SHAZAM! YouÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re Glamorous!: An Interview with Leslie Hall of Leslie and the Lys
Post by the area code on 4/12/2007 1:53pm
Wisconsin Film Festival party with Leslie and the Lys, Friday, April 13 at 9 p.m., CafÃƒÂ© Montmartre
We all remember the gem sweater. To me, it's analogous to teased bangs and stirrup pants. Ladies, you remember stirrup pants. They had small pieces of elastic at the bottom of the pant legs through which you put your feet, allowing the elastic to sit between the sole of your foot and your shoe. If you're my age, you totally wore them in third grade. I know I did. Typically with a bedazzled sweater of kittens in a basket, which was secured into a careful little knot above my left hip with a plastic clip in a number of day-glo colors. My bangs reached dizzying heights. My mother spent hours trying to curl and tease my straight (and perpetually flat) hair into the perfect spiral perm, like Mariah Carey. Unfortunately for my mother, my hair (excepting my bangs) was entirely unwilling to cooperate, a trend that persists to this day. Her efforts usually resulted in a gigantic poof of frizzy, curly hair on my forehead that made me resemble a poodle.
Most of the boys in my class, at least the cool ones, had rat-tails and wore pants popularized by MC Hammer. The really cool ones, the ones I wanted to go out with, ambiguous as that term was, wore ones of sports team colors- red, white and blue, mostly, for the Buffalo Bills. The pattern was reminiscent of the marbled black and white covers of composition notebooks. I imagine the pants here in Wisconsin were green and gold. They were even more stylish if paired with LA lights.
However, by the time we got to fifth grade, only the poorer kids were sporting these fashions. They were no longer cool. These were the same kids who had previously worn sweatpants (this being, of course, way before sweatsuits met velour and were suddenly hip again). I remember in all my third grade horror a kid whose white sweatpants always allowed a view of butt crack when we sat on the library floor. I would later have a crush on the very same boy in ninth grade. The point being, fashions change and you have to wait twenty or so years until theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re cool again.
Ã¢â‚¬Â¦UNLESS youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re Leslie Hall of Leslie and the Lys- artist, rapping frontwoman (she is backed up by DJ Dr. Laura, who plays a cardboard turntable), internet celebrity, proprietor of the Mobile Museum of Gem Sweaters (the largest collection of gem sweaters in the world), keeper of the gems and the jams from Ames, Iowa. Her past live shows in Madison have included several wardrobe changes (pictured is Ã¢â‚¬Å“The Gold Fringe Palace SuitÃ¢â‚¬Â), live gem sweater inductions into the Mobile Museum (complete with certificate and official name), Leslie swinging from a harness attached to a two-by-four (especially impressive given LeslieÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s proportions)- and screaming, dancing, bedazzled Madisonians (video from last yearÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s show at Montmartre is on Leslie TV at www.lesliehall.com).
What is quite possibly the best part of Leslie and the Lys is that no one is quite sure whether or not it is a joke- Leslie is simultaneously deadpan and completely over the top. There are some people who just donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t get it. But for those of us who do, there is nowhere better to be this Friday night than at CafÃƒÂ© Montmartre- in a gem sweater.
You may even want to tease your bangs.
Erika Grace, The Area Code Zine: Describe the exact moment when you realized that the Gem and/or Hip Hop gods had bestowed their gifts upon you.
Leslie Hall: AHHHH yes. The moment. Like a wizard and his wand. Like babies and their blankets, I entered this art from unsure and unaware of my talents. But seeing the children in their sweaters watching me spit and sprinkle them with my jamsÃ¢â‚¬Â¦ that is the most powerful motivationÃ¢â‚¬Â¦ that I have truly harnessed the gift of the jams/gems.
TAC: You ladies have many talents...mix-mastering, MCing, wikked dance moves, sweater archiving... Are there any other hidden talents that you have that you'd like to share with the world?
LH: WELL I have to say I am an awesome painter. I hope to show my paintings in galleries or on street corners wherever I can. I only paint horses. My childhood fantasies are owning and frolicking with a horse. Truly mesmerizing.
TAC: What are your favorite "do-it-yourself" projects?
LH: WellÃ¢â‚¬Â¦ when I think of do it yourself... I love to put together Ikea furniture. Is that weird. I don't like buying or using it but I love to build it. I'm sure you didn't mean that. But I do think if this whole lady gems thing doesn't pan out, I'll be posting fliers in
Ikea looking to put stuff together for people. A small fee will be charged of course. Dry cleaning sweaters isn't cheap you know.
TAC: Leslie, we've noticed that the new record is strictly Leslie Hall. Are you dissing Dr. Laura? Have you gone solo?
LH: Yes. I am. This is my big Justin Timberlake = NSYNC moment. Nobody's noticed but you though. Dr. Laura doesn't mind. she doesn't like anything about the band. singing, performing, jamming, well she did like the drunk girl in Madison screaming.... "LAURA! LAURA! I LOVE YOU LAURA!"
TAC: Speaking of, Dr. Laura, do you ever like you're L&L talents are overlooked? Do you feel like Leslie's the Gwen Stefani and your, um... one of those other guys in No Doubt? Are you Kelly and she Beyonce? We're totally not trying to start drama, just curious.
LH: OH DRAMA ON. That is exactly what it is.. I'm trapped in a spiderweb.. I'm bootylicious. Let the front women rise and crush the other people. Don't worry I won't crush Dr. Laura. She's my best friend. And I need her on stage cause I get to tired to finish songs. Dancing and singing is hard work.
TAC: Leslie, do you think you could beat Eminem in a battle? What freestlye venom would you hit him with if you were battling face to face right now?
LH: Dear god. Please never have me battle Eminem. He would destroy me. Then the army of gems would have to take orders from.... ummmm... oh first I'd write a handbook or manuscript so I could die and still be followed by the Jr. Gem Squad.
TAC: You've said that Madison has been your best show. Are you serious, or are you just pulling one of those cock rock stunts on us? Why do you like the Madison shows? Do you feel that Wisco and Iowa are kindred spirits?
LH: No I'm not kidding. We've been there 2 times. And first off you guys are SOOOOO nice. SOOOO into it. and SOOOO I don't know, midwest. I just love you. I think Madison has a lot in common with Ames, Iowa ( where I live ) but you have that cool art vintage scene that Ames doesn't have so your cooler and have badgers. Madison could have easily been my home town and you would have supported me though even my acoustic folk years. Why is that. I don't know.. but seriously I got a lot of love for Madison.. I'm trying to write a song about it. I'll let you know how it goes. Ames, Iowa is not the same thing. Madison youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re the town I wish I grew up in. I can soo see a lady rapper springing from your cheese.
TAC: What's the Iowa Hip-Hop scene like? Is it like in that movie, White Boyz?
I don't know. That movie sucked.
TAC: So, is Bedazzler paying your bills yet, or what?
LH: NO ! ! shame on them. I'm hoping to be contacted by the BedazzlerÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s arch-nemesis the GEM-MAGIC. check it out.. very space age product and hobby lobby carries it.
TAC: Anything else you'd like to share?
LH: This has been THE KEEPER of the GEMs.. BOO YEAH. HOLLA BACK MADISON ! ! !