f there is such a thing as a Rock Star, and the evidence would seem to indicate
that there is, then Jayne County is one, albeit a grossly underpaid one. Raised in Dallas Georgia,
young Wayne went barefoot in a culture that had drinking fountains labeled "White", and "Colored".
A self professed "hippie queen", Wayne moved to New York in the late 60's, falling in with the Warhol
crowd, and forming
bands and writing songs that have influenced, and been plagiarized by many notables in the rock world. Around 1980,
Wayne became Jayne.
"...She dragged the tree out screaming, "Babylon!" and "The Devil!" and "Satan!", and he'd drag it back in..."
I cannot claim to be an unbiased observer of Jayne; my band The Amazing Cherubs, has had the distinct pleasure of
performing as her backing group for the last several years. Recently, we sat down at one of the myriad of drinking
establishments that have sprung up below Houston street. Right across, in fact, from a storefront where my sister once
lived with some friends, back when Ludlow Street was much Lud-lower than it is now. The neighboring storefront
then housed a bordello.
Jayne's childhood is a particularly fascinating topic occuring, as it did, in a world that no longer exists;
for the rural south of Jayne's youth has far more in common with "Gone With The Wind", than anything
that exists today. Most fascinating of all, Jayne hasn't changed much! Her life is really the story of a battle simply
to be herself, and ultimately, the Triumph of Individuality. And isn't that what Rock and Roll is all about?
When not performing, Jayne adopts a demure posture: long skirt, big shirt, and floppy hat. She speaks with a gentle
tone that still carries a distinct southern lilt.
Young Wayne got a proper religious upbringing, but the adage "a little knowledge is a dangerous thing" was
never more true. Wayne took little animal statues won at the fair into the woods, wrapped them in tinfoil, and worshipped
them as "graven images."
Jayne: I was a little pagan baby, a little child pagan. I didn't realize it, but I was basically a little
child pagan. You know when you go to Sunday School?, I was always rooting for the Egyptians, rooting for the Romans
and Greeks, and wondering why they were trying to portray them in such a mean way, 'The mean pagans kill the
poor Christians'. The Christians were boring and awful. I thought most of them deserved to be thrown to the lions.
When my mother took me to see "The Ten Commandments" in the theater, I loved the Egyptians, the sets with all the
statues, those palaces, the horses, all that art, the Egyptians were so fabulous! And there were the Israelites and
their dirty robes and everything, stomping around, talking about "The Lord" and I said, "Well I know whose side I'm on."
LCE: Waynes mother had faith, and attempted to share it with the family. Wayne's father is also Christian, but
with less analytical bent.
Jayne: My brother still hasn't forgiven my mother for stoppin' Christmas. He'd have to go to school, you know,
they'd have to volunteer to say what they got, and he'd have to say he didn't get anything, 'cause mother won't let him
celebrate Christmas. He's never, never, forgiven her for that. To my mother, Christmas is like the worst thing you can celebrate,
it's totally vile, because Nimrod married his mother to protect the Babylonian bloodline, and he put up a tree to
celebrate this, an evergreen tree. So the symbol of the Christmas tree is like the most vilest, incestuous symbol, so
to bring a Christmas tree into the house is like the worst blasphemous defilement.
A Young Wayne County
My father'd drag the tree in, and he'd hand me and the kids the decorations, try to make us put them up and we'd be crying,
"It's a Babylonian! We can't do it! God will kill us!" My mother would scream, she'd drag the tree out to the yard,
and he'd drag it back in. She dragged the tree out screaming, "Babylon!" and "The Devil!" and "Satan!", and he'd drag it back in.
She'd be screaming "Don't put that decoration on that tree!", and he'd be, "Put that decoration on that tree!", and we'd be
in the middle screaming and crying.
LCE: Scenes such as these notwithstanding, Wayne got on well with his parents in his early years, and with the
neighborhood kids, including the children of local Klan members, who Wayne would enlist in games of "Cleopatra", wrapped
in curtains and carrying a rubber snake. But...
