BETTY's Elizabeth Ziff

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

BETTY, the all girl band, has been playing Prides when no other bands would play. With music featured on TV and film, these activists have paved the way for our musicians after them. We chat with BETTY's Elizabeth Ziff about the early days, Pride today, supports Black Lives Matter, and what more we need to do for the LGBT community and beyond.  

This is metro source. Minis, the official podcast to Metro source magazine and home of short form interviews with your favorite personalities from the lgbtq world and beyond. Quick, Fun and informative. It's metro source on the go, out in pround since one thousand nine hundred and ninety. Now grounds others of natural source minis. I'm your home, Alexander Rodriguez. Betty spells. Betty, the band that should be official soundtrack to pride either, met with the original pop rock band fronted by Alison Palmer and sisters Elizabeth and amy's if, who played pride since the mid s when nobody else would take the stage. They are pioneer, honey unstoppable activists. The women of Betty used their music for humanitarian out working for equal rights, peace and a and the empowerment of girls and women. Since forming in one thousand nine hundred and eighty six, they are most proud about being part of many hundreds of events that have improved lives, help change policy and raised millions of dollars from worthy causes, research and people in need. Named Arts envoys in two thousand and twelve. The trio works with the US State Department internationally in cultural diplomacy, and their music has been featured on national and International Radio, television, on the series weeds, NBC's Love Byes, Ugly Betty and, of course, the theme song for the l word and more, filled commercials, jingles web projects as guests, one recordings, compilation albums and in life here, including the smash off, runway hit, betty rules, and they do girl representing Betty, but a capitalize it. Its vocalist and guitars, Elizabeth Zif and a little disclaimer. This interview will not be PC. You know what, thank you for that wonderful introduction. Should I be a lot more wealthy than I am? Well, quarantine looks good on you. I hear the birds Turpin and you're outside just enjoying the rain. You know what, honey, I was in a New York City for the last three months and then and I was by myself, but I have a studio and my in my apartment, so I was recording music and eating a lot and, you know, masturbating wildly for a long time and then and that was pretty much my quarantine. Wait, should turn myself sideways? Is that better? No, no, your God, and anyway, so that's what I was doing and now I'm I took a break in I'm visiting my sister because it was my nieces first birthday. So how you first birthday, happy thing for you. So I want to know how. How in the hell was betty formed? Like? How, Oh Queen, please really that question. I'm just kidding. Now. You know what, if you listen to our podcast, Betty girl band, the podcast, we explain it all. But Amy and our sisters. So we've been...

...together. You know, obviously she's thirty, forty years older than I am, but we still been in the same band together and she's going to kill me which years is. So we were playing together and and we were at my living in my parents house, because we are still really basically every embryos, and we decided to start a band and we put an ad on the radio and at the time it was an all girl punk band, and I guess this is one thousand nine hundred and eighty one and probably before most of the people watching this were born. And so we put an out on the radio whfs we're living in outside of DC at the time, and we advertise for a female Bass player and Allison was listening to the radio and she was in some s ban that she sort of liked and sort of hated, and then she heard the the ad. She came to my parents house for the audition right and and she stepped out of the car and first of all, she's so incredibly gorgeous and just like stunning and and and she's so kind and wonderful. She just radiates warmth and she's just everything, basically. And I'm not in love with her, but I am in love with her, not in a sexual way, but just like as soon as we saw each other, we all knew that we've been in like many lives together and that we were born to play music together. So she started singing and play the bass and and we just started singing harmony right away, and then she laughed and came back the next night and it was when it was just a me and myself and we just stayed up all night long laughing about what we're going to name the band, like all the flies in China and a double Dutch buss. I mean just really laughing. And you know, I don't think drugs are involved actually, because we were, yeah, we were really young. And then like the next week we said, you're in the band. The next week she helped us move into DC. So we lived in a group house in North Northeast DC. At the time it was a very you know, it was predominantly black neighborhood, lower income, and everybody just welcomed us, even though we were, you know, two white Jews from Virginia, because we were such freaks and we played music and the whole the whole vibe there was really good. And then crack was introduced to the neighborhood and and you know, there was all these rumors that it was brought in by Reagan and Noriega. They got together and they introduced crack to keep to keep people in Lower and comes down more, you know, because when you go into lower income housing place there's always what is there? Always, there's always liquor stores, right, and at that time crack was all of a sudden, crackt was on every corner and you know, this guy who dealt on our corners name was killer, for good reason, but we got to be friends with him. But it got really it got really scary and really dangerous really...

