HEART'S ANN WILSON is known for her voice—is there anyone who doesn't recognize the wailing "burn, burn, burn" behind "Barracuda"?—but she's about to gain local attention for the verbal exploration of something even more singular. Wilson makes her acting debut during the second week of Eve Ensler's crusading hit play The Vagina Monologues. She talked to us recently about the shift from upper to lower register.
Seattle Weekly: What do you think will be the essential difference between contemplating the female anatomy on stage and belting out "Crazy on You" in front of thousands of screaming fans?
Ann Wilson: Besides the obvious tonal differences, I've never really stepped out on the lip of the stage and been that open and honest before. I think it's going to be a process where I'm an entirely different person on the [last] night than I was on the first night. I see it as some kind of rite of passage, you know?
You and your sister [bandmate Nancy Wilson] were crucial in proving that women can rock. Do you see this as another statement about the diversity and power of women?
I think [about] the metaphoric idea of the outcast. You know—the vagina as an outcast. When you say the word "vagina," you have to lower your voice. If a man calls you a "cunt," it's really an insult.
You said your fans have had mixed reactions on your Web site. . . .
Some of them don't know what [the play] is—you know, they hadn't heard of it. Those that haven't heard of it, hear the word "vagina" and recoil. Which is what the whole thing is about.
So when someone asks you to talk about your vagina on stage, do you immediately jump at the offer, or is some part of you secretly thinking, "Uh . . . ?"
To me, the actual getting up and saying the word "vagina" several times a night is a nuts-and-bolts kind of thing to be gotten over; the show devalues the word so much. But I have to admit that, yeah, when I actually took [the part], I didn't think about what it would feel like to say the word that many times out loud. I think I got over it, but we'll see how I do.