The community of San Francisco is proud to house her talent where she can often be found donating her time to various charities and theaters. “Its so easy to be a part of the community in San Francisco. You meet one person and it spreads,” says Wiedlin.
Some may know her as Jane Marie Genevieve Wiedlin, others may call her Jane Drano, Jumping Jane, Empress Jane, or even Reverend Sister Go-Go but I just call her my Homegirl. Born May 20, 1958, in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin, this Cheesehead can now be found roaming the streets of San Francisco. Jane is mostly known for her success as a singer/songwriter in the all female, American rock band, The Go-Go’s. What people may not know is that she has an arsenal of accolades in her portfolio. From Fashion Designer, Actress, Author, Animal Rights Activist, Minister, ‘Trekie’, and proud member of the Fetish Community, Homegirl has done a little bit of everything.
It’s always a good time when you are hanging out with someone like Jane. And we had some catching up to do…
[BeBe] You are a member of the most successful girl rock band of all time, The Go-Go’s, a celebrity, and a world-renowned musician, yet, you are so community minded. You haven’t let ‘celebricide’ stop you from getting involved in your community at a grass roots level. [Jane] That’s because with age, I hope, comes a little bit of wisdom. I’ve come to realize it’s the grass root people that get stuff done. Big charities and stuff, they don’t get anything done! They spend all the money paying office workers. I love getting my hands dirty.
You recently were a judge at the 19th Annual Drag King Contest in San Francisco where the beneficiary of the event was the PAWS organization. That’s a meaningful organization for you, correct? I’ve been a longtime supporter of PAWS (Pets Are Wonderful Support). PAWS has funds that help people who are suffering from HIV and/or other illnesses, who may not be able to afford a pet. Pets can be great emotional support when you’re not well.
You have worked with other pet and animal charity groups as well? Yes, I’ve worked with Rocket Dog Rescue and Muttville, too. Working with these organizations, you literally see the lives you’ve saved, the dogs you’ve saved, the lives you’ve changed. It’s amazing. I’m a super intense dog lover; I’m a crazy, crazy dog lover. I’ve come to the conclusion that even though I’m an atheist, if there is a God, dogs are made in His image because certainly humans are not. We’re evil! There’s no way we could be made in God’s image, but dogs are precious. They’re saints.
All of your hard work in the community was recently recognized by the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence who bestowed you with their Community Saint title. That was such a surprise. To people outside of San Francisco it may not mean much, but here, its a big deal.
You are not only a Saint, now, but, you are also a Reverend? Are you really ordained to perform wedding ceremonies through a website? Yes, MarriedByJane.com. Its a small business <laughs>. It was a very natural evolution for me. In 2008, when they made marriage equality for everybody (in California), I got super excited. I decided I was going to get my minister’s license and marry everyone I know. So, I got my license and 10 seconds later, Prop 8 happened and they took the right (for gays to marry) away again. That really made me angry. I realized then the tide was turning and it was a bigger picture than just California. It was our country and the whole world. So, slowly as the states started (passing) marriage equality (laws), I started getting calls and letters from people who wanted to get married. Marrying people has been just about as good as being a Go-Go, I would say. Every wedding I’ve done has been unique, transformative, and changed my life because I’ve become friends with all of the couples. My goal is to bring people the joy that the Go-Gos bring to so many people. Our music means so much to people. When they come see us in concert, they get so happy. We just bring happiness to people. I really believe that’s my calling, to help people be happy.
Over the past four years or so, you have participated as judge in the spectacular Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence’s Project Nunway charity event. I’ve been four times, I think. It is my favorite event of the year. Every year those designers blow my mind. It’s not crafty, this is great stuff! Judge or not, I’ll be there anyway.
You have a thing with Drag Queens and Drag Kings it seems. Along with the Sisters’ events, I’ve judged the Drag King Contest a couple of times along with Heklina’s Trannyshack. I love the Drag King event. It’s refreshing! I love my Queens, but the Drag Kings are a great change.
You are also a major supporter of our community theaters, not only as the audience, but also as an actress. It’s so easy to be a part of theater here in San Francisco because you meet one person and it spreads. Suddenly, you know 200 people and they are all artists and performers. So, there is always this constant feast of shows. These people are so extraordinary and we are lucky to be able to go to these 50 seat theaters and see people so talented do their thing. With all the tech money that is coming into the city, things are scary — and rapidly changing. I’m worried for all these little theaters, clubs and bars.
