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February 6th, 2008 Byron Beck | Queer Window
 

Pussy Power

My “lost” interview with Eartha Kitt. Meow.

     
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I blew it. Years ago I nabbed a hard-to-get interview with the diva of all divas, Eartha Kitt, but I never had a chance to share it with readers. That is, until now. When I spoke to her in ’02 (she was in a touring Broadway show), her tongue was sharp and eerily prescient with regard to our current state of affairs, both politically and socially.

The talon-ted Kitt, 81, comes back to P-town this Saturday—purr and all—to perform her cabaret act with the Oregon Symphony at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall. For those who don’t have a clue who the growl gal is, all you really need to know is she was once dubbed the “most exciting woman in the world” by then-boyfriend filmmaker Orson Welles, she was Catwoman to Adam West’s Batman, and she made antiwar statements inside the White House during a luncheon with Lady Bird Johnson.

And oh, yes, she can sing.

Queer Window: What keeps you singing all these years?
Eartha Kitt: I’m an orphan. Through my childhood I didn’t have a feeling I was wanted, or deserving of anybody as a unit, or a family. The public adopted me. The fact I’m still wanted by an audience makes me feel I’m worthwhile.

After you spoke out against the Vietnam War, you left the U.S. to continue working. How’s the U.S. doing lately?
[Editor’s note: This was pre-9/11 and the Iraq war. ] I don’t like the Republicans or Bush. The more [Bush] is beaten down, the stronger he will try to become. The government needs to keep their hands out of the pockets of the American people.Are the divas of today anything like you?
Those girls who are undressing—or not dressing at all—will realize later they made money at the expense of their own respected moralism.

So what about your own reputation as a man-eater?
I don’t take “Eartha Kitt” seriously, darling. I take my work seriously, but as far as Eartha Kitt is concerned I’m having fun with her now. I’m more saged about what I’m doing and the ability to tease and always keep it dignified.

Always?
I play with it. I tease it. But I don’t fall into the bottle of sex-ality. I’m very mischievous: I like to play with you guys, I like to tease you men, but I never tease you beyond the border of respect, because I expect you to have a sense of humor. If you don’t, we’re both in trouble. I don’t want to be bought. I want to be earned.

And as for the future?
I’m not concerned about being longer upon the earth. I just want to be well upon the earth. I’ve told my daughter if I’m not able to take care of myself then let me go, because it’s time.

Why did Orson Welles call you “the most exciting woman in the world”?
Because I am (she says as she proceeds to growl out a laugh).


ATTEND: Eartha Kitt with the Oregon Symphony at Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, 1037 SW Broadway, 248-4335. 7:30 pm Saturday, Feb. 9. $20-$112.
 
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