Judy Tenuta has performed all over the world ("except parts of Zaire," she notes). She's released two CDs: Buy This, Pigs and its follow-up, Buy This Again, Pigs. She has a widely viewed video on YouTube, "Hot Cone Bras," and the popular website JudyTenuta.com. We schlepped out to the Valley for a chat.
L.A. WEEKLY: What's special about living in the Valley?
JUDY TENUTA: I'm, like, five minutes from the Radford Studios, so hello! I could be there in a minute when they give me a sitcom. And I was told that Justin Bieber lives here, so that's nice.
For those unfamiliar with your act, what can they expect?
Stream of consciousness. I'm the Love Goddess and the Aphrodite of the Accordion. I plan on giving away a few things to my audience, little tokens of love. Like my pants. I talk about love, but not in the way you would think. And I marry people during the show. I have a fertility dance.
You marry people?
Sometimes I separate them. I am an ordained minister.
For what religion?
Judy-ism. I'm the founder. I have my own cult. It's much better than the Mormons, trust me. Much more exciting.
Do you include your accordion in every show?
I use the accordion to punish people in the audience, so yeah. And people think of it as the Arc of the Covenant. People have come up to me and asked, "May I kiss your accordion?" I've only had worshipful people. And the ones who aren't worshipful are like maybe the pigs at the airport. One time they made me leave my accordion behind because they thought it might be some kind of dangerous explosive device. We had a Code Red because I had an accordion!
Describe a typical day for you.
Well, I wake up early for an entertainer, like at the crack of noon. I have three guys come in and massage my feet and feed me grapes. I'm very religious about having some kind of exercise. So usually I like stay in bed and complain. That burns up a lot of calories. [My friend] Roz will tell ya. I get on the phone, I call her at 10 o'clock. I swear to God by 11 o'clock I've burned off three pounds.
You've been romantically linked to other comedians . . . .
Inquiring minds want to know.
Please, this is so from 5,000 years ago. Yes, I almost married Sam Kinison. Yes, I was excited about Steven Wright. Uh, let's see, who else ....
Why haven't we seen you in more movies and TV shows?
Because in Hollywood now, it's not about your resume. You have to have a sex tape. I am working on a sex tape with Kim Kardashian and Charlie Sheen, so that'll be out soon. Also, I don't have a scandal; I wasn't drunk-driving the wrong way on the 405. I need to start doing that. And I wasn't screaming and yelling and beating up my wife. I need to start doing that, too. So as soon as I do that game over! you're gonna see me everywhere, including Dancing With the Stars. Oh my God, [people at that show] said, "Judy, you don't qualify because you have two legs!"
You talked about having your accordion kissed. Any other unusual fan encounters?
I play a game with myself and some other comics. You get 500 points if somebody from another country who doesn't speak English recognizes you. I've had that happen to me. When I was at the airport, a woman was like, "Ohh!" and she goes like this [playing an invisible accordion]; she pantomimed playing the accordion! And another time I was in New York City at Times Square. [There's] like a Nathan's or something, so I go in there and the woman behind the counter I would say [she was from] India if I had to guess. She's looking at me and looking, and she goes [speaking in a faltering foreign accent], "Are you from the same country as Judy Tenuta?" I go, "OK, I just got 10,000 points!"