UPDATE 4/10: Twenty-four years after Kurt Loder’s contentious interview with Jewel, and days after the singer resurfaced her criticism of the former MTV News anchor (“He was just a dick”), Loder has finally apologized to Jewel. “That MTV interview I did with Jewel was a shitty thing to do to anyone, and I’ve been ashamed of having done it ever since,” Loder said in a statement to Yahoo! Entertainment. “If I could go back in time I’d smack me in the head. However, I’m not a college graduate….”
According to Jewel, even her mythical origin story — that she lived in her car to pursue music — was mired in the misogyny and sexual harassment that plagued her early years.
The singer previously broached the subject in both pre- and post-#MeToo interviews, as well as in her memoir. However, speaking to Stereogum, Jewel went into more detail regarding the situation and the overall harassment she faced from male journalists in the Nineties.
“My whole career, the slant that the media gave it was through a really, I dare say, patriarchal lens,” Jewel said. “You think of my origin story, right? The whole world knows I lived in my car. They think because I was fighting for my dream of music. That is an absolute misrepresentation of what happened. I was living in my car because I wouldn’t have sex with my boss. I refused to be leveraged and he wouldn’t give me my paycheck and I couldn’t pay my rent and I started living in my car and then my car got stolen and I was homeless because of that, because I wouldn’t bang a boss.”
Jewel continued, “I said that at the time, I said that in every interview, but it was almost like people didn’t even have the ears to hear it. They would just write the story, ‘Jewel lived in her car to pursue her music career.’ That’s not why I lived in my car. I was not even thinking I would be a musician. I was trying to figure out how to stand up for myself, how to refuse to be leveraged for anything or anyone. It was an active defiance, it was an act of courage.”
While Jewel gained a reputation for being irascible in interviews in the mid-to-late Nineties, it was often the direct result of the harassment she faced from male journalists in a pre-#MeToo world, who reportedly asked her such inappropriate questions as, “So, Jewel, how do you give a blowjob with those fucked up teeth?” And that’s only one of many times she was asked sexually loaded questions or cast in misogynistic light.
“I remember South Carolina live on air, ‘Hey, you may have heard me describe my next guest as a large-breasted woman from Alaska. Jewel, how are you?’” Jewel said. “I said, ‘You must be the small penis man I’ve heard so much about from South Carolina.’ Escorted out of the radio station. Like, that was just life.”
Jewel also recounted her infamous interview with Kurt Loder in 1998, when the MTV News anchor was openly dismissive of her then-new poetry collection and even corrected a poem’s misused word on-air. “He was just a dick. What an ass to show himself like that,” Jewel told Stereogum of Loder, who never apologized to the singer. “It was almost that thing where you’d feel sorry for somebody, it’s like, ‘Wow, here’s a full-grown man who does news for children, on a children’s network, for teenagers.’”
“I lived the life, I stood up for the things I wanted to stand up for, and you do it because it’s the right thing to do,” Jewel added. “But it is fun to be around long enough to be able to talk about it.”