Coyote Lovely

White Trash Debutantes rock the Emerald

"This is a song by my husband, Ricky Martin," Ginger Coyote croaked proudly before launching into "Livin' la Vida Loca" in a voice whacked, sounding like gravel strewn across the hood of a car.

Even with her thrashed voice, the possibilities of the Debs are endlessly gleeful.

The show pushed and shoved to the verge of collapse. Each Deb member was in nearly his or her own version of the song, but each connected by uncanny chemistry.

White Trash Debutantes: From left, Tigerlily, Johnny Sosa, Jake Goldman, Ginger Coyote, Dan Humes and Danette Lee.
Paolo Vescia
White Trash Debutantes: From left, Tigerlily, Johnny Sosa, Jake Goldman, Ginger Coyote, Dan Humes and Danette Lee.

Coyote's flirty and dirty persona is Mae West, provided West had cut her teeth on the Bay Area punk scene in the late 1970s.

Among other things, Coyote's been a Danielle Steel collaborator, the subject of a Jim Carroll poem (titled "Poem for Ginger Coyote"), has been profiled on Springer, Hard Copy and a host of other TV shows. She's had a fling with Joe Jackson, who, during his heyday, wrote two songs about her.

"He wrote that song 'Fit,' then that song 'Different for Girls,' for me," she says over the phone days after the Emerald show.

Her voice is restored and sounding every bit as womanly as her (his?) persona suggests. She's amusing, offering stories with self-deprecating anecdotes.

"I went to England and hung out with him [Jackson] there and stayed at his house. Throughout the I'm the Man, Beat Crazy thing, I went on tour with him. Even with the Jumpin' Jive. Up to Steppin' Out, we were hanging out. . . . The Joe thing lasted for a very long time, for about three years."

She says she survives on infrequent writing gigs and works for a company called Jean Jeanie that sells custom jeans online. Coyote includes Gloria Steinem, Lily Tomlin and Patti Smith among her feminist heroes. She adores television, of course, particularly Bea Arthur.

"Bea Arthur, I love her. Maude was a pioneer. I loved her in Golden Girls."

Punk rock and Golden Girls?

Although normally lucid and thoughtful, her reply to this query is a run-on non sequitur: "I think if you have been raised right with values and stuff, and sexual things, I think everyone goes through hormone changes and with life in general. Even the provocative ones like Madonna and people like that, it still doesn't sway kids to go out and have orgies and stuff. We used to do a song called 'Dildos Are a Girl's Best Friend': 'It teases, it pleases/It's free from diseases/That's why dildos are a girl's best friend.'"

What's her motivation?

"[Rock 'n' roll] is something that can get you down," she explains. "Luckily, I've never gotten into a real bad drug habit. So I've never had that stop me. I've always maintained and have been able to function and able to go on. I've known plenty of people who have succumbed to the drug thing and are now vegetables or are dead, which is sad."

She ties off the conversation with one last maxim that she claims to live by. "My motto in life is 'Wild women don't die,'" she says, laughing, "they just dye their hair and get wilder."

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