Judy Tenuta’s new year’s resolution is to stop laughing during sex. Though she’s coming to Ventura under the auspices of performing, her true intentions are less respectable: She’s on the hunt for a “greased-up muscle stud.” Should she find one of these, it’s not beyond the realm of possibility that the 52-year-old comic could land him. She is, after all, the Love Goddess, Aphrodite of the Accordion. Besides that, she’s hot. Almost 20 years since Howard Stern tried to feel her up on his show, Tenuta has hardly changed from the Petite Flower who regaled audiences with her ribald storytelling and flamboyant costumes.
A pioneering force in comedy since she burst on the stand-up scene in the ’80s, a few of Tenuta’s signature exclamations remain firmly embedded in America’s cultural lexicon. Her use of song to punctuate her act was way ahead of its time.
Hello! Before Sarah Silverman, there was Judy Tenuta.
Though she’d like to score a “throbbing beefy blond” surfer type in Ventura, her ideal man is a semi-holy trinity of enigmatic icons who have little in common besides regular roles in Tenuta’s fantasies: “You gotta look like Elvis, love everybody like Pope John Paul and be funny like Pee-wee Herman.” Her affection for the King is no surprise as she’s been known to do a mean impersonation, and her attraction to Paul Reubens’ alter-ego Pee-wee is somewhat predictable given that Tenuta was once married to the childlike comedian Emo Philips.
Most recently, she released a “best of” CD titled Buy This Again, Pigs and recorded a video for YouTube of her Sarah Palin impression. “I’m not afraid to drill onshore, offshore, Pauly Shore,” she jokes. She made the video in response to a flurry of e-mails from fans urging her to do so. One fan actually took footage of a Tenuta performance and superimposed Palin’s face on Tenuta’s body. Tenuta has also been a long-time champion of gay rights.
To interview Tenuta is to strap in and enjoy the ride; she’s in the driver’s seat and fueled by something more combustible then gasoline, which, she assures me, is not hormones. Upon announcing her intentions for Ventura’s male population, she burst into song, accompanied of course by her accordion:
“Go to Ventura if you want a surfing stud/He will let you ride him and he won’t be a dud!”
VCR: You’ve been an outspoken advocate for gay rights.
Tenuta: I still am! They have the right to be just as miserable as everyone else. Also, I want them to get married ’cause they know how to have a party! I think the Christian right is holding them back because they don’t want them taking over Pottery Barn or Crate and Barrel. The Christian right loves Crate and Barrel.
Were you surprised when Prop. 8 passed?
I really was because I thought, wait a minute, if people are voting for Obama, how could they pass Prop. 8? Obama’s coming in, he’s gotta play to his constituents so he’s gotta be a little middle of the road. He has to say things like, ‘I believe gays should partner. But when he gets into office I think he’s gonna say, ‘Go to Crate and Barrel, take your vows’!!
Coming out of the Bush years, are people more difficult to get a laugh out of?
No … I don’t think so. I think people really want to laugh, they probably need it more.
What do you find to be funny these days?
The news. Last night they were dead serious when they said the porn industry wants a government bailout. Larry Flynt is taking it to the House! They said it with a straight face . . . come on! Did you hear about the doctor who donated his kidney to his wife and she cheated on him? Noooooo! You can’t do that. I live in Hollywood and what always cracks me up is when you walk down to Starbucks and there’re at least three guys in cardboard boxes with scripts in their hands.
Recently you were a participant in the “Bad Girls Gone Good” special on the Oxygen network. How was that?
That was fun. Paris Hilton has not gone good. She is a mattress, always was, always will be. Now she’s just a little more quiet about it.
She just came out and said she’s only had sex with two people in her life.
Oh, that’s good! Now she also has Alzheimers. Oh, and then there’s Janice Dickenson, she has not gone good. And ‘Lickme Blohan.’ It should have been called Bad Girls Gone Boring.
What about Britney?
I love Britney! I can’t help it. The poor thing didn’t make the best choices in men. She’s a big star and marries these trailer-trash men. I’m going to see her. (Begins singing “Womanizer, womanizer . . ..”) There’re a lot of singers out there who have great voices but they all wanna do vocal aerobics. How ’bout picking a note and sticking with it, OK? You can’t tell them apart. But, when you hear Britney, you can tell it’s her right away. And I love Pink!
What’s bringing you to Ventura?
Well, I’ve never been there . . .. I hope the Christians will be ready for the Goddess.
Other than your CD, what else is new?
There’s talk of a reality show, I guess they’re gonna follow me around, but are those just my stalkers? I’m thinking of making a video for “Mountain Girl,” which is a musical I wrote.
Aren’t you an ordained minister now?
I’m an ordained minister! Dammit, I’ve got to marry some gays! I want to marry some gays in Ventura!
Well, we do have a pretty strong gay community here.
Awesome! We need to put it out there. All the gays who want to be married, come to the show. I can’t wait. And tell them they should already be registered at Pottery Barn and they can put their registry up at the show.
Judy Tenuta will perform live Jan. 23 and 24 at the Ventura Harbor Comedy Club, 1559 Spinnaker Drive., Ventura Harbor Village. 644-1500, www.venturaharborcomedyclub.com.