Jayne: In my teen years it was a warzone. We had one black & white TV, and if the ballgame was on at the same time
"Shindig" was, it was horrible, and it got so bad my aunt went out and bought me my own black & white television to
put in my bedroom. I remember the incident, the ballgame was on, and the Shangri-las were going to be singing "Out on the Streets",
their new single, on "Shindig" and just as the Shangri-las went on the air, I heard the first chorus, "Ooooo", he came in
and went "whisk!", right to the ballgame, and I went berserk, berserk!, throwin' things!
Jayne County with Marilyn Manson
LCE: Although they don't exactly have her albums up on the wall, Jayne gets on well with her parents today.
She has inherited her mother's interest in history.
Jayne: I made straight A's in History. Everything else I was a total failure, except History and Literature I was a whiz at.
Oh, I was good at Geography too. I was fascinated with Geography. I could name you every country all over the world.
I love Geography.
Jayne: Belize? Yeah, uh, Central America.
Belize was formerly known as British Honduras, and is located between Mexico, Guatemala and the Caribbean.
Jayne: I love to look at maps.
LCE: Jayne has seen quite a bit of the world, not just on maps!, but always returns to New York City. Lately, she
is less inclined to wander, and plans on settling down in The Big Apple for a while. Currently Jayne DJ's at the trendy
"Life" on Bleeker Street.
Jayne: I like New York despite the changes it's going through. We're living in the Giulliani era in New York. I mean,
I feel safe going just about anywhere now, whereas I didn't used to at all. But the other things that we've had
to give up, that were part of New York, like the artists on Sixth Avenue with their paintings on the streets, he
arrested them. He's making it harder and harder for people with a Bohemian lifestyle, you know, to feel safe in
New York. I used to feel safe in New York, I mean, having crime here, you have to look out for muggers and all,
but if the police walked by, or the police were driving by, the cops had a reputation of being alright. They were
just people, but now, you walk past cops or a cop car, and it's like it used to be in Georgia. I get just a little
bit queasy. I think they're not on your side. I mean like, They're them. You know, it's us and them, and the
police are them.
Jayne County with Debby Harry
To me raiding CBGB's says it all. How stupid! How tacky! CBGB's! Come on, if you don't like the place, just leave it alone.
You don't have to go in and flex your muscles and wag your fucking tail! See, they could come in during the day, but
they come in on peak hours to ruin your business. It's plain out mean. Mean and nasty. Mean! It's plain out mean, mean,
mean being mean to people. Gotta ornery little bitter old closet queen!
LCE: In pre-revolutionary New York, one of the King's own mayors (a man) never appeared in public except in women's attire.
And in those days that required an amount of preparation that would daunt the most enthusiastic drag queen! Since that
time, I suspect that Rudy Giulliani is the mayor who has been seen most frequently in a dress.
*Ernst Roehm... ruthless... homosexual... Chief of the Storm Troops... violent... murdered in the blood purge of 1934 with von Schleichter
Jayne: It doesn't mean anything, he's pro-gay, he's passed some of the best pro-gay legislation any state ever had, but that doesn't
mean anything. Just because someone is pro-gay, or they are gay, or they may be a trannie, doesn't mean automatically
that they're a great person. It could mean that they're the most nastiest, most vicious, fucked-up person ever. It just
means you have a liberal attitude about that, but the rest of you is fucked-up. Hitler used the SA, and they were
Furthermore, as regards to Mayor Giulliani:
"He's grossly ugly in drag."
If you are left hungering for more details of Jayne's extraordinary life, her autobiography, "Man Enough To Be A Woman",
is available from:
180 Varick st.
New York, NY 10014
It's an astonishing read. Also currently available are two Cds on Royalty Records. "Deviation", her latest release,
and "Rock and Roll Cleopatra", an excellent compilation that includes a groovy little biographical fold-out. This
includes a discography that appears to be incomplete, but is still helpful if you're looking Jayne's records, solo,
and with The Electric Chairs and The Backstreet Boys (who are both fantastic), which can often be found in used vinyl
Hear Jayne County
*From the book: "WAR IN OUR TIME". (Doubleday, 1942)
Back to the Top