown!’ You know what I finally did? I don’t correct people anymore. They know it’s me, but they’ve mixed up the name. I finally now just go, ‘Yes, thank you, hi.’ “The thing is MTV was an amazing place, when I got to work there,” she professed. “Because it was relevant and people loved it, and it was something you paid attention to.”
Something else that people have paid attention to is Brown’s movie career, including her foray into the cult film stratosphere with 1989’s Earth Girls Are Easy. Brown co-wrote, and starred alongside Jim Carrey, Jeff Goldblum and Geena Davis, in a plot that featured elements of an old school musical, comedy, aliens stranded on Earth and, like, valley girls. Brown sees why the movie achieved a cult following.    
“I think that kind of makes sense, because it is a quirky movie,” she recanted. “There aren’t a lot of movies like it, because it has the tone of an old fashioned musical, but it definitely had a ’80s sensibility. So, it doesn’t fit into a mold, and I think those are the kind of things that become cult movies. And, it’s always on the air somewhere; that has been the long life of that movie.”
Speaking of longevity, Brown cited her first song, “The Homecoming Queen’s Got A Gun,” as her all-time favorite recording.
“It was such a strange way how it came about,” she explained. “I was doing stand-up, hating it so much, and I started saying, ‘I have to do something different, I’ll just do music.’ So, I was driving on the Hollywood freeway and I got the whole idea for the song, and wrote it with my friend Charlie Coffey, and it became this amazing cult thing. I’m picking it, because it has this really magical quality about it in my life.”
And before we ended our conversation, I had to ask her, in honor of the new CD, which scents does she associate with glamour? “Probably gardenias and muffins,” Brown responded. “Oh! Bacon is really good, too, and maybe chocolate.” 
To check out what Brown has up her proverbial creative sleeves, and to Smell The Glamour, log onto juliebrown.com        

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