Beth Ditto, the five-foot-nothin' two hundred pound dynamo who frontsArkansas punk funk trio The Gossip, is causing a stir in the UK after posingnude for the cover of the New Musical Express (www.nme.com). The out andpolitically astute singer has been known to appear on stage in a garbage bagand unabashedly strip to her bra and panties, but the photo shoot for the UKmusic mag is the first time she's taken it all off for the cameras.
"If there's anyone to blame for size zero, it's not women. Blame gay menwho work in the fashion industry who want these women as dolls," she tellsthe NME. "Men don't know what it feels like to be a woman and be expected tolook a particular way. The Beckhams are part of the machine. Paris Hilton ispart of the machine."
Ditto's in-yer-face attitude has elicited praise from Germaine Greer.
"Ditto knows she can knock 'em dead because hers is the kind of body thatis supposed to be kept hidden," writes the Female Eunuch in the May 31stissue of the Guardian."Her motives are pretty much the same as mine when, nearly 40 years ago, Igot a friend to photograph me stripped to the buff, looking at the lensthrough my thighs. Face, pubes and anus framed by vast buttocks, nothingdecorative about it. Nothing sexy about it either. Confrontation was thename of the game.
"For a cover girl there are still pretty definite limits," Greer concludes."Ditto's breast is not allowed to hang free, but is pushed up in her hand,out of which it rises nipple-less, like dough. The odd frond of hair peepsfrom her underarm but there is no hint of anything between her legs. Youwouldn't even know she had two legs. I look forward to the day she lets itall hang out."
Ditto - who's band has become a Big Deal in Britain ever since the NMElabeled her "The Coolest Person On The Planet" and her anti-Bush singleStanding In The Way Of Control went top 10 - tells the NME of her unlikelyfriendship with supermodel waif Kate Moss.
"At first I didn't think I was going to like her, but she just turned up toone of our shows and said, 'Do you know what I hate Beth? I hate it whenpeople tell my big girlfriends, 'You have a beautiful face...' I mean,that's a really radical concept," Ditto says.
Ditto also writes a regular advice column for the Guardian titled WhatWould Beth Ditto? Inher most recent missive, a reader writes, "I can't sew and I'm not skinny.How can I look great on a budget?"
"Just remember - fashion is something that is prepackaged, bought and sold,but style, like art, is a primal instinct," Ditto replies. "My number-onetheory in life is that style is proportional to your lack of resources - theless you have, the more stylish you're likely to be."
The May 26 issue of NME with Ditto's surely collectable cover hits Torontonewsstands Friday, June 8The Gossip blows up the Molson Amphitheater, Tuesday June 19 as part ofCyndi Lauper's Pride Week True Colors Tour alongside Debbie Harry, Erasure,the Dresden Dolls and MC Margaret Cho. 955 Lakeshore West, 6 pm,$42.50-95.50. 416-870-8000.