"Call Me Adam" chats with "The Queen of Raunch and Soul," Wendy Ho about new CD Greatest Shits, releasing on September 25 as well as her concert in support of this release called Wendy Ho (And Friends) on September 29 at The Triad/Stage 72 in NYC (158 West 72nd Street)! Click here for tickets!
1. On September 29 you will be having your official NYC concert/release party for your new CD Wendy Ho: Greatest Shits at The Triad/Stage 72. What made you want to have this concert/release party at the Triad/Stage 72? Yes, it’s true! I am pleased to be hosting my "Greatest Shits," album release and concert at Stage 72 on September 29. My friend Michael Doane runs the theater booking, and I actually was just going to come into town to visit friends, but he offered the date to me—and since it coincided with my album release I said, "Why not?"
2. The concert will feature some of today's biggest names in theatre including Ben Rimalower, Natalie Joy Johnson, and Daniel Reichard. I love all three of them! How did you decide who you wanted to have as a special guest? Well, we have something in common because I love them too. The name of the show is Wendy Ho and Friends, and these "names," just so happen to be people who are dear friends of mine, and they have encouraged and inspired me throughout my artistic journey.
Daniel Reichard and I actually met at a one year "Never Forget" 9/11 commemorative party on a roof top on the lower east side—3 days after I had moved to New York in 2002. We hit it off instantly and were inseparable for quite some time. He was actually at the piano playing "Get Here," in his Chelsea apartment when I started to sing what is now the opening line of "Fuck Me," as a joke.
Ben Rimalower and I became close when he directed my first one woman show at Ars Nova in December of 2007. I met him through my friend Scott Nevins, and we hit it off in that same sort of instantaneous way that Daniel and I did. Natalie Joy and I met through Ben at Posh one night when we were doing a show with Poppi Kramer. I knew we were kindred spirits when we found ourselves outside of Posh on the street belting Jill Scott songs, and someone shouted from their apartment "shut the fuck up," and we CACKLED ourselves right off the curb.
3. What made now the right time to release your Greatest Shits album? There were many songs that were not allowed on iTunes because of liberal and ignorant sampling that we used when I first started recording. I kept finding myself at shows where people would either ask one of two questions, the first being— "Is this on itunes?" To which the answer was always a sad "I’m sorry, but no." So first, we rearranged the instrumentals to make them legally sellable on iTunes. The other thing they would ask is, after looking over the 2 hard copies of albums that I had for sale was inevitably— with tears in their eyes, "Where’s poop noodle????" So supply and demand told me that I had to get all of the favorite songs onto one album, and I really needed to make them available on iTunes.
4. Your Greatest Shits Tour includes stops in Philadelphia, Boston, and Los Angeles. What are you looking forward to most about this tour? What do you like about interacting with your fans? What I am looking forward to most is what I always look forward to when I hit the road, getting to be in the middle of, and getting to co-create all the little pockets of love that I have luckily accumulated throughout my tenure as Qween Hobag! I love being with friends and fans because there’s a mirror affect, they give me encouragement and I in turn give them permission to be shameless attention whores like myself!
5. Let's go back to the beginning for a moment. How did you come up with Wendy Ho? How did you get the title "The Queen of Raunch and Soul?" What do you like or dislike about having this title? My real name is Wendy Jo, and when I was an acting student at Missouri State, I used to write and perform raps about my teachers and some of the students. They were all dirty and funny, so a friend of mine started calling me, "Wendy Ho," and it stuck. I never considered it a career move, nor did I ever take it seriously, but "she" followed me from place to place and job to job. I would inevitably end up performing her for other performers and cast members, and people would clamor for more. I eventually made a couple of albums of standard songs that I loved singing just to see what it was like to record, along with those albums I decided to put out a joke album of all the Wendy Ho bits I would do at parties, called Wendy Ho: Bitch Off a Leash, and this was the album that everyone wanted. Then, I was fumbling around New York, an out of work entertainstress when I met music producer, Craig Levy. Again, I tried my hand at legit singing-songwriting, and while we were working together I gave him a copy of the Wendy Ho album. He listened to it and immediately called me and asked, "Why aren’t we working on this? This is so funny, and no other artist I know is doing this…above all certainly no white woman." It took me a while to get comfortable with being Wendy Ho on a public level. Although I had all of my friends encouraging me, I didn’t know if it would be enjoyed on a larger level. So Levy and I started to work on flushing out some snippets of songs, and then I put out an email to all of my performer friends asking if they knew where I could perform. They answered, and I found myself performing at Caroline’s on Broadway and then at just about every gay bar in the city. It was accepted and encouraged immediately. Of course there are those that don’t get it/don’t like it, but it’s really not for them. I eventually came to look at it like, if I can accept this over the top, dirty, loud, and crazy part of myself—maybe others will accept it in me and in themselves too. "The Queen of Raunch and Soul" came from my friend Roman Feeser, a writer, I met at Caroline’s on Broadway, and I love it!!! He also penned the line in "Fuck Me," "blow my coochie up like the taliban." I go back and fourth between the titles, though, in some circles I am known as "The Queen of Poop."
6. Many of your songs are "adult-themed" parodies of popular songs. For instance "Fuck Me" is set to the tune of "Get Here," "Poop Noodle" is set to "I Love The Night Life." Your songs are very fun and brilliantly written. What made you want to write this kind of music? Thank you. I have to say a lot of it, came naturally. I am merely the vessel from which all poop flows. I really was and am just playing catch with the universe a lot. I just thought and think this shit is funny, and when others did too, I was strongly encouraged. Laughter is truly my crack. I am addicted. If laughter was currency, I would be a very rich woman sitting on stacks of it, but there would still never be enough.
