By: Timm Carney
Several Years ago I had the pleasure of having met Miss Kitten on the Keys. She was a performer in a show I used to produce and never failed to get a great response. I have always enjoyed seeing her and talking to her.
Miss on The Keys for those Punkglobe readers who may not have caught one of your shows; how would you describe them?
Kitten on the Keys: Wow- me in Punk Globe? I have such fond memories of coming to The Mab and hanging out with the local color on Broadway as a young teen- I remember Ginger Coyote and Punk Globe- I bet there is an old stack in my parents basement
Well- first and explanation of what KITTEN on the KEYS means-
I adopted this name from a novelty jazz ragtime ditty from 1922 by Zez Confrey……My mind is always whirling and it sometimes feels like I have a dozen little furry footed friends clawing away at my grey matter.
I was always a piano dork…my first instrument. I write campy punky cabaret songs with cheeky lyrics that will stir your nethers and tickle your funnybone. The underground cabaret and burlesque scene adopted me in the late 1990's and I started playing all about town and beyond as the vocalist and pianist for a grindcore Burlesque Band.
The French have described me as "the Punk Rock Betty Boop" I am a ONE MA'AM BAND….I am a multi instrumentalist- ivory tickler, uke stroker, and
accordion squeezer with an ADD addled stage presence . I love to dress up in decadent vintage inspired get ups that evoke the 1920's and other days gone by… ….I like to make and wear
silly "Burlesque" nipple pasties like pig heads and vodka bottles. I have an amped up sexual stage persona that is both disturbing and alluring.
My original three chord punk cabaret ditties
describe unusual fetishes and odd human behavior like pony girls ,self mutilaters, Jesus fuckers, salty meat and cold cuts lovers, furries and girls that eat out of dog bowls. I like to bring silly props to help get my point across.. Cat puppets who give birth to kittens-
Hamsters stuffed in Crisco cans, Hello Kitty vibrators and toy pianos. I also unearth vintage treasures that were considered "underground " blue tunes that use ye ol' double entendre. I have also covered some punk rock standards including Anarchy in the UK – known as "Kitty Anarchy" on toy piano, a spooky cabaret organ treatment for the pistols SUBMISSION, and I run my
Ukulele though a distortion box that was given to me by the bass player from the UK SUBS while I was on tour of the UK with THE DAMNED.
PG: You are now a worldwide performer, what are some of your favorite cities to perform in?
KOTK: I had a blast June 2009 on a boat in Helsinki…..it was such a trip- they eat reindeer and bears and love ukulele's!
Crazy right? Who would have thought that I would become popular overseas- I love the UK….they understand my cheeky humor- they do not have a lot of potty mouthed over the top lasses there so I am a novelty.
Birmingham, UK and Edinburgh, Scotland are places that keep having me back- I have performed there several times. Belfast, Ireland was one of my best shows- opening for the DAMNED in the Twisted Cabaret Of The Damned Tour 2007 - they dedicated "LOVE SONG" to me and the girls!
What a fun loving audience- they went ballistic!
I have performed in France on many occasions- They treat visiting artists like royalty. I even have a small musical role in a feature film coming out in 2010 with award winning actor/director Mattieu Almaric- he is like the Sean Penn of France.
PG: Where do you want to perform that you haven't had the opportunity yet?
KOTK: I want to perform my one woman show in LONDON and BERLIN. I performed in TOKYO with another project and I have ALWAYS wanted to go back with my OWN frisky hi-jinks.
PG: Can you give us a little background on your crawl to stardom?
KOTK: I started playing in bands in 8th GRADE…..I had a little portable keyboard and a mom who did not mind driving me to band practice with the music geeks. We were are all so dorky but making money playing AC/DC and WHO covers at school dances. Our drummer was rad but needed rails of
Crank to get him jammin'… One time the Mormon Temple hired us to play a dance and we had to change all the words to our cover songs- our lead singer was under aged and projectile vomited Southern Comfort on the Innocent clean cut Mormon dancers while pretending to be sober nubile Bon Scott...
I then moved to the dorms @ SF STATE for my first year of college at 17-
I immediately joined the girlie noisy psychedelic White Stains- we played at the MAB, The Sound Of Music, On Broadway and other great venues I had read about in underground music rags. We became pretty popular on
KUSF and other college radio stations. Celso from Sound Of Music even requested us to play his spaghetti feed birthday! Our 12" EP had a great cover but never really went anywhere. I quit because of the speed freak culture. I did not like tweaking, scrapping baggies with razor blades or having nosebleeds. So I joined the pre-riot grll Sugar Baby Doll and or Sugar Babylon in the mid 1980's with Courtney Love, Kat Bjelland (Babes In Toyland), and Jennifer Finch (L7). At one point Insane Jane was our drummer. We did a Demo with Greg Langston ( Swinging Possums) on drums ….hard to imagine Courtney being influenced by the Cocteau Twins, REM and Felt……..but I have some rehearsal recordings that are ….pretty flowery and funny!
