Slick is still very beautiful, witty, never out of a
quip, smart and she still sees the bright side of
things at 68-years old. Give her five minutes in
a conversation, and she will have your sides
splitting with laughter.
MAJ: You set the tone for the female lead
singer in the male-dominated world of rock
music, even defining the psychedelic rock
sound with your powerful voice. You seem to
be doing the same thing in the world of art
for women with your powerful images. How
hard has it been as a woman to find
legitimacy as an artist?
SLICK: It wasn’t hard either way, I’m sorry to
say. It wasn't difficult. Women have always
been singers. A lot of women have been
artists, not as many as men. Quite a few,
particularly in the 20th and 21st centuries.
So what I’ve done all my life is not that
unusual. The only thing I’ve done that’s so
unusual is the "Alice in Wonderland"
pictures. There’s no prince charming. All the
little fairy tales for girls have a prince
charming saving them. You have to get your
own stuff organized. You get a job. And then
you get a guy. Not some guy to save you.
For instance, there were a lot women my
age who did that. They’d have three children.
The guy would leave them for a younger
woman. Louis Carroll wrote about a girl with
no prince charming. She would get scared
and frightened, but she kept on going. That
is a good story for little girls. Alice came out
of Victorian England. I came out of the 60’s.
They’re both very similar. I indentified very
heavily with that story. I do a lot of stories
about Alice and the white rabbit. When you
get older, its not what you did that you
regret. It is what you did not do. I never did
ride a horse or go to the Middle East. And, I
never did Jimi Hendrix. I wish I would’ve
done that one.
MAJ: Music and art have defined your life? Or is
it that you've defined your music and art?
SLICK: It works both ways. I was just talking to
my daughter this morning. I’m one of those
people who tends to, for better or worse, denies
myself by what I do for a living. And, that gets in
the way of relationships a lot. Not so much now.
She lives over the garage here in this big suite,
so I see her a lot now. But when she was younger, I would take-off for four months, so
she has abandonment issues. Everybody
has issues now. I would have loved it if my
parents had taken-off for four months. Then
there would only be one adult telling me what
to do. Do unto others as you’d have them do
unto to you. I would have loved it, but she
doesn’t see it that way.
MAJ: Your work 9/11, a Giclée on canvas of Janis Joplin kneeling on an American flag, how
much has Janis Joplin influenced your art and
SLICK: A lot of women from Texas have
influenced me, because they’re very self
sufficient. When I came to San Francisco, most
women wouldn't move. They'd stay with a guy
who beats them up, or some hideous situation,
a Hellish situation, rather than something new.
Those women from Texas were very bright. I
really liked them a lot and learned a lot from
them. One of the tour managers quit, so this
lady named Sally took over. I was going with
Skip Johnson, and she had the hots for the
keyboard player. She organized everybody on
the spur of the moment. Janis was from Texas.
She was very daring, and I liked that about
them. It opened me up. I'm more tight-assed.
I’m more, “its got to be planned out.” I’m real
anal about going anywhere, although I love to
travel. I’m leaving for Denver on Wednesday,
and I am already half-packed. These Texas
women showed me you don’t have to be quite
that closed-up and enjoy life. Even if you plan
everything out, at least enjoy it when you get
MAJ: Your work “Slick” is a very lonely visual,
beautiful etching with a powerful voice even
though we never see her face. How much do
you think the ‘60’s revolution has stuck with
you and your art?
SLICK: I'm a Barack Obama fan. And the idea
of his bringing people together, the hope, the
fact that he is mixed race, that is what we were
getting at in the 60’s. It made me cry. If this
country can elect this man, its going to be
some kind of circle will be closed from what we
were aiming at in the 60’s. I talk with the father
of my daughter’s girlfriend. We have that
feeling of what we were going for is
acceptance. It does not matter what color.
What their religion is. It’s what they’re about.
And the same thing with us. What we were
trying to do, whether we took drugs or
whatever, we were trying to accept each other
and get out of the war. Obama is trying to do
the same thing. People call it elite.
