JAYNE COUNTY with Plastic Patrick at Vazaleen: Shame Edition, at Lee's Palace (529 Bloor West), Friday (June 27). 416-532-1598. Rating: NNNNN
jayne county just won't go away. The fabulous, flamboyant tranny trash legend, who started her life as Wayne Rogers back in Dallas, Georgia, in 1947, was a pioneering force behind NYC's burgeoning glam-punk movement in the 60s. County was a New York doll before the New York Dolls blew up. She schmoozed it up with Andy Warhol and his entourage of gender-bending ladies like Holly Woodlawn and Candy Darling (who, for the record, was notoriously competitive and jealous), spun the underground art-trash crowd into a frenzy with weekly DJ nights at Max's Kansas City and pissed off label execs while performing in drag as Wayne County with her backing band of Back Street Boys.
She lived the Hedwig dream before John Cameron Mitchell and Stephen Trask were out of diapers. Hell, she taught Bowie how to be Ziggy Stardust. Question is, why isn't her name in stars in the anal annals of punk rock history?
"I never get my fucking credit!" drawls County, munching breakfast at 4:30 in the afternoon over the phone from her home base in New York.
"I was one of the major originators of two major movements, the punk and the glam scenes. I mean, I had makeup, but the makeup was smudged, and I wore dresses, but they always had rips. I didn't do it on purpose, but I didn't have any money so I bought my stuff at Salvation Army, and if something looked nice and happened to have a rip, you'd just put a safety pin in it.
"Record companies were so freaked out. You ask Bowie about me and he pretends like he doesn't even know me now. Bowie wouldn't even have existed if it hadn't been for me and Cherry Vanilla and them. We made that asshole."
County eventually ditched the closed-minded NYC underground and took off for Europe, where, still performing as Wayne County, she released several albums on the Safari label with her new band, the Electric Chairs. After hanging out in the tranny-friendly haven of Berlin ("We were treated like royalty there!") in the late 70s, County resurfaced as Jayne on this side of the pond and put out a live album in 1981.
These days she's busier than ever, DJing at Otto's Shrunken Head and Manitoba's in New York. She's just ended a one-woman show at public theatre space Joe's Pub and is planning a new performance. With original Max's Kansas City band booker Peter Crowley she champions fledgling punk bands during her club nights.
She's reunited with her original Electric Chairs guitarist these days, and has a new album, Not Max's (named after her club night, in honour of Max's Kansas City), set to drop in the next few months.
"I think we need punk music more than ever now, 'cause everything's so corporate and three companies control the whole fucking world. There are too many syrupy ballads about love. I call it Jell-O music."
Despite her outrage at all things commercial, she never considered suing the new Backstreet Boys over their name.
"They got the name from a street in Florida, and I got it from an old Susan Hayward movie called Back Street, so I really do honestly think it was a coincidence. "