PG: Where did you start out?
Rest homes and church services for Senior Citizens!
My Mom forced me to go to church…..I was such a horrible Christian, drinking beer, scoring drugs, making out with girls, and stealing the youth pastors dope stash. I went to Mexico 3 times for the lord….I was never born again- I wanted to rock! But I guess I have the church and the
Humiliating high school marching band to thank for that. I was always running away to hang with the punks in Berkeley and San Francisco.
It was a culture I wanted to be in. I went to Rather Ripped and Rough Trade and spent my babysitting money on import 7 inches.
I was fortunate to have a permissive church lady Mom- I went to TONS of shows in the old days and was influenced by The CRAMPS, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Screamers, Toiling Midgets, VS, Throbbing Gristle, Flipper, Agent Orange, Black Flag and the Dead Kennedys. The Dead Kennedys even played at my high school in Lafayette!
PG: What was your first ever moment on stage?
KOTK: I was three years old and I was a misbehaved angel- I sat under the cross and had a temper tantrum while singing" away in a manger"- my mom laughed about what a stage diva I was for years.
PG: What was the first record you ever bought? Why?
KOTK: A TIE,
Goodbye Yellow Brick Road at 10…I heard Elton John played piano, wore tight pants, silly glasses and had funky teeth.
Sheer Heart Attack by Queen at 10 years old – I heard Freddie Mercury played the piano, wore tight pants, and had funky teeth.
These sensitive piano playing British Blokes made me NOT want to get those painful braces. I remember trying to convince my parents that rock
stars have bad teeth so I could too!
PG: Who is your favorite performer living or dead? Why?
KOTK: Gosh….there are SO MANY…limiting it to one would be so damn hard for me!! I adore history and over the top men…..Liberace is one- I even played his mirrored Baldwin Grand Piano in Vegas- I always say Freddie Mercury, Liberace and Alice Cooper are my three fave female roles models. But then there is Mae West and Shirley Temple too……..
PG: Tell the Punk Globe readers a little about Mr. Tinkler.
KOTK: I am lucky to have a real live GERIATRIC PUNK ROCK BOYFRIEND ……Mr Tinkler- a very frightening cabaret crooner who adores darling little girls in frills and bows…..He devilishly sings in the cabaret duo THE FIRKEYTOODLERS with me on piano.
( it means before the fuck in old English).
This intense vocalist and sax god is really Ward Abronski.
He blew the noisy sax solo on Flipper's classic SEX BOMB, leads Polkacide, and was in San Francisco's Famous Burlesque Orchestra which is where I fancied his hot surfer ass. People are always laughing at the song Geriatric Punk Rock Boyfriend from my Salty Meat Girl CD-It is all about loving a "mature" punk rocker- "he has hepatitis C, wakes up lots to pee- recently had his colonoscopy….but he still looks sexy to me…and he can't even see………" It's about Mr Tinkler- I have comments from people all over the world- this song makes ‘em giggle in their depends!
What do you have coming up?
KOTK: 2010 is an exciting year! I am going to revamp my one woman show- "Does This Piano Make My Ass Look Big?" in the US this summer and I am writing new songs for a new Kitten CD…that is if I can afford it.
I am in a French film "TOURNEE" starring French Actor and Director
Mattieu Almaric (Diving Bell and The Butterfly, Quantum of Solace) with some US burlesque performers. I sang a bunch of songs I hope did not end up on the editing room floor . I hear it will be out for Cannes 2010!
A tour of Europe to go along with the film's release is also in store!
I MC and play my three instruments in this burlesque and cabaret show.
2/13/10 I am opening up for the 25th Anniversary Celebration of Polkacide
"From The Mab To The Slab" at the Bottom of the Hill!
Raising money with the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence to battle Breast Cancer- Benefit for the Boob. Can't wait to dress up my boobs in a silly get up.
PG: What is your fantasy show?
KOTK: GG Allin, Extreme Elvis, Anita Bryant, Lux Interior, Buck Naked,
Darby Crash, Tammy Faye Baker, and a church youth choir performing punk classics on ukulele's.
Thank you to Miss Kitten on the Keys. Check out her website (www.kittymusic.com
) and see her shows live if you have a chance. It is well worth it!