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BETTY in Interview Part 2

After a resounding response from February 2000’s BETTY interview, the girls continued their interview with Mike Thorne.

This time around they speak of BETTY hovering above.BETTY was interviewed by Mike Thorne, second time around,
at the Stereo Society, New York City on Thursday, March 16, 2000

Alyson = BlueAmy = BrownElizabeth = Green, Mike = Black

At the end of our last interview, you started talking about BETTY hovering above you. By implication, BETTY, the whole, is greater that the sum of the parts. Who is this BETTY person and how high is she hovering?

I don’t see it as a person. I really see it as something that kind of looms around everywhere. It has almost become so ethereal.

It’s more of a spirit.

Yes. The spirit of BETTY. The “ghost-ti-poo.”

BETTY graphicThat’s funny. I see her as a three-dimensional person.

You do.

Yeah. Definitely as a person.

A Vol.

But remember Vol was a volcano. He was definitely a representation, an icon, and an idol. I see her as that, too.

As a genie in a bottle, as it were.

I see her more as the Ghost of Mrs. Muir.

Okay. I understand that. There, but not there.

BETTY, sort of sits on the bench and waits benevolently for the ships to come in and out.

BETTY is just starting to come out of her adolescence, and this is my own opinion, which is worthless right now. But, whatever. Right now, she’s just reached young adulthood because BETTY went through a period of–how long have we been together?

Fourteen years of doing BETTY.

So, she’s maybe in her early twenties.

You mean in BETTY years, as in dog years?


Well, how are you calculating?

I don’t know. Every year is maybe one and a half. Or, one and a quarter.

Snowbiz cover with linkWhat about if it were in real time? Then, she’s fourteen years old.

She’s older than fourteen.

Well, I don’t know.

She’s seen too much. She knows too much.

Think of the world in the 21st century. Maybe she’s about fourteen years old. Older and wiser-

Fourteen and maybe living in Hong Kong as a prostitute on the street.

Easy out, Noreen.

No, but I mean she is much older than fourteen.

When you are talking to somebody on the phone or when you’re making yourself known, do you say I am Amy of BETTY or from BETTY?


With or from?

Elizabeth with BETTY.

BETTY on stageMine is like the Irish—O’. Alyson O’BETTY. I say Alyson of BETTY so much that I actually think it is my last name sometimes. Of BETTY. It’s funny because all three of us have lost our father name. You know what I mean-


The paternalistic name.

The surname. “Sir” name.

Of what.

The Ziff or the Palmer. The thing that is passed down traditionally in our culture, from father to kid, from father to kid. I think it is great that we sort of embraced our own identities with just our first name and then BETTY being this creation.

I haven’t lost it. I haven’t lost it at all.

You say Amy Ziff of BETTY.

No, I say Amy of BETTY.

That’s my point.

When I’m shaking hands, it’s Amy Ziff, followed by the BETTY reference.

I never use my last name. It’s always Elizabeth. Somebody will say, “John Hassenbecker from RICA.” And, I’m like, “Elizabeth. Hi!”

I don’t usually use my last name, either. I usually say Amy Thorne. You know. Something like that just to go under an alias. That doesn’t bother you does it, Mike?

Not so far.

That’ll go.

I don’t know. I think BETTY is just starting to really feel her oats and find her own feet. It took us a long time to get there, and I think she will always be trying to find her own feet. There are three people, so there are three legs. It’s harder to stand on three legs than on two because you feel like one is a little bit longer than the other. And don’t forget the other leg can also get really weak and has to go on vacation for a while.

You know, to take your analogy, it’s much easier for any entity to stand on three legs like a tripod, but I think it is also hard because all three legs are going in three different directions.

It’s easier to stand, but harder to move.


It is very hard to run, as in the sack race.

BETTY graphicAlthough, when you do get going in the same direction, it’s a mighty thing to behold.

But it has to be synchronized.


It has to be beautiful and perfect. Otherwise, you fall on your face.

See, your idea of what BETTY is is this adolescent who’s going from adolescent into maturity!

No, a young woman. I think she’s a young woman.

Okay, this maturing woman.

She’s able to drink at this point.

That’s fine. I’m glad that she’s of legal age. I see BETTY more as the Sanskrit ideal or more like Kali, a goddess who is sometimes good, sometimes willful, sometimes bad, and we have to serve her the right way to get the right reaction out of her. That’s how I see her.

I’m going to have major nightmares tonight.

Do you think we have ever served her the right way?

Oh, yes. I think we have served her in the right way many, many times, but I think there are some times when we don’t, and then that’s when she starts throwing plates against the wall and being willful and causing tornadoes and volcanoes.

You see BETTY as ruling us more than we rule her.


Absolutely! That’s where we all agree.

But, I don’t.

But, we have agreed.

We don’t have to agree.

We have agreed that BETTY is much greater than any kind.

She might be the goddess we serve, but I think the goddess is young as in the gods like Zeus and Hera. They were not very nice gods who played games-you know, tugged at the strings of mortal people. I see her more like that.

I think you have to placate your gods and your goddesses that live within you and without you. So, that’s definitely where BETTY’s coming from. She celebrates us and has a wink and a nod when we go out and spend money that we really don’t have on a beautiful bottle of red wine.

Oh, dear.

BETTY on stageFilet mignon and lobster. I mean, I think that’s part of her plan for us.

She lives on it.


She’s like: you don’t have much money, but it doesn’t matter.

Winki-pooh. Winki-pooh. You live well.

Just go out and live, live, live!

Those are the offerings we give to our BETTY.

But I don’t partake of the wine anymore.