I call it Presidential. Do you want a President
who is Presidential or a buffoon from Texas?
I think we need someone who is elegant and
Presidential and all those things we were
going for. I think Hendrix represented the
60’s more than anybody else. As an
individual, he exemplifies that colorfulness
and acceptance. I'm just hoping we get the
Presidential guy. I like Hillary. She’s OK, but
there’s something a little creepy about having
another Washington dynasty. It's too
Arkansas, and I don’t’ mean Bill Clinton. I
mean screwing your uncle. It's too monarchy
like. Let’s try something different. People say,
well he's inexperienced. I say how much
experience did George Washington have?
John Adams? None of them did anything
political before. They all wanted freedom,
unity, no taxation. The people we base this
whole country on, the founding fathers, didn't
have any experience either. They did a damn
good job writing the Declaration of
Independence and the Constitution. So just
because you don’t have experience, doesn’t
mean you’re stupid. I want somebody who
makes good judgments. You see Iraq is not a
good idea and you see it now, not three years
later. So this is a political rant on Barack
Obama, but I don’t cry that often. So when I
watch him speak, there is something terribly
moving about it. This country looked foolish
for so long and was considered foolish for so
long. We can’t do that anymore. It's a global
economy, and they think we’re a bunch of
silly farts. I think it would be wonderful to
correct that opinion and be righteous again.
MAJ: You were very ill in 2006. You
underwent an induced coma, had two major
surgeries, one that involved a tracheotomy,
and then you had to learn to walk again. Do
you find that experience entering your art?
SLICK: When they got through patching me
up, the doctors said, “We don’t know why
you’re alive.” I don’t want to hear that from
the doctors after making it through all that.
They did an amazing job. Whole different
sets of doctors at Saint Johns. All kinds of
people doing operations and pulling tubes
and shoving things around. The experience entered my art before hand, and my
agent said something about it. I never do
abstract. It's always rock and roll. It’s simple.
You know what it is, and it's right in your face.
It's brightly colored. Not like Jazz or complicated
classical music you can't understand. It's
simple. I really love the animators. I think of my
art as individual cells, individual animated cells.
Most people have never heard of an animator.
Some of hem are just amazing artists to be
able to render both the image and its
continual tmovement. I love the animators.
But, I don’t know if I could. I love the classical
too, but I tend to be more of an animator than
anything else. It’s a simple form like rock and
roll, so its actually a continuation. I did
Obama, but its hard to draw political ideas.
People say in a song you can use words. I
have not been able to figure out how to do
political ideas. Goya did a painting of a guy at night up against a wall being shot by the army.
He was a rebel. He is being shot with this horrible
look on his face. Now that is a political picture.
But, I don’t know how I would be able to do that.
And, I don’t know if people are so miserable
anyway that they would buy something that is
that dark. My agent asked if I would do
Woodstock. I said, what do you want a bunch of
people in the mud? I’ve got a bunch of file cards
taped onto this canvas trying to figure out how to do Woodstock, trying not to make it look like
a muddy mess, which is what it was. I don’t
know where to start with the negative stuff.
So I suppose I would do politically charged
paintings. But I've really not gotten to it yet.
That does not mean I won’t dive into it
used to hang-out with us, and we'd get high
and screw the guys in the band. When I
was in the band, we were a wild and crazy
bunch. Why are we still alive? You don’t
want to lean on it too hard, because I lived
through this. You just keep doing whatever
you're doing. I don’t do drugs anymore.
Being old is pathetic. But doing drugs and
being old is really pathetic. You can’t think
in those terms. That’s why I don’t use oil
pants. It takes too long. So I use acrylic. It
dries in about 24 hours. I don’t have100
years to wait for oil paints to dry. So I like
pastel, pencil, paper, acrylic. There is one
thing I do fairly well. There is this thing
called a scratch board. So it is really
etched. It lends itself very well to fur, but it is
over and over again to get everything.
People buy a lot of it. You can buy the
original. Or you can buy a Giclée, or what I
call copies. They make really good copies.
