Windy City Media Group Frontpage News


Social Media home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2022-08-31



Gossiping with Beth Ditto

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Beth Ditto ( center ) fronts The Gossip band



Beth Ditto shyly answers the phone in her signature Arkansas drawl, a surprise for the powerful, queer 25-year-old woman who fronts one of the music industry's hottest rising bands, The Gossip. Since its emergence on the LGBT-friendly indie label Kill Rock Stars more than five years ago, this sizzling trio has taken its brand of punk/blues/dance fusion to the top with its latest album Standing in the Way of Control.

The Gossip doesn't simply offer a refreshingly new sound and attitude in the midst of pop punk and Paris Hilton. Ditto openly discusses LGBT rights, politics and body image issues, making her somewhat of a heroine for queer youth and third-wave feminists.

Windy City Times chatted with the soulful Ditto about her Arkansas roots, riot grrrl and 'selling out.'

Windy City Times: What do you like to do when you have a little bit of downtime?

Beth Ditto: Mostly cook. That's basically what I like to do the best. I also just like to sleep. [ Laughs. ]

WCT: What's your favorite thing to cook?

BD: I guess chicken and dumplings. I make that a lot.

WCT: Did you always know that you possessed such a powerful and soulful voice?

BD: No ... well, kind of. I always thought I had a really loud voice, for sure. Loud! But I really didn't know what to do with it. I really wanted to sound like Mama Cass growing up. Then, I got older and did different kinds of music like R&B, like TLC and En Vogue—kind of that '90s vibe of really amazing R&B. That got me into more of a soulful style.

WCT: Do you or guitarist Nathan [ Howdeshell, aka Brace Paine ] have any horror stories about growing up in the South?

BD: Nathan and I both have a few horror stories. It's just like growing up in the South at all was kind of a horror story. Growing up in the South was just kind of shitty if you have any kind of consciousness about the world around you, people around you or people that are different from you. Nathan grew up on a farm and I grew up kind of broke in a big family. Those kinds of stories of trailer parks and cows.

WCT: When did you first come out, and was that when you were still living in the South?

BD: Yeah. I came out when I was 15 as a bisexual because when I was a little kid, I was so afraid of going to hell, so I'd pray to God that I wasn't gay. I remember fighting crushes on girls, and being really jealous of my best friends who had boyfriends, but not really knowing why and being just really afraid. I feel like I've been coming out over a span for forever. I've always been out to myself, but just really afraid of it.

WCT: When did you decide to go to Olympia, Wash., and did you decide to start a band before you went, or is that just something that happened once you got there?

BD: No, I was in a punk band in Searcy [ Ark. ] , and Nathan was in a punk band in Searcy, and [ drummer ] Kathy [ Mendonca ] was in a punk band in Searcy. We were all each other had. We were each other's audience. When I went to Olympia, I thought it would be just like Searcy, only a little bigger. I thought shows would be really similar and stuff like that. It was actually like really, really huge and a really thriving scene.

We were in bands, but we really didn't know what was going to happen. Kathy graduated, and she was probably 20 or 21, and said one day, 'Guys, I think I'm moving to Olympia,' and she did. After that, Nathan followed her and, after that, I had followed her. So, it took about two years. Out of nowhere one day, we formed a band. I had no idea what was going on in Olympia to the extreme, because I almost feel like I'm a little too young.

WCT: What do you think you'd be doing if you'd stayed in the Bible Belt?

BD: Probably hair. Maybe I'd have a girlfriend, maybe I'd be knocked up. It was pretty scary for me. Growing up, I didn't have so many options. I remember I had a high school boyfriend and everything, and I had broken up with him numerous times because I had thought I needed to date girls, and there would be no girls to date, so I'd get back with him. I would say, 'Just please, God, don't let me get knocked up. I don't want to make this decision for myself.' It was scary. I knew that it was either going to happen or not happen, and I didn't want to make any decisions. On my graduation, I saved up and bought a plane ticket to Olympia, and that's it.

WCT: Now, you are absolutely adored by the queer and fat-positive community. Do you get fed up with reading articles were the reviewer will say, 'Oh Beth Ditto is heavy, but she's hot?'

