Adventures in Hollywood

Gina Gershon’s A Renaissance Woman

Many of you homos may associate Gina Gershon solely with her roles in Showgirls and Bound, by far the most lesbianic of the stunning actress’ big screen appearances. Don’t be fooled, however, the California-born beauty has more than a few tricks up her sleeve. For example, did you know that Gershon recently recorded a full-length album? Don’t worry, we didn’t either, but now we do – and you should, too!

Our editor recently sat down with Gershon – whom we last saw at the Out 100 – to talk about said album, In Search of Cleo, playing with Slash and keeping a level head in Hollywood…

Andrew Belonsky: You know, I had no idea that sang – period. And when I heard that you had this album, I expected, for some reason, rock. I expected metal from you, but I was very pleasantly surprised.

Gina Gershon: That seems to be the biggest comment I get. Everyone’s like, “Oh, I’m so surprised!” Luckily, they’re pleasantly surprised. But I’m sure there are some hard rockers going, “What are you doing?!”

AB: Can you tell me what influenced the album?

GG: Oh, gosh. You know, it’s funny. I think people expect rock from me because I did that rock n’ roll movie and I did tour – a rock tour and I was playing with the Guns N’ Roses guys and I was playing with Camp Freddy, I was playing with Slash before they found Scott [Weiland] – but it was really around a movie that I was doing. Obviously I love playing rock, I love singing it, but when I write, when I just naturally write, I write more countryish songs. I sing that way a little bit more naturally, so I just wanted – this was going to be my first album and I just wanted to be honest. You know, acting I act. With music, the nice thing about it is that I don’t have to act. It’s a little scary, it’s a little refreshing and scary at the same time, but I don’t want to act when I’m doing singing or music. I just think it’s dishonest.

AB: It’s great. It really is. How long did the album take you to complete?

GG: The actual music?

AB: How long have you been conceiving it?

GG: I’d say the actual music – I’d been writing it for a while. Certain songs – one song I’d written ten years ago and I pulled it up because I liked it. Other songs I wrote really quickly. But the actually recording of it, the main thrust of recording it was like a week. I just had the band playing live and I’d sing. Other songs I worked on because I had to go to Nashville or New Orleans to get people to play on it.

AB: How did you and Linda Perry [of 4 Non Blondes] end up getting mixed up together?

GG: I met Linda Perry – we were both singing at a Camp Freddy show and I heard – I didn’t know who was singing, but I remember thinking, “Oh my God, listen to that voice!” We met afterwards and I didn’t quite know who she was at the moment. I just thought, “She’s amazing”. And she was like, “Oh, so I guess you want to do an album now”. She was pretty droll about it. And I realized who she was and I said, “Oh, yeah, actually I’m trying to write. In fact, I’d like to write with you”. She laughed. I mean, who wouldn’t want to work with her – she worked with Pink and Christina Aguilera? And I really hounded her! She says I stalked her, but I just called her like three times, or something. I said, “Listen, let’s work together on one song and if it’s not going well, we’ll just have a laugh”. And so we got together and we wrote a song immediately, really quickly and I guess she liked it: we ended up doing like five other songs together. And I had to do a soundtrack for Prey for Rock N’ Roll – I mean, I didn’t write any of the music on that, but there really wasn’t single on it, so I got together with her and we wrote “Stupid Star,” which is on the Prey for Rock N’ Roll soundtrack.
Here’s an aurally-inclined biography from Ms. G and friends.
AB: Do you encounter a lot of resistance? Do you find that people are dismissive of you because they’re are so familiar with your screen work?

GG: I think before the music. You know, it’s a natural tendency. I mean, I’m the worst – “Oh, great, another actress!” But when they hear it, they’re pleasantly surprised – I hope. You know, I made it because I wanted – I have mainly musician friends and I just wanted to make sure it’s good, the music, so they wouldn’t be mad at me. The music was important to me – it had to be good. Whether you like my singing or not, my songs, the music is undeniably good. I have great players playing on it.