Speaking of theater, you have a new musical production in the works that is apart of a theater company you’ve created, right? Well, about four or five years ago, I started a comic book series called Lady Robotika written with my dear friend Bill Morrison, a renowned comic book writer and artist. I loved it. It was everything I love in life. It’s girl power. It’s science fiction. It’s kitschy and campy. It’s rock and roll! So it was kind of a dream come true. But, Bill is so busy that we sort of got backlogged and we weren’t able to keep the comic book going, so I decided to write a musical about it on my own, Lady Robotika: A Space Opera. I wrote the script. The songs are all my lyrics, and music was either written or co-written by me. If you love The Go-Go’s, you’ll love this musical because it’s all my songs. It’s that pop-rock sound. It’s a very personal project for me. This year, 2014, I just started shopping it around and have had a couple stage reads with great local talents like Mike Finn, Matthew Martin, Trixie Carr, Flynn Witmeyer and Flynn DeMarco. I think it’s going to be a long process, but its one of those projects where I’m determined to see it hit the stage where people will get to enjoy it. The music is so great and the story is so fun. Life has gotten so depressing that we need fun stuff. I’m determined to get it out in 2015, hopefully by summer.
What’s the story line? The story is based around this singer-songwriter named Kate who has been struggling for a long time to make it as a performer. She hasn’t gotten anywhere, and has become discouraged. She’s ready to give up. While performing in the middle of nowhere with 10 people in the audience, she meets this guy who is interested in her, but she is leery of him. She thinks all he wants to do is get in her pants. Then he serenades her, and starts to win her over when they are abducted by aliens and taken to outer space. They have this crazy adventure. They are supposed to be made into these space robots, but Kate saves the day. Kate goes from being this person with no confidence to becoming a superhero.
Sounds like something that would translate well on the movie screen. It would make an amazing movie! When I started writing it I asked myself ‘Why make a stage musical and not write a screenplay?’ There was something about trying to fill a theater show. The challenge of it was very intriguing to me.
What about your most recent solo project (released in May 2014) called ‘Men’? It’s really jazzy. Is this a new style and a hint of your future in music? It was something near and dear to me. I love, love, love the whole American classics style of music. I love Ella Fitzgerald. I love Billie Holiday. I love Julie London. You see Lady Robotika…. is not the first musical I’ve written. I wrote one previous to that and it is about Bettie Page. I’ve never really done anything with it, but the song Men was from that musical. A friend suggested since I wasn’t doing anything with the Bettie Page stuff that I should just put it out there. Once I get Lady Robotika on the stage, I want to go back to Bettie Page, fluff it up and put the show out there. The premise of the script is that there are three Bettie Pages, the real Bettie Page, the devilish Bettie Page and the angelic one. She was a very contradicting character in real life. First she was a super Christian, and then she’s doing S&M. She has the good girl versus bad girl struggle. I’ve always worshiped her because I’ve always thought I’m half good and half bad. I relate to her. But there is a twist to the story I think people will really like. (I guess we have to wait. *SIGH*)
You have been a longtime ally of the gay community, way before it was popular. Was diversity of San Francisco a big factor for you moving to the city some five years ago? I mean, you could have moved anywhere on this planet. Why here? That’s so true. I met my boyfriend seven years in Wisconsin, where I am from. The winters, however, were killing me. I only lasted two years before we started packing. He didn’t want to go to Los Angeles. We both loved San Francisco. I have always been afraid of it because it is so expensive and so cosmopolitan. I didn’t know if I would fit in, and all that stuff, even though I have been here hundreds of times. We just decided to go for it. It just was coincidence that the house I fell in love with happened to be in the Castro. But, I’m so glad to be in this neighborhood. It’s so lively. San Francisco is the greatest city in the world. I’m convinced.
And what about The Go-Go’s future? You just came back from your annual summer tour. It was a North American tour, which is what we seem to do every summer. I really enjoyed this tour because I can feel in my heart we’re not going to be able to be a band much longer. We’re all in our 50s, so, I really want to appreciate every show we get to do. I’m already starting to get very nostalgic about it.
Jane is fabulous. Stalk her. www.facebook.com/janewiedlin + Twitter@JaneWiedlin. She will be a celebrity judge at PROJECT NUNWAY in November. Find out more about it in Left Magazine!