BD: Yeah. I guess I don't get fed up. I'm kind of used to it at this point. At this time in my life, I have more of a feeling that this is just how stupid people are. But she's hot? It should be and she's hot.

WCT: Yeah. They treat them like they are mutually excusive categories.

BD: Yeah, exactly. A lot of interviews will ask me that. 'So you feel like you are actually sexy. How does that feel?' I'm like, 'Do you not ever feel sexy? Do you not know how it feels?' It's more of a mark on their character than mine. I read into things very deeply, and that helps me a lot sometimes. I look at it, and I realize people who actually feel hot don't ask that question. I get asked a lot 'You are hot. How does it feel to be an icon?' I don't feel like an icon, but I feel attractive, thanks. [ Laughs. ] Fat people have their days where it feels like the world is against me sometimes. Any oppressed culture has that feeling.

WCT: As you grow more in popularity, do you find it harder for people to understand your activism and where you guys are coming from?

BD: I think they may find it harder to understand, yeah, but I think it makes a bigger difference when people don't understand, because they start to question things they never thought about before. I kind of embrace it that it grows bigger and bigger a little bit with each record, and each tour gets better and a little easier. Then, I look out in the crowd and I see blond college girls singing along because they heard it on their college radio. It's like good, skinny blond college girls are starting to understand. But then I'll ask the crowd, 'Where are the fat people at?' The skinny girls will raise their hand because they are trying to say they feel fat. That's not what I meant. You missed the point again. [ Laughs ]

WCT: Are you feeling like the band and your life is in a really great place right now?

BD: Yeah, the band is in a great place. It is at a really good point, but it's also really scary. How many people are going to pay this much for a show, and pay this much money for a shitty band they've seen 100 times. [ Laughs. ] It's crazy, but it's also a lot easier then it used to be. I don't have to worry about money as much any more, which means I can focus more on music. But we don't have so much money that we don't have any worries, because I think if you don't have any worries, you can't write a good song.

WCT: Do you think or worry that people would accuse you of selling out?

BD: I think they would, and do I worry, no, because I don't care. Selling out is very relative to me. I would never lose weight. I would never wear anything I didn't want to wear, and that's a really radical statement as a woman in the mainstream music industry. In a way, I almost think girls and women need a voice, and I think Gossip is a pretty cool voice. It's not as radical as Bikini Kill was in the '90s, or riot grrrl was in the '90s—that really aggressive, super-macho hardcore punk scene had never seen anything like that before. It's not as radical as that, but you're not preaching to the choir anymore when you're selling records in Barnes and Noble.

WCT: What do you think the future holds for The Gossip?

BD: I think I plan on making probably three more records. The one we're working on now, and the one we're probably going to record in the winter, and then a couple more after that, and then I think I'm going to be done. I love it, but it's just I don't want it to become a job or a lifelong career. I just want it to be fun. When you end up looking at so many contracts and talking to people about this and that, and spend half of your year on tour or maybe more than that, after a while you just can't do it anymore.

WCT: Any pet peeves?

BD: Lids and gum smacking. I hate it when people don't put lids back on things. I hate it, especially when you're on tour. Kathy was so bad about not screwing lids back on tight enough. Lids, for sure. [ Laughs. ]

WCT: Have any good gossip from the tour?

BD: I do, but I won't share it with you. [ Laughs. ]

Catch The Gossip Sept. 9 at the Metro with the funky all-girl band Erase Errata. Call Ticketmaster at 312-559-1212. See .

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


Gay News

SHOWBIZ Hallmark film, Oprah, Janelle Monae, 'Dahmer,' Met Gala 2022-10-02
- As a part of its "Countdown to Christmas" event, Hallmark Channel announced its first holiday movie that focuses on a gay romance, according to Out. The Holiday Sitter will be released on Sunday, Dec. 11, on ...

Gay News

World Music Festival Chicago Sept. 30-Oct. 9 2022-09-29
- World Music Festival Chicago will return Friday, Sept. 30-Sunday, Oct. 9 in venues across the city. The festival returns with 34 bands (including three DJs) representing 22 countries and spotlighting 10 local music groups. Now in ...

