There once was a Georgia boy named Wayne County who had so much trouble figuring out who he was he had to move to New York (then England) and become Jayne County before finally feeling comfortable with herself. Along the way, Jayne helped pioneer the original wave of punk rock of the late ’70s, got cozy with Andy Warhol and his Factory and toured the world with backing bands such as the Electric Chairs. Having returned to Georgia a few years ago to tend to her ailing parents, County usually reserves her performing schedule to a couple of shows a year in Atlanta. Tonight’s one of those rare occasions as the queen of gender bending punk headlines the NYC Punk Tribute Night at the Star Bar with her newest band the Electrick Queers. With bands such as the Forty-Fives (as the MC45s), the El Caminos and Ghost Bikini paying tribute to the likes of the New York Dolls, the Dead Boys, Blondie and Devo, County will also be celebrating her birthday. As she prepares for this historic occasion, County talks to Wrestling with Pop Culture about her legacy, her kitties and her crush on WWE Champion CM Punk.
You were once a big part of the New York music scene and tonight you return to your roots in more ways than one by paying tribute to that scene in Atlanta, where you got your musical start.
Most of the New York bands weren’t originally from New York anyway. Hardly anyone was actually made in New York because everybody grew up somewhere else. The B-52′s made it in New York and they were kind of provocative and played CBGB and Max’s Kansas City and all that, but they were from Georgia. I’m from Georgia, but I was considered a New York CBGB/Max’s band, so that’s the way it is. The MC5 weren’t from New York, they were from Detroit. But it doesn’t matter, they played CBGB.
So the show is in the spirit of the New York scene?
Yeah. I originally wanted to do a tribute to CBGB and the New York scene, but it was simpler to just do a tribute to the bands that were around at that time and the scene that was happening. So, yes. You could say it is in the spirit of the era.
We have a DJ and all night long it’s going to be music from that era. And we’re going to be doing some of the English music, too, because the scenes criss-crossed between England and New York. So we’ll have Patti Smith and the Ramones, but we’ll also have The Damned, the Sex Pistols and stuff like that because that was a big influence on the New York scene and that style of music. It’s just going to be a good night of great music.
This show is also a belated birthday party of sorts for you, right?
Yeah, yeah! My birthday was earlier, but I didn’t really get a chance to celebrate. Ow! One of the cats bit my leg. Why are you biting my leg?!
What were we talking about? Oh, yeah. I’m going to be celebrating my birthday, too. I didn’t really get to celebrate it properly. So I can’t wait! I might get a little fucked up after, but not before the show. But they’ll probably have to carry me home.
You became known not only in New York, but also in Germany and other parts of the world, during that time. But in recent years you’ve basically been playing once or twice a year in Atlanta. Do you have any plans to get back out there and do more shows outside of Atlanta?
I cut back when I retired because of illnesses in my family. My father died and my mother is still very ill, so I had to cut back on a lot of stuff. But I am coming out of my retirement and I’m going to start doing more stuff again. I’m never going to tour extensively because I can’t do that anymore anyway, but I am going to be playing a bit more now. On Sept. 8 I’m playing The Viper Room in Los Angeles. We got a lot of good feedback from the recent New York show at the Bowery Electric. We packed that out, it was standing room only, shoulder to shoulder. It was fantastic and I had a good time. We got such a good reaction that we’re getting calls from all over the world, but I can’t start doing Spain and Germany and going from country to country again. So I’m just picking the best of them and doing what I want to do. I think that’s a good position to be in.
I’m playing with my original Electric Chairs guitar player Elliot Michaels in California, but tonight at the Star Bar will be with my Southern band the Electrick Queers. We’re going to be going out of the country because we’re working on doing a big show in Paris with the Electrick Queers. I love having a local band to do stuff with here, but I’d love to take them over there because they’re fantastic. A lot of musicians are in different bands, but why can’t singers be in different bands? There’s no reason I can’t have a bunch of different bands and play with different musicians.
Your Electrick Queers guitarist Jet Terror not only plays in other bands, but he’s the stage manager for WWE. You have previously professed your crush on WWE Champion CM Punk. Has Jet ever been able to arrange a meeting for you?
Oh, God. I love CM Punk. I have such a crush on him! I think he’s absolutely gorgeous, but he’s a great wrestler, too. I love watching him and I’m a HUGE fan. Maybe for my encore at the Star Bar I’ll put on my CM Punk T-shirt.
But I wouldn’t want to impose on him and I think it would be tacky to ask him to introduce me to him. If it came up in a natural situation, it would happen. But I don’t want to push it. But if I was at a wrestling show and there was a little party afterwards and he was there, believe me, no one would have to introduce me. I’d just waltz right up and be like, “CM Punk! Oh, my God. I love you!” I’d be like a little girl and I’d probably scare him to death.
Do you still have that CM Punk action figure I gave you for your birthday a few years ago?
Of course! Are you kidding me? Oh, my God. I cherish it. In fact, I wrapped it up and put it away because I love it so much I didn’t want anything to happen to it. I have a lot of kitty cats and they like to chew on anything.
You recently posted a picture on Facebook of an actor who will be playing Wayne County in a movie. What else do you know about this movie? Have you had any input on how you’re portrayed?
I don’t think it’s a big part of the movie. There’s a lot of people in the movie with small parts because it tells the entire story of CBGB with different people from bands cutting in and out. So they got Caleb McCotter, this kid from Savannah, Georgia playing Wayne County. That’ll be interesting to see, but I hope they don’t make me look like a total fool. They probably will, but I’m glad to be included in the movie. But that kid they got is gorgeous. What a hoot. Little blue-eyed boy playing Wayne County. But I did speak with the director and have some conversations with him, yes.
You’ve also done some great artwork. Are you still creating art these days?
I haven’t had any shows in a while, but I’m still working on a painting. I just finished two and I’m starting another one. I’ll be selling them, but all the money goes to my cat house because it’s a good way to pick up extra money for my kitties. When people buy a piece of my art, it’s a donation to the Jayne County Cat House. I’m going to have to start a series on the joys and pains of kitties with a lot of cat drawings. I do a lot of political stuff, but I get kind of bored with all the political ones so I’m going to start doing some Egyptian cat things. I’m just bored with the political world, but I go back and forth.
For more information, go to www.jaynecounty.com.