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hedwig's angry inch

Rock and Roll's Favorite New Transsexual Mouths Off

words Betsy Gough

Not since The Rocky Horror Picture Show has a cross-dresser gained such cult status (RuPaul excluded). Rocky Horror had a "Sweet Transvestive," Hedwig and the Angry Inch has a bitter but good-hearted transsexual. The movie based on the off-Broadway smash has stirred up Hollywood and Hedwig is set to become a household name. The former capital of the Confederacy had better be prepared, because Hedwig is here and he's not going anywhere. At least until the end of his run at the Firehouse Theatre.

First of all, let me say what an honor it is to be able to speak with such a legendary figure.

Oh, it's nice to have someone to listen to my life story, darling!

Tell us about your humble beginnings.

Well, I was born much different that I am today, obviously. I was a mere girly-boy in communist East Berlin. My mother, well, she was a bitch and my father was a child abusing bastard. Times were very bleak on that side of the wall. I'd often stand before the wall, banging my head against it, wishing I was on the other side.

When did you realize that you were different from others?

I have always been an extraordinary person in so many ways. I was originally a homosexual, far more interested in boys. Then I became even more extraordinary with my botched back alley sex change to become a woman. Here's some advice: no bargain back alley sex changes! When that unfortunate incident occured, I became undefined.

You have overcome so much adversity in your life. Where do you find strength?

You must dig for that nugget yourself, that nugget of "I've got to get out of here." You have to do it yourself because nobody will do anything for you but fuck you over. When you stop trying to please others, you will find strength in yourself.

What rock figures have inspired your musical career?

Certainly the rock goddesses like Patti Smith, Tina Turner, the glam gods like Iggy Pop, Lou Reed... there is solace and a foundation in rock. This is what sustains me. Whenever I feel blue, I can stick my head by the radio and nothing else matters. I love the comparisions to glam icons, and it humbles me.

You have gained a cult following unlike anything we've seen in recent years. A big part of this is your glam apeal. Is glam making a comeback?

Glam never really went away. It's just rearing its ugly but beautiful head again. The goth and glam kids are gaining interest once more. Of course, certain people that have jumped on the bandwagon are making buckets of money and I'm not. [Note: this refers to former prodigy Tommy Speck, whom Hedwig nurtured and shaped into a rock star, then was dissed when Tommy gained fame and fortune]

What does the future hold for Hedwig?

I've been doing the same thing for twenty years, the same truth. I've been a pinnacle of every rock movement. I've even stolen from the best and the worst of music. You see darling, every musical movement has its place, even if I don't enjoy it. That's why God gave us the dial.

How are you enjoying Richmond?

It is fabulous! It's an odd but wonderful city. I was last in New York, so I am happy to be away from there for awhile. I love the music scene here -- it has lots of energy.

Don't you find it to be very conservative?

It is an odd mix, but remember, I'm from a communist country. I am intrigued by the ode to the Confederacy and the Arthur Ashe statue of him beating the young children. Reminds me of my childhood.

I don't think they meant for that to be the message.

But don't you think it looks like he is beating those poor children?

Sure. Do you see yourself doing this until the bitter end?

I'm going to keep rock and rolling until I die. Come to the show, it could be the night I collapse and die on stage. Then you can say you saw Hedwig's last show.

Hedwig and the Angry Inch runs Oct. 25-Nov. 11th at the Firehouse Theatre, 1609 W. Broad St. Shows are Thurs., Fri. and Sat. @ 8pm and Sun. @ 4pm. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased at Plan 9 or by calling 320-5409. Call 355-2001 for more information.

hedwigs angry inch