Interview Time! Girl Band Star: Jessica Bartley

It's INTERVIEW TIME again on StellaBella, and I couldn't be happier!  I posted my first interview last Fall, with my friend & Director of Marketing at Metropolis Magazine, Kimberly Taylor - and now it's time for even more Q&A fun!  This one-of-a-kind NYC Girl is making things happen her way, with talent, style, and ambition to match.

I met Jessica Bartley in her first year living in the Big Apple around '05, after she escaped the suburbs of Detroit, MI.  She rented a tiny, tiny room with no kitchen on the UWS.  I guess that was why she was at my apartment all the time!   This shoebox on crack was 10'x10', and when mice came up from the Chinese food restaurant below and water bugs made their homes in her pipes - Jess killed those little fuckers with Aqua Net.  My kind of girl.

No matter what, Jess always had stars in her eyes.  She grew up collecting an embarrassing amount of My Little Pony and Treasure Trolls, and tickle torturing her 5, count 'em 5 siblings.   Even back then she saw bigger things for herself, and the Big Apple was calling her name... now she spends most days crafting unique earrings out of vintage buttons, and playing with her two cats "Huckleberry Dinosaur & Conway Kitty".  Her and her adorable rock&roll genius boyfriend Dave, like drinking whiskey together, making dinner and laughing while he tries desperately to teach her how to play the guitar.  She is a glitter obsessed make-up artist and certified esthetician, and one of three front women in the most out-of-control, awesome girl band - Cudzoo and the Faggettes.  Yup, she's a total rock star!  Their '09 debut album was entitled "The Prettiest Girls with the Filthiest Mouths", and they just put out their second album "Daddy Issues" on Brooklyn's Drug Front Records.
Jessica "J-Train" Bartley and her two partners in crime, Erin McCarson & Mamrie Hart are Cudzoo - sassy, sashaying little sweethearts out of Astoria, Queens, and they're backed up by the drunkest working punk band in NYC, the Faggettes!  Their main purpose is to spread their unique brand of dirty, glitter Doo-Wop and Vintage Rock whiskey fun!

photo credit (3): Eric Michael Pearson

If you haven't had the chance to catch one of their shows at Mercury Lounge, Arlene's Grocery, Union Hall, Trash Bar, or any other joint lucky enough to have them, you don't know what you are missing - for real.  They have been known to enter on stage while a montage of old newsreel footage plays on the back drop, pink balloons everywhere, and then out of nowhere - GLITTERBOMB!   From one medley to the next, you'll hear stories that may or may not be a cautionary tale about S&M, tributes to fingerfucking, sleeping with a guy's siblings, and a rapidfire hip-hop song about breasts on the subway!  The show is a nonstop bitch-slapping sorority girl-style punk show - if you can wrap your head around that one.  If you don't believe me check them out for yourself - below is their first official music video for the single Daddy Issues, where the band explained the title as "the catch-all phrase for crazy, slutty, hysterical behavior by women", and asks you to embrace the nutso:

And their latest video, New York Girls:

 Photo Credit: Helen Cris

cartoon by: Jeremy C. Joseph

The Manifesto...

Cudzoo is pretty dresses and filthy minds.
Cudzoo is whiskey drinking and painted nails.
Cudzoo is the life of the party.
Cudzoo makes the rules.
Cudzoo is easy.
Cudzoo is hard.
Cudzoo likes to dance.
Cudzoo will make out with your boyfriend.
Cudzoo does not apologize.

And the critics say...

- "This isn't the best album of the year but it is one of the funniest."

"And, of course, every gay boy in the city will be doing whatever it takes to score a ticket to Lady Gaga... But if you didn't get Gaga tix, you can still catch the ladies of Cudzoo and the Faggettes. They're totally just as fab!" -NEXT magazine

"Truth in advertising. Cudzoo & The Faggettes aren't bad looking, and they seem to be on a mission to offend everyone within earshot. They've got more in common with the nastiest gangsta rap you can imagine, rather than the 60s girl-group pop they imitate on their debut cd." ~Lucid Culture

Primp NYC

Despite the Girl Band Phenom of late, Jess recently took on a new en devour by creating Primp NYC, with Erin McCarson, fellow band member, and actress.  Primp NYC is a service business offering their styling expertise services for events, weddings, parties, and photo shoots.   For every woman's special day, they focus on getting to know their clientele on a friendly basis and meeting their needs according to what makes her feel the most beautiful. They offer advice on styling your whole look, and are known to give that final pep talk before you walk out the door. You can find Jess doing her own thang in the make-up world, or making the NYC women's eyebrows perfect at The Boom Boom Brow Bar in the West Village!  To top it all off, Jess loves tacos, and is planning on owning her own ice cream truck one day.  Just so you know.

Photo Credit: Helen Cris

What an impressive bitch.  Ok, enough info - onto the Q&A's!


Where do you work currently/title? I am one of three front women in my band Cudzoo & the Faggettes. We are currently on a runaway train headed straight for world domination!  In the meantime, I'm working as a waxing specialist at the Boom Boom Brow Bar, perfecting NYC one eyebrow at a time. Oh - I'm also the key makeup artist at Primp NYC where I focus on perfecting that perfect glow that every bride dreams of!

Where do you live? I live in Astoria, Queens. On the park, where I eat ice cream cones while I watch people work out.

