Interview by Howard Smith
Howard interviewed Janis Joplin by phone on September 30, 1970. This turned out to be the last interview Janis ever did. She died on October 4, 1970. Howard was writing for the Village Voice.
The Animated Transcript
Howard Smith was an Oscar winning film director, broadcaster and journalist.
We were supposed to do an interview, do you remember, you know, a long time ago. And some article putting you down in Rolling Stone had just come out.
And you got very upset about that. Are you still that upset when you are put down in any articles?
You know I should be able to get past that, you know. But I mean girls want to be reassured. Which is not to say that all people don’t. But I think women especially … I mean even though I know that those are just assholes that don’t know what they’re talking about and I should just continue with my music, you know. And let them either come into the show and listen, or go home and beat off. I don’t care what they do. I should be able to beat through that. But in my insides, it really hurts if someone doesn’t like me. You know, it’s silly. [laughs]
Because I remember that time you were very upset.
Well that was a pretty heavy time for me. It was really important, you know, whether people were going to accept me or not.
A lot of women have been saying that the whole field of rock music is nothing more than just a big, male, chauvinist rip-off. How do you…
Yeah. And when I say: “well what about Janis Joplin, she made it?” And they say: “oh, her.” And it seems to bother a lot of women’s lib people that you’re kind of so upfront sexually.
Well then that’s their problem. Not mine.I haven’t ever hardly talked with anyone in women’s lib. I haven’t been attacked by anyone yet. How can they attack me? I’m representing everything they said they want. You know what i mean? Well I have an opinion about this. It’s sort of like: you are what you settle for. Do you know what I mean? You’re only as much as you settle for. If they settle for being somebody’s dishwasher that’s their own fucking problem. If you don’t settle for that and you keep fighting it, you know, you’ll end up anything you want to be. How can they attack me? I’m just doing what I wanted to and what feels right and not settling for bullshit and it worked. How can they be mad at that?
One girl I know said: well how come she doesn’t have any women in any of her groups?
[Laughs] You show me a good drummer and I’ll hire one. Show me a good chick… Besides I don’t want any chicks on the road with me.
I’ve got enough competition, man. [Laughs] No, I like to be around men. [Laughs]
Did all that shit I said about chicks sound bad?
No, you said what you wanted to say. Don’t be silly.
Well I don’t want to offend people. It’s just that like, you know, I have a certain set of circumstances I live under. Like you know all this repressive upbringing and things. I had that, too. You don’t think I had a repressive upbringing in Port Arthur, Texas? It’s just that it drove me crazy and I kept fighting against it. I don’t think you can talk anybody into fighting against it. If they don’t have it in themselves to need more. You know what I mean? Just plain need more. Then that’s that. If they do need more, they’ll get more. They’ll demand more. You know what i mean?
Okay. thanks a lot.
Hear the complete interview here.