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Rockin' around the Christmas tree with BETTY
NUNN ON ONE: MUSIC Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Jerry Nunn, Windy City Times

This article shared 4456 times since Mon Dec 10, 2012
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Rock group BETTY hails from New York, but its first big break was actually in Washington, D.C. The same three original members are still in the group since the original group in 1987 composed of sisters Amy and Elizabeth Ziff, along with Alyson Palmer—later expanding to include Tony Salvatore and Mino Gori.

Not only have the members made many albums over the years but their appearance in shows like The L Word and Weeds have pushed their career over the top.

They starred in their own off-Broadway show called BETTY RULES directed by Rent's Michael Greif. Recently BETTY was featured on the Scrooge & Marley soundtrack with the holiday song "Dreidel Jingle Fiasco."

Nunn nabbed Amy Ziff before the gang took off to Argentina to hear about the upcoming festive show in Chicago and to reflect on a 27-year career.

Windy City Times: Hi, Amy. Are you packing your bags for Argentina?

Amy Ziff: Yes. I have a million things to do but I have some time to talk to you so let's get at it!

WCT: You are heading to Chicago after this trip to do a Christmas show at the City Winery. I just saw Susanna Hoffs from The Bangles perform there and it is a great venue.

Amy Ziff: It is the first time we have played there and it is a new space. We haven't been back to Chicago in a while so we are hoping to really get the word out and get some people that we love out there.

WCT: What Christmas songs are you performing?

Amy Ziff: Holiday shows with a twist like "Happy Holidays" and "Miracles Can Happen." Some tongue in cheek, some twisted and some cathartic. Hopefully you will run the whole gamut of emotions at this holiday show. I hope people leave feeling inspired and making new love connections all around the board.

WCT: I am guessing lots of banter from the group.

Amy Ziff: Who knows what happens at one of our shows? We have some new songs and some old songs that are on our holiday CD called Snowbiz with songs like "Xmas Ain't Coming This Year" and "Holiday Office Party." We might just pen something especially for Chicago. This will be a fun night. Will you be there?

WCT: Of course. I ran into you in Provincetown when I was writing that travel story at that pizza place!

Amy Ziff: We were up at the bar, right?

WCT: Yes.

Amy Ziff: That was fun!

WCT: Do you play there pretty regularly?

Amy Ziff: No, what happened was I did a one-woman show there two years ago in the summer. It was during Women's Week and that was really fun. BETTY came back to do a series of shows but we haven't been back for a while. I like to go in the summer but we have been touring Europe, usually. I hope we get back there this year for sure because it is such a unique experience.

One time we played with Debbie Harry for a benefit. It was just a magical Provincetown night where all the drag queens were supper sparkly. Everyone had a smile on their face [as] we went from one party to another.

WCT: I heard you just did a benefit for [survivors of] Hurricane Sandy.

Amy Ziff: We did a couple of those. Last night we did a concert for Out for Change with many LGBT activists. It was great to see people that have been out on the front lines for a long time. It was a whole day of symposium. John Waters talked and then we performed.

WCT: You have been a big supporter of Windy City Times in the past by playing our anniversary party. I was even your server at Weber Grill when you ate dinner in town.

Amy Ziff: Were we horrible to you and left nothing for a tip?

WCT: [Laughs] No, you were a good tipper but only drank hot tea to protect your voice. In Argentina, are you going to have meat over there? Are you a vegetarian?

Amy Ziff: I have been a vegetarian for a while but I usually eat everything so I am going to eat the meat over there. When in Rome, you have to.

WCT: There is a whole strip of restaurants in Recoleta, Buenos Aires, that you have to try.

Amy Ziff: I am so there!

WCT: I read you have been performing for 27 years.

Amy Ziff: That is crazy. That must be a mistake. What independent band stays together for that long?

WCT: Did you ever think that you would do this that long?

Amy Ziff: I don't think you think that way when you first start out. It really is a family—a dysfunctional family, I must say. I have my baby sister in the band and Alyson, who is like my sister at this point. We are all so close and we have almost every holiday and birthday together. We are godmothers together with Alyson and Tony's children. Our politics are the same and we are passionate about the same things.

We want to make a difference and a change for the better. The band has united us just as much as the music has. We write differently and have different musical tastes. We have to compromise a lot to get what we want onstage. We have different sensibilities but there is enough common ground to make for some BETTY magic sometimes, which is really rewarding.

It is an interesting ride to tell you the truth to be independent musicians for a long time. We are lucky because we have had some great successes in television that have been able to keep us going. Our fans have been the hugest in our career. They tell people and new people find out about us, mothers tell their daughters or cousins tell a funny gay uncle about us.

WCT: Of course!

Amy Ziff: I think music is kind of timeless. You keep working and doing what you love. You grow and get better. I think some of the new songs that we are writing now are some of the best ever. They are all from different stages in our lives. I'm super-happy so I thought I was going to lose my edge for a while as a songwriter. Some of the songs are love songs, and they are even better than ever!

WCT: I just heard the same thing when I talked to rockers Tegan and Sara the other day. They are in love with their girlfriends and writing love songs.

Amy Ziff: Good for them. Tell them we say, "Hey!"

WCT: New music in the spring for BETTY is the goal?

Amy Ziff: Right; it's the goal. We have been doing some work with the scores of new music. We will be working with new producers and different recordings. I think you are going to like it. I will stake my reputation in it, which is tarnished anyway so there you go!

WCT: Would you ever change up your hairstyle or is it your trademark now?

Amy Ziff: That is a great question. It is a trademark, which is good and bad but seems to work for me. I cut them and get them tightened. If there are any hairdressers in the crowd that can tell me what to do next I am all ears.

WCT: I have a feeling there will be. I look forward to seeing you at the show.

Amy Ziff: Listen to me, you better get those fags and lezzies to come to our show like nobody's business! There are lots of surprises in store. We are really excited about coming back to Chicago. It is a city that stays in your heart and doesn't go away. Come up to us after and we can have another drink!

BETTY, the Holiday Show jingles into City Winery, 1200 W. Randolph St., Dec. 19, at 8 p.m. To purchase tickets jangle over to or by calling 312-733-WINE.

Visit for more on the band.

This article shared 4456 times since Mon Dec 10, 2012
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