...quickly, and not because of the neighborhood but because of the drugs and CRAPP was really deep. I don't know if you remember that. You might be too young, honey, but crap when crack came in. I know when cracking. Yeah, and crap was just crazy. And so we ended up having to move out of that neighborhood, but that was our first band house and it was it was great. You know, the women of the neighborhood protected us and we play music and everybody came over and, you know, we just people hung out and listen to music and it was a really interesting time to be in DC because white people in black people, especially in the underground music scene, really got together. Like there was the go go music scene, which was predominantly African American, and then the white scene, which was like minor thread and hardcore music, and then the new wave scene, which we sort of we were in between all of them. And because we're in a racial and because we were like queer and lessie's and straight and we played all different kinds of music and not just one kind. So this is after our punk band imploded and it was just an exciting time to be there because there was Reagan, so there was all this this underbelly of of resisting and and there was so much protesting and you know, that was the time of the big game marches and pro choice marches and DC and, you know, that's why it's really exciting and interesting right now to see what's happened with the pandemic, combined with this atrocious monster and leadership, quote unquote leadership that we have. It's like the perfect storm and it's it's really great to see it happening, I have to say, as an activist and as a musician, you know, and as an anti racist person who tries as hard as I can be in a white, you know, in this white skin, to to try to be anti racist in this country that is so, so fucking racist. Right. It's like yeah, but I mean you obviously you know as a queer, Latin X, you know you're gonna run into all that shit. So I'm not telling anything new, but it's nice to see the progression and then the backspacing and then the progression again in this country, and that's really I think that we've had progressives. Happened in America. You know, your two steps forward and then three steps back. Two steps forward, three steps back with with feminism, with gay rights, with with racism. I mean, we've got a long way to go, but it's nice to see that people are really angry and taking to the streets and I don't know if that would have happened without the pandemic. Well, and that's very good. That's very true. And also there's a younger generation that is now. You know, there used to go into the clubs. I know in the West Hollywood said they used to go to the clubs on the weekend and that's the extent of their lgbt activism, so to speak. And now they're becoming learned on on politics and how politics works and they're having a voice and...

...they're getting angry about politics, which I think is so important because I think we were kind of being glossy, I know, in southern California in a very safe environment, and now we realize, you know, there's still a lot to fight for and we're not as selfish anymore of this pride. You know, we're thinking about other minority groups, which I think is so important. Now I want to know, did you guys like make the conscious decision to be like, you know what we're going to be in an openly gay with an ally kind of band and play a gay events. Do you think that was limiting in terms of overall visibility in any way? Well, it probably was. You know, I'm definitely in the early and mid a s when we first started playing prides. But we never made a conscious decision. We just we've always done what was what felt right to us and because in the mid, early, mid and late s we had so many friends that had we're dying from aze. So of course we're going to play a gay pride because it was politic much more politicized, and a lot of people wouldn't say because, you know, I remember having we went up to have a meeting with the head of epic records at the time and he said to us you're not going to get signed if you continue to play at Gay Gay events and work and do the things about AIDS, because you're going to be blacklisted and people aren't going to want to sign you. And and that was the first time we'd ever heard anything really negative about it, because we were in this bubble of, you know, the gay and the feminist world and we were so pretty young. So we didn't think anything like that could happen. We knew that being feminists that was a big strike against us in the music world at the time, especially the pop music world, but we didn't realize how, you know, how homophobic the music industry really was until that moment and we just sort of worked at each other and went like that. You know, we were we weren't going to stop playing it, prides and things like that. That, first of all, the gay audiences in audiences, stays with you forever. Gay and lesbian and transgender audience, if, if you know, has always been like that, is, since the days of Judy Garland or before that. If, if, if we love you, and I'm including myself because I'm a lesbian gay man inside of this listening body. You know, if I love something or someone and they continue to support me and what I believe in, I follow them off a cliff, you know, and I think that's what that's what the Lgbtq community does. So why would we, why would we stop my performing for people that wanted us to perform and that we wanted to perform for and that we were part of that community? So that never made sense to us and yeah, probably did stop us from getting side to major label and at the time and things like that, but I mean we're still here and the music industry basically died or...

