Sassy, sensual and self-assured
By POLLY HIGGINS
For every Christina Aguilera, there should be at least one Devil Doll. Maybe two.
As Christina (and such contemporaries as Jennifer Love Hewitt and Britney Spears) drag their version of “sexy,” the eyes are just a little too vacant, the images definitely too recycled. Christina’s December Blender cover, for instance, is shocking in how untitilating she makes a vinyl bikini top and fishnets look.
Singer Devil Doll (aka Colleen Duffy), on the other hand, seems to be having fun in her pinup-styled photos, which makes all the difference. She looks in control as she celebrates both the cheese and the sensuality of the Bettie Page-inspired images that first caught her attention when she was a young girl.
To Duffy, Christina’s recent cover shots – with her blank look and handcuffs (Blender), her blank look and carefully placed guitar (Rolling Stone) – are simply not sexy.
“They’re trashy. I think what you have is an example of a girl who has some talent, and the music business got ahold of her and they’re like, `We’re going to make you look like this’,” Duffy says, calling from her adopted hometown of Los Angeles. “She looks unconscious to me – there’s no vision, no statement.”
Duffy’s female role models have been much more active, such women as Lucille Ball and Cher who, despite their own historical challenges, managed to build careers as bold as they wanted.
“Cher’s amazing. You have a career like that and tell me she can’t take care of business,” Duffy says, fondly recalling the 1970s variety show “The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour.”
Then, in middle school, Duffy heard Joan Jett. “And my world changed. She was not censoring herself. She came across as such a tough chick and she didn’t care what was coming out of her mouth.”
But the Joan Jetts and the other women in rock who play instruments are relatively few in number. Women have had greater successes in pop, R&B and country, genres in which performers often don’t write their own songs or play instruments. A Total Guitar reader’s poll conducted earlier this year found only one woman – oddly, Tracy Chapman – worthy of being included in a list (topped by Jimi Hendrix) of the 440 best guitarists.
Devil Doll writes most of her own music, and her full-length “Queen of Pain” offers a varied mix of rock, jazz, swing and torch songs filled out by her confident vocals, not unlike the equally nonconventional and tough Candye Kane. They tell tales of women who know what they want – to sidestep the advances of a drunk lover (“Bourbon in Your Eyes”), to stand up to a loser boyfriend (“St. Christopher”). And though her image – draped in silky fabrics and kissed with stoplight red lips – is dominant, she says she’s never encountered someone unable to see the songs for the sensuality.
“The Devil Doll persona is about being a woman and having a strong stage presence – being strong lyrically and musically, and being sexy.”
Fittingly, Devil Doll’s moody “Faith in Love” is featured on a season four episode of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” (“The Harsh Light of Day”), a show that balances girl power and a love of hot pants.
“Women dictate how they want to be treated,” Duffy says. “A lot of women have stopped making their own rules, and I make my own rules.”
if you go
What: Devil Doll in concert, with Last Call Brawlers opening.
When: Dec. 14 at 9:30 p.m.
Where: Plush, 340 E. Sixth St.
How much: $5.
Details: Call 798-1298. For more on Devil Doll, go to www.devil-doll.com.
PHOTO, page 2
CUTLINE: Devil Doll, who named herself after the Roy Orbison song, says the moniker just always fit. She and her band will perform their mix of rock, swing, jazz and torch songs Saturday at Plush, 340 E. Sixth St.