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Golden Girls

Photo by Jack Gould“Did you hear about the Muslim in Florida who’s suing the state because they wouldn’t give her a driver’s license because she wouldn’t take off her veil for the photo? So now I’m thinking about suing California, because when I had blue hair they wouldn’t list it as blue.” That’s Ginger Coyote speaking like it’s the funniest thing she’s ever heard, while delicately sipping her second margarita at Boardner’s. “‘I’m sorry, but you have to list it as brown, blond or red, you cannot do blue.’ But it was blue in the picture!”

Ginger Coyote is the lead singer of one of L.A.’s — formerly San Francisco’s — dirtiest, raunchiest rock bands, the White Trash Debutantes. Not a Sunset Strip runny-eyeliner wanna-sleaze band who pay their parking tickets and have car insurance and Vanity Fair subscriptions, the Debs are as real as Wilcox Avenue in Hollywood, near where Ginger lives and where she can often be seen on her way to the post office and Copymat. The band — with vocalists Tonia Bodley and Emily Rangel, guitarist Jake Lush, bassist Jonas, and drummer Johnny Vile — have a sound that’s as debauched as anything Iggy or the Dolls ever slimed around in, and with titles like “Dildos Are a Girl’s Best Friend,” “Bad in Bed” (about Vanilla Ice) and “Part-Time Celebrity” (which pays tribute to Jo Anne Worley, among others), one thing you can be sure they don’t do is take themselves too seriously.

The now-blond Ginger arrived early, dressed in a black sweater, leopard pants and black boots, along with a floor-length fake-fur coat. With her Joan Rivers patina of makeup, she’s overdressed for a Thursday happy hour and elicits more than a few ooga-ooga stares from the flanneled bar regulars. Have a conversation with Ginger Coyote and you can count on the names of celebrities she has known — and as the former editor of Punk Globe zine, she’s known a lot — to appear as often as most people swallow. She goes from demure to candid in two drinks flat, in a Jennifer Tilly–meets–Bea Arthur voice.

Ginger formed the White Trash Debutantes for a birthday-party gig in 1989. Joey Ramone loved the band and invited them to join the bill for his Circus of the Perverse night in NYC with Lemmy of Motorhead, Dick Manitoba and Stiv Bators, among other notables. After interviewing Debbie Harry, Talking Heads, the Ramones, Dead Kennedys, the Germs and Joe Jackson, she eventually stopped doing the zine to focus entirely on music. An eviction notice led her to Hollywood in 1998.

A day in the life of Ginger Coyote, whose legal name is Ginger Christina Coyote Coleman, includes getting up in time to watch All My Children, working for an Internet jeans company called Jeangenie.com and dealing with band business. “My bank is at Rock & Roll Ralphs, so I can bank and shop. All the guys in the deli department are my friends. They’re always going, ‘Hey girl, you getting famous?’ I run into Dee Dee Ramone there. I’ve seen Gilby Clarke there, people like that,” she says with the enthusiasm of a tourist looking for movie stars at Hollywood and Vine.

As far as her sexuality goes, she plays it coy: “I live 24 hours a day as a female. I suffer the same discrimination as other women do.” Whether she also suffers from menstrual cramps isn’t a question she cares to answer. “People will find me more complex than a stereotypical . . . I’m not into lipsticking, I don’t love Carol Channing. I like Bette Midler, because she had Peg Bundy as a backup singer. My role models are people like Jillian Barberi. She’s over the top and doesn’t care what people think, and she’s got brains. And you can see she’s probably been up all night partying.” She laughs.

If you see Ginger Coyote in the frozen-food section at Rock & Roll Ralphs, she’ll gladly hand you a flier for an upcoming White Trash Debutantes show and recommend the new Diet Coke With Lemon. And if you sit down over drinks at a Hollywood bar, she may even tell you about her childhood in a small Midwestern town. “I went to high school for the drivers’ training, so I could get a license and get away.

“I realize I’m a fighter, and through thick and thin, people are at least going to admire my tenacity. When I feel sorry for myself, I say, ‘Snap out of it,’ like Cher does. And when I get depressed, I watch The Outsiders and Serial Mom. Kathleen Turner in Serial Mom is my role model.” And with that, the fabulous Miss C gathers up her fake fur and saunters back to the boulevard.

White Trash Debutantes perform at Mr. T’s Bowl on Thursday, February 21.