Spawned from Julie Brown‘s 1980’s hit song and subsequent music video, HOMECOMING QUEEN’S GOT A GUN fully morphs into Julie’s staged musical beginning October 13 at the Cavern Club Theater. Co-written by Kurt Koehler, this high, high-camped musical will elaborate on how Debi the Homecoming Queen acquired her gun, and the assortment of reasons she went on a shooting rampage of her high school classmates. We got the chance to sit Julie down for a few hot seconds to answer my inquisitive queries.
Thank you for doing this interview with me, Julie!
I’ve seen your after-show photo with Chico’s Angels on their website, so I know you’ve been to at least one of their shows. How did you and Kurt Koehler first meet?
I think I’ve been to almost all the shows since I’ve known Kurt. I met Kurt because he got a hold of me and wanted to do a show that incorporated all my songs. But I told him that I was already trying to do Earth Girls as a musical, so I didn’t want to use all my songs in another play. I also started thinking of how I could do Homecoming Queen as a musical, and I went to see Kurt’s show INVINCIBLE – THE LEGEND OF BILLIE JEAN and I loved it! It was so funny and campy and exactly the tone I wanted for Homecoming Queen, so I asked him if he wanted to write it with me, and we did. I had so much fun working with him that I asked him if he wanted to write EARTH GIRLS – THE MUSICAL with me because I was trying to do it, but having trouble translating it from the movie to the stage. So we did that too, and we’re going to do that in spring!
When did you realize that Kurt and your kooky, off-center, out-there sensibilities were on the same wavelength?
When he first wanted to work with me, I didn’t know exactly what his sense of humor was but INVINCIBLE convinced me. When he had puppets singing, “Hell is for children!” I knew we would get along. And we do. We laugh a lot when we’re writing and we never fight.
You wrote your hit song Homecoming Queen’s Got a Gun in 1983 and followed up with a music video in 1987. Which came first, your Valley Girl persona? Or this song?
The persona came first. I was doing it in my stand-up act, and I’d even been on TV doing it (Evening at the Improv), and then the song Valley Girl came out. I was so bummed, but then I thought, “I can still do my version of my character.” And I’d been doing songs when I was doing my act with Charlie Coffey in San Francisco. So after we’d both moved down here, I was trying to think of a song. The title just occurred to me while I was driving. I asked Charlie if he wanted to write it with me.
Guess you could describe MTV to millennials as the precursor to YouTube. Did you produce/construct your Homecoming Queen’s Got a Gun video specifically for MTV to broadcast?
We’d written the song, and I just knew it had to be a video-because that’s what was happening then. So we wrote out the video shot-by-shot. Amazingly, this guy came along who said he would finance it if he could be the director. I said, “If you follow our shooting script,” He said, “Fine.” And we got this great DP Dominic Sena, and they followed the shooting script exactly. And then, because I was doing guest VJ spots on MTV to promote my new album, they put it on the air.
I see you’ve uploaded your videos onto your YouTube channel. Any immediate plans to add to your video collection/selection?
Well, I did direct Another Drunk Chick, that’s up right now. And I might do more. Kurt and I are planning to do a webseries of Medusa (the satire of Madonna) that I did in the 90s. It would be her now, with all her kids and her young boyfriends, etc.
Did you have a BFF named Debi who became homecoming queen? Or was Debi your alter ego?
I did not have a BFF who became Homecoming Queen. I think it was my alter ego, because in the video I’m the one with the gun!
In your video, you played yourself and Debi. Who came up with the genius idea to have ever-popular LA theatre staple Drew Droege portray Debi?
When Kurt and I were working on it, we thought about having a woman at first. But, because the whole thing is a campy satire of a girl with a gun at school, we thought the more ridiculous we can make it, the more it’s not real. So, we actually added more death – to make it more like an 80s horror movie, and we made Debi the super talented Drew Droege.
So, how will your show at the Cavern Club Theater expand on your music video? More dancing? More singing? More beefcake?
I think the show explains a lot of the mystery in the song. And – there is more singing and more beefcake!
Can you bring us back in time to when Lily Tomlin first discovered you? How did it all happen?
I invited her to come see me in this little club in San Francisco because she was in town doing her show. I just loved her, so that’s what gave me the nerve to do it. And she showed up! She was super sweet and said to contact her if I came to L.A. I did and she gave me a part in The Incredible Shrinking Woman and I got my SAG card.
What qualities do you look for in the person that you skewer, er, pay homage to (i.e., Madonna)?
They have to be really interesting. It’s sort of best if they don’t have that much sense of humor about themselves. Like they take themselves pretty seriously.
Can you give us a hint as to whom your next target, er, honoree will be?
It will be Madonna again! She still cracks me up and I love her!
Since your co-writer Kurt is also the co-writer of CHICO’S ANGELS, any chances of you joining forces with the Angels to solve their latest case in the near future?
Yes, I could be a much younger Miss Marple. I’ll have to ask them!
Thank you again, Julie! I look forward to your crazy night at the Cavern Club.
For available tickets for one of the four October dates, log onto www.juliebrown.tix.com