Hot Licks: Storm Large
The sexually omnivorous singer-turned-author turned victimhood into va-va-voom.
photos by: Laura Domela
Storm Large is a singing Amazon, a 6-foot blonde powerhouse. Whether she is singing in front of the Oregon Symphony or fronting her rock band, the Balls, listening to her is like strapping yourself into a ride at an R-rated theme park. From hard-pumping, feminist rock anthems to friendly sing-alongs on the topic of her vagina, you never know exactly what’s around the corner (but you know you want to go there). When I caught up with Large, she was in her kitchen in Portland, Ore., making lunch during a rare quiet moment at home. She was lamenting the fact that eating in airports is destroying her digestive system—which is funny if you’ve read her memoir, Crazy Enough, and know something about her childhood, her mother’s mental illness, and her own earlier, truly self-destructive lifestyle. Yet, along with singing, she’s written a book and a one-woman show. She’s played Carnegie Hall and the Edinburgh Festival. It’s hard to know exactly where to start with such an eclectic talent, so I asked an appropriately broad question.
What lights you up?
Justice. I like seeing fairness. I like seeing people speaking up for what they believe in. I like seeing love. I like inspiration. Other people’s inspiration. Underdogs light me up. People who’ve worked really, really hard and then finally get what they’ve been working toward. Hope lights me up.
What are you trying to accomplish with your music and your writing?
My number one impetus to get up and sing is to create joy in the room—to take energy and make joy out of it. That is how I feel I’ve been called to serve in this life. It’s hard, heartbreaking work, but it’s also work that people are jealous of. Sometimes there’s a lot of shame. You want to diminish your successes because you don’t want to look like an ass. You don’t want to be too shiny. You don’t want to be too awesome. The tendency is to diminish and to just be smaller. I have really stopped doing that. The exclamation point of that feeling was when I got my book deal. I was with my friend, who is a great comedic writer and a yummy love. It was the night before I went to New York to get my deal. We were at the opera and he was like, “Sweetie, this is so exciting, I’m so proud of you.” And I burst into tears. I had just been holding it in all night long. I was trembling and I was holding back tears, and he said, “What’s wrong?” And with all sincerity I said, “I have been a piece of shit my whole life, and now everybody thinks I’m great, and I don’t know what to do.” I’ve come a long way from that, having walked through doing something that I was totally convinced I was going to suck at, was going to fall flat on my face, and I did it anyway, and did it to the best of my ability—so I’m very proud, because it was hard, really hard. I’ve come to this place in my life where I’m like, This is my call to service. This is how I serve my fellow man. That, that . . . self-diminishing is really not part of my vocabulary anymore. I roar with the awesomeness of a thousand suns.
What was the best part of writing the book?
When I was done! It was a painful slog. I think the most challenging part was wrapping my head around the fact that I was going to have to write a book—that I was under contract to produce around 300 pages of information, and humorous anecdotes about the sadder aspects of my life.
Why was it important to dive into the hard parts of your life?
I wanted to honor my mom. She was a beautiful, lovely little spirit who had hopes and dreams, who had an aborted future due to whatever crossed wire in her head that was no fault of her own. There was a good part of my life where I hated her, and I hurt her at every opportunity, out of my own fear and out of my own childishness. So, it was important to get as much right as I could, and also get as deep as I could, so I wouldn’t allow for the easy pass of “She was fucked up and I was a victim.”
Why do dykes everywhere look up to Storm Large and say “Awesome. Love her”?
I think because, well, I’m loud. And I’m hot—hotness helps. I’m unapologetically sexual, and also really open about my sexuality, and really open and understanding about other people’s. My undying support for the [LGBT] community, and just the common sense of supporting love in all of its forms. I’m honored that people respect and love me.
You’ve used the term “sexually omnivorous.” What does that mean?
I am opportunistically sexually omnivorous. I am usually in a monogamous relationship. I’ve got a big, wide monogamous streak, and I tend to be monogamous with men, but I am very attracted to women as well, and so “opportunistically sexually omnivorous” is a very polysyllabic way to say I’m lazy, and if it tastes good I’ll eat it [laughs]. I had an argument with a woman who said, “You’ve been with men and women, so you’re bisexual.” And I said, “No, I’m omnivorous. I’m monogamous with a man currently, but I am omnivorous.” And she said, “Well, there is no term, really, for that—there is no group for that.” And I said, “Exactly.” As soon as you give something a name, then there is a group that rallies around it, and there is a group that rallies against it. Sexuality cannot be quantified. It’s like trying to define a spark. It is so personal and so galvanizing and polarizing that as long as you put yourself in a box, that’s where you’re going to be. And sexuality just can’t be boxed, because there are people who have lived their whole lives as a housewife in Des Moines, and then they come busting out and they are a hard-core, diesel-dyke, anal-fisting motherfucker, and they are so happy and liberated. And what’s that? So I just don’t like sexuality being so specific.
What is it you want people to think of when they think of you?
I would like to be of service. I would like to be a positive force in the world, be it through just writing a funny song, or telling a joke, or cooking a meal, or drying a tear, or [chuckles] changing some tax policy at the federal level where people get a tax kickback for volunteering. I spent a lot of time feeling really sorry for myself and being incredibly negative and cynical. And so I want to make up for all that by being a force of love and good in the world with everything I do. I want people to think about me and smile, and think of something inappropriate I said or did that held a lot of truth in an uncomfortable situation.
Mission accomplished. (stormlarge.com)