Gay News

MUSIC Jessie Mueller and Seth Rudetsky at Steppenwolf on Jan. 14, 2023 2022-09-28
- On Jan. 14, 2023 in Steppenwolf's Downstairs Theater, 1650 N. Halsted St., Steppenwolf Theatre and Mark Cortale will present Tony winner Jessie Mueller (Beautiful; Waitress) for a hometown concert, hosted and music directed by Sirius XM ...

Gay News

EVENTS Fahrenheit heats things in the cool autumn 2022-09-26
- In the early throes of autumn, the LGBTQ+ organizational development service Lord, Rustin, and Bates Inc. presented part one of the yearly Fahrenheit Humanities Festival at Haven, an entertainment and performance space at 932 E. 43rd ...

Gay News

Billy Masters 2022-09-26
- "I just heard about Leonardo DiCaprio's 25-year rule. His loss. You don't know what you're missing."—Dionne Warwick tweeted her disdain over reports that DiCaprio does not date anyone over 25. Where were you during Queen Elizabeth ...

Gay News

SHOWBIZ Cardi B, Sam Smith, 'Wednesday' series, Sean Hayes, Serena 2022-09-25
Video below - Cardi B clapped back at someone on Twitter who declared her a celebrity who "came out as bisexual but never dated someone of the same gender," per Out Magazine. The tweet,—featuring pictures of Cardi, Grimes, Lady ...

Gay News

THEATER Underscore to permanently close; festival gains new home 2022-09-23
- The board of directors of Underscore Theatre Company announced the company will close its doors permanently after eleven dynamic years of producing musical theatre in Chicago, including 16 world premieres. However, the company's Chicago Musical Theatr ...

Gay News

MUSIC Cabaret singer Jeff Harnar talks Sondheim, coming out 2022-09-23
- Jeff Harnar wasn't born in Chicago, but he will tell you first-hand that it is his home. Having spent his formative years in this city, Harnar discovered a passion for musical theater. Decades later, he has ...

Gay News

MUSIC 'A Boy Band Christmas' coming to Hard Rock Live on Dec. 18 2022-09-22
- A Boy Band Christmas is coming to Hard Rock Casino Northern Indiana's Hard Rock Live venue in Gary, Indiana on Sunday, Dec. 18. Doors open at 6 p.m. The event will feature Jeff Timmons, Drew Lachey ...

Gay News

Artemis Singers to present 'Samhain - Encounters through the Veil' Oct. 29 2022-09-22
-- From a press release - CHICAGO─Artemis Singers,, Chicago's lesbian feminist chorus, will present a unique, timely concert, "Samhain - Encounters through the Veil," about the time of year when we reflect on those who have gone before and honor t ...

Gay News

Riot Fest heats up (through music and controversy) in 2022 2022-09-22
- For three days, Riot Fest took rock and roll fans on a rollercoaster of a ride in Douglass Park. Located in Chicago's North Lawndale community area at 1401 S. Sacramento Dr., this loud outdoor celebration of ...

Gay News

SHOWBIZ 'Watermelon Woman,' 'Dragula,' Indigo Girls, 'Dahmer' series 2022-09-18
Video below - Cheryl Dunye shared a photo on Facebook confirming that her 1996 groundbreaking lesbian-themed film Watermelon Woman is now officially part of the National Film Registry Library. According to the library's website, some of the other movies ...

Gay News

THEATER 'Cabaret' at Metropolis through Oct. 22 2022-09-17
- Musical Broadway classic and hit film Cabaret re-creates the decadent and complicated world of 1929 Berlin at the Arlington Heights venue Metropolis Performing Arts Centre through Oct. 22. Cabaret is Kander and Ebb's legendary musical masterpiece ...

Gay News

Park district pushing change as criticisms of Chicago music festivals increase 2022-09-15
- As criticism increases over the use of public parks for large-scale events put on by private companies, leaders at the Chicago Park District are moving to change their code to mandate a board vote to sign ...

Gay News

Six Flags hosts 'Out in the Park' 2022-09-13
- Out in the Park—an annual private diversity event featuring unlimited riding of all Six Flags Great America's thrill rides—took place Sept. 10. Attendees enjoyed rides, eats and music (the latter courtesy of DJs). According to a ...


Copyright © 2022 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.








About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam     
Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.