...committed suicide. I mean, it's still there and in a different way, but there's a much more independent arts. It's people that really buy albums or CDs anymore. It's all digital. So it's interesting what's happened. You know, I think it's exciting and change it. I think change that not that it's always good, but I think if you're true to yourselves and and support, even if it's not in fashion, and you support causes and people that you believe in, then how can that be a bad thing? Ever, you know, I grew up thinking that with my parents were activists and what Ellison's dad was an ambassador and he was one of the in the second way of black ambassadorships. A very few black ambassadors were appointed and he was one of them. So, you know, we grew up sort of being the outsiders anyway, so it made sense to continue to be outsiders, you know, and who gave a fuck? You know, I think buck whatever. As long as I was getting laid, I haven't had enough to drink and I could play music, I was fine. Well, if you steps ahead of me on that one, now what do you on the thought? You know, since you've been involved in probably with such a grass roots kind of festival and an experience, what's your take? You know, and you and I shared the stage at Palm Springs probably this last year and lights and and it was very you know, they're well put together. T'l ste was was one of the headliners. But what do you guys think about pride becoming more commercial, bringing in mainstream pop singers to take the main stage? Do you guys have a little resentment on that, or are you grateful for that? Or what's your take on that? And don't have presentment. I think anyone that supports the gay community deserves to play. I think if you're supporting the gay community and WHO's have or there's a difference between supporting the gay community and be embraced by it and then take an advantage of the gay community when you haven't really played prides your whole career and then suddenly you decide you're going to play pride now because it's an audience and they want you and they'll pay you, you know, a lot of money at times. I think I don't know. It's an interesting question because I think when people come around to the fact that they realize that it's important to support Lgbtq community, then play on, sister, you know, let him play, I think. I think it's great and I think that it's important for people who come to pride, because a lot of people have come to pride or allies and straight people and politicians and all of that, and when they come, to be entertained, you know, but not to overlook the people, the up and coming. We're artists, trans artists, you know, people who aren't necessarily wellknown but...

...are a part of their community. I think it's important to have a really nice balance between the new, upandcoming, the people who've been around forever and the people who are, quote unquote famous, you know. So and I think that's what a lot of the prides are now, especially internationally. I know that because we play a lot of international prides. Yeah, you, ladies are activists that he represents gay, Lesbian, which is the same thing in my opinion, people of Color. But how do you think the LGBT community can best support the black lives matter movement? Well, I think we can best support it by listening, especially if we are people who are born to privilege in our skin color or in our financial demeanor. I think we need to listen to people of Color. Were in a room of people of Color, then we don't talk, we listen and if we're in a room of people who are white, than we speak with the voice of what we've heard in the rooms of people of color. And that really has to happen much, much more, much, much more. We have to really become intersectional in the true sense of all of us seeking out places that make us uncomfortable and seeking out situations that we can share and grow and and have true equality among ourselves in the queer community, because I think that, you know, we do have a lot of prejudices in the Gay Community, in the Queer community, because we live in a prejudice country. We live in a racist country, and how can you not be racist in one way or another? And that goes in all directions. So I think if we listen and if we understand that the people of Color in the queer community have a much more difficult time and and not only are they sabotaged in their life by being queer, but on top of that it's people you know, they've been sabotage, since it were born in a country that deems them as less. So we, as the queer community, is Lgbtq community, need to come together other and elevate the people of Color in our community and protect them and work together and listen to what they need and what they haven't gotten. And what I love about what's happening. It will. It's scary and I love it as well. I love that people are being called out on the racism. You know, I guess I wasn't as aware of how much racism was in my own community until I actually thought about it and I was like, yeah, you go after that racist person posting that, and then I had to self reflect and think about, you know, offhanded comments I've made that come from a very non malicious place, but now have different weight and meaning.