7. Who or what inspired you to become a performer? I really was one of those cliched babies that sang before I could talk, I just loved music and singing. But performing was not something that came naturally. I was actually really shy, really self conscious, picked last for the team, fat and awkward, but when I was around my family and close friends I would come out of my shell. I would sing and act and always liked pretending and stories. My dad encouraged me to audition for a play, so I did, and the exhilaration of even being called back had me hooked. Then there was the amplified pretend element, and I was IN. I guess I was just one of those kids that reality just wasn’t enough, and I certainly didn’t feel like I was enough, so that lead me to the life of a theatrical misfit. I had no idea that avoiding myself and reality would in essence circle right back around to require acceptance of myself, my limitations, and strengths.
I’ve met so many entertainers with a similar story and those people REALLY inspire me. I consider myself very lucky to have found not only self acceptance, but in so doing— my tribe. OH! and when I was 11 and saw Bette Midler singing "Otto Titsling" in Beaches I just knew that was the type of performer I would be. It was a definitive moment.
8. Who would you still like to work with? Gosh, there’s so many that I haven’t worked with. I don’t even know where to begin! The orignial cast of 9 to 5 would be great!! Margaret Cho and I are working on something, and I’m super excited by her. She is a gawdess! I love Bianca Del Rio and we go way back, I’d love to do something with him. Musically I’m still waiting on Michael McDonald to call me! Ryan Murphy and Jennifer Coolidge both still owe me one for ripping off "I Stole Yo Purse." There really are too many to name. My world is so abundant with artists. I’m so lucky!
9. What's the best advice you've ever received? Was from my high school theater teacher Lee Hitchler—"Always work with people that are more talented than you."
10. What have you learned about yourself from being a performer? The main thing I’ve learned about myself is that I am a crazy contradiction of different shades of gay, maybe not sexually—but theatrically, yes.…I said GAY. I’ve learned that at my worst I can be petty, selfish and insecure, and at my best I can be forgiving, generous and confident. If you can’t deal with all that, then we’re breaking up. I also have learned that I really think poop is funnier than farting.
11. Favorite skin care product? My favorite product is "City Skin" moisturizer from the all natural skin care line developed and created by Dr. Jen at Atomic Cosmetics in Seattle. Plug, plug!!!! Seriously, this woman makes everything right in her own lab, and the entire line is amazing. The moisturizer smells like an orange blossom and just glides on my skin like silk! She makes the best stuff, and I adore her.
12. If you could have any super power, which one would you choose? Well, making some people laugh is pretty super...but if it’s gotta be SUPER, I’d have to say self multiplication, it’d be great to play 80 different shows at once!
13. If you could be an original Life Saver flavor, which one would you be? Cayenne Pepper! Wait, that’s not a flavor…Purple. I would be purple flavored.
14. How do you want to be remembered? As that funny, nasty, generous, forgiving, loving ho lady!
Wendy Jo Smith, better known by her stage name, Wendy Ho is one part skilled singer, one part comedienne, one part rap artist, and 100% entertainer. Over a million youtube views, having drag queens around the world cover her songs, and being spoofed by Ryan Murphy are just a few of this ho's claim to fame.
Wendy got her start as a little honey boo boo child in a trailer court in Ohio. She had a dream of being a stage performer moved to New York City to pursue it. In her starving artist years, she flirted with the idea of stealing ladies’ handbags from coat rooms at parties where she catered, of course, this inspired her track "Bitch, I Stole Yo Purse!," which became the #1 Funniest Video of 2008 on the MTV/LOGO Network, and was parodied on FX’s Nip/Tuck with Jennifer Coolidge playing their version of Wendy Ho. This track came from the beloved cult classic album, The Gospel According to Ho which includes the torch song parody of Brenda Russel/ Oleta Adams' "Get Here," now known as the drag classic, "Fuck Me!" This irreverence and balls-out femininity struck a special chord with the gay community, inspiring drag queens around the world to perform her songs and celebrate Ho.
With a rainbow hurricane of gay support behind her, Wendy Ho tours non-stop nationally with her one woman show, The Wendy Ho Show playing at gay bars, comedy clubs, theaters, and cabarets. Her act is always evolving with original songs and parodies. Her YouTube Channel, "HOtube," is also always growing its web presence with regular music videos and sketches, her newest single, "Public Place," a parody of Rihanna's "We Found Love," is picking up traction.
Wendy currently resides in Los Angeles with her film-maker husband Stas Tagios (who collaborates with her on many videos), and she's a regular at The Comedy Store, Hamburger Mary's, Rage, and The Abbey. RuPaul and Victoria Beckham are two of her biggest fans, and her work has been featured on Logo, Showtime, and HereTV. She has also opened for comedy legends Sandra Bernhard and Leslie Jordan.
Ho is an artist. Ho is a state of mind. Ho redefines women in music and comedy with true liberation. She is funny and sexy, never sacrificing one for the other. A pretty bitch, a witty feminist, a self-possessed, self-assured mashup of street and trash who makes you laugh while she makes you think. The responses she evokes from audiences are as diverse as her roots, but at the core there is no question about who she is. Wendy is all woman. All Ho.