After two very successful days, the only thing the first annual ROCKRGRL Music Conference (held in Seattle Nov. 2-4) seemed to be missing was that big-name headliner to put it over the top. Enter Courtney Love. Conference attendees were informed of a rare Q&A session with Love Saturday morning, as signs around the conference area announced the event, which would take place at six that night, as "just added."
Love would later say that she had been planning to appear at the seminar for some time, but she failed to make her plans public because she didn't want to be in the advertising, instead choosing to let the "conference build on its own." While the early morning buzz on her appearance at the very indie-oriented event was only marginal, Love's Q&A session proved to be the hottest ticket of the symposium by the time six o'clock rolled around. A line to get into the ballroom where she would be speaking wound around all the way through the lower level of the Renaissance Madison Hotel. Several fans were turned away at the door, but were later let in after Love and ROCKRGRL editor/founder Carla DeSantis could hear those who were left on the outside chanting, "Let the rocker girls in."
DeSantis joked about all the commotion at the previously low-key convention, saying, "Do you think we've got a name here?" Though the build-up to her arrival was high-maintenance, the actual hour-and-a-half session itself was very informal.
Wearing an orange T-shirt and blue pants, Love came into a standing ovation, sat down behind the podium and seemed immediately relaxed. Billed as a Q&A, the session was to feature Love answering written questions submitted throughout the day by attendees. However, she decided after looking at the first couple of questions to instead converse directly with the audience.
Love thrived under the informal format, proving funny, confident, easy-going, surprisingly open and, of course, controversial. Among the early questions was a lengthy one on how Love and her like combat the image of Britney Spears. Rather than feeding into the conference mentality of us vs. them, Love shrugged it off, praising songwriter Max Martin as "a genius" and saying Spears was "like a Barbie." She added that their respective fields are very different, saying, "We're here, a group of women and sympathetic men, because we make rock music."
She also related her current frustration at trying to find a bass player for Hole, saying, "I'll hire a woman over a man any day" (to great applause from the audience), "but women tend to not be technically friendly." When she added, "I've been looking at bass players for over a year," an audience member retorted, "Hello."
Love dealt with a lot of questions about women and their role in music, but she also dished a lot of dirt. Here's what she had to say on a variety of topics:
On Eminem -- "I was asked about him earlier. And you're not going to like my answer but I said, 'Where's the female one?' That's my f---ing answer . . . He's the first totally post-modern artist, in that without context he's nothing. Without that endorsement [from Dre] he's nothing."
On Marilyn Manson -- "[Interscope head] Jimmy Iovine asked me, 'Why doesn't Manson sell?' Because it's not 1975, Jimmy."
On Iovine -- "He's a little troll. Stevie Nicks used to date him. I called Stevie and I'm like, 'Stevie, what was that?'"
Rap -- "There's no room for females, white or black, in rap."
On balancing her creative and business sides -- "It's really tough. I've only written about five songs in a year because of the legal battles I'm going through now. It takes all your time and energy."
On the perception of her as a bitch -- "I've always liked the words 'bitch' and 'slut' . . . If you play rock you're a bitch."
On PJ Harvey -- "I tried to engage her in a conversation about the business recently. She was like this [puts hands over ears and head down]. Some people just don't want to know. Michael Stipe, it's the same thing."
On her past -- "I was a reforming heroin addict. [Sarcastically] I don't know how many of you knew that, but don't tell anybody. Nobody's supposed to know."
On ambition -- "I'm grandiose. I've wanted to be a rock star since I was two. I hope you all did too."
On groupies -- "There's nothing wrong with groupie f---ing. But there is something wrong with taking underage, frail girls from the audience who didn't come there for that. When I was on tour with Trent Reznor, people were like, 'Oh you're obsessed with Trent. Oh, you're stalking Trent.' No, if he had taken one more overweight, fragile girl whose stepfather was raping her from my audience, I was going to kick his ass."
On acting -- "It's a nice middle-class job if you can get it. But it's not as true and spiritual as playing music."
On Fred Durst -- "Fred calls me up and he's like, 'You're always saying I'm going out with Playboy playmates. That's not true. I'm fascinated by you.' Fred and I have gone on three dates [boos, sounds of disgust from audience]. The only thing that makes Fred feel guilty is he wants to be part of the Lollapalooza generation. They romanticize this. He'll call me up and say, 'I want to respect women. How do I do that?' I said, 'Fred, for starters, holding a party at the Playboy Mansion? Not a good idea.'