AB: Is there a particular track on the album that you – that is you favorite or is the most personal?

GG: You know, everyday, I swear to God, it’s a different track. Like today, if I’m feeling strange, “Lost at Sea” is my favorite. “Lost at Sea” I love just because there’s that Slash solo in the middle of it – it’s just undeniably a Slash solo. I just love that solo – it makes me crazy. And Ivan Neville’s playing on it and Leroy Powell. It’s just a great group of musicians. Um, other days I love “Marie” – you know the jewsharp’s just so much fun for me and Christian McBride is playing on it with me. He’s just incredible. He’s my favorite bass guy in the world.

Gershon and her older brother, Dann, wrote a book together: Camp Creepy Time. Eeks!
AB: Do you remember your first album? That you bought?

GG: I actually remember stealing my first album. Isn’t that terrible?

AB: Oh, tell me!

GG: Well, I had older brothers and sisters, so we had albums around the house, but the one that I actually got that was mine was Led Zeppelin IV.

AB: That’s good.

GG: Yes. I listened to Led Zeppelin and The Wizard of Oz. I listened to that and Led Zeppelin IV. Isn’t that crazy? And I had Jimi Hendrix, the Are You Experienced? album, and Dark Side of The Moon, definitely.

AB: So you had The Wizard of Oz and Dark Side of The Moon? That’s great.

GG: It was a big mixture. And Patsy Cline – I loved Patsy Cline.

AB: I was going to ask you that, because I definitely pick up a Patsy Cline influence on the album.

GG: Yeah…

AB: Do you get that a lot? Do you not like that statement?

GG: You know that song, “Pearl,” that’s the definitely the song with the most Patsy Cline influence on it. I wrote that one night when I was really depressed. I had just gone through a break-up. I was moping and just like, “I’m going to write a bad Patsy Cline song,” not thinking I could write anything remotely as good as her songs. And, actually, when I looked at it the next day, which turned out to be Pearl, I thought, “This isn’t bad”. I mean, I had to rework it a little, but it was basically the same song.

Gershon calls “Lost at Sea” her favorite track, but we prefer “Watch Over Me”.
AB: How do you – you mentioned earlier that you don’t have to act when you’re singing. I’m curious as to the process of how split you split your creative sides. I mean, do you find singing to be more fulfilling because you can be yourself? Do you go into a different mindset?

GG: You know, it depends. Right now I’m starting a movie. It’s fun, but it’s a whole different process. I mean, it’s harder in one way and easier in another. When I’m performing songs – it’s really just fun. It’s really – I’d have to say that performing songs live is the most fun out of anything. But, you know, doing live stage work, when I was doing Cabaret on Broadway – that was really fun. I think I like the live performance aspect of things, but when you’re playing your songs with a band – I mean, there’s just nothing like it. I mean, truly, it’s the most fun.

AB: Yeah, you’re quite the renaissance woman. I had no idea you had gotten into –

GG: I’m ADD. I’m a Gemini, you know.

AB: I had no idea you got into acting so young. I was curious how you certainly have some stamina – you haven’t ended up like some other child or young stars. How did you keep your head?

GG: I think I kept a head, but lost my mind many times! I don’t know. I think it’s really difficult. I have to say music has been really helpful for me. When I get very down or – to me, you know, I started getting really into it when I was getting sick of acting, tired of the business. You know, the acting business can be pretty shitty at times and I hated not being in control or creatively I was getting stifled and not being able to do what I wanted to do. So, I found when I was feeling down or whatever, I just picked up a guitar and start writing and immediately feel creative and pure. It’s a different process. If you want to make a movie, you have to go through agents and it’s an ordeal. If I was making music, I’d make a call and say, “Hey, Ivan, wanna come over to the studio?” Musicians just love to play. There’s a real purity in that.

Ms. Gershon’s now back on set for a few movies before getting back on the road to spread her aural love. Buy In Search of Cleo and learn the lines!

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