What designer/artist inspires you right now? I have a lot of love for Betty White, it's a really cool to think that anyone could still be killing it past 90. She might be more together than I am!

What is your favorite piece of your furniture? My bed. Where I take many a glorious naps.

Choose 3 words to describe your style. cute, casual and comfortable.

What pop icon do you love to hate? The Lohan

I chose this pic of LiLo just for you.  Favorite 80’s cartoon & why?  Rainbow Bright. Why? Are you serious??? Her bestie is a talking horse with a rainbow mane and tail and twink makes sure she has an unlimited supply of star sprinkles to make the world more beautiful. What!? And don't even get me started on Murky and Lurky. Those guys kill me.

 UGGS.  Fugly or  fashion staple? Fuggin comfy?

What does creativity mean to you in ONE word? growth

How does creativity manifest itself in your day-to-day life? Everything I do forces me to be more creative, both mentally and physically. Whether its showing someone how a great brow shape or makeup application can change their whole face or I'm trying to make sure I hide the fact that I have two left feet at a Cudzoo show, it's all creative. It has to be to keep everything fresh.

Well let's talk about Cudzoo & The Faggettes.  Your band was said to have more in common with the nastiest gangsta rap you can imagine, rather than the 60's girl-group pop your group imitates - do you agree with this statement & where do these two music genres meet? I think if the women of the those 60's girl groups could have said whatever they wanted, it would have been much closer to what Cudzoo represents, than the sugar coated bubblegum pop songs that men wrote for them. 

Good point, the times they are a changin'.  What kind of music, artist/band inspires your own work?  I'm a sucker for Motown and 60's girl groups. I listen to a lot of Wanda Jackson, The Ronettes and The Sonics. But I'm also a sucker for something that can make me laugh out loud and sing along at the same time like Cee Lo, Kate Nash or K. Flay.

Other than being a member of a band, what are your other passions and projects? I love being outside. I grew up as a competitive horseback rider, so anything that gets me outdoors I'm into. Especially the beach, I love to surf (poorly I should add), bake and dabble in crafting. I have an obsession with making earrings out of old buttons. It's pretty serious.

So, I've heard.  Mixing new and vintage is a timeless exercise in my opinion, and I think your band exemplifies this in its own way... thoughts?  Have you seen it done well lately in other mediums or art forms & Where? I think that is something we definitely encompass. We wanted to create a sound that gave us a place with no rules where we could say what we wanted, and pay homage to the bands that inspire us. But I think that is something that all artist play with, no idea is completely original at this point. It's a constant exercise of reinventing and recycling the same ideas and feelings that people have been experiencing since the beginning of time.  Just finding the way that only you know how to say it, I think that is what people love.

As you know Jessica, I am not afraid of bold colors, mixing & matching for days - but its not for everyone.  Do you ever find that certain colors or color schemes work negatively on stage/photo shoots?  What are your goals and inspirations when the 3 of you are in front of the camera? You know I know it might seem crazy but what we do with our image comes pretty easy for all of us. If we aren't matching then most of the pieces we incorporate are things that we wear normally. It's all about putting things together in a way that suits our characters. And bold is always our jumping off point, occasionally we have to reign it in around outrageous. But not often.  And if something doesn't work then none of us are afraid to tell the other. Nobody is looking busted on our watch. Plus we are endlessly adorable so its hard to mess that up hahaha.

What is your least favorite house chore to do & why? Its a tie between doing the f#%$ing dishes and scooping the cat litter. Because they are terrible. That is why.

What is the easiest way to revitalize a stale room?  Swap out a few throw blankets and pillows, dust, vacuum and frame a pic of Betty white and throw it on the wall. Voila!

What home product can you not live without? I use more paper towels than I feel comfortable admitting to. Can mother nature read?

What are your favorite online resources/blogs/sites? I love wasting time on 100 layer cake and watching my girl Mamrie Hart serve up laughs on You Deserve a Drink . The Daily Grace YouTube channel is also a happy happy place.

What trends do you see emerging in the next 6 months? Pastel lipsticks. I don't know if I like it, but I'm seeing a lot of easter egg lipsticks popping up.

Any new companies, products to keep our eyes peeled for? I'm obsessed with a beauty line called Sensai. Their products are over the top and totally worth the splurge. I swear I used a trial of the line for 3 days and it was like my skin literally came to life. And I'm really picky when it comes to skincare. My favorite product is the Cellular Performance Lotion (I use 1 for oily to combination skin), It's packed full of anti aging ingredients that leave my skin plump and healthy looking. Plus rumor has it Jake Gyllenhaal loves this line the line too. So maybe if I keep on it I'll magically become more tan, buff and generally better looking.

And last, but not least: Favorite Neighborhood Spots. In Astoria I love this little Italian spot called Vesta, the lasagna is way delicious! During the summer I can be found drinking pitchers of beer at the beer garden or hula hooping in the Astoria Park!

Thank you so much Jessica for being a part of our StellaBella project, you've always felt like family to me anyway!  Next time I'm in Astoria, we will have to check out that Italian spot, for sure (or the beer gardens again)!  And as I always promise, I will be at your next show.  I promise... I will be at your next show! 

And speaking of the next show, Cudzoo will be performing @ The Bowery Electric on November 29th with The Naked Heroes and her darlin' boyfriend Dave's band, The Mess Around! Be there or be square!

La vita è bella,

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