You don’t need to partake of the wine. You can partake on fabulous $500 leather pants. Same thing. Anything you can’t afford, but need to make you feel fabulous.

She wants us to live and live well. She wants us to have spirit. She wants us to create, and she wants us to be part of that creative process.

If she really wanted us to create, just really create, don’t you think she would have made it a little bit easier for us?

That’s like an old record. I’m creaking a little bit.

Yeah, especially when you are talking.

It’s like, “I’m glad we are the chosen people, but would you choose somebody else for a while? Can you make it a little bit easier?”

How can you ever ask of the gods what they want, what their plans are?

It’s not what they want, but if they really do want us to create more, send us a manager who’s not a…

I think they’ve given us a lot of things. I think she has sent people our way so we can continue on our journey, which is very, very wonderful of her.

Well, we are keeping up a tradition that was started very early on–prehistoric times, actually-when the cave person who was drawing on the wall and another cave person dragged over who said, “Wow, that’s really awesome. Could you do that at my house? If you do it at my cave, you can stay in my cave for many, many months and eat of my food.”

And take of my woman.

Take of my wife. And, that’s a tradition I think we’ve kept going through the ages. We’re still-

Cave dwelling.

BETTY graphicNo, we are not cave dwelling, but we are drawing on the cave and other cave dwellers like it, so they want us to draw more.

I think you are talking about patronage.


We believe in that, and if people are so lucky in their lives to have wonderful people come to them and say, “We believe in what you do.”

I think people do that in different ways.

Absolutely. That’s the only way an artist can sustain, anyway.

It’s not just about the artistry. In your job you have that too-I believe in you, so I am going to give you a promotion.

Well, in case you don’t have that kind of job structure and you can’t meet at the water cooler and say, you know that picnic last week or that thing that you wrote…

Or Mary got so drunk…

Or that or that. We don’t have that water cooler kind of situation so we look to different avenues, and we’ve been very, very lucky. We thank you BETTY and BETTYites, and people of the BETTY faith.

BETTY Americans. BETTY’s of the World.

BETTY’s now reached an age, as you say. She’s now past twenty-one. She’s drinking quite happily.


She’s now able to give orders. Did she used to give orders or does she give more orders now?

In Elizabeth’s concept of who BETTY is, she has a different idea. In mine, BETTY’s always giving orders. It’s whether or not we have been able to implement them or hear them.

I agree with you, actually. Even though she was seven she was still giving orders. She just wasn’t able to articulate as well or we weren’t able to hear her as well.

We weren’t able to hear her as well!

This whole idea of a thing that is bigger than ourselves is actually just us coming to the realization that there are three of us. We each have disparate ideas and imaginations and ways that we want to do things. Instead of making it an in-house brawl, we have decided to look at the bigger picture. And, when we do look at the bigger picture…

No, we didn’t decide, Amy. We were actually held to the ground and made to look at the bigger picture because, I think, that’s the only way it worked.


Don’t think it came easily.

Alyson Palmer and Amy ZiffWell, no. I mean it’s just a question of if you want to continue working with each other, then you look at a bigger picture. If you don’t, then you don’t. That’s why this whole idea of BETTY came about because we just have to bow to her auspices.

When you started this whole interview, Mike, you said, “Is it that BETTY is the sum, and the sum is greater than the parts.” I have to agree there is something that grows exponentially when a bunch of people get together, in this case, the three of us. A bunch of people together creates a much larger energy than what any of us could be doing on our own.

But, we do have different ideas.


Very, very different ideas!

Clearly! And hugely!

(Mike leaves the interview area to close a door which is allowing noise into the studio where they are recording the interview.)

Well, we lost the interviewer. Is there anyone else sitting out there?

Let me ask you a question. So, you were very lucky to run into Mike Thorne in the first place. Where did you meet?

We met at an art opening. Robin Rose.


Many, many years ago. I thought Mike was so handsome.


And he had two big hoop earrings, and I thought, “Wow, he’s so cool.” It’s like 1989. Something like that, I think.

(Mike returns to the interview.)

He’s too shy to comment.

I thought, “Oh, my god, that guy’s so hot.”

Did you know who he was at that time? That he had this huge career?

Well, I went there specifically to meet him because Robin said we should meet each other. He said-I happened to be in New York for some reason-he said come to my opening. I want you to meet Mike Thorne, a big deal producer. So, we met, and that’s about all I remember. I remember your earrings.

I remember coming here for the initial interview.

I remember Bitsy from BETTY being the perfect alliteration.


It’s the most memorable thing on the phone message.

That was a long time ago.

It was.

Yes, yes it was.

How we’ve all decayed since then.

I hope so.

Fabulously though. Fabulous decay.

Elizabeth Ziff playing guitarIt’s good, though, because one thing about being in the music for long enough is that they wear you down. They really do. After a while you just kind of acquiesce a little bit more than you ever thought you would have. I guess that’s everything; not just the music business, but you choose your battles, after a while.

And, that’s the good thing?

I think it’s a good thing. I mean, things that would bug the shit out of me when I was twenty-one, I could care less about now.

Yes. I hear that.

Three years will do a lot.

Well, let’s hear it for perspective. That’s part of getting bigger. The bigger you get the better your perspective can be on all things especially those tiny things you think are so important.

They keep me up all night long.

It’s not so much being worn down by it. It’s just as Alyson says—perspective.

That’s what I think about it. It’s about growing bigger as opposed to getting smaller.

You mean of heart and spirit, mind?

Yeah, and girth and ass.

Carnival cover with linkAnd cantankerousness. Girth and mirth! Girth and mirth. Oh man.

That’s the name of our next CD.

Girth and mirth?

I think we’re done.