IN MY HOTEL ROOM IN LAS VEGAS, I ask her whether she has heard this Janeane Garafolo sketch from Denis Leary’s new album, Lock ‘N Load.
“No. What did she say? This is really going to make me upset, because I really like Janeane Garafolo, and I knew that she hated me….That girl was at the MTV thing the day after the awards and she was giving me this really weird vibe and really avoiding me.”
I play her the track, titled “A Reading From the Book of Apple.” It begins by perfectly echoing Apple’s MTV speech, then it heads off: You shouldn’t model your life about what you think what we think is cool, even though I have an eating disorder and I have somehow sold out to the patriarchy in this culture that says lean is better. Even though I have done that and have done a video where in I wear underwear, so that you young girls out there can covet, and feel bad about what you have, and how thin you’re not. The point is I have done it, I am lean. That’s why I did succeed sooner than maybe other musicians, that maybe were better song writers, I don’t know, better lyricists, better vocals, I can’t say that, but I do know this. This world is bullshit did I say that this world is bullshit? ‘Cause it is. And my boyfriend can make you disappear, he can pull something out of your ear, and say things like “We have not met before, have we?” Go with yourself.”
To begin with, after I click off the tape recorder, Apple is composed: “She is absolutely right, about the video and what it says to girls, but she’s looking at my message at the beginning, and she’s not waiting for the end. Because….”
It’s then she cracks. Big tears dollop down her face. I feel awful, fetch tissues. She begins talking some more. “Since that video was made, I’ve gained about 20 pounds on purpose…” – Fiona says she is currently 110 pounds, and has varied between 95 pounds and 125 pounds – “so that people can see me like that. I know what I’m doing. Bitch. I’m going to get bigger and bigger, and the girls are going to see that I don’t care and that I feel better like that. Of course I have an eating disorder. Every girl in fucking America has an eating disorder. Janeane Garafolo has an eating disorder and That’s why she’s upset. Every girl has an eating disorder because of videos like that. Exactly. Yes. But That’s exactly what the video’s about. When I say, “I’ve been a bad, bad girl, I’ve been careless with a delicate man” – well, in a way, I’ve been careless with a delicate audience, and I’ve gotten success that way, and I’ve lived in my ego that way, and I feel bad about it. And That’s what the song’s about, and therefore, That’s what the video looks like.”
Fiona talks about Courtney Love: “In a way I’m trying to do exactly the opposite of what she’s done. Start out being lean and the absolute perfect marketing package, and slowly, as I get more power, becoming more myself and exhibit the happiness that comes from that… I mean, my plan is to gain enough weight so that I can really be considered voluptuous, and then I’m going to do my ‘First Taste’ video. And I am preparing myself for what is going to happen. Because soon they will be saying that I’m fat. And it will hurt me.”
We say goodbye, but Fiona calls me a few hours later. “First of all,” she says, “I think it’s good that she said that…Because people who may have been wrongfully influenced by me can be better influenced by her for saying that, I guess. But.…” It’s a big but. She’s furious that Garofalo didn’t say anything to her when they were in the same room. “I wrote this little poem for her,” she says. The poem begins as a pastiche of “Shadowboxer”: “Once voluptuous, now so lean / What a petty marketing scheme…” Then it turns on Garofalo. The final four lines are:
Well, I best be off now to primp and preen
But before I go, here’s an end to your mean
I may be a paradox of gestures and genes
But you are a cowardly bitch, Janeane.
I wish this situation could be made into a full-length documentary.