When I go to the gallery, I never know what
will be there. That is up to my agent. I have
to go up to it and feel it to find out if it is a
copy. They’re so good at copying stuff. The
original can be anywhere from $17,000 to
$30,000. Or, you can buy a copy which is
$4,000 or 5,000. So there are all levels of
prices. There is another form. I send it to my
agent. He takes a complicated picture of it and
makes four copies. He sends me all four copies,
and says paint over it. And that is what
happened with the Janis picture. I sent him a
picture of her on her hands and knees. It’s that
raw thing. She used to wear a lot of fur and
bows and feathers. So I dressed her the way
she never dressed and sent it to my agent. So
he said draw something on that. So I put the
American flag behind her. I’m not sure why,
because she did not do political songs. And
three days later, 9/11 happened. So I sold that
painting for the firefighters. Sometimes that
happens. I’ll write something, and ten years
later that happens. I don’t’ do abstracts, but I did
this thing that looks like a bunch of blood and
guts. And my agent said, “Wow, what’s this?” A
month later I was in the hospital. Blood and guts also. There was a negative. This guy swinging
his head around, and there was shit flying
around in the picture. That was just before the
MAJ: How much was the hospital
experience a metaphor on your life as a
whole? You’ve always been such a strong
SLICK: My ex-husband’s girlfriend and I
talk. We're all kind of friendly. She thinks,
boy are you a tough old broad. And, she is
right. And, I don’t know why, because I don’t
take care of myself. Never have. Everything
I do is sedentary, and I smoke, drink and
have taken drugs off and on since I was 15.
I just keep putting one foot in front of the
other. I have a friend who is still an airline
stewardess, but she used to snort nitrous
oxide and poppers just before take-
So, I’m a little afraid of my paintings
and lyrics. I don’t think I'm unique in that.
There are levels of being a good with precog.
Some people are really good at it and some
don’t see it at all. And I’m sort of mediocreminus.
Some are good at it. And they use
them for crime scenes. And there is a
premise hard to get your head around. It is a
zone thing. There is no time. It is all
happening now. We have big trouble with
that. What is all this stuff of precog and going
back in time if that is wrong. There was this
woman in the 50’s who knew all about the
streets and everything that happened 100
years before her life. People say, “Do you
believe in extra life, ET?” I say, of course.
That’s a lot of hubris to think we are the only
ones in the universe. We may not have run
into them on the cover of Time Magazine.
Since they can get here, and we can’t get
there, they’re smarter than us. They look at
us, how we operate this planet, and I think
they say they don’t want to land just yet.
MAJ: There seems to be a theme in your art
that's been a theme in your life. You have on a
few occasions been arrested for what you've
referred to as "Talking Under The Influence" or a
“TUI.” One instance in particular, you were
merely reading a poetry book and having a
glass of wine in the park. But the officer
apparently did not like your tone, so off to jail
you went. Your art has that same feeling of
flipping-off convention. Yet, you rarely show
your face when creating a self-portrait. You're
overtly feminist and at the same time, very
humble. What feelings do you go through while
creating your art?
SLICK: The main reason I don’t show faces, it is
a feeling. It’s not anybody in particular.
Everybody has had those feelings, getting on
the floor, god this sucks, whatever this is. They
are generally nudes. If I put clothes on them,
then I date it. It is a feeling human beings have. I
prefer to paint females, because they're more
smooth and sensuous to draw. They're rounder.
I’ve done males, but I prefer drawing the
roundness. Generally their backs are turned,
because I like doing butts. I draw a lot of
booty. That is my version of a booty call at
MAJ: What new works do you have in the
SLICK: Obama. It is sitting in front of me,
glaring at me. Woodstock, because I was
asked to draw Woodstock by my agent. I’m
still trying to figure out how to do it so it isn’t
95 percent mud. So it's people. You see
Hendrix and Janis. So we’re all getting
together, holding hands, bowing. So that it is
what is happening on the stage. People in the
audience doing different things. Some
dancing. Some sleeping. A joyous
appearance instead of just mud, because that
is what I remember.