Now you have to think about everything that you're saying, which at first I'm like, well, you know, I'm a funny guy, I shouldn't have to be politically correct. But now we're holding ourselves to to a different requirement and we are becoming more selfaware and we're having to monitor what we say. And it's not just monitoring what we say and it's thinking about the intent and what actually we're saying. It's not just a joke anymore, you know, there's there's intent behind everything, and now we're being held accountable, which I love, but it's scared to do it. What's important, honey, is that we're holding ourselves accountable. Yes, you know, because I think that's when real change happens, you know, when you do look at yourself and and it's like, Oh, where did I learn that phrase and where did actually come from, and why am I repeating it again and why am I like continuing this culture of racism? But the exciting thing too, is it once people are are a welcome to the difference, the the incredible intense racism that we have in this country, they also start to realize how unbelievably missogynists it is. And I think those two go hand in hand and I hope that that awakening in America does coincide with the freedom of women as well, like passing the whole rights amendment and things like that, because you know, if you have the gay marriage, if you have marriage between two women and two men, the two women are not protected under the constitution. So you can be married and be gay and a woman, but you're not really protected because we don't have the equal rights amendment yet. So that's an interesting thing to talk about that most people don't know. Most people already assume that women are in the constitution and we're not. We're not protected by the law. So that's something that's got to change. We got a lot of change to do in this country, girl, a lot. Yeah, and I'm glad that the fire starting, but we have a long way to go. Okay, so we're going to wrap up. Are you want to play a little rapid fire with me? Sure, okay. Who was the biggest diva of Betty amy? Have you hooked up with a fan after a show many times? Oh God, you work, it work on stage with HAP. Well, I felt I felt on my face going out on stage, flat on my face, and then I just crawled to the microphone and pretend to like nothing happened. No, but I also have jumped up the stage and, you know, stage time with my guitar at like San Diego Pride with huge people, you know, huge audiences, and they parted and I fell on my guitar and my face. I dislocated my shoulder. Oh my God. Lots of stuff, but that's rock and roll through. Who would play you in the movie version of Benny Galgadote on any five offense? I love her so much. Yeah, I love gotta Gall if you're watching, please call me. I love you so much. I think she has a restraining order...

...out against you. Probably. Who is your guilty pleasure artist or what's your guilty pleasure song that you absolutely love? But it's like what? Having my baby, I was some Djing for my sister and her wife are having a kid, so they had this really outrageous baby shower and so I djed and every single song had to have baby or something in it, and then when I started playing heaven the baby, what Love You, I realized I hate the song, yet I love this much, and then I played it over and over and over. So that is a sadly guilty pleasure because also, don't get me started on the whole baby thing and all the less he's any babies. please. All right, and look up. Tell everybody where they can find follow and listen to Betty first. So I want to thank you for having me on your show, because I actually love your show. When I did it live when I was in la that one time. I love you. I think you're fababulous, and they can find us by Hello Bettycom, like Hello Kitty, and we're on instagram at Betty verse, and Betty Verse on Facebook, verse, like Universe Vurs podcast. Blah, Blah Blah. You can just go to hello bettycom, but really just talk to Alex because he's way more interesting than we are nature. All right, that is been a little bit Zif live from quarantine for Betty, and that's our episode. I'm your host and lead writer from Metro Stores Out, Bena Rodriguez. You can follow me on Instagram at Alexanders. On Air, you can binge listen to all of our metro source mini. You all of your favorite celebumber issues and metro sourcecom. Until next time, stay true, stay you Bo. All right, that has been another metro source mini. Like share, subscribe on your favorite podcast player and check out the latest issue of Metro Sports magazine on newstands or online at Metro sportscom. Follow us on Facebook, instagram at metal sort and on twitter at Metro Sports Man. Until next time, he fasts.

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