Pardon Belinda's French 

In these times of impending turmoil -- curdling crude, Kurds, mustachio-ed men -- my thoughts turn to a happier place. Because if heaven was indeed a place on earth, it would surely be presided over by the prettiest girl ever, Belinda Carlisle. Forever burdened with a fat girl's name, Belinda for a time lived up to it, becoming the only person ever to gain wait on a steady diet of vodka and cocaine. (Believe me.) But then she bounded back, turned into a prettier Diane Keaton, and unleashed her untrained warble onto a string of good-feeling schlock for a whole generation of pretty girls. And she has no mustache.

Anyway, in true progressive fashion, Belinda currently resides in America-hating France and has done so for 10 years. This makes her perfect. Even more perfect is the fact that she'll perform in Clearwater this week. I could die. And with her an hour late for an international phoner, I almost do.

Why, Belinda? WHY?

"Can you get this done in, say, eight minutes?" she looks at her watch, probably dangling from diamonds on the inside of her wrist. "I was just on my way out the door."

For some reason, I'm totally not offended. Clearly, she has a pretty-girl cappuccino to consume, or perhaps a French manicure to consider. "So, with your life so perfect and all, why even bother going out on the road?" I fawn.

"To have fun," she provides the ideal answer. "And I'm not really supporting an album or anything. It's just, uh, I haven't really done a tour of the states since 1987, and, um, I work a lot in Europe, so I just thought it was kind of a fun, challenging thing to do."

Omigod! We're soooo the same person. Fun and challenging have been my fave pastimes since cheerleading camp. Oh, and making out. "Will you be playing any Go-Go's make-out songs for me?"

"I think most of the repertoire is hits that I've had in Europe for the past 15 years. There's a couple of Go-Go's, but 99 point ... ," and here she struggles, math is hard, "9 percent of the songs are solo."

But it's been a long time since you've troubled us with any, um, recordings.

"Uh, I have lyrics to something written and ... I'd like to go to the studio and record it this fall, but we'll see. I'm just trying to go with the flow. I should have recorded something two years ago, but I just didn't get around to it."

Me neither! "OK, since we're best friends and all, you wanna know my favorite lyric you ever gurgled?"


"I remember I was in the tanning salon, when I heard that River Phoenix was gone. They say that only the good die young. That ain't true where I come from: Californiaaaaa-aaaah."

"Wow," she cringes in fear. "It's very funny that you know that!"

Talk veers to the subject of Belinda's chirpy girl roots with the Go-Go's, and their, um, undervalued reunion record and tour last year. I got stuck interviewing potential lesbian Gina Schock (who's drumming on Carlisle's tour) but pined for a cocktail with Belinda.

"We're probably working late this summer for a couple of weeks. I mean we love working together and we'll always make time to work together," she works. "As far as recording another album, we're not opposed to it, but there's no talk of doing that right now. To get the focus of five women who have five families and live in different parts of the world, it's hard to do."

Like math. "So where do you see yourself in the pop pantheon, princess?"

"Nobody hates me. Well, some people do," she confuses herself. "Obviously, I'm very lucky that I come from a band that was pretty special, the Go-Go's, and without that band, I wouldn't be where I was. But I think that I've had an incredible body of work for the past 16 years."

And, I should add, an incredible body. Just like me ...

"I'm successful, but I'm not a prisoner of success. I'm not that famous. I'm sort of famous ... I don't have the pressure of having any record company," she bends cruel fate to her advantage. "I'm sort of self-employed and do my own stuff."

"You must be very happy."

"Yeah, I can't think of a better place to be," she bends back on an alcohol-soaked chaise lounge. "I'm not on a hamster wheel anymore, and I can make a great living and have fun and do what I wanna do."

Here I turn to the darker side: the drugs, the booze, the amateur video hand-jobs. Y'know, like VH-1 might ... and did.

"There's the part of me that sort of wishes I didn't air out my dirty laundry, but there's a lot more dirty laundry that will never be aired," she looks away as I smell her panties.

"Like what?" I try to confuse her.

"N-n-n-no," she shuts me up. "The thing is about the Go-Go's -- and that [VH-1 special] just focused on the dark moments -- 95 percent of the Go-Go's was fun and great times. It wasn't all like decadence and debauchery."

"OK, then. Thanks."

"That's it? That's it? Amazing," she compliments my craft. "I don't wanna make you feel like you've been cut off or anything. You got what you wanted?"

I got you, didn't I? And in just four minutes!

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