Val Gal Get Your Gun—Julie Brown Blasts Her Way Onto MTV
updated 05/20/1985 AT 01:00 AM EDT
•originally published 05/20/1985 AT 01:00 AM EDT
When I need something to help me unwind,
I find a six-foot baby with a one-track mind.
Smart guys are nowhere,
They make demands.
Give me a moron with talented hands...
"Madonna's not the only one who can act like a slut for big dollars," she hollers to an audience hopping and bopping to her song's smirky lyrics and metronomic rhythms.
Choose your weapons, ladies: A battle royal may begin with this new singer-comedian competing to be pop culture's most outrageous tart. After all, despite Madonna's writhing and wriggling, none of her videos has been banned by MTV, an honor bestowed on Brown's very first effort, The Homecoming Queen's Got a Gun, from her five-song mini-album, Goddess in Progress. The video is a spoof of the blood-soaked finale of Carrie. Brown portrays a gun-crazed homecoming queen who, at the zenith of her teen life, goes berserk. From her float she picks off cheerleaders "one by one," the whole glee club ("no big loss") and "half the class," until she is ordered by the police to throw down her gun and her tiara. MTV refused to air the video in part because of its excessive violence, a charge that Brown dismisses as "a joke, because it's merely a cartoon." After the lines "Are you having a really bad period?" and "The whole school was totally coked!" were deleted from the video, MTV rescinded the ban and began showing it last week.
Sighs Brown, 26, pondering the uproar: "Maybe none of this would have happened if I'd been queen." In 1975 Brown ruled as a mere homecoming princess at Van Nuys High, the alma mater of Robert Redford and Marilyn Monroe. Maybe if she'd been blond, like them, she could have worn the tiara and wed the football hero.
As befits a princess, however, Brown today lives in the Valley, only minutes from the scene of her near glory. And, like, she's just, like, an "ordinary Valley housewife." Her vocab is totally Val-speak, and though onstage she presents the image of some sort of hyper-sexed "macha character, queen of the girls' locker room" as one critic put it, Brown is a married lady who fluffs the pillow in her living room. She admits, "I do funny and crazy stuff for my show, but the real person I am is not all that crazy."
Her background certainly isn't. Brown was born in the land of malls, Mop & Glo and Mustangs for your 16th birthday—the daughter of an NBC technician and a studio secretary, who sent her to parochial school. "School was so boring I was compelled to be funny," she says. Although her parents warned her, "Whatever you do, don't become an actress," she decided on San Francisco's famed drama school, the American Conservatory Theatre (ACT) soon after graduating from Van Nuys. At ACT, Brown says, she discovered her love for stand-up comedy: "I was getting big laughs as Juliet." Brown teamed up with fellow student Charlie Coffey, 32, who is still her writing partner (he co-authored most of the tunes on Goddess in Progress). Their nightclub act included a sketch about a Texas chain saw relay team.
While collecting the experiences that would culminate in I Like 'Em Big and Stupid—"I was being real single, dating a male model, dating people just because they were physically attractive"—Brown met aspiring actor Terrence McNally, 36. Recalls Coffey: "She said she was going to marry him, right away. He was good-looking, Harvard-educated and he had money."
Now Brown, McNally and Coffey are penning a film for Warners about a Valley Girl who, while sunbathing nude on her patio, romps with an extraterrestrial who "crash-lands in her swimming pool."
Life on the Brown-McNally home-front is stoked to the max, but they keep the UFO visitations to a minimum. For fun they cook, watch musicals on their VCR, and sometimes Brown streaks her forever auburn locks. Summing up her multifaceted personality, Brown says, "I'm sugar and spice and bang, bang, everyone's dead."
At the Brown-McNally wedding two years ago, the guests almost dropped dead with amazement. The bride, resplendent in a '30s wedding gown, was escorted down the aisle by her maid of honor, Coffey. Besides the bride and groom, there were seven members of the wedding party—all men. "I didn't need the competition," deadpans Brown. As the East Coast McNallys mingled with the Valley-bred Browns at the tasteful Mulholland Golf Club, an apparition appeared in a blue mini-dress slit way beyond her thighs. Grabbing a mike, Brown let out all the stops:
My father's out of Harvard,
My brother's out of Yale,
Well, the guy I took home last night
just got out of jail.
The way he grabbed and threw me,
It really got me hot.
But the way he growled and bit me,
I hope he had his shots!
"My parents were a bit shocked," says the bridegroom. "They were, like, is this really happening?" Indeed it was. Like it or not, their son wed a woman with a burning ambition: "I want to be the Doris Day of the '80s, with an act like Eddie Murphy's." Hey, you don't like it? Go ahead—make her day.