A Chat with Tori Amos
by Aaron Alper


Originally published in the Tampa Bay Times, August 2005

Tori Amos is known for her intriguing, yet slightly kooky interviews and in preparation for Summer of Sin 2005 tour, the piano-playing goddess spoke over the phone with TBT* to discuss Mary Magdalene, masturbation, and the Wayans Brothers in her own inimitable fashion.
Aaron Alper: So, Tori, your Summer of Sin tour is coming up soon. Why donít we start off by having you tell me the biggest sin youíve committed this summer.

Tori Amos: Well, I canít tell you that. What I do with my husband and I what I do with Ipod, those are the two things I keep very quiet. Those are the two things that sacred, so letís go the 5th horrible sin I committed. Tori Amos

Alright.

Well, tell me what yours is. Tell me your fifth, so I can understand the league of what weíre talking about.

I guess it would be getting revenge on somebody brutally. Thatís what I did.

Ooh. I get it. Wow. (pause) Probably my biggest sin is not telling you what my sins are. (laughs). I am pretty weary about telling people my sins. You see, my dadís a minister. You know, I told years ago at confirmation that I masturbated. I was a young girl, but you canít use the word Ďmasturbatedí. I did a bit of touchy. Basically the minister said 'no touchy', and that I had been taken over by the devil. And so they laid their hands on me, here it comes, hands on the head, prayers, the whole thing. So then I began to realize that I didnít need stop what I was doing and exploring my body; I needed to stop expressing my sins. (laughs)

Which youíve always done through song.

Yes, sin through song.

And your new album, The Beekeeper, is heavily inspired by the Simon Buxtonís book Shamanic Way of the Bee. How did that come about?

Well, I read the Shamanic Way of the Bee midway through the project and it began to verify some of the research that I had been gathering. The Bee Masters and Bee Mistresses were very much alive in eastern Europe; very much like Tolkien and the cultures he was writing about. The Beekeepers were the parallels to our Native American shamans. I wanted to find the ancient cultures before the current religions had taken their tolls. So I went back to the culture of bees.

Why is the path of the Beekeeper important?

The honey bee represents sexuality. When the church took hold and hijacked Jesusí teachings, the Gnostic gospels and Gnostic movement got fucked. Women and their voices were subjugated in the church, and the men, the ones in power, were supposedly celibate. Sexuality was put in the realm with sin.

That screwed a lot of stuff up.

That screwed it all up. The archetypes too. The Mother Mary representing spirituality, but circumscribed of her sexuality, and Mary Magdalene stripped of her spirituality. These were the two main archetypes for women. So you have women divided. I get more letters to this day about the division inside the Western woman, who is supposedly a free being, but she is deprived of herself. It is divide and conquer, except inside a being. The marriage of the two Marys is what the honey bee is doing when it is pollinating the garden. Going to the organ of the flower, getting the nectar, bringing it back to the hive, and generating the next generation.

Yes.

Eve was blamed for the both of them getting chucked out of paradise because she ate of the forbidden fruit from the tree of knowledge. So Tori goes to Godís mother and says, "what do we do? Things are obviously a mess." And she says, "you must eat the forbidden fruit from the tree, unlike my son suggested. And then you will have to look back at your own life; your relationships to friends, your country, and your earth." And that is the core, no pun intended.

What else are you reading right now?

I am reading a magazine called Scientific American and the article ďIs the Universe Out of Tune?Ē That is fascinating me right now.

Is that going to affect the next record? Is there a direction with the new record?

Itís funny you say that. Yes, it has direction, but the songs are little embryos right now, so itís too early to say that. Itís crazy though; you hear something or see something, and then all of a sudden youíre inspired by it. I am allowing myself to be completely open while Iím touring, because you donít have to write the new work. You just travel around and get these ideas and there it is.

See any good movies lately then?

White Chicks. Those guys, The Wayans Brothers, were hilarious. Oh my goodness gracious. I havenít laughed that hard in a long time. But it isnít something you want to have with your little child around. It is not for the younger sect.

What about a good bottle of wine?

Oh God. Thereís so many. Well, itís hot, so you want a good white.

I love white wine.

Me too.

Red wine gives me acid reflux.

Thatís not good. You donít need that. Let me see what I have. I am going to open my fridge. You know, maybe a good Chablis. For this weather, its not too heavy. Is it hot where you are?

Yes, I am in Florida too.

Yes. Thatís where I am, and I am outside being a lady lizard.

(laughs) What?

I am in the heat all day singing to the lizards, getting used to it so I can sing in it. I know it sounds crazy, but how else are you going to get used it? People come down here and think theyíre going to do a two hour show and maintain breath control? That is not is not how it works at all.

Not in this humidity. Ok, one last question: what is a good life lesson that youíve learned as Tori Amos.

That nobody can be you so why be envious of somebody else being themselves and accomplishing things.

Thats sound advice Tori.

I try.
Photos courtesy of Sony Records